Posts in Persona: An Tir’s Kingdom Feast and Bardic Celebration

I am enjoying my time at Kingdom Feast. I swore my fealty oath to Their Majesties, as I had hoped to do. It is still surprising to me that one such as I can regularly see her Sovereigns. The foods of Italia are quite different from York — maybe I can try some of them in the shop, I think they’d sell. Yesterday my former Master prepared one meal for the attendees, and I did some work for him in the kitchen (although I am ashamed to say very little). 

Many craftswomen had their work out to be seen in the hall; in An Tir there are at least as many women as men working in trades, and they are allowed all the same privileges as far as I can tell. I saw books bound, pots thrown and painted, scrolls and panels painted, all by women. 

Right now the other ladies of my house are up early making us a meal before some of us attend a guild meeting. I am dressed already in my fine new gown and laurel jewels, and even have my silk fillet and veil. Our King and Queen will be at the Guild meeting, so I must array myself well as if it were Court. But what a bother to travel without a servant! My companion Anne and I have had to pack and carry our own things, and I had to dress myself this day. There seems to be no one to hire in these lands, so I do not yet know how I might improve upon this. 

The weather is foul, heavy rain and wind. I did not bring a hood and give thanks for how hot they seem able to keep these halls. 

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FUN FACT!

So it turns out that not having a functional computer at home utterly destroyed my posting momentum. Sorry about that. Of course, it also turns out that I haven’t done anything remotely interesting since getting elevated. Sorry about that too.

But now I have a new laptop at least, so as soon as I start doing interesting things I’m sure I’ll start writing about them!

How to transport pottery safely

Transporting pottery and glassware to and from SCA events is a somewhat perilous enterprise. A few years ago at a Cook’s Playdate*, Mistress Tangwystl showed off her brilliant solution: polar fleece baggies in various sizes into which pottery can be safely tucked for a long journey. 

  
I call them Pot Socks, The Fun Socks For Fun Pots! Try calling them that, the whole name — it’s super fun. 

I can’t take credit for this great idea, but I can give you a primer on how to make them. It’s dead easy. 

First you get some fleece (I made roughly 10 socks of a few sizes from 1.5 yards of fleece), then you decide what size(s) you want, then you cut them out and sew up the edges (use a serger or a zig-zag stitch). 

  
I found that 12″ was a pretty good width for most of my pipkins. For cups, 6-8″ by about the same length (doubled over) works well. I just used half thr width of the fabric for each sock, so each bag was maybe 15″ deep. 

Here’s a small sock for a glass:

   

 
I also made a giant pot sock (not pictured) for a large jug I have, and I’ve previously made a bunch in other sizes for my various drinking vessels. 

Experiment with sizes and make some pot socks (the fun socks for fun pots!) You can make them for plates and bowls, too. They’d make spectacular Twelfth Night gifts. Happy crafting!

*At An Tir / West War, cooks from booth kingdoms, plus now CAID, meet and camp and cook together. It’s the best thing that has ever existed. 

Buying Guide: Where I Get Pottery for Cooking

Cooks love pottery! I have an ever-growing collection of replica medieval pottery that I can use for open-fire cooking. Here are some of the potters whom I personally recommend. (Note that these are all located on the West coast of the US, just because of my own geography. If you have potters in other regions whom you recommend, please post a link in the comments.)

Two medieval German “grapen” / pipkins

Dragonfire Pottery (Mistress Gwen the Potter)

One of my first pipkins came from Mistress Gwen. I have put that poor thing through hell, and yet it is STILL going strong. I believe she tends to do more stoneware than earthenware. She does a fairly broad array of functional pottery, including different styles and sizes of medieval cooking pots. I know she sells her work at events, but she does not appear to currently have a schedule or an online store.

Mistress Morgaina

I probably have more pottery from Morgaina than anyone else. I have cooked in many of her pots and have loved them all. A few I have loved to death, but that just gave me an excuse to buy a new pot. She does both earthenware and stoneware, and has a particularly beautiful line of earthenware made with mica inclusions (they sparkle!) She makes a range of items of interest to the historical cook, with a particular focus on Viking and medieval replicas. She sells both at events and online.

Mercy / Raku Rake Tei: Shop and Blog

Located in CAID, Mercy makes forays up to An Tir / West War on occasion as well as selling online. Mercy made the historical pie plate that I use for most of my serious research pies. (Now that’s a thing I should start — there should be a Eulalia seal of approval for replica historical pie plates!) She does a range of items and styles, including some Roman / classical pieces.

Reannag Teine 

One of my most prized pipkins came from this team of talented potters — a long-handled pot based on a 13th century find from (where else?) York, England. A persona-appropriate pipkin! Eeeeeeeeee! It would appear from their website that they are not currently selling cooking pottery, but perhaps they will be again someday.

Mistress Sine / Whitehart Designs

I have only just bought my first pipkin from her (actually, I think it might have been made by her husband, whose name I can’t find at the moment) but I have high hopes for it.

I am always looking for more historical cooking pottery.

Feel free to post additional recommendations in the comments. As much as possible, try to keep the focus on potters who make functional historical cookware (rather than tableware, even if historical) because that tends to be harder to find.

Introduction to Historical Food Research

This is re-published from my old blog.

In the SCA, the first piece of research advice you’ll get (well, after “don’t try to back-document a project you’ve already completed”) is that you must know the difference between a primary and a secondary source. Generally, we define a primary source as an actual historical item (or text) and a secondary source is a modern interpretation of those historical sources. So if you’re researching clothing, a primary source would be an extant historical garment while a secondary source would be a modern book about medieval clothing.

Here’s a question for you: what’s a primary source for historical cooking? You can’t go to a museum and see (much less eat) the wedding feast of Henry and Matilda. Recreating historical food will always require you to synthesize multiple research strands. That’s the fundamental purpose behind this lesson: all of these types of sources that I describe build on each other, and the strongest research makes use not only of multiple individual sources but multiple strands of research and analysis.

Continue reading “Introduction to Historical Food Research”