[SCA-AE] Feasts - Thinking about peas
F. Page Steinhardt
sunshadow at twcny.rr.com
Tue Oct 25 10:54:57 EDT 2011
On 10/24/2011 6:51 PM, Dani Zweig wrote:
> The feast at Agincourt was excellent (thank you, Elss). It got me wondering
> about feast authenticity. To be clear up front, this isn't a "were the
> dishes authentic?" post, but a "how do we balance authenticity with modern
> sensibilities?" post - because a feast that's as authentic as we can make it
> wouldn't be much fun for most of the attendees. (There have been feasts
> that were specially designed and designated as authentic, but that's very
> different from surprising the diners.)<SNIP>
I am not sure what feasts you have eaten that have given you this sad
misperception of period food. I can think of few feasts I have eaten in
the last ten years where the period food was not *AT LEAST* as good and
interesting as food I have paid lots of money for at expensive
restaurants. Perhaps that is just because the cooks in the Northeast end
of Aethelmearc are exceptional (well, come to think of it, we are truly
blessed with great culinary talent in the less travelled end of the
Kingdom) but part of the reason is because there is so much truly
wonderful period source material to draw upon and so many cooks in the
last 20 years have taken a serious look at period recipe redaction
rather than rejecting the concept outright.
> People aren't necessarily going to like the
> results if they restrict themselves to period alternatives and period
I am an extremely picky eater with a host of unusual food allergies and
sensitivities, yet I have been absolutely amazed by the variety of
wonderful documentable middle eastern foods prepared by Mistress Sadira,
and Mistress Katja, the Northern European feasts cooked by Meisterin
Felicitas, The wonderful meals cooked by Mistress Sybil, the feasts
prepared by the Coppertree Cooks Guild, the period feasts I have had in
the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn, and I could go on.
Addressing the comparison of modern VS period foods, my wife (THL
Fionnghua ingean Diarmada) did an experiment at Pennsic on our night of
camp meal plan where she redacted a group of Roman recipes that had
modern analogues, and we prepared the Roman and modern foods and served
them side by side. The result in our camp at least was that the Roman
food actually disappeared quicker than the modern, and the Roman was
quite acceptable to the modern palette. I believe she will be offering a
class on that at the Cooks event in Coppertree on November 5th
> 3. Eating peas with a knife...
> How would they have eaten that? The introduction of the dining fork (as
> opposed to a fork used for serving or as a kitchen utensil) revolutionized
> dining. Without a fork, you can eat with your fingers and/or a knife, with
> a spoon, or on bread. (Much of what we read about period table manners is
> about eating with your fingers without dripping the sauce on your clothes.)
> I'm not saying that feast-goers shouldn't use forks, but that the
> availability of forks lets us us serve dishes and presentations they would
> not have used.
Spoons are documented in every culture commonly included in the SCA if
you look hard enough. I would be happy to make people culture/period
appropriate spoons for their personae
I do recall a nursery rhyme from my childhood that this reminded me of,
I do not recall the author
"I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
it makes the peas taste funny
but it keeps them on my knife"
> Should they have eaten that? Our feasts tend to incorporate period recipes
> into a framework of what we think a reasonably-healthy meal should be.
> Period feasts are, by modern conventions, a short trip to the grave, if you
> live long enough. For purposes of comparison, here is the bill of fare for
> a dinner given at Oxford in 1452 (taken from Source: MS. Cotton. Tit.B.XI.
> fol. 21, vo.):
> Primus Cursus, A suttletee; the bore hed and the bulle. Brawne
> and mustarde. Frumenty with venysoun. Fesaunt in brase. Swan
> with chawduen. Capon of grece. Herunsew. Poplar. Custad ryalle.
> Graunt fflaupat departid. Lesshe damask. Frutor lumbert. A
> Secundus. Viant en brase. Crane in sawce. Yong pocok. Cony.
> Pyions. Buttor. Curlew. Carcelle. Partriche. Venysoun bake.
> Fryed mete in past, Lesshe lumbert. A ffrutour. A suteltee.
> Tertius Gely ryalle departid. Haunche of venyson rostid.
> Wodecok. Plover. Knottis. Styntis. Quayles. Larkys. Quynces
> bak. Viant in past. A frutour. Lesshe. A suteltee.
First, this feast would have likely fed a large number of people, with
not everyone eating significant portions of each dish, secondly, the
activity levels in period would have demanded significantly higher
calorie and fat intake than our current largely sedentary lifestyles.
There was a television "reality show" in which families were placed in a
frontier setting and had to live within the restrictions of early
American pioneer life, one of the things they found out was that a
10,000 calorie high fat high cholesterol diet was necessary just to keep
them functional because of the heavy manual labor they were performing
on a daily basis (and even at that many of them lost significant weight)
Food for thought
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