[Sca-cooks] Leftovers, questions and discussion [long]

Fields Family Farm fields at texas.net
Fri Sep 10 16:19:41 PDT 2010

Good answers/rebuttals to each of my hypotheticals.

I was thinking of butchers and cattle, as most people can't slaughter their
own cow (I can't, and I raise them for slaughter - it takes a heavy winch
and support system that I don't have).  Or horses.  Weren't horses
occasionally eaten too?

But I'll admit to ignorance of how the butchering and/or sale of cows or
horses occurred, or if it even occurred much in period.


On Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 8:36 AM, Daniel Myers <dmyers at medievalcookery.com>wrote:

> > -------- Original Message --------
> > From: Fields Family Farm <fields at texas.net>
> If we're getting into hypotheticals here, what if space aliens landed
> and handed you 50 tons of rotten pork and forced you under threat of
> disintegration to cover up the taste with all of your expensive spices
> and feed it to the king?
> Seriously though, none of these hypotheticals are all that likely in a
> medieval society.
> > What if you, as the cook, forgot and left the meat out and it turned?
> > Wouldn't you want to avoid that blame for the waste?
> Forgot and left the meat out?  How much meat do you think they had that
> they would butcher animals and leave them sit out for days?  They
> received their meat in the form of live animals (we have buckets of
> documentation for this fact) and butchered them as needed.  Why would
> you expect them to be anywhere as wasteful in an overall period of
> relative scarcity as we are now?
> > What if you were given a budget to buy meat and you bought older meat,
> > because it was cheaper, and then pocketed the rest?
> As mentioned above, meat was typically purchased alive.  For smaller
> purchases you could go to a butcher, but the butcher's not likely to
> slaughter more than he can sell in a day - he'd go out of business.
> Further, as has been mentioned by others, there are plenty of records of
> sellers adulterating older meat in order to sell it - and then being
> punished severely when caught.  Just how well do you think they can mask
> the smell of serious taint using cheap substances?
> > What if you had some bad meat, and some good meat, and you were allowed
> to
> > take what was left home after you cooked for your lord?
> It's been documented that the cook's duties included tasting every dish
> before serving, and at the end of the feast the lord of the manor would
> give part of the last dish to the cook.  There was also a well
> documented system in place in which leftovers were given to the poor.
> In the manoral setting, most regular jobs received their meals as part
> of their wages.  Further, the cook often lived in or near the manor
> kitchen.  The cook "taking food home" is meaningless in this context.
> There was nothing to take, and no home to take it to.
> > What if you were a vendor and your supplier brought in some meat that was
> > just turning and wanted you to sell it?
> Again, the vendor bought the meat as living animals, butchered it, and
> sold it at the market.  Cooks in large manors bought live animals and
> butchered them for feast.  The supplier was a farmer who raised the
> animal and sold it alive.  It wasn't like our current system where
> animals are slaughtered and shipped thousands of miles in refrigerated
> trucks.  Living animals don't generally spoil, and there were very
> strict laws against selling unhealthy animals.
> - Doc
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