Foods of the World Forum Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Other Food-Related Topics > Around the Kitchen Table
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Adapting Historic Recipes?
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

This site is completely supported by donations; there are no corporate sponsors. We would be honoured if you would consider a small donation, to be used exclusively for forum expenses.



Thank you, from the Foods of the World Forums!

Adapting Historic Recipes?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
Poll Question: I'm interested in how recipes get adapted.
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
12 [100.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
You can not vote in this poll

Author
Message
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Adapting Historic Recipes?
    Posted: 20 June 2012 at 07:01
I've been asked, via a PM, if I'd explain what it takes to adapt historic recipes, such as Friend Wife and I did to put together our two colonial cookbooks.
 
I don't mind sharing the info. But it would involve a lot of typing and time. So I want to make sure there's enough interest before going ahead.
 
Please offer your comments--pro and con---about any interest in learning how we go about it.
Back to Top
AK1 View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef
Avatar

Joined: 10 April 2012
Location: Ontario, Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 1084
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2012 at 09:43
I'd love to see it Brook.  I appreciate what a task it will be, as I've done a few adaptations myself.

What I do see as an issue though is this; once you adapt a recipe to modern tastes, it changes. Meats today are quite different to what they were even 40 yrs ago. Seasoning practices are as well. I think that many people would have an issue with eating "historic food" as it was made originally. 
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 8582
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2012 at 09:54
i don't see any cons at all - things like this are exactly the kind of thing that fall in line with our forum's "mission," and would be an extremely valuable contribution, as far as i am concerned.
 
like darko said, thanks to modern food practices and availabilities, there is always going to be some risk of losing a few subtle things (and sometimes not so subtle) when adapting an historic recipe to modern times, but i believe that, on the whole, it is still a worthy goal for people who have an interest. and even then, what we're gaining far outweighs what we might be losing. for any specific examples, i am sure they can be discussed as they arise.
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef
Avatar

Joined: 03 February 2012
Location: Spain
Status: Offline
Points: 5834
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2012 at 11:16
 
 
Buonasera,
 
Interesting Post.
 
I believe in the blend of the historical recipe with the availability of the modernity in fresh product, yet, however, I prepare several dishes in earthenware, or a tagine, or a pallera, or copper Dutch Oven, which are all historic types of pans and pots ... 
 
In the Mediterranean cultures, we still have what we call LA CUCHARA which is SPOON CUISINE especially in the autumn and winter months ...
 
The stews, soups and bread soups ... Then there are the slow cooking simmer stews and roasts. This is NOT modernity !  Has been around before we were all born ( 1962 born ). 
 
I believe that there are numerous methods; tandoor, marinades, bbq,  sashimi, sushi, roasts, air dried hams, smoking --- all historical yet things we have re-worked into the modern scheme of our tables and palates.
 
For me it is more the modernity of the equipment and machinery ... The style of preparation depending on the dish and whether one lives in the country or city --- also makes a big difference.
 
Many people are making their own Ricotta, Milk products, etcetra --- why ? I believe many people want better quality products without the Preservatives & chemicals etc.
 
They are looking into their ancestor´s tables and finding, that the food was less processed than it is today.
 
At one point in time, tv dinners, plastic bags and soy in your bread or vegetable oil did not exist ! The label reader:  I am appalled what I read. 
 
Here is to bring back the historical and chemical free ...
 
Interesting Post.   
Ciao, Margi.
www.guidepost.es
Gourmet´s Choice - Time Out In Spain ...

WEBSITE: www.visionsgourmandes.com
www.issuu.com / Beyond Taste, Oltre il Gusto ..
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2012 at 12:46
I think that many people would have an issue with eating "historic food" as it was made originally. 
 
Absolutely correct, Darko. Which is why we call them adaptations.
 
There is a difference between adapting and modernizing. The real trick is to adapt the recipes to modern palates (and, as you note, sometimes ingredients), while, at the same time, staying true to the original.
 
In our presentations we use traveler's sauce as an example of that very thing. In the original recipe, with a base of 2 cups of red wine, among the ingredients are 40 cloves. I guarantee you most folks today would find that inedible. So the trick becomes maintaining the flavor profile, but in a way that's palatable to modern tastebuds.
 
