[Sca-cooks] the context of food: was Substitute for Potatoes?/ Definition of "Period Cooking"

Raphaella DiContini raphaellad at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 25 15:48:31 PDT 2009

   One of the things that I've personally found most challenging and rewarding about cooking historically as part of a bigger effort to attempt re-creation through immersion is the context. When I was first interested in historical cooking I started just looking at whatever historical recipes were available and it was a hodge podge of times and places, and most often seasons as well. 
    In modern terms, just as an example, if you woke from a coma, didn't know what day it was and your family served you turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and all the trimmings, or alternately a meal of bitter herb, hard boiled egg, roasted shank bone, celery, etc. what day would you be fairly certain it is? If you thought thanksgiving for one example and Passover Seder for the other than we've just shared a common meaning in food that would be totally lost without the cultural context. 
    Food still has a huge cultural context, although we may not think of it in those terms nearly as much now that we can get all kinds of meat, milk, strawberries and grapes all year round. The historical context may be hard for us to see if we're either just going with what ingredients we know they had, or even while using historical recipes. 
    That's not to say that it's bad to only look at individual recipes, or even just use what you know of historical food to wing it, so to speak. It's just something that I find fascinating that is often lost in cultural translation. One of my favorite sources for context actually isn't cookbooks, it's menus, descriptions of food and drink as part of a story, picture or poem. 
   Sorry for the ramble, just more food for thought. :) 
In joyous service, 


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list