As many of you know, even though I joined the SCA in Trimaris, I lived in Meridies for 10 years. My Laurel, my household, and a big chunk of my heart is still in Meridies. My Laurel taught me to cook and her Laurel taught her, and I just rediscovered an article that the two of them wrote together. It’s kind of a mini-handbook for cooking a feast and hits all of the important points, and I’m not sure if there’s ever been a better one written.
The intro pretty well sums up my entire philosophy of cooking feasts:
I believe in period style feasts. This is not to say that I think anyone could or should do a “completely authentic” feast. Not only is this probably impossible, but it would also be unsanitary, unpalatable to modern tastes, and unbelievably expensive. Medieval and Renaissance feasts were extremely long and had dozens of courses or removes. There was no modern concept of a balanced diet or nutrition. Food preservation was limited, and many foods were salted, preserved in vinegar, and dried. Fresh foods were available only in the short growing season–not year round. Cooking methods frequently led to dishes that were overcooked by modern standards. There were few sweets. Furthermore, in period labor was cheap, and there were hordes of servants to help with preparation. [i]
Despite these inconvenient facts, the doughty SCA chef may forge ahead in planning and preparing a “period style” feast. By “period style” I mean using foods found in period and recipes that are derived from period sources. When possible, period cooking methods and presentation of dishes should be incorporated. The feast menu may (and should in my mind) come from a single time and place, and all recipes and foods should be documentable to that time and place. However, certain allowances for our mundaneness must be made. A balanced menu that is nutritionally sound, sanitary methods of preservation and preparation, a shorter serving time, fewer kitchen helpers, a smaller budget, and so on. The SCA chef spans the best of two worlds–a caterer with historical research skills. If this is something that interests you, read on.
Thank you again Maysun and Roz for
introducing me to this crack inspiring me to cook feasts!