Monday, July 27, 2009

Gen Con Seminar Schedule

In just over two weeks (and three days after I get home from Pennsic), I will be Participating in the Writer's Symposium seminars at Gen Con. I've gone to this convention for several years, and given talks on medieval cooking for the past three or four (I'm losing count).

On Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m. I'll be giving a 2 hour talk about medieval cooking ("Getting Medieval with Food"). This will be a sort of general overview, geared towards fantasy authors and game designers who want to make the food in their work more realistic. Here's the description from the Gen Con events catalog:

SEM0903050 - Getting Medieval with Food
Fantasy games and novels are commonly set in a society based on medieval Europe - except for the food, which is commonly way wrong. Learn how medieval English and French cuisine worked as a system. Topics will include medieval ingredients and preparation methods, the structure of medieval feasts, finding medieval recipes (or making them up), and common myths about medieval foods. 08/13/2009, 8:00 PM - Marriott : Indiana Bllrm D

I'm also very likely to ramble a bit, allow myself to be side-tracked by questions, and maybe even rant.

I'll also be part of the following panel discussions:

SEM0902995 - Food for Thought
A key ingredient to believable characters and stories is food. Heroes, villains, and the supporting cast have to eat from time to time. How can you enrich your writing by adding a dining experience or two? What does food say about the world you've crafted? 08/15/2009, 12:00 PM - Marriott : Lincoln
SEM0903002 - Hunting Dragons
Why has going after dragons been so popular in fiction? Our panelists discuss classic dragon hunters like Beowulf, Saint George, and Bilbo Baggins, in addition to how the hunt has changed over the years. Learn how to shape the classic story into something fresh and exciting. 08/15/2009, 3:00 PM - Marriott : Santa Fe
SEM0903003 - Stealing History
Why recreate the wheel each time you create a story, character, or world? Yes, you can build your knighthood or priesthood or religion or society from scratch, but taking what's historically known and warping it might fit the proverbial bill and depth and believability. Join our panelists for a discussion on how we can mine our own rich history for characters, backgrounds, worlds, cosmology, scenery, and more. 08/15/2009, 4:00 PM - Marriott : Santa Fe

On the whole, I expect it to be lots of fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What a Difference a Word Makes

I've been spending a good amount of time lately looking at the John Rylands University images of their copy of Forme of Cury (I know, what a surprise) and comparing it to other versions. There are lots of differences, but they're usually minor changes in spelling, with the occasional dropped or added word here and there. Sometimes those dropped words can have a huge impact on a recipe.

A perfect example is the recipe for Payne ragoun. The Rylands manuscript has the following:

Tak hony suger cypres & clarifye it to gider & boyle it with esye fyre & kepe it wel from brennyng & whan hit hath y boyled a whyle tak up a drope ther of with thy fynger & do hit in a litul water & loke yf it hong to gider & tak hit fro the fyre & do therto pynes the thryddendel & poudour ginger, & stere it to gyder tyl hit bigyne to thyk and cast it on a wete table, lesche hit & serve hit forth with fryed mete, on flesch day or on fysch dayes.

Compare this to the version transcribed by Samuel Pegge in 1780:

Take hony suger and clarifie it togydre. and boile it with esy fyre, and kepe it wel fro brennyng and whan it hath yboiled a while; take up a drope therof with thy fyngur and do it in a litel water and loke if it hong togydre. and take it fro the fyre and do therto the thriddendele an powdour gyngener and stere it togyder til it bigynne to thik and cast it on a wete table. lesh it and serue it forth with fryed mete on flessh dayes or on fysshe dayes.

Weird spelling and ampersands aside, there's not a huge amount of difference between the two ... except for one word. The Pegge edition leaves out the word "pynes". The omission of this one word turns the recipe from pine-nut brittle into spice candy, and hides any connection to similar recipes for "Pynade" in both Forme of Cury and Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books.

Interestingly, the word "pynes" is included in the edition of Forme of Cury that appears in Hieatt & Butler's Curye on Inglish (I haven't had a chance to check which manuscript that transcription was based upon), so a correct version of this recipe has been available for quite some time. Still, I'd hazard a guess that the Pegge edition is the one most often consulted (because it is available online for free).

So what's it all mean in the grand scheme of things? Probably that one should always check multiple sources whenever possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kalendarium Hortense - July

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of July.

Deux-ans, Pepins, Winter Russeting, Andrew Apples, Cinnamon Apple, red and white Juneting, the Margaret Apple, &c.

The Primat, Russet Pears, Summer Pears, green Chesil Pears, Pearl Pear, &c.

Carnations, Morella, Great-bearer, Morocco Cherry, the Egriot, Bigarreaux, &c.

Nutmeg, Isabella, Persian, Newington, Violet muscat, Rambouilet.

Plums, &c.
Primordial, Myrobalan, the red, blew, and amber Violet, Damasc. Denny Damasc. Pear-Plum, Damasc. Violet, or Cheson-Plum, Abricot-plum, Cinnamon-plum, the King's-plum, Spanish, Morocco-plum, Lady Eliz. plum, Tawny, Damascene, &c.

Rasberries, Gooseberries, Corinths, Strawberries, Melons, &c.