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