[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.


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Virtual Potluck: Erbolat and Sawgeat
Re-enactment during lockdown has its challenges. One of the centerpieces of a lot of SCA events is a feast. Shared meals with friends are one of the things which many of us are missing. A local member decided that a good way to help with that would be a virtual pot-luck. He wasn't wrong ...

The idea was pretty straightforward, he'd schedule a day that we could all Zoom in together, make medieval food, and, time and logistics permitting, eat it. He also reached out to a cooking Laurel who specializes in pastry, and to me, to see if we would be interested in doing a bit of a live practicum on the day. We both said yes, and so after the other Laurel had finished her class on Norwegian Pasties, it was my turn.

I wanted some dishes which were pretty straightforward, since part of the idea was to show some of our newer people that cookery, and medieval cookery, in particular was fun and perhaps not as difficult as they might think. I also wanted to use ingredients from my garden where possible, just because that's always a nice thing to do. I ended up with two recipes, one which I have made before, and one which a friend made at a feast where I was coordinating the meals.

These recipes are from:

Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglysch : English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (Including the Forme of Cury). Early English Text Society. Supplementary Series. Vol. 8. London: Early English Text Society, 1985.
The recipe citations are page number and recipe number. The texts of these recipes can be found online as well, in a variety of places. Both recipes are from the recipe family usually referred to as 'Forme of Cury.'

Erbolat. Take persel, myntes, sauery & sauge, tansey, veruayn, clarry, rewe, ditayn, fenel, southrenwode; hewe hem & grinde hem smale. Medle hem vp with ayren. Do buttur in a trap, & do þe fars þerto, & bake it & mess forth.
Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury, p. 138, #180
As I said, I've made this before, most recently At The Mark, and I don't believe I've ever made it the same way twice. The main difference between this version and the At The Mark version revolves around the word 'trap.' Usually in recipes of this vintage (late 14th to early 15th century), when I see trap, I think of a pastry crust of some kind. That isn't always the case, though. 'Trap' sometimes means a pastry crust, but often enough it just means something like 'pie-plate' or 'baking dish.' Sometimes, the recipe is clear. The recipe for Crustardes of Flessh (Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury, p. 133, #161) says explicitly 'Make a crust in a trap.' But assuming it always means pastry crust is, so to speak, a different kind of trap.

Reading widely and one's own experience can provide context. Looking for variations and versions in other cookbooks can also help. The recipe certainly looks like the sort of thing that goes into a pastry trap. 'Tart de Bry' (Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury, p. 137, #174) for instance is an egg and cheese tart, explicitly in a crust, and Erbolat comes at the end of a series of such recipes. In the absence of an explicit instruction, however, it's probably best to assume that no crust is needed. (Frankly, I got in the habit of doing things like this in crusts when doing feasts, partly because I didn't have enough pie-plates of my own, and I could just buy frozen crusts in plates which made both the cooking and the serving easy. It was sheer laziness, and I should stop it.)

Moving on ...

A lot of recipes that you find for erbolat, in its various spellings, emphasize the eggs. I like to emphasize the greens. The recipe calls for parsley, mint, savory, sage, tansy, vervain, clary, rue, dittany, fennel, and southernwood. Some of those are difficult to find - like clary, vervain, dittany, and southernwood. Rue and tansy can be dangerous - and also hard to find. This means that, especially for use at home, I tend to use whatever I have to hand or in the garden. For today, that means mint, coriander, sage, horseradish leaf, and chicory.

Sawgeat. Take sawge; grynde it and temper it vp with ayren. Take a sausege & kerf hym to gobetes, and cast it in a possynet, and do þerwiþ grece & frye it. Whan it is fryed ynowȝ, cast þerto sawge with ayren; make it not too harde.
Curye on Inglysch, Forme of Cury, p. 135, #169
Pretty simple here. A nice example of a good, accessible period recipe. I used a very basic pork sausage. The sage came from the garden. The thing to bear in mind is that last admonition, 'make it not too harde.' It is one of the indications we sometimes find as to the indicated result. We want something a little soft. To my mind that means something like a gently scrambled egg, rather than an omelette or frittata texture.

I meant to get pictures, but we got so caught up in the spirit of the event, that we didn't take any. Tant pis. Perhaps next time I make this I'll get some pictures. I've still got some sausage, and the sage is growing well ...

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Luddite'sLog, 9 June 2020
© 2020 Jeff Berry
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