Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Similar, but Different

Yesterday I wanted to make a pie for dinner to celebrate Pi day, and being the sort of geek I am, I thought I'd try out something medieval.

The Medieval Cookbook Search turned up a bunch of recipes for meat pies, and I picked out one that seemed pretty straightforward - Pyes of Pairis from A Noble Boke off Cookry.

It turned out pretty well, so I wrote it up and went to post it on the website, and that's when I realized I'd had it before. Well ... sort of.

I'd never made it before, but if I'd taken a few minutes to look at my own website I would have seen the link to Kristen Wright's version of the recipe. D'oh! This made me consider not posting it after all - I don't want to seem like I'm stepping on her recipes or anything.

However, there's something interesting to be seen from comparing her interpretation to mine. Even with such a simple recipe (cook meat, add eggs and spices, bake in pie), we ended up with substantially different results. What's more, I think that both interpretations are equally valid.

This is something I've come across many times while re-creating medieval cuisine. Because of the way the recipes are written, and because our cooking culture is so much different now from what it was then, there is a lot of uncertainty packed into even the shortest and most direct recipes.

In some ways it can be frustrating, but in other ways it makes it just that much more fun.

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