Monthly Archives: February 2014

Theory of Weird Food

Just over two weeks out from Corazon, the doing of stuff is consuming my life and the documenting of stuff is, once again, falling behind. Inspired by a conversation on Facebook, I thought it would be fun to repost this material, originally written as part of a class handout in 2013. I promise at least one more process post between now and Corazon, and a really thorough post-assessment, with pictures! – a week or so after the event.

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I have come to the conclusion that what people SAY they want about “weird” period food, and what they actually want, are two different things. I’ve seen people who self-describe as very experimental eaters balk at the most astonishingly simple things, and I’ve seen “nobody will eat that” dishes absolutely demolished, with a collective cry from the populace for seconds and recipes. In trying to figure out how to more successfully walk the line between interesting and accessible, I’ve developed the theory that people parse “weird” on three axes:

  • Exotic ingredients

  • Complex flavor profiles

  • Unfamiliar or elaborate presentation

How well a dish is received is all about how we mix and match these three qualities for a particular audience.

0 of 3 – Very accessible. Runs the risk of being boring – but doesn’t have to be! Good for the keynote side dish (starch or vegetable) in a course,  or potluck or buffet dish for an audience of known conservative eaters.

Examples:

  • Meat or fruit pies
  • Macrows
  • Modernly familiar sausage
  • Simple vegetable and meat soups (i.e. potaje de fideos (chicken noodle soup) from de Nola)

1 of 3 – Accessible. Good for the main dish in a course, a potluck dish, or a novice A&S entry.

Examples:

  • Period (cake-like) gingerbread
  • Simply roasted beef, chicken, or pork accompanied by fussy period sauce
  • Period sausages
  • Salads with fresh flowers

2 of 3 – Interesting. Good for complementary dishes in a course, a potluck dish for an audience of known adventurous eaters, a setting where people will be eating small portions of enough different dishes to pick and choose, or a more advanced A&S entry or one of several dishes in a survey-style A&S entry.

Examples:

  • Simply roasted treatments of exotic meat or fowl accompanied by fussy period sauce
  • Simpler tharids (Middle Eastern savory bread puddings)
  • Most seafood dishes
  • Fragrant, elaborate desserts grounded in familiar techniques and ingredients (custards, candies, fried pastries, stuffed dates).

3 of 3 – Ambitious. Good for tasting platters, an audience of known foodies, or a high-level A&S entry.

Examples:

  • More elaborate tharids
  • Middle Eastern acid-marinaded, highly spiced meat dishes (i.e. goat with pomegranate from Anonymous Andalusian)
  • High court dishes (i.e. stuffed octopus from Sent Sovi)
  • Lactofermented period-style pickle (i.e. pickled eggplant from de Nola)
  • Fragrant, elaborate desserts using ingredients or techniques not generally seen in modern confectionery (non-dairy custards, camphored sweets, fruit conserva).
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Filed under Food, meta, sca life

Project Asteroids*

After a lovely, very full, very social half a weekend (dinner, stay-over, breakfast with my apprentice sister and her fiance, Kingdom business meeting, afterparty), I spent a good chunk of my leisurely, solitary Sunday going through piles and laundry baskets of what I think of as “fabric bomb debris” – a chaotic, accumulated mass of yardage (earmarked for certain projects and not), scraps, half-finished projects, mending, old things discarded in hopes of salvaging the fabric, and just junk. Separated much of it out into linen-silk-other, yardage and scraps, and got that all put away; took two bags to the dumpster; that leaves me with one laundry basket full of projects-in-various-stages.

I’ve decided I’m not going to start any more projects until I clear at least a couple of these out, and in the future, I’m going to clear one out for every new project I start. To wit:

– a handful of non-SCA clothes mending – not more than an evening or two’s worth of work for the lot of it

– a couple of Bluebird 20-lb flour sacks to be opened up and hemmed for dish towels

– a yard of black flannel to be used as backing to frame some of Juan’s (amazing!) collection of English pub coasters

And SCA projects:

– a couple of pair of Tatar trousers needing hemmed.

three one pair of Spanish trunkhose needing taken in, and two half-finished pair

– one panel of a chiton to be converted to an apron, and a wool skirt that shrunk to be converted to another one.

a lightweight linen Tatar coat, which was “done enough to wear” last Battlemoor but still needs some seams finished.

– a little bit of work left on the Elizabethan corset I started to wear under the Sposa Dantiscana, before I realized that the Victorian corset gave a better profile and abandoned it.

– a choli that needs its ties taken off, properly finished, and put back on. And maybe some embroidery. Definitely embroidery.

– a plaid flannel half-circle cloak, cut out and ready to assemble.

– a couple of panels of vaguely Turkish-looking print to be hemmed for camp tablecloths.

caramel-and-chocolate damask for a doublet, very simply cut (maybe something like this) to show off the excellent fabric.

– ivory silk and (very good) faux suede for a Stibbert doublet.

and the Shirt of Doom.

Lots of busywork! Not as glamorous as researching, shopping for, and starting a new high-concept project (at least, until I get down to those last three!), but all stuff that deserves to get done.

I’ll come back to this post periodically and mark things off as I finish them. I’m sure I’ll also add a few more as I continue to organize and sort.

(*That’s “shooting down UFOs,” for those of you who are not children of the ’80s!)

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Filed under costuming, meta, sca life