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devil duck

On the way to CCC

I'mt sitting on a train, on the way from New York to Montreal for a computer science conference .  As reading matter, I brought one of shalmestere's Kalamazoo finds, Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, of which I intend to write a review for one or more SCA publications.

Each chapter is written by a different scholar and treats a different geographic area.  Each author discusses the principal primary sources from the area, influences in both directions between the area and its neighbors, and any distinguishing characteristics of the region's cuisine.  The primary sources mentioned are familiar: the Viandier, Menagier de Paris, Vivendier, Du Fait du Cuisine and Enseignements for northern France; Llibre de Sent Sovi and Llibre del Coch for Catalunya; the manuscrito anonimo (aka "the Colin ms.") for Arab Andalusia; Platina and the Tacuinum Sanitatis for Italy; etc.  (An exception is the chapter on southern France, whose author edited the only known medieval Occitan cookbook in her 1989 dissertation.)  The Sicilian chapter, lacking a medieval Sicilian cookbook, confines itself to listing distinctive dishes of modern Sicilian cuisine with etymological and culinary parallels in the medieval Islamic world.

Some of the authors strike me as better scholars than writers: some of the text is disjointed, and sometimes it's difficult to identify the point of a sentence or paragraph.  [The Spain chapter, for example, lists a number of the primary sources and their contents, but doesn't draw the explicit generalizations that I found so useful in the England and France chapters, and the writing is downright clunky.]

The book contains a few recipes, but only as examples to illustrate the trends, similarities and differences from time to time and place to place.  It will serve best as a companion to those familiar primary sources: even if you think you're familiar with them, Regional Cuisines will help to interpret those sources in context.

The serious SCA coook will already have many of the primary sources discussed here [insert list]  This book should be seen as a companion guide to those sources, helping the reader to interpret them in context.

Right.  I'll put those thoughts in a meaningful order later.


[Marginalia:]
Dutch producing hopped beer starting in 14c. ?!  p. 204

Look up Enrique de Villena's Tractado del Arte de Cortor del Cuchillo, aka Arte Cisora, ed. Russel Brown 1984, an early 15th-c. carving manual; compare w/Wynken de Worde.  See what Menagier has to say on carving & serving.

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