[Sca-cooks] do someone know about the Greek mastic?

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 7 13:47:58 PST 2012

Ana Valdes asked about uses for mastic.

Mastic is an important flavor component in Conditum Paradoxum. Below is an alcohol-free version i made for my Greco-Roman feast with 26 different dishes. That feast was something of a challenge because the Princess had several potentially deadly allergies, the Prince followed some specific dietary rules, and several attendees had fish allergies. We managed to pull it off without making anyone sick.

I made a lamb version of lucanicae sausages for this feast, altered because the Prince did not eat pork and i also had ham in the same course. The night i was mixing the ingredients by hand at home, we had an earthquake - and there i was, up past my wrists in greasy meat and spices and unable to turn a doorknob...

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

-= Conditum Paradoxum - Spiced (White Grape Juice) Surprise =-

Spiced Wine Surprise is made as follows: 15 lb. of honey are put in a metal vessel into which you have previously put 2 pints of wine, so as to boil down the wine while cooking the honey. It is heated over a slow fire of dry wood, stirring all the while with a stick; when it begins to boil over it is checked by adding [cold] wine; it also sinks when removed from the fire. When cool it is heated once more. This must be done a second and third time, and only then is it removed from the fire, and skimmed on the following day. Then take 4 oz. pepper, 3 scruples of pounded mastic, a handful each of aromatic leaf [a number of scholars believe this is malabathron/malabathrum - known in much of South Asia as tejpat] and saffron, 5 roasted date-stones, the dates softened in wine, having previously been soaked in wine of the right kind and quality, so as to produce a soft mash. These preparations completed, pour over 18 pints of sweet wine. In the end add coals, if it is too bitter.
- - - - - Apicius, Book I, Chapter I, Recipe 1 (Flower & Rosenbaum trans.)

My Version for 80

5-1/3 cans White Grape Juice Concentrate
Water, enough to make 2 gallons of juice
10 fresh Dates, soaked in juice
3 lb. Honey
1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Verjus/Sour Green Grape Juice
1-1/2 Tb. ground Black Pepper
10 Bay Leaves,as substitute for Malabathron (Tejpat) Leaves
3/4 tsp. Saffron
3/4 tsp. Gum Mastic

1. Reconstitute juice.
2. Soak dates in a small amount of juice until soft.
3. When soft, put in blender with a bit more juice and blend until pureed and liquidy. 4. Mix 6 cups of juice with honey and bring to boil.
5. Add seasonings and dates and cook on medium-low heat for a while, until mastic melts, stirring occasionally.
NOTE: The mastic never completely dissolved and some stuck to the bay leaves.
6. Add remainder of juice, then stir in vinegar and verjus to taste.
7. Let stand overnight.
8. Strain/decant. Some of the pepper settled out, and i intentionally left it behind when the juice was decanted. I like the bite it added but i was concerned many diners might find it unexpected and unpleasant.
9. Serve.
10. Dilute to taste with water, if desired.

-- I really tried to find tejpat/malabathron/malabathrum leaves (Cinnamomum tamala). There is a significant South Asian community where i live and i went to South Asian markets and asked for them. I was shown some leaves that looked a lot like bay, and when i asked the proprietors they said that this is what they use in the US and it tastes a lot like the original. While I am not utterly convinced they taste the same, that's what i used.

-- I skipped the roasted date stones.

-- This should have been made with wine. However, SCA rules do not allow the purchase of wine or other alcohol for serving as beverages with organization moneys. Therefore I substituted white grape juice, spiked with Middle Eastern sour white grape juice so it wouldn't be too cloying.

-- This was a surprise hit. Several folks who said they very much disliked white grape juice because it was too cloyingly sweet asked me for the recipe.

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