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

Craig Daniel teucer at pobox.com
Tue Aug 25 09:00:05 PDT 2009

On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 7:53 AM, Judith Epstein<judith at ipstenu.org> wrote:
> Yes, I know all of this. When entering into a contest, I intend to document.
> When COOKING (rather than just sous-cheffing for someone who died 500 years
> ago) for MY ENCAMPMENT... Never mind, I've said it a dozen times before now.

And of course you're welcome to do it that way. We all do this for
fun, so anything that isn't fun for you is not a good idea.

Really, nobody has the time or energy to have every piece of
everything they do in the SCA be documentable, and we shouldn't have
to - this is the SCA, not Regia Anglorum or something. The only thing
we absolutely require is that you make at least a minimum attempt at

Personally, I absolutely suck at garb. For a couple *years* I was
going to events in my badly hand-sewn artificial fiber t-tunic with
just a raw cut edge for a neckline. I only gave up on it when I
started to beg and barter for better garb. Nowadays I have some garb
that actually matches my persona and is almost historically correct,
but that's not thanks to any particular effort of mine in making it. I
have frankly put less than a day's worth of effort into my appearance
*total* in four years in the society, because garb isn't something I
enjoy spending time on.

My time goes to other things. I don't cook feasts (yet - one of these
days I'm going to get involved in those) but I do cook for myself at
camping events, and I try to keep it period. In fact more than that I
try to keep it late period Iberian so it isn't too terribly far from
something my persona (early 16th C. Catalan) would have known. I cook
both that and other period (and, more often, periodoid) cuisine at
home for my family, too, and while they haven't been trained out of
looking nervous when I say "I found this recipe in a 14th century
French cookbook" yet they do tend to like it.

But that's only one way to do it. I've seen garb laurels munch on
modern chocolate-chip cookies in the privacy of their own encampments.

So, Judith, there's *nothing* wrong with how you're doing your cooking
in the SCA. It's just that this mailing list is so used to people who
do it like me only even more so that we didn't really know what you
meant from your early e-mails, and now that you've helped us figure it
out it's different enough from what most of us do that we may have
some trouble helping you.

On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 10:33 AM, Saint Phlip<phlip at 99main.com> wrote:
> Well, we seem to have a misunderstanding here. SCA-Cooks list has
> developed for serious period cooks, which is not to say that we don't
> talk about other stuff, but our focus is serious period cookery.
> Consequently, if someone arrives and tells us all about how they
> intend to invent their own version of period cookery, we're going to
> try to direct you into doing it the right way, and we're also going to
> explain WHY we think our way is the right way.
> Honestly, we don't care what you cook, as long as you're happy with
> it. But, coming in here and telling us you're going to invent your own
> version of period cookery by only using period ingredients in modern
> recipes is rather like going into a draft horse list, and telling the
> members you're going to use a draft horse to pull your plow by putting
> a horse face with ears on the front of your tractor.
> We realize everyone has to start somewhere- we're just trying to give
> you the best place to start.

On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 11:09 AM, Judith Epstein<judith at ipstenu.org> wrote:
> On Aug 25, 2009, at 10:04 AM, Barbara Benson wrote:
>>> I was thinking that the approach was more like walking into a  locals
>> bar in Boston and saying "Hows about those Yankees" in a loud voice.
> Nice idea, but I was thinking of it more like walking into a Boston bar and
> saying "I'd like to learn a bit about baseball, but I'd like to start just
> by getting a ball and bat and learning to hit. Throwing and catching, I'll
> leave for a bit later; and the rulebook too, if I decide to join an actual
> team."  And since I'm the one who's doing this, I'm actually pretty accurate
> concerning what my intentions were.
> The response is making me think, "This bar is not the place for me, until
> I've decided to invest time, money, effort, and pretty much my whole
> existence in this game."

Not to that extreme - I'm still just a dabbler in medieval cookery
myself, and I feel all right here. But while the group's description
is "cooks within the SCA," the list really focuses specifically on
period cuisine. Cooking period is most emphatically NOT the only OK
way to eat or cook in the Society, but it's what this list is mostly
about, so it's what people assume you're asking about unless you
specify otherwise really clearly.

I guess the way I'd put it is walking up to a bar full of baseball
fans and saying "Teach me to play softball." Nothing wrong with the
request, and somebody in there is probably happy to help - once they
figure out that you know there's a difference between that and

Frankly I'd go so far as to say that if I have a question about
anything other than cooking period dishes, this isn't where I would
ask it - even though I do so love reading the cooks list.

 - Jaume
mka Craig

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