[Sca-cooks] A question of philosophy

Saint Phlip phlip at 99main.com
Tue Jun 7 09:51:47 PDT 2011

On Sun, Jun 5, 2011 at 4:55 AM, Claire Clarke <angharad at adam.com.au> wrote:

> Anyway, what I'm wondering is, as period cooks, what you think the
> appropriate approach should be:
>        - no cinnamon if there's no cinnamon in the period recipe (the
> 'we're trying to give people a mediaeval experience' philosophy)
>        - cinnamon makes it good so put it in (the 'we're trying to make
> people's stomachs happy' philosophy)
>        - put no cinnamon in the fritters but sprinkle them with cinnamon
> sugar, 'cos even if it doesn't say specifically to do this with the
> fritters, because they did that in period with other things (the
> 'desperately trying to justify oneself' philosophy)?

> Thoughts?
> Angharad

The third is never an option. Under no circumstances should you be
'desperately trying to justify oneself'. If you're that desperate,
you're not having fun, so you might as well quit, because you're
missing the whole point.

As far as other options, it depends on what you're doing. If your goal
is to present a perfectly period dish from a specific when/where, and
there  are no recipes from that area or nearby that use those
ingredients in quite that way, then do it their  way, not your way,
because you're trying to discover THEIR ways of  doing things, not

OTOH, if you're looking for a recipe which is from period which will
fill a spot in your meal, there is  nothing in the world preventing
you from looking for a recipe that has the cinnamon in it. If, as  a
seriously reenacting cook, you're dealing with a feast from, say,
Northern Europe, you probably wouldn't be looking in collections  of
Middle  Eastern or Arabic recipes. You might,  however, ask a good
librarian like  Johnna for some options, if you can manage to ask her
before she volunteers to help ;-)

Or, rather than using option 3, you can just say "Screw it, I want
apples and cinnamon, and I don't care if it's period or not.It just
tastes good."

It's all depending on what YOU want to accomplish ;-)

One of my more satisfying attempts at discovering period food was when
I needed a particular item, but couldn't find quite that item in the
references I had available. I knew that what I was using was the sort
of thing they'd have  done at that time of year, and I knew that
they'd  have had all the ingredients available, so I went ahead and
made the  dish, introducing it as speculative. Lo and behold, a few
days after that feast, someone found me a recipe from the same
approximate when/where but from a source I didn't have access to, and
it was almost exactly what I had made. However, that worked out, not
because I was trying to justify a modern technique in a Medieval
milieu, but because  I was immersed in the way they usually did
things, and understood it well enough to guess right.

Saint Phlip

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Heat it up
Hit it hard
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It's the smith who makes the tools, not the tools which make the smith.

.I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary
notices I have read with pleasure. -Clarence Darrow

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