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Culinary Arts Newsletter

Serve It Forth!
Unto the gentles of the Knowne World does Mistress Elaina de Sinistre
send greetings!
With the assistance and encouragement of Mistress Alys Katherine of the
Middle and Mistress Jaelle of Armida of Atlantia I am about to embark on
an enterprise that I hope will be of interest to you.  Starting in
January of 1996, and every two months thereafter, I will be publishing an
interkingdom Culinary Arts newsletter.  It will be strictly a private
enterprise - not done under the auspices of any kingdom, group, or
officer - but I feel that it will have a great deal to offer to cooks
throughout the SCA and those of other early-period historical
re-enactment organizations.  I am making a commitment to publish the
first six issues (calendar year 1996).  After that, I will continue the
newsletter if it seems to be attracting sufficient interest and
I have been asked, "Why a newsletter?  Why not start a newsgroup on the
'net?"  I feel that this is a valid question, and I would like to try to
answer it.  I enjoy the spontaneity of the 'net, and have gathered some
excellent information from SCA and culinary arts newsgroups.  However, I
see two difficulties that make me eager to publish in a hardcopy format. 
First, the net is ephemeral.  Yes, of course we can download items, but I
cannot count the times that I have read and enjoyed an article or snippet
of culinary information only to browse on and be unable, when I wanted
it, to retrieve it.  I envision the newsletter as something that cooks
can (and will want to!) keep as a reference and use as a resource. 
Second, odd as it seems to some of us, not everyone has access to the
'net.  A hardcopy newsletter, although it lacks the immediacy of a
newsgroup, is more inclusive.
I am earnestly seeking submissions for the January and March newsletters.
 Below is a list of the topics, articles, and columns I would like to see
written about.  I also plan to publish an extensive LOC (letter of
comment) column, and hope that different cooks will give me their reasons
for either agreeing or disagreeing with the articles published.
Send submissions to Mary Morman, 1245 Allegheny Drive, Colorado Springs,
CO 80919-1516 (in hardcopy or by Macintosh diskette), orby e-mail to
memorman@oldcolo.com.  If  you would like to receive a copy of the
newsletter, or if you know of anyone who would like to receive a copy,
write or e-mail me and give me your name and address.  There is no charge
for the newsletter, but I will gladly accept donations of stamps (US or
In service,
What kind of things do I want to publish?
Book Reviews - Not just of new books but of the old stand-bys like "Pleyn
Delight" and "Fabulous Feasts".  I want to review 'bad' books as well as
good ones!  Have you ever paid $20 for a book that looked wonderful only
to find that it's scholarship was seriously flawed?  Have you
participated in, or judged, arts competitions where cooks documented
their entries from 18th century sources?  This is the chance to share the
best and the worst of your library.  Reviewers need to cover some
specific things:  Does the book contain original recipes as well as
redactions?  Does it contain information about eating and dining - or
just food preparation?  Is it currently in print and if not how can
someone get it?   The idea here is to cover a broad number of books, old
and new, to help readers become aware of the numerous sources that are
available.  I would like to run six to ten book reviews a month during
the first year.  Check with me first to see if someone else has committed
to a particular title.
"How do you know?"  - There's a lot of myth out there!   I would like to
run a regular section with short articles (and reactionary commentary)
documenting ingredients, methods, dishes, etc.  For example:  Is cinnamon
period?  Can I use rice flour?  What new world foods are or are not
period?  What color were carrots?  Why can't I use baking soda if Irish
soda bread is 'traditional'?  What did people do in period that we can't
do because of health codes?  The accent here will be on writing up a
single, limited topic and on providing excellent documentation.  Expect
that your article may meet with some disagreement, and be prepared for
further dialogue.
Whole Feasts -  I would like to see some plans, sources, recipes, and
documentation for from-the-ground-up feasts so that Lady Almostnew in
Newshire could pick up a copy and DO a feast for 50 people at $5 a head. 
Have you cooked a small feast recently that went particularly well?  Do
you still have your notes and recipes?  Lay on!
Budgeting and Kitchen Management - How do you evaluate a kitchen?  What
are the important pieces of advice that experienced cooks give new cooks?
 What horror stories and brilliant successes do each of us have, and what
did we learn from them?  How do  you set up a per head budget, and how do
you deal with autocrats who want to add 47 people the night before the
event?  How do you work out ground rules with the autocrat in the first
place?  I would delight to publish checklists and budgeting equations.
Recipes - I envision publishing up to a dozen recipes in each newsletter.
 Recipes MUST give the original recipe and comment on the source. 
Redactions should be as detailed as possible (Yes, I know many of us
simply 'add a goodly amount' and 'cook until done', but do try to be
specific!) and should include commentary on why you decided to interpret
the recipe as you did.  Don't be afraid to publish recipes that are
common for cooks in your group or kingdom - other cooks may never have
heard of them!  For example, I would especially like the traditional East
Kingdom Savory Toasted Cheese recipe  - it's not widely known in the
western kingdoms.
Articles - Articles should be 500 to 2000 words and can be on any topic
of interest to culinary historians.  Articles should concentrate on food
and foodways of the 17th century and earlier, although incidental
information on later periods can always be added.  Articles must include
a bibliography (divided into primary and secondary sources) and any
footnotes should be made by reference in the text.  To encourage
submissions, I will give a $25 'prize' for the lead article in each
newsletter.  The editor's decision will be final, and all non-winning
submissions must also be available for inclusion in the newsletter.  Some
ideas for articles:
  From Refectory to Abbot's Table - a discussion of the breath of
     food and dishes available in religious institutions and how 
     they were influenced by the customs of the Church and the
     rules of the Order.
  Henry VII and Elizabeth - a comparison of early and late Tudor
     recipes, dishes, and eating habits.
  Foods for Fast Days
  The Influence of the Reformation and the Puritans on Food and
     Feasting in England.
  Marco Polo - His Real Influence on Italian Cooking.
  How the Crusades Changed the Way Europe Ate.
  Scandinavian Food from the Viking Era - What Do We Know and
     Why Can't We Know More.
  Pictoral Documentation - What do period pictures and
     illustrations have to teach us about food and dining?