hudebnik: (pipe & tabor)
For those who haven't heard, Constance Hieatt died on December 29, 2011.

I met Constance Hieatt once, at an ACTA conference on food in the Middle Ages -- an academic field she largely created, and in which she enjoyed near-godlike status, yet remained warm, approachable, and open-minded.

The field of historical cookery is unusual in the number of non-academics, and academics from other disciplines, who participate and contribute to it. (The names Terry Nutter and David Friedman spring to mind, but the reader can doubtless fill in others.) I think Hieatt and the other leading academics in the field realized thirty or forty years ago that their books were selling largely to people in the SCA and related organizations, and it would behoove them to treat amateurs and recreational medievalists with some respect -- at any rate, that was the effect, and I think Dr. Hieatt deserves much of the credit for this welcoming, open-minded atmosphere.

As the above-linked obituary points out, she remained active in historical-cookery research to the end: one book is due to be published next month, and another is still in the editing stage (to be completed by her sister). I look forward to them.
hudebnik: (pipe & tabor)
OK, I'm a few hours late to the party on this, as I've been grading final exams. But Marian of Edwinstowe has left the building.

Marian wasn't a close friend of mine, but a fond acquaintance, who always had a smile and something interesting (and impeccably well-informed) to say about cookery.

Some tributes from people who knew her better:
Anton,
Vissevald, and
Justin.

There has been Too Much Death this spring.

Da Weekend

Oct. 28th, 2007 09:20 pm
hudebnik: (Default)
After the aforementioned shopping trip to the nearby farmer's market, [livejournal.com profile] shalmestere and I packed the car and went to the von Halstern "Winter Wolf Tournament". We're not in Haus von Halstern, and we have very little interest in the average SCA tournament, but [livejournal.com profile] murieldechamay's husband was doing the dayboard and feast, so.... It rained for much of the day, which scared off a lot of tourneyers, but for those of us who had planned to spend the day indoors, it was a pleasant, laid-back day. We chatted (with [livejournal.com profile] murieldechamay, [livejournal.com profile] tashadandelion, and a bunch of other people some of whom surely have LJ accounts but I don't remember them) about music, Renaissance clothing, and the usual SCA gossip. Every few minutes we would get up and grab some more food from the fabulous dayboard, or [livejournal.com profile] shalmestere and I would play some music... we even watched a few bouts of fighting, which had been moved from the soggy soccer-field onto the less-soggy asphalt but were still fought in the rain.

[livejournal.com profile] murieldechamay had warned us "This is a von Halstern feast: it'll be meat, meat, and more meat." There were a reasonable number of non-meat dishes, but the description was basically accurate. The special theme for the day seemed to be "Bambi": I had about three slices of ground-venison pie with lunch, a bit of venison jerky in the afternoon, a bowl of venison-and-barley stew with dinner, and we brought home some leftovers of both the pie and the stew. There was also roast pork (which went nicely with the very spicy apple-garlic (?) sauce), and fall-off-the-spoon-tender beef, and spinach, and other good stuff, of all of which I was unable to eat as much as my tastebuds wanted because I was so full from dayboard.

No after-dinner dancing was scheduled, so we packed up and got home at the unheard-of hour of 8:30 PM.

Today (Sunday) was gorgeous, clear, and chilly. I was going to make pancakes or waffles for breakfast, but found we were short of ingredients, so I had to run to the grocery before finishing breakfast prep. We walked the Things for about an hour in the park (did I mention it was a gorgeous day?), then spent a less-pleasant hour at Home Depot and a hectic time at Trader Joe's (which I gather opened two days ago, so it was jammed). Once home, I tried to install a new ceiling light fixture in the bedroom, giving up because there didn't seem to be any way to attach the thing without an outlet box already installed behind the ceiling (I don't think there are any ceiling outlet boxes in this house, just wires and the occasional threaded rod coming out of the ceiling). As a fallback, I installed it in the enclosed porch, where the ceiling is (I think) solid enough to put screws into. Anybody know how difficult it is to install outlet boxes?

Da Weekend

Sep. 17th, 2007 06:03 pm
hudebnik: (Default)
So... Friday afternoon we took the Things to the sitter, packed the car, and drove to Crossroads at Canterbury, the Chaucer-themed SCA event we've been looking forward to for a year. After that build-up, it couldn't possibly live up to expectations, but overall it was quite a good event, and some parts were incredible.

It was of course burdened by the addition of the Kingdom Rattan Champions' tourney, which predictably brought in a lot of people who had no interest in the theme of the event... but on the other hand, their presence covered the site rental, and left the organizers with less to worry about financially, so I shouldn't complain.

