Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A medival kitchen in modern times (ponderings)

I was just thinking about redactions and experimentations. I love cooking both modernly and medivally but how do you combine the two? When doing a redaction or experimentation with a medieval recipe I use my modern kitchen of course. I don't usually have the time it would take to set up what very few basics i have for a medieval kitchen (though someday i would love to have one that stayed set up!)  So how accurate is one's redaction if it is done in a modern way? no real way of telling of course. Even if one were to set up a "period" kitchen would it truely be "period" enough? We have scientific data that there has been a climactic shift since that era and if you for example, bake bread, climate can be all the difference sometimes. Too cold, too hot, too moist and too dry can all be problems. Also with that is region you ar ecooking in. Italy is significantly warmer than Germany is, if I set up an Italian medieval kitchen in Germany am i really going to be able to reproduce Italian food accurately.

Obviously alot of these questions have no answers and never will. Truly we can only "do the best we can with what we have". This also does not mean we should not try. In fact I think it means we should endeavor to try harder , especailly with ingredients. To find what we can that is absolutely as close to period as we can get. At least I want to endeavor to do this. It has not been an easy process, not by any stretch. Names of plants have changed as well as growing procedures. Trying to trace a lineage of a plant can sometimes be like following a Russian royals family tree, abrupt ends and inbreeding.

How to address the consolidation of modern and medieval is a question I have been thinking about recently. For my part I am starting with trying not to use modern equipment such as mixers, chopper and grinders. Easier said than done when time can be a constraint. I will use pre cut, chopped or ground items though. The work is done by someone else as it would have been in period. Large estates had many people in a kitchen each with their own job title and duties. You would have a dozen cooks for a single feast and everyone working full capacity at that. So to never use a pre prepared product would be senseless. The best of course is if you can pre prepare the items yourself.

I will leave myself here for more ponderings later before I meander too far away.

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