Mistakes were made
We talk a lot about the dishes that went right, where we tried them out and people say nice things about them and ask for the recipe.
And then people say “oh no I couldn’t do it, I don’t know how to cook”. Well, I didn’t know how to cook before I started cooking for medieval events. I’ll do a blog article about how to go from being unable to boil eggs to cooking on a campfire for 100 people another time. But today I want to talk about the three biggest mistakes I’ve made when trying to make a medieval dish.
3. Carrots Puree (Featured Image) Ein Buch Von Guter Spise
Well…. that’s just awful isn’t it.
Redacting a medieval recipe yourself, even when the original text is pretty straight forward is a challenge. While trying to come up with vegetarian snacks, we came across Carrots Puree.
“How one wants to make a carrot puree. One takes carrots. And boils them in water and rolled (to remove the skin) in cold water. And chopped small. And add it then in a thick almond milk, and the almond milk was well made with wine. And the carrots boiled therein. And add thereto herbs enough. And color it with violet flowers and give out.”
Well, that seems easy enough. The first and definitely the biggest mistake was that we used orange carrots. See, orange carrots aren’t medieval. Purple or white carrots are. Which doesn’t seem like such a big deal but the different flavour (especially once boiled) between orange carrots and white carrots turned out to be pretty huge. We took one bite each and immediately threw the lot in the bin without letting any one else tasting it. Other mistakes made during this process – orange carrots don’t peel like white carrots do after being boiled and cooled. And mixing bought almond milk and wine does NOT make “almond milk well made with wine”. Knowing what shortcuts you can and can’t take is a very important lesson.
2. Lamb Pate Le Menagier de Paris
Well, I mean it’s not awful. It’s just not edible
“Item MUTTON PIE in a POT. Take a thigh (of mutton), and grease or marrow of beef or veal chopped small and onions chopped small, and set to boil and cook in a well-covered pot in a small amount of meat stock or other liquid, then put to boil in it spices, and a little vinegar to sharpen it, and arrange it in a dish.”
I love pate. I have an excellent chicken liver pate which routinely gets lots of compliments. But, it’s not actually medieval. (Chicken liver pate is, my particular recipe is not). And I love lamb. So attempting the lamb pate from Le Menagier de Paris sounded like a good idea.
The problem here is that I had recently moved into a brand new apartment. So brand new, that we were the first people to live there, and unlike my previous home, this one had a gas stove! So exciting! However, during the installation, the lowest gas burned hadn’t been set right. So it didn’t have a low setting, only what we would later come to term as “medium heat”.
I also decided that I didn’t need to use a bain marie, just the saucepan would be fine. I put the ingrediants in the pan, put the lid on, turned the stove to “low” and left it for half an hour.
When I came back, it was already clear that it had been badly burnt. That it tasted like ash on my tongue would be very generous. However, the second part of the testing had been to see how exactly it was supposed to be like pate, so I put it in a container regardless and put it in the fridge to wait two days until some
unsuspecting victims guests, came over.
It looked like fruit cake when I brought it out of the fridge. Like dark, brown spotted fruit cake. I already knew I had messed it up from tasting it warm but I asked my unsuspecting friends to try it for me anyway. To this day “Well it’s not awful, it’s just not edible” is still one of my favourite “yeah you messed it up” critques.
- Pea and Ham Soup
How do you forget the ham for pea and ham soup?!
Pea and ham soup comes in at number one because I have messed up literally everything there is to mess up about pea and ham soup (although thankfully, mostly on seperate occassions)
I keep making it, despite the many things that can go (and have gone) wrong because it mostly is a cheap and easy dish provided that
- You remember all ingrediants (peas, ham, stock, onions)
- You give the peas at least 4 hours to soak. (But not for more than 8 hours, or they won’t mush.
- In a big enough container
- You start it as early as possible since it always seems to take at least another hour than you think it will. (Extra time never hurt pea and ham soup, but not enough time always will)
- Dried peas can’t be too old, or they won’t mush. (You’d think they’d be incredibly shelf stable but apparently not if they are too old)
- Make sure the fire doesn’t go out or go too low or it will never cook.
- Not too hot a fire though.
- You stir it constantly, being sure to scrap the bottom or it will burn.
- If it does burn, DON’T scrap the bottom, and if possible, transfer to a new pot before the burned flavour gets through the entire soup.
There have been many, many mistakes aside from these over the past years but these always stick out as the most notable.