[Sca-cooks] Drizzle of Honey
ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Thu Oct 29 10:21:49 PDT 2009
>I am a firm believer that the "creative" part of our name should not be
>discounted. It is not easy to find period sources (many if not most of
>which have already been discovered) and much of the food history of the
>world was passed down without written memorialization.
The last part of that may well be true, but finding period sources is
easy. You don't even need access to a good library nowadays--just an
It's possible that most of the English, French, and German sources
have at this point been discovered, although I wouldn't count on that
being true more generally. But you don't have to discover a source to
cook from it. My guess is that a substantial majority of the
surviving period recipes have not been cooked by anyone in the last
century, so you can still do new things without finding new sources.
And working out a period recipe is creative, given the limited amount
of information. I just did another try at quince paste last night,
and I think I'm getting closer--I have the color now, and I produced
one trial drop with what I suspect is the right texture. Maybe if I
boil the rest down a little farther ... .
One interesting question is how large a fraction of the various
cuisines is actually represented by recipes in surviving cookbooks.
My guess is that, for those cuisines for which we have multiple
cookbooks--Islamic 10th-13th c., say, or English-French upper class
13th-15th--it's a large fraction.
My evidence for that is the amount of overlap between cookbooks. If
there were a thousand different recipes in a cuisine and we had three
different cookbooks, independently created, each with a hundred
recipes in it, very few of the recipes would be duplicated. In fact,
a lot of recipes appear in multiple cookbooks.
In some cases, of course, the reason is that one cookbooks was used
as a source for another. But that can't explain all of it. Maistre
Chiquart tells us that he has never read a cookbook--but his recipe
for quinces in paste is very close to recipes in the English corpus.
On the other hand, there are cuisines for which we have no surviving
medieval cookbooks. For those conjecture, based on very imperfect
information, may be the best we can do.
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