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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Art Imitates - well, US !

Neil was the one who spotted this. Its just way too weird not to share!

Taken from the comics page of the Houston Chronicle, 11/28/09
the direct link

I really can NOT for the life of me imagine this reference points to anyone else in North American than DARC!

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Feeding Re-Enactors

Or how do we reset our modern sensibilities?

Over the years of being one of the main food providers at the varying levels of demo that DARC takes part in, my biggest challenges have been mostly, finding the time ahead, in a life that’s pretty full of other activities, to get ready. Fortunately, I find that food fascinates me, and drying supplies, or making ahead, and planning it all, amuses me. The one real conundrum has been in crossing borders. All of a sudden I’ve lost my easy ability to prepare our own supplies to take, especially meat, and have to rely on local groceries. (No, the Norse didn’t really eat pepperoni, but it was the only dried sausage available at your store!)

But in a demo situation, it’s far easier to adhere to a more plausible menu of foodstuffs. On the one hand, I’m preparing it before the public, so my methods will only be the appropriate ones. And I find the people I’m feeding are far more accepting of whatever I give them, when it’s the oasis in a busy day of talking to the public. (Not to mention that after the demo, we’ll probably be eating out somewhere, and they can suit their own tastes!)

However, there are occasions where we camp for ourselves. What then? We had already decided in our formative period, that morning was often a time of relaxed authenticity. Partly because some of us like our coffee in the morning; but also because that gave us a period of time in which we could discuss aspects of the whole process, and review gear, etc.

When it comes to food, though, beyond that pot of coffee, I truly prefer historical foods, and more appropriate methods. And when cooking for myself, that’s not really an effort. (Mind you, I occasionally stray out of one time zone a bit, if I really have urges for experimentation with some other things… I don’t get enough time cooking over fires to work my way through the entire list of things I want to try!)

I have found that when cooking for others, it’s much harder to toe that historic line. Or when cooking for a longer period of time. Our modern tastes and sensibilities get in the way, no matter how much we try to suppress them.

I often dry meat, for example. And while I’ve adapted the ingredients in varying jerky recipes to be something more in keeping with the spicings available to the Norse, it seems highly unlikely that they spent time adding flavourful marinades to meat they were drying as a means of preservation. A simple brining makes sense, because of the useful properties of salt. But plain brined and dried meat really just doesn’t cut it as a ‘snack food’ to the modern tongue. It works well as something for the soup pot, and I’ve used it as such. But for eating? Not so much.

Yet, in the real context, a bit of dried meat would probably have been quite the decent item to stave off some hunger, and the fact you had it at all would probably have been all that mattered.

So, when faced with a small crowd of people who find plain water something for washing with, not drinking, or a simple soup of dried vegetables or salt fish, less than inspiring, especially if it’s what you had yesterday and the day before, and the day before that…

It definitely becomes more of a challenge!

*Duck for Dinner.



      Updated: 4 Dec, 2007
Text © Dark Ages Recreation Company, 2007
Photographs © Individual artists
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