Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So you wanna be a cook... pt 2 (research)

To research or not to research.. that is the question.

Yes folks, now that you have a theme, and a budget it is time to decide how to spend that money!

Firstly, how much of your food are you aiming to be period? All of it? One meal? One dish in every meal? Once you know how many dishes let the research begin.

There are a few ways to go about this, like all things it is determinded by the amount of time you have and the effort you want to put in, as well as skill level. Not everyone is ready to delve into untranslated or even translated (if needed) text to redact their own recipes.

How "true" to period you are is entire up to YOU! and your comfort level. If you are most comfortable with period-ish recipes, or recipes made from period ingredients with period methods go for it. If you like to use period sources and recipes but haven't reached a level where you like to or want to redact your own, this is good too. If you are at the point of using direct sources or translations and working your own redactions, again, it is all good. No matter what school you subscribe to if you are comfortable with what you are doing you will be less stressed and things will go smoother.

When I started I knew very little, I relied on what I had seen other places and what people had told me. Of course when I started there was no internet. I kept to a few simple rules and ideas: No potatoes, No tomatoes, and No bell peppers. I cooked stews with barley, served with simple breads. I stuck to basic meats of beef, chicken and pork, and while this is not completely off I have learned at this stage that at least 2 of the three "forbidden" foods I mentioned are found within period, but they are not widespread, they are very time and location specific. If doing a feast from those places AND time then by all means use them!

My next foray came after I moved to Drachenwald. I had no period cookbooks of my own and neither did anyone near me. So I turned to the next best thing, the internet! Not that there was a ton but there were two sites that got me started and provided me inspiration:
       Cariadoc's Miscellany: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/miscellany.html
and Stefan's Florilegium: http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Guisados1-art.html
From these two sites I found recipes, other peoples work and redactions but they got me started. They helped me learn how to do , and even how not to do things sometimes.

I branched from there to period texts, translated to or in English as this is my "mother tongue" I am slowly becoming proficient enough with German that I can delve into those soon. I have started to redact my own recipes, even those that have "been done" before as no two people see things the same way. This way of doing things is a slower process. Often you must cook a recipe several time before you get it to where you believe it's taste is.

How involved you want t to be is up to YOU!

I think I have given enough to think about for now... I will have more :) (next will be about not biting off more than you can chew.)

1 comment:

  1. You seem to have started the same way I did, but we are close in sca- and real age, so we started around the same time and technology. I still have Cariadoc's Miscellany and some others printed on paper in a file, because I didn't have internet at home at that time and no knowledge about books or money to buy them.

    There are as many different ways of doing things as there are cooks. I do my recipes in a different way. I'll use period ingredients, period methods and make my own recipes using the period theory of cooking as the guideline. I might use period recipes as well, but usually I have first decided on a recipe and then happen to find a period version of the same. This doesn't work for late period cooking of course, because the theory of four humors started to fall into dissuse in cooking during the 16th century.