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.
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:
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.
- Meat or fruit pies
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).