[Sca-cooks] Period Ingredients, was Historical Apples

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Wed Oct 29 01:29:50 PDT 2008

Urtatim brings up some good points on accuracy in our A&S  
competitions and how far to take it and how to consider it.

I think that this line of what is acceptable is a moving target  
though.  As our group knowledge expands and new resources become  
available our standards change. I'm not sure we should try to draw a  
line in the sand on this or not.  It wasn't that long ago that  
substitutions for various ingredients were common, now for many of  
these, such as Grains of Paradise or Long Pepper is such that more  
people are expecting them to be used. There was a time when freon can  
helms and carpet armor was the state-of-the-art in SCA armor and coat  
of mail made from coat hanger wire was considered quite impressive.  
Now it is getting where many people where people consider that fairly  
ho-hum and it is the riveted mail which gets interest. You probably  
would have problems entering the former items in an A&S competition.

<<< How about fruits and vegetables? Do we trace the heritage of the
seedless raisins we put into a dish? Were seedless raisins even
common in period? In the 15th c. Ottoman cookbook, for example, there
are frequently instructions for taking the seeds out of raisins. Same
goes for turnips, celery (which we all know is totally unlike period
celery), >>>

What is the same for turnips? removing the seeds? Something else that  
is different? How is today's celery totally unlike period celery?  
Okay some of this has probably been discussed here. It may even be in  
the Florilegium. :-)  But I, for one, don't know this.

<<< In the USA, at least, there's hardly a commercially available food
plant or animal that hasn't been altered in some way by selective
breeding or hybridizing. Do we need to state this about each and
every one of  our ingredients in all our cooking entries?

I think it is ridiculous to expect entrants in SCA cooking
competitions to know just exactly how "period" every ingredient is
that they've used, and to document it! >>>

I don't think *every* difference needs to be documented. But the most  
obvious things should be. But again this is a changing value over  
time and I'm not sure there should be allowances made for how  
experienced the artisan is.  Any qualified fighter should be able to  
enter Crown tourney, but the Dukes, Knights and Counts don't slow  
down or avoid advanced moves because you've only been fighting for a  
year or two.

<<< So i absolutely do not expect someone to mention whether or not  
apples are period. But so far only one person on this list has
mentioned a very very expensive way to get some apples that might
sort-of be kinda period - or at least one or two hundred years out of
period, other than growing one's own, which is just not an option for
many of us. >>>

No, but if the judges ask you whether something is period or not or  
how it differed in period you should know. Otherwise you could say  
your Concord grape wine is period since it was made from grapes.

<<< I was recently reading about how different modern SALT is from
historical salt of the recent past, of the 19th century - not just in
the way the salt is dried, but in the various methods now used to
produce very white salt, not to mention added anti-caking agents, the
removal of all trace minerals and the addition of iodine. >>>

What various methods are now used to produce very white salt? They  
did do multiple evaporation cycles in period.

<<< Those who have said that the entrant should have mentioned if they
weren't period, do you note in your docs that your salt is not
period, or go out of your way to get the same type of salt that would
have been used in the time and region of your recipe? Do you mention
whether your salt was from evaporation pools or from mines? What was
the size of the salt crystals? Was the salt of the time and place of
the recipe pink, rust, tan, yellow, green, grey, black? >>>

It would be nice to see more documentation on period salt.  I'm not  
sure that we know these details for most uses or mentions of salt in  
period, though.

<<< Should we all be marked down for not mentioned in that we using
modern, and not period, salt, wheat, beef or chicken or pork, etc.? >>>

Some of these items varied across time and by region. It is  
simplistic to just note that an item was or wasn't used in period.  
The salt used in France was likely to be different from that in  
eastern Europe. And Iceland had little salt, despite it being an  
island. I think that if an entry of an Icelandic food item listed  
salt as an ingredient, I'd like to know why they included salt even  
though salt is period.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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