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

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Tue Oct 13 11:54:59 PDT 2009

>>  >
>>As far as I can tell, the use of cattail roots (rhizomes) as a food (the
>>core, after peeling off the woody outer shell), only dates back to Europeans
>>coming to America (unless you're doing Native American cooking, in which
>>case you're looking thousands of years B.C.).  Despite the fact that some
>>cattails (notably, the Dwarf Cattail) are native to Eurasia, I can't find
>>any record of period usage.  I have read a source that Russians consider the
>>young, peeled shoots a delicacy, and, of course, both the inner flower and
>>the pollen are edible, but I can't find period documentation.   Except for
>>use as a building/crafting material.
>>anyone else find this?  You can supposedly mash them, fry them, boil them,
>>bake them, cook and dry them and use them for flour, any number of
>>usages....including substituting them for potatoes.   Apparently, they're
>>quite tasty, but not completely potato-like.  One author stated he preferred
>>cattails, however.
>>Ian of Oertha
>I can't speak to period use, but 30 years ago I took a class on 
>foraging wild foods.  My hazy memories that cattails shoots were 
>bland but edible, and probably didn't have a lot of calories.  The 
>teacher compared them to palm shoots.  I'm afraid I don't remember 
>what the cattail rhizomes were like, although I think we ate them 

"Bland but edible" fits my memory.

I believe there are two edible parts of the root. The root itself can 
be boiled, and gives you a pretty tasteless starch with unedible 
string running through it. That I've eaten. But there are also 
supposed to be nodules of some sort that can be eaten--those might be 
the rhizomes.

"That morning he was fishing, back to a rock, trying not to think 
about cattail roots. A bundle of string in wet starch. But letting 
his arm heal and the hunt die down would take longer than his 
supplies were going to last; best save the remaining travel food for 
travel. " (my _Harald_)

David Friedman

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