The Cook-A-Long is a virtual kitchen for Medieval and Renaissance Cooking enthusiasts in the SCA. Each month a period recipe will be posted in the original language (when available) and a translation. All cooks are encouraged to try their hand at redacting and preparing the monthly dish and post his/ her results to the blog. If you are interested in becoming a participant in this cook a long, or would like to submit a dish for the month please send an e-mail to valkyr8 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No broccoli. Just frozen green beans, mixed vegitables, and plain, canned chick peas.

Where oh where has everyone gone? Can we try a new recipe? Anyone have some suggestions regarding what they'd like to try? Think of what's still available at the farmer's market. Think of a food type we haven't cooked yet. Think about something you'd wish a feastocrat would try. Think about backwards redacting a dish you love to something recognizable to the period palatte....

Make suggestions, and then we'll get our Fearless Leader to pick. We can't keep improving our food choices iffen we don't cook. :-)

I just had the pleasure of a trip to Jamaica. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which meant that we had a lot of food available to us, and I was looking forward to trying all sorts of things.

Unfortunately, what I discovered was that all-inclusive means that there will be a lot of foods familiar to the clientele and only a few of the local dishes. Worse, all of the foods that were supposed to be familiar to the tourists were just a little off. Now, at first, when I tried the things that were supposed to be for the various sorts of New World Spanish peoples, it was all off from what I tend to think of as Mexican or Cuban or Brazillian foods, so I thought, perhaps this is more like what that food tastes like in it's home nation, rather than the americanized versions I am accustomed to. But then I tried the General European cuisines and the General American cuisines, and those were all off, too. Believe me, I know what pancakes, french fries, and peanut butter are supposed to taste like. And, oh my god, I never thought I'd say something like this, but landlocked Wisconsin has better sushi than the specialty asian restaurant at the resort. I was very sad about the fish pretty much across the board. Nearly all of it was chicken-fried. Take chicken, lamb, pork, beef, and chicken fry it all, and pretty much it starts to taste the same all the time.

The things that were really delicious were the Jamaican dishes. Jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, sweetsop/soursop, breadfruit, curry goat. Things I never learned the name of, because someone would put it in front of me and dare me to eat it--which I would. And anything involving the fruits. The best kiwi's ever. A "fruit smoothie" made from cucumber and ginger. The fresh tropical fruits were always available and delicious, no matter how tired I got of the buffet.

I could go on at length about this issue, because food is one of my favorite things, but this is a blog about period foodways. So, what is my point here?

This type of cookery is one way in which we challenge ourselves to better foods. We grabbed some prunes and some wine and we found a sauce/pie filling that even the most die-hard non-period-food eaters would gobble up. What else is out there waiting for us to find it? We are really limited by what we find in the grocery store. What's in-season now that we can redact and discover all kinds of tasty goodness instead of eating mixed vegetables again? Earlier this year, I harvested the new dandelion leaves from my back yard and cooked 'em up. Free produce. I used a period recipe for greens (which is to say originally used here), and they were quite good. I'd like to see the tide for this blog ebb in for a while. I like to see how people would interpret things differently. :-) What food experiences have you had recently that make you long for something a little better? And how can we all help with that?

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