[Sca-cooks] Fruit and Meat, was Pennsic Camp Cooking

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 13 12:00:13 PDT 2008

Brangwayna Morgan wrote...
a whole bunch of stuff about cooking under difficult circumstances at 
Pennsic, ending with:
>It came out quite yummy, and  even our camp
>"confirmed sceptic about medieval meat dishes" (pronounced dislike  of
>meat/fruit/dessert spice combos) raved abut it and wants me to make 
>it  again next year.

I keep finding this attitude rather amusing, because i have the 
opposite problem.

See, in the late 60s when i was first learning how to cook, after i 
got tired of spaghetti and tuna salad, i began by cooking Middle 
Eastern (Lebanese, Persian, and modern Turkish) and Indian (South 
Asian) food, adding at least 1/2 dozen Southeast Asian cuisines in 
the 70s. So i prefer to have "dessert spices" in my meats and i tend 
to dislike them in desserts, especially cinnamon, which too many 
Americans seem to put into nearly every scone, sweet bread, pie, et 

When i was a child, however, most of our dinners consisted of lots of 
good Midwestern prime beef or chicken breasts, iceberg lettuce wedge, 
of course, often with "Thousand Island" dressing, vegetables usually 
not overcooked (depending on time of year, could be fresh, frozen, or 
canned), and dessert (i don't recall anything in particular). We 
sometimes ate in restaurants, and often had prime rib or steak, 
occasionally what passed for French, or Italian (the standard 
American Italian, based on Sicilian, i guess - red sauced spaghetti 
or lasagne).

In other words, we ate a pretty conservative Middle American diet - 
although probably unlike those skeptics of today, since there were no 
fast food restaurants to speak of - i was around 13 when the first 
MacDonald's opened in the early 60s, and we only went there once or 

We had a live-in cook/housekeeper/baby sitter until my brother went 
to college, and my mother didn't really cook, but she did experiment 
on occasion. One experiment that i liked (possibly from the 
Antoinette Pope cookbook) was chicken cooked with cherries (we were 
in the suburbs of Chicago, so they were canned) and almond macaroons 
(and something else in the sauce... some kind of sweet wine, maybe?). 
Does anyone know where to find a recipe like this? I googled but 
didn't have any luck...

Maybe that's what started me down "the road to ruin", by which i mean 
i am extremely fond of fruit-meat dishes. On the other hand, there 
are still a few meat-fruit dishes in Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine - 
tzimmes, for example, which is more or less pot roast with carrots, 
prunes, and sometimes dried apricots.

In studying Medieval Arabic language cookbooks, i've noticed that 
fruits do not figure in desserts, other than nuts (which the French 
call "fruits secs" = dried fruits) and dates. Fresh and other dried 
fruits are pretty much *only* used in dishes with meat.

The Ottomans break this pattern, but, then, they were not really 
"Middle Eastern" - they came from Central Asia. Anyway, on the very 
long lists of sweets served at various festivals are quite a few 
sweet fruit dishes, ok, one heck of a lot of sweet fruit dishes. They 
tend to be variations on a theme - jam/preserves of a single fruit, 
pelude (faluda) made of fruit juice cooked with sugar and starch, 
fruit pastes, etc.

The Ottomans did eat fruit-and-meat dishes, mostly borrowed from the 
Persians, sometimes directly, sometimes via the refined courtly 
Arabic cuisine - which borrowed a lot of its dishes from the Persians.

At this point, i don't know whether there were fruit desserts in 
Persian cuisine - the two surviving cookbooks i know of have not been 
translated into any European languages and i don't read 16th C. 
Persian. And the few genuinely  SCA-period Persian sweets i know of 
feature ground or chopped almonds.

As for those skeptics, if they eat ketchup on their burgers, they're 
already eating their meat with fruit, i.e., tomatoes; a lot of sugar, 
often in the form of HFCS; and "dessert spices", since ketchup may 
contain allspice, cinnamon, and cloves! Sheesh! They're already 
eating Medieval and didn't know it!
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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