One thing that helps is the historical nature of the gardens we maintain. Almost everything in them predates 1850, and we have, this year, 19 varieties that can be traced to the 18th century. Along with that is the growing availability of heritage livestock, especially pork.
Back to Top
pitrow View Drop Down
Chef
Chef
Avatar

Joined: 22 November 2010
Location: Newberg, Oregon
Status: Offline
Points: 862
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 12:21
I would love to see the process you go through for adapting historic recipes to modern ones. 
Back to Top
Karl View Drop Down
Cook
Cook
Avatar

Joined: 23 January 2012
Location: Juneau
Status: Offline
Points: 207
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 15:58
We might be vilifying our grandcestors' cooking just  a bit much here.  Wink

Most historic food is at least tolerable if not as sweet as as modern processed foods.  I have been reenacting long enough ( and to enough survival schools run by my uncle) to have developed a taste for different foods.  I do draw the line at thinks like meats that are allowed to "rise" but otherwise anything slow moving and generally non-toxic can be on the menu. 

As a reenactor I really do want to taste food as close to what long dead people ate as possible.  I have collected reproduction and antique cookware for example.  Ingredients can be a chore like real salt pork (see JAS Townsend's online video), whole spices, and verjuice.

Then there is the challenge of preparing food that other people will eat.   My main opportunities to show off are SCA feast now and sometimes cowboy shoots or 18th century.  Cowboy shooters work up and appetite and rarely hesitate to eat beans, pork, biscuits, pies, cobbler, or "spoon steak" cooked over a fire in cast iron.   There are even a couple good sites on FaceBook but I would like to expand my repitiore and I would love to go to a few chuckwagon competitions. 

For those not familiar with the SCA(.ORG) it is a recreation group based on renaissance and the middle ages.  There are two main types of people in the SCA "fighters" as in with rattan ball bats wearing armour (will be happy with a not too old road kill possum for dinner) and non-fighters who counts many individuals among their numbers who are excessively proud of being allergic to everything this side of filtered water and won't try to eat anything left.  It can be very frustrating for our volunteer cooks but there are recognitions for those people who work hard to do it better. 

A top end SCA feast such as what is called a "grand master" feast in the SE US can be truly impressive. 

One problem that I run into is people who will not even try perfectly good historic food because they heard that all historic food is icky.  Apparently adjusting this head-spacing issue with a ball bat is frowned upon if they are non-fighters.  Ermm

So what tricks have you all had luck with getting people to try historic foods?  What were some of the foods that they resisted?  Any particularly funny stories?
Back to Top
TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 January 2010
Location: Chinook, MT
Status: Offline
Points: 8582
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 16:04
Quote So what tricks have you all had luck with getting people to try historic foods?  What were some of the foods that they resisted?  Any particularly funny stories?
 
excellent question, karl, and one i'd love to see the answer to ~
 
Quote many individuals...are excessively proud of being allergic to everything this side of filtered water and won't try to eat anything left.
 
i'm related to a few of those! LOL
 
 
If you are a visitor and like what you see, please click here and join the discussions in our community!
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 16:31

One problem, Karl, is that nobody with half a brain even believes some of the questions we get asked and comments directed at us. So, what you and I might find funny, most people would find unbelievable.

For you non-reenactors, just one example: The most frequently asked question is: Is that a real fire?"
 
So what tricks have you all had luck with getting people to try historic foods? 
 
Oddly enough, Karl, at the Fort I have the opposite problem. Due to health department regs, I can feed staffers but not visitors. Most visitors who spend any time watching our cookery demos actually are disappointed that they can't taste the food.
 
Whoops! Gotta run. More to follow.
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 19:15
I usually don't have much trouble getting folks to try historic foods. Several reasons for this, the most important one being that given the period and place I do, the food isn't all that unfamiliar.
 
We do find that most living historians of 18th century British North America do not cook period proper foods. But it's not because of any lack of desire to eat it. Mostly they don't want to take the time to prepare it. We've been involved in this for nearly a quarter century, and nobody, at any event, has ever turned down a chance to eat period foods that we prepared.
 
What takes getting used to is the idea of using herbs and spices not usually associated with modern savory dishes. All of the "baking" spices---ginger, mace, nutmeg, allsprice, cloves, etc.---the pumpkin pie spices if you will, were used for baked goods, it's true. But they were also used on savory dishes, often with a very heavy hand.
 
The way proteins were treated, too, is often radically different than the ways we prefer them today. It's oft been erroneously claimed, for instance, that they used spices to cover the taste and smell of tainted meat. The fact is, they preferred their meat a bit on the high side, just as they still do in many places in Great Britain, where hanging a gamebird until it turns blue is not uncommon.
 
And they certainly knew the difference. In 1633, when rules were posted at Boston's Haymarket Square, for example, one of them said: No blown, rotted, or spoilt meat may be offered for sale..."
 
