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Backward documentation

Poster: Carol_O'Leary@ed.gov (Carol O'Leary)

     Greetings to all at Cheapside!  I have been following the discussion 
     of cordials and documentation with some interest and wish, with 
     absolutely no disrespect intended to Lady G or her work, to point out 
     a relatively common fallacy in her search.
     Lady G has invented a cherry rose cordial of which she is very proud.  
     That's wonderful.  Now she is looking for documentation for it.  
     That's maybe not so good.
     Gentles all, if we truly wish to emulate our predecessors, if we wish 
     to "recreate" the Middle Ages and Renaissance in any degree, we must 
     learn what they did *first* and try to base our work on theirs, not 
     create out of whole cloth and then search for something that looks a 
     little like what we made up.  Documentation has to come before 
     creation, not as an afterthought.
     When I teach people about medieval cooking, I like to compare it to 
     learning a language.  The ingredients are the vocabulary, and the 
     cooking techniques and ways of combining ingredients are the grammar 
     and syntax.  It's fine to combine vocabulary to create new sentences, 
     but if you don't know the grammar and syntax first, you get 
     meaningless strings of words.  The primary sources are our teachers; 
     let them teach you without preconceived notions that you know better 
     than they do.  And yes, it *is* fun to learn the rules before you 
     start creating on your own; it's just a matter of how you pose the 
     Melisande de Belvoir
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