[Sca-cooks] Newcomers to the list and SCA

Michael Gunter countgunthar at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 25 08:51:56 PDT 2009

The list gets this kind of reaction at least once a year.

It is often from someone who is a good and experienced

cook and who is even pretty successful in either regular

or SCA cookery. They often come to the list to give their

knowledge to all of the unwashed masses out there and

are quite surprised by the knowledge and depth of the

personnel who are subscribed. There is often hurt feelings

and defensivenss on the part of the newcomer until they

start to understand what this environment is about. Some

who come here leave in a bit of a huff because we seem

to be unwelcoming and stuffy purists. Others stay but

become lurkers, afraid to offer any opinions in fear they

will get burned. And some learn that it is okay to state

an opinion but to be ready to either back it up or have

some other opinion tossed back at them.


We aren't stuffy purists or flamers. We welcome new people

and I demand polite discourse. We do strongly encourage

people to look at period cookery in a different way, that 

period cuisine is just that, cuisine. It could be considered

the same as any other ethnic cuisine and we try to encourage

the joy of creating the new tastes and sensations of this.

We need to put that idea into people's minds, that this is

an "ethnic" cuisine just like Mexican, Chinese, Japanese

or any of the other hundreds of food types out there. And

there are right ways and wrong ways of going about this.


Using period ingredients or spice mixtures or such is perfectly

fine to create a form of "Fusion Period" cookery. The same as

using Sake and ginger instead of Pernod and shallots in

Sole en Papillote is used to create "Japanese/French fusion".

But the error lies in considering the fusion to be authentic.


What you cook in your camp is only the business of you and your

campmates. Giving them a taste of period cookery and slowly

introducing them to having no tomatoes, corn, peppers, etc...

or adding sweet spices to savory dishes and yet still having it

taste wonderful is great. 


I don't cook period food all the time at events and certainly

don't make up dishes I think could be period and declare them

to be so. There is nothing wrong with that. I can, and do, 

cook perfectly authentic recipes as well and serve them in a

"non-competitive" manner in camp or for buffets or whatever.


The thing about this list is to encourage people to go about

finding out just what these "lost cuisines" are all about. How

the flavors and techniques work. What the people back in time

REALLY ate as compared to what 99% of the human population

THINKS they ate. 


I can grab a roasted chicken, a wheel of cheese, some fresh baked

bread and a bottle of wine from the local supermarket for my

lunch and feel quite Medieval as I eat it in garb at an event. But

I also know that it really isn't correct. It does FEEL right and I 

can get into the mental mindset of a period man having a period



Modern roasted chicken, cheese, bread and wine may not be period

to the most correct term, but they are a hell of a lot better and

less distracting than me sitting there with a McDonalds bag in front

of me eating a Big Mac and fries. 


To Judith, the people really aren't picking on you. They are seeing

someone who is interested in learning period cookery but has a

wrong idea about some of it and saying to you, "You can do that if

you like, but here is how to do it correct and it is just as easy and

more fun!"


The people on the list are passionate about food and their hobby 

and must often suffer the slings and arrows of the stickjock crowd

who feels that "Period food sucks and just give me a steak" as

well as the just as bad, "Spices are used to cover the taste of 

rotting meat and bread should have bits of rock in it" crowd.


Be patient with us and you will learn a great deal about period and

non-period cookery, neat places to eat, our favorite Food Network

personalities, Anthony Bourdain, clothing, Leroy Jenkins, and pretty

much anything about anything. Just ask and keep an open mind

and you will see this is a pretty fun place to hang out. 


And they really aren't that all mean. I don't let them.





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