[Sca-cooks] Period substitute for tomatoes?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Fri Aug 21 12:14:26 PDT 2009

> That does indeed put the correct complexion on the problem. Where  would I 
> go to look up the recipes from my area of interest (Near East,  North 
> Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and India) that were the first to  incorporate 
> tomatoes and potatoes?
> Judith / no SCA name yet

If you're looking for period recipes in those regions, forget about it. 
Tomatoes don't show up in recipes until the mid-18th Century, although Grewe 
makes a case for their use prior to that date.  While I'm fairly certain 
tomatoes were eaten in Spain and Italy before 1600, their use3 was almost 
certainly limited.

The Irish potato doesn't show up as a foodstuff until 1570 and knowledge of 
the plant is extremely limited.  Gerard doesn't receive samples until 1586 
and Carolus Clusius, who was the premier botanist of the period, only 
recieves a specimen in 1587.  We do know that potatoes were eaten in 1591 
boiled in water then peeled(?) and cooked in butter.  The source is a letter 
from Landgraf Wilhelm IV von Hesse to Kurfu:rst Christian I von Sachsen, 
which suggests that it was a culinary experiment with samples from the 
Landgraf's botanical garden.

What you are more likely to find are recipes for sweet potatoes, which the 
Portuguese spread to Africa and Asia during the first quarter of the 16th 
Century.  Unlike sweet potatoes, maize, turkeys, chili peppers and squash; 
tomatoes and white potatoes seem to have been late in getting spread around 
and eaten.


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