[Sca-cooks] Substitute for Potatoes?

Saint Phlip phlip at 99main.com
Mon Aug 24 13:37:34 PDT 2009

On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 3:26 PM, Judith Epstein<judith at ipstenu.org> wrote:
>>>> Yes, and I fully intend to use yams in my Period cooking.
>> Off hand, I can't think of any recipes in either the period European or
>> Islamic corpus that use them.

Judith, please don't comfuse what we call yams (which is usually just
another name for sweet potatoes) and the actual yam which is a tubre
from Africa, which rarely shows up in the US.

> 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.

You're thinking yourself into a box, again, Judith. The reason that
Medieval people didn't need books to cook from is because they had
traditions handed down to them from the cooks who taught them. We
moderns don't have that advantage. We furthermore don't have THEIR
intuitive understanding of which foods meshed with which foods and
spices- we only have our own, modern ways of thinking. Now, if you
want to cook modern food, and pretend it's Medieval, that's fine,
that's your choice, but please don't try to fool yourself that you're
doing anything else.

To use an example, suppose you wanted to try to reproduce Chinese
food, and all you knew about it was that they cooked it quickly, and
it was all cut up into little bits with sauces, and they served a lot
of rice. With your modern American instincts, what you might come up
with might be more like a modern stew, half raw, served over rice,
than anything any Chinese person ever thought of. It might be tasty,
and it might have common Chinese ingredients, but it certainly
wouldn't be Chinese food.

Or, to bring this closer to home, suppose I decided I wanted to cook a
Kosher meal, and went down to the grocery and bought myself a nice ham
steak, carefully let it rest in salt water to remove the blood, and
carefully made sure I didn't serve it with cheese or a milk gravy.
Would that be a kosher meal?


If you really want to do like you've indicated you do, you need to
study the cuisine enough to know what makes it Medieval food, the way
they'd have prepared it, just as you might do with any other cuisine.
Until you do that, you're just fooling yourself.

Saint Phlip

Heat it up
Hit it hard
Repent as necessary.


It's the smith who makes the tools, not the tools which make the smith.

.I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary
notices I have read with pleasure. -Clarence Darrow

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