[Sca-cooks] Crocodile was Magpies
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Mar 4 14:22:28 PST 2008
On Mar 4, 2008, at 4:26 PM, Dragon wrote:
>> You are misinterpreting what I said. I did not say I had
> documentation for any of this.
I made a pretty off-the-cuff statement myself, so I'm no one to point
fingers, but I'm not sure the lack of documentation for a statement is
the problem in this discussion. It _is_ sort of an academic
discussion, and some of the people here are playing by more-or-less
predictable academic rules, an important one of which is that you
don't look for a piece of paper to back up a statement you've made.
Rather, you base your statement on observation and analysis of the
things you've seen -- including, if you're a student, a good number of
pieces of paper, probably.
> What I did say is that they ate a ton of odd things
Well, okay. Let's try this: how do we know what odd things they ate?
Mostly from written accounts, like, say, Apicius, Vinidarius, Pliny.
Right? Otherwise this starts to look like we're repeating urban
legends. The trouble is, these sources don't seem to mention these
types of animals. Mostly the exotic animals they do mention are birds
and fish, it seems to me. Is it conceivable we've grown comfortable
believing certain things without evidence, and that what we think we
know is, in fact, myth, in some cases? Lots of people know, for
example, that the Romans ate sauce made of rotten fish, which isn't
quite the case. They know all about Roman vomitoriums, which are far
more typical in other times and places than in decadent Imperial Rome.
We all know medieval cookery uses dozens of spices mixed
indiscriminately, and that more spices were used to cover the flavors
of rotting meat (both also false).
> so it would not
> surprise me if they did eat these things also. There are historical
> accounts of all sorts of exotic species being brought to Rome for
> gladiatorial games (no, I don't have any references handy, this is
> from memory).
Suetonius comes to mind; probably Pliny.
> It is not a far stretch to think that once these
> animals had been dispatched in the games that they would have been
I strongly suspect it would make a lot more sense to feed them, while
still relatively fresh, to the surviving animals, especially since
they almost certainly died under duress and full of adrenalin.
> I not specifically aware of any texts in Chinese medicine that regard
> use of the crocodile as I have not done any such research. However,
> through a casual knowledge of modern Chinese medicinal practices, I
> know they use a lot of reptiles including all sorts of lizards,
> cobras and other snakes. So again, I would not be surprised if they
> did use crocodiles in some medicinal soup. Virtually every edible
> item in traditional Chinese culture is associated with some sort of
> supposed medical benefit.
Okay, I'm with you there. We tend to have frog's legs in the freezer,
just in case, for soups of this very kind, and there are pharmacopeias
available in English for dealing with Chinese herbal medicine; I'm
sure info on this subject would be in one or more of them. I'll see if
I can check one of them this evening. But whether this constitutes
evidence of crocodiles being eaten in Europe in period, I doubt.
There's just too much circumstantial evidence to suggest that such
creatures were loathed, and not, AFAIK, enough evidence to suggest
they actually were eaten on any regular basis, except for frogs (which
are mentioned in Le Menagier).
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