Tomato

Did People Think Tomatoes Were Poisonous?

Sometimes curiosity leads to rabbit holes.

I was curious about tomatoes, so I did a bit of research.  I came across “The History of the Use of the Tomato: An Annotated Bibliography” by George Allen McCue, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 39, No. 4 (Nov., 1952), pp. 289-348, as well as “The history of tomato: From domestication to biopharming” by VéroniqueBergougnoux, Biotechnology Advances Volume 32, Issue 1, January–February 2014, Pages 170-189. And they give some very interesting information and about what people thought of tomatoes in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Artist: Clara Peeters

How to Eat in the 16th Century

Meals change over time. What we eat, and how much we eat changes. In the 16th century we see the transition from the medieval context of two main meals a day, with the first one happening sometime after 10 am, to a more modern concept of three meals a day. However, even still, they were not the same style of meals we’re used to.

How to put together a basic set of food for a day, not a feasting day, but a standard day. For some of this I’ll be using previous work I’ve done, the OED, and I double checked a few various texts. Think of this one not so much of an article as a set of guidelines for making things more period for those of us who are 16th century.

In Tudor England the three meals of the day were called Breakfast (brekfast, brekefast, breckfast), though this was not eaten by everyone, however it did gain in promenence through the 16th century; Dinner (diner, dyner, dinere, dener, dynnor, dennar) was the meal eaten around the middle of the day, from what I can tell it could be eaten as early as ten or as late as two, this also tended to be the larger meal of the day; Supper (soper, sopper, soupier, suppare, suppair, super) was the final meal of a day. There is the implication that this meal was a lighter meal than dinner and probably generally consisted of either soup or pottage.

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Kingdom Arts and Sciences 2018

Swearing in the competitors

This past weekend was Avacal’s Kingdom A&S Championship and The University of Avacal. It’s the first time the Championship has been done at its own event, and based on how many people I saw there, the event was a massive success. There were a ton of classes in 12 tracks, an A&S display area, and of course the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship.

Champion of Arts and Sciences

There were two full entrants for the Championship, Her Ladyship Niesa Abdelmessah, and myself. It’s a difficult and stressful competition, but at the end, I felt very accomplished just for getting through the creation, documentation, display, presentation, and questioning. HL Niessa had an amazing display, and entered bone carving and hide tanning and I am in awe of her skills in that area. I entered a research paper on the history of bacon, and a beef stew that could have been prepared on board a Tudor naval ship. At court that evening it was announced that I had won both the highest single entry and the championship, and I swore fealty to Their Royal Majesties Kvigr Ivarsson and Svava Suanhuita.

 

I never have a problem getting rid of the leftovers

Here are links to my documentation:

Pre 17th Century Bacon PDF: Pre-17c Bacon

Stew On Board Ship PDF: Stew on Ship

The rest of the post is fairly photo heavy.
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Paston Letter

Letter Writing

I enjoy getting to write letters in period style, the formulaic method that was used makes it easy to transform an invitation to the Crown into something that adds to the game.

Here are three letters I’ve written in the past by taking letters from about the same time period and utilizing the same formula in an SCA context. The letters were then given to those with a much better hand than mine to write out.

An invitation to the King and Queen of An Tir to attend an event I was running:

To Ieuan Dei Gracia Rex An Tir et Viscomes Tir Righ et dominus Aquilon, and Gweneth Dei Gracia Regina An Tir et Viscomitessa Tir Righ.

Your faithful subjects of Lionsdale wishing to observe their oaths and the fidelity due to God and to you, wish health, and tender their lawful service with all respect and honour. To this we desire for you to attend our Winter’s Tourney the Saturday following the celebration of the Presentation of our Lord (February 4th AS XLVI) that we may render our thanks unto you for being our sovereigns.

At Lionsdale, on the 15 day of January in the XLVI Year of the Society.

Lord Tomas de Courcy

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Ravioli

This month at Montengarde Cookery Group the theme is Eat Your Vegetables, so it’s time for some spinach ravioli.

I’ll let you in on a secret, although I love redacting recipes and cooking them my wife, HL Kayleigh de Leis, is the better cook, especially when it comes to pastas. So she’s the one making it this time.

This month’s is coming from Sabina Welserin’s 1553 German cookery book. Rabiolin zú machen or “to make ravioli”.

31 To make ravioli

Take spinach and blanch it as if you were making cooked spinach, and chop it small. Take approximately one handful, when it is chopped, cheese or meat from a chicken or capon that was boiled or roasted. Then take twice as much cheese as herb, or of chicken an equal amount, and beat two or three eggs into it and make a good dough, put salt and pepper into it and make a dough with good flour, as if you would make a tart, and when you have made little flat cakes of dough then put a small ball of filling on the edge of the flat cake and form it into a dumpling. And press it together well along the edges and place it in broth and let it cook about as long as for a soft-boiled egg. The meat should be finely chopped and the cheese finely grated.

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New World Foods in 16th Century England

“But they didn’t eat that” is a phrase that always makes me want to dig out my books and start researching. One of my favourites is turkey, which were easily obtainable in England by 1555, costing only slightly more than capons (Dugdale 135). Turkeys even showed up in cookery books written for the gentry and yeoman classes in the 1590s such as The Good Huswifes Jewell. But there are many plants that also came from the New World to England before 1600, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes, and corn.  Sadly it doesn’t seem to include the cocoa bean which, though it came to Europe by 1544, doesn’t get referenced in English until 1604 (Grivetti and Shapiro 926-7).
A great deal of knowledge is held in Gerarde’s Herball, first published in 1597. Gerarde was a member of the gentry class who was originally trained as a surgeon before becoming the superintendent of gardens for William Cecil, one of the Queen’s advisors (Rickman 1). The Herball incorporates information from various other herbals and medical texts of the time as well as his own commentary on the plants listed. It is not always accurate, such as in its entry on “stonie wood” (Gerarde 1390), likely petrified wood, but it does give a good overview of what plants were known of and used in England at the time. The Herball also allows us to debunk several myths we hold about the time, such as those regarding tomatoes.

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Proper Roasted Turkey

Many years ago my wife and I started making turkey for SCA events, starting when someone told us that turkey wasn’t period. So of course we couldn’t let that stand and did the research. Now of course we were normally doing this for large events or for things where oven space was at a premium, or time at a minimum, so we’ve never been able to do it properly in a coffin. So I was very glad that the vote on my poll was for turkey, because this time I get to make it in a coffin.

Culinary Night spread

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