Blow-by-blow account of the event )

cooking

Aug. 30th, 2007 02:28 pm
hudebnik: (Default)
Washed a bunch of dishes.
Baked two loaves of bread.
Washed more dishes.
Baked a dozen crustless broccoli tartlets.
Washed more dishes.
Baked seventeen Paris-Pie pasties (before I ran out of pastry dough; I've used up less than half of the filling).
Sink is overflowing with dirty dishes.
Still to come: maybe make some more dough and some more pasties, maybe make some macaroons with the leftover egg whites, definitely wash more dishes.
hudebnik: (devil duck)
Several other people on my friends list have posted recently about cleaning house, discarding excess stuff, etc. so I thought I'd join the club. We make a point of hosting the Baronial business meeting in our living room twice a year, which not only gives us an opportunity to cook and throw a party for our friends, but forces us to clean [the public areas of] the house at least twice a year. Of course, reversing entropy is a lot more work than moving it around, so some of it has been shoved into the computer room, the master bedroom, the attic, and the basement, but just at the moment the public areas look pretty decent -- one wouldn't know we're in the SCA unless one looked at the titles of the books on the shelves.


Wednesday night we made tapenade and did some cleaning. Last night we made hummus, experimented with the pommeaulx (Scully and Scully redaction; needed to increase the spices), made beet brownies, and did some cleaning. Today I made a double batch of spinach tarts, a double batch of pommeaulx, a double batch of not-remotely-medieval fruit compote, and did some cleaning. Still ahead: heroin wings, pasta with yogurt sauce, and veggies-n-dip.

hudebnik: (devil duck)
Biggest LBC meeting yet -- 15-20 people.  Good dinner of "faire food", in preparation for a "hastilude" camp where food will allegedly have come from street vendors.
hudebnik: (devil duck)
9€ ice cream (aka lunch)
42€ dinner (on card)
c. 197€ on card at museum gift shop
2€80 groceries

The Hôtel Cluny hosues the Musée Nationale du Moyen-Age, one of our top-priority destinations for the trip. The building is perhaps 17th-c. but built on top of Gallo-Roman baths, largely still intact. But never mind that: the interior is full of medieval paintings sculptures, ivories, tiles, tapestries, etc. As we had been told, there was a 16th-century wafer iron. And a 15th-century host iron... but there were also, in the same display, four 16th-century wafer irons, a c. 1500 host iron, and an enormous 13th-century host iron. I took pictures of all of them, with 400 ASA film, underexposed by two stops, wide open, at 1/30 sec, because the museum doesn't allow flash photography. I shouldn't complain -- if they were in the US, they wouldn't allow any photography -- but the permissiveness of the Louvre spoiled me.

Anyway, I shot about forty frames at the Cluny, not including the lovely cooking pots, aquamaniles, pilgrim badges, naughty carnival badges, helmets, mail, swords, and lots of other stuff that was just too darn dark. [livejournal.com profile] shalmestere drew some of these things, and took notes on others. There was a temporary exhibit on gardens, which included watering pots, spades, serpes & serpillons, shears, 14th-c. Avignonese flower-pots, ... as well as lots of pictorial representations of gardens. Again, I shot a few underexposed frames here, and gave up on others.
hudebnik: (devil duck)
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 [livejournal.com profile] 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.

misc. news

Jun. 22nd, 1998 04:38 pm
hudebnik: (devil duck)
Let's see, what's happened recently?

I spent four days last week at the Computational Complexity Conference in Buffalo, where I renewed contacts with various complexity theorists. I also gave a "rump session" talk on my work on "Delayed Binary Search, or Playing Twenty Questions with a Procrastinator". The audience seemed to enjoy it: I got more questions than the previous two speakers combined, I was invited out to a bar by two of the research gods of the field, and by 11:00 the next morning two of the audience had made significant additions to the theory: David Schweizer found a recurrence that seemed to correctly describe the delay-2 case, and Andris Ambainis found a proof that the optimal algorithm took time logψn + O(1), where ψ satisfies ψ3 - ψ2 = 1, exactly what would be predicted by Schweizer's recurrence. I decided this was significant enough to invite them to co-author. I told them I was busy for the next week, but wanted to submit the thing for a conference deadline July 7; I hope they're working on it now.

Thursday night I returned from Buffalo. I spent Friday grocery-shopping and pre-cooking for the SCA feast we prepared and served on Saturday. Various things went wrong: there was no firewood until over an hour after we arrived, so the legs of lamb started cooking later than they should have; we didn't know where to get water on site, so the rice started cooking later than it should have; the autocrat suffered a car accident; a misunderstanding led to me ferrying a search party up and down Flatbush Avenue searching for her while she was safely at the site and [livejournal.com profile] shalmestere was doing last-minute preparations; a rainstorm hit just as we served the first course; etc. etc. But everybody seems to have enjoyed the food, nobody went hungry, and I'd call the whole thing a qualified success.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay around for the night or the morning: we had dogs at home to feed and walk, and I had to catch a plane Sunday afternoon to Houston, where I am now and until next Sunday morning, attending a workshop on how to teach beginning programming using Scheme. Most of the participants don't know the Scheme language, so they're struggling to learn it; I, on the other hand, am primarily trying to learn how to teach from Scheme from someone who's been quite successful at it.

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