[Sca-cooks] Definition of "Period Cooking" was Re: Substitute for Potatoes?

Judith Epstein judith at ipstenu.org
Mon Aug 24 13:14:39 PDT 2009

On Aug 24, 2009, at 2:59 PM, Susan Fox wrote:

>> The part I think is amazing is that people need BOOKS just to COOK.  
>> If I were putting on a documented Period feast, I would worry about  
>> that, because I'd be assuming I was in charge of feeding royals and  
>> nobles -- people who could afford to give books to their servants  
>> (cooks). But for the general populace, good grief. I never owned or  
>> used a single cookbook till I was about thirty and someone gave me  
>> one, thinking it was such a shocking thing that I didn't own any  
>> cook books. I assure you, though, I did cook, I never went hungry,  
>> and to this day it doesn't occur to me to consult anything in  
>> writing if I'm cooking for my family. I really find it hard to  
>> believe that I'm THAT different from our ancestors.
> All right, I think we have reached the "meat" of the matter.
> Before anything else, the SCA is an educational organization with  
> some roots in Academia.  In order to really call it a "period  
> recipe," we need to be able to point to a recipe of some kind  
> written in the specific historical time period.
> This is not to say that you can't cook anything you like, with  
> whatever ingredients you like, but in the SCA's shared vocabulary,  
> it's not "period" without an academic reference.  Same goes for  
> costumes, jewelry or any other art or craft.
> It can be period-style, speculatively period, etc. but what you  
> appear to be discussing not actually period cooking.  Yet.
> There are a lot of foods which are made from ingredients known in  
> Europe before 1650, but which were clearly invented after our time  
> period of interest.  Hummus bi Tahini is one of those, sadly.  This  
> does not stop me from bringing it for a tourney lunch but I am not  
> entering it in any contests where academic references count.   
> Actually a lot of "traditional Middle Eastern Foods" are less than  
> 200 year old "traditions," alas.

Let me clarify my intentions, so that there'll be no more need to  
create another dead horse just for people like me to beat on. ;)

1. To provide food for myself, my household if I join or form one, and  
anyone who signs up for my meal plan.

2. To make that food in a way that doesn't violate my religious  

3. To make it, as much as possible, with only Period ingredients, but  
in MY style, because every single cook that ever lived put their own  
spin on every dish they made, and I'm not going to stop the ongoing  
tradition of creativity in the kitchen just because I'm choosing to  
learn about past times and Period ingredient availability.

4. IF I ENTER A CONTEST, at that point I'll use a cook book. Sure.  
I'll resent the heck out of it, because there's the (entirely un- 
justified) perception that my cooking's not good enough, and I have to  
obey some cook who doesn't know me, my diners, my kitchen, or my  
tastes... but yes, I'll use a bloody book.

DOCUMENTATION because it's my own displayed offering and I don't have  
to work with someone else's rules, I will make the best food I  
possibly can, because that's my work ethic -- whether it's documented  
or not, what I'm displaying is MY skill, not the skill of a long-dead  

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