[Sca-cooks] Period substitute for tomatoes?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Fri Aug 21 06:53:20 PDT 2009

You might consider experimenting with eggplant, the "tomatoes of the Jews of 
Constantinople."  They can be mixed in with almost anything, pickled, 
pureed, baked, fried, etc.  They are more common in Indian and Arab cooking 
than European.

Two caveats.  They can be bitter.  And they can soak up oil like a Sham-Wow 
soaks up water.  Slicing, salting the slices, then letting them rest while 
the cell walls break down and the internal liquids drain is supposed to 
reduce both problems.  Other than mousakka, I don't have much experience 
preparing them, so I can't point you in any specific direction.


>I was a vegetarian for over a decade, and frequently cooked for vegan 
>friends as well. I've kept kosher for about eight years now. I  frequently 
>host friends with Celiac disease, and cook gluten-free for  them. You don't 
>even want to KNOW how complicated my Passover menu  plans can get, honoring 
>kosher Celiac vegetarians.
> Now I'm looking not just at religious or health-related restrictions,  but 
> also at Period-correct cooking. I know tomatoes couldn't be found  in use 
> until VERY late in Period, and even then, only for a handful of  areas. My 
> cooking styles are Persian, Arab, Indian, and Mediterranean  (my persona 
> is a traveller, and would certainly have wanted to try her  hand at local 
> cuisines, since among other things, her family trades in  spices -- she'd 
> want to know how the locals would be using them).
> Anyone got an idea of what to substitute for tomatoes in things like 
> tabbouleh, Jerusalem salad (entirely made of cucumbers, tomatoes, and 
> onions, plus oil and spices), or the various biryanis and other Indian 
> cooking which heavily features tomatoes or tomato paste? Tomatoes make  up 
> such a big part of my modern diet that I'm having trouble figuring  out 
> how to do without them in my medieval life.
> Judith / no SCA name yet

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