[Sca-cooks] Newbie Welcoming Techniques, was Contests was Definition of "Period Cooking" was Substitute for Potatoes?

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 25 22:53:35 PDT 2009

Judith wrote:
>  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."

Again, i know i'm quite late, but, well, i've still got an awful lot 
of 2-cent pieces in my pockets...

First, i think you're not in the wrong place... there may have been 
some communication issues in initial contact, but, really, we only 
want to help :-)

Second, many of us are passionate and quite vocal about historical 
food - as you've no doubt surmised. We don't all agree with each 
other about everyone's interpretation, but we usually have civilized, 
if passionate, discussions about our interpretation. The only thing 
better than an exciting and stimulating conversation about food is 
cooking, serving and eating that food. OK, OK, that's hyperbole, but 
it's true at least part of the time for a bunch of cooks.

Third, cooking medieval is not usually more expensive than cooking 
modern food. There are a few unusual ingredients - verjus, for 
example - but we've all got ideas for suitable substitutes. And there 
are very few expensive ingredients - saffron, for example, for which 
there is no substitute - but only a little is used at a time, so one 
doesn't have to make a huge outlay, and if kept in a dark dry place, 
it will last until the next time it is needed.

Cooking isn't the only thing most of us do, so it's not our whole 
existence in this game. This just happens to be one of our passions.

As for time... well, yes, learning a new cuisine takes time. That is 
the truth. But as you enjoy cooking, learning about and experimenting 
with medieval cuisines should be a great joy.

You like winging it? Well, medieval cook books are made for 
"wingers". They rarely give specifics in terms of quantities or 
cooking times, and often skip over technical details. So any three 
people working from the same recipe will come up with three or more 
different interpretations.

I once was on an Iron Chef team. The team head lost her cookbooks and 
plans. Fortunately, on the trip to the site i flagged a bunch of 
recipes in my cookbooks (i was not driving). So our team cooked all 
its dishes directly from the original medieval recipes - recipes we'd 
never cooked from before, which many of us had never seen before - 
recipes that did not tell us how much of any ingredient to use, nor 
how long to cook, and sometimes even just said: Make a such and such, 
with no instructions. Now, THAT was seat of the pants cooking... and 
we ended up winning over the team which had planned its menu and 
pre-tested its recipes.

So some of the inventiveness you like can be found in medieval cooking.

I was head cook for a feast after i'd been in then SCA for 1-1/2 
years and had helped cook only one feast. All my dishes were 
historical, although the combination of dishes wasn't (my menu 
featured dishes from Spain, France, England...). This very list was 
an INVALUABLE aid. I think my feast was much the better for all the 
wonderful assistance and advice i got here - from people directing me 
to particular cookbooks to sharing their own precious recipes with me.

I was a newbie and i benefited so greatly from this list! I am 
confident i could have cooked a feast without everyone's help, but 
the feast would have been so much the poorer.

I have made friends in real life with people on this list, people who 
do not live in my Kingdom - heck, even people who live on the 
opposite coast from me. What can i say, SCA-Cooks folks, i LOVE you!

If i had to sign off from every e-mail list i'm on but one, i would 
keep THIS list! (well, and the Historic Knitting list i started when 
i was just learning about knitting - it's my list and i need to take 
care of it.)
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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