 
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 19:51

One problem that I run into is people who will not even try perfectly good historic food because they heard that all historic food is icky.

This is something else we’ve never run into. I can offer a guess as to why. Because SCA is so much more open, in terms of what is acceptable, there is much more room for dilletantes to participate. And, while there is always room for the casual participant, they are found less often in our overall era (i.e., 1650-1840), and even less so in our specific time/place.

The same level of dilletantism found at SCA can be found among the “buckskinners,” those portraying the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade era. But because they really get into the mountain man myth (as opposed to the documentable facts), they want to eat all the icky stuff that’s usually not available; panther meat, and boudins, and all sorts of road kill. So they tend to be open to anything.

In general, as Karl mentions, there is a difference in trying to replicate actual foodways for ourselves, and adapting the food when feeding other people. And, because we are more often feeding others than not, what we strive for is to maintain the flavor profiles of the original dish, while keeping it palatable to modern tastes.

Not always an easy compromise.

Y’all know the concept of blacksmithing tools? Very often, when a blacksmith had a job to do, he first had to make the tools that would allow him to do the job. Indeed, he’d sometimes have to make the tools that would enable him to make the tools needed to do the job.

Period cookery can often be the same. For folks like Karl and me, before we can produce a period proper dish we often have to first produce the ingredients. Example: It’s easy enough, when baking bread in a Dutch oven, to just use commercial yeast. And that’s what we do when feeding others. But for 100% proper baking, we first have to make the leavening.

Or take Karl’s perfect example: salt pork. The so-called salt pork marketed by Armour and Hormel bears no relation to the actual product. If it did, it wouldn’t have to be kept in the refrigerator section. So, if we want to sample a dish using salt pork, we first have to make that ingredient; preferably using a heritage variety of hog so as to replicate, as near as possible, the pork that would have been available.

Moving away from actual foodstuffs, there is always the problem of language. Translating what they say into what they mean is always a challenge. Which of the three or four cooking methods called “roasting” is meant for a particular dish? Ingredient names change, over time. Sometimes the same word means something different. Sometimes the word used has left the language altogether.

Another problem: When they wrote down a recipe (receipt, actually) in those days, they presumed you already knew how to cook, cuz you’d learned it at your mother’s knee. So things we take for granted in modern recipes, such as ingredient amounts, cooking times, and special techniques, are often seriously absent.

Here, for example, is a complete chicken recipe from an 18th century cookery manuscript:

Strew with sage beaten fine and some cinnamon, and cook til enough

We’ll have much to discuss on this problem as we continue.

Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2012 at 19:58
What were some of the foods that they resisted?
 
Actually, as I think of it, there was some resistance to beaver. We made a bunch of it for a large event, several years back. And, while most reenactors at last tried a taste, there were quite a few who merely reacted to the word "beaver," and wouldn't even taste it.
Back to Top
Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef
Avatar

Joined: 03 February 2012
Location: Spain
Status: Offline
Points: 5834
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2012 at 05:06
Buon Giorno,
 
In Spain, there are restaurants, hotel restaurants and taverns specialising in the celebration of Spanish culinary history, and preparing of each of the regional´s most popular dishes which have been collected from texts, historic menus and oral traditions. It is amazing.
 
The distinctiveness of The Iberian Peninsula´s gastronomy is due in large part to its turbulent history and to the fact that Spain had played host to a large variety of cultures: Celtic, Visigoth, Greek, Roman, Moorish, French and the Americas, etcetra.  Olive oil making hailed from the Romans, and had become widely developed since 600 A.D., during and after the Romans.
 
Italia has had a parallel history, especially Sicilia with the Moors ... And WWII, on the mainland and prior, the Austrian Ottoman Empire has had a strong historical influence especially in their baked goods, on Trentino in northeast Italia, where many dishes are historically Austrian in profile.  
 
Historical products and culinary preparations holds court in the Mediterranean too, all of its countries including: Greece, Italia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Croatia, Israel, Morocco, Portugal etcetra ...
 
Japan and India are two more exemplary examples of historical cuisine, on the front burner. Neither of these two cuisines are very different from their ancestors.
 
Ciao.
Have nice wkend.
Margi.
 
www.guidepost.es
Gourmet´s Choice - Time Out In Spain ...

WEBSITE: www.visionsgourmandes.com
www.issuu.com / Beyond Taste, Oltre il Gusto ..
Back to Top
Karl View Drop Down
Cook
Cook
Avatar

Joined: 23 January 2012
Location: Juneau
Status: Offline
Points: 207
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2012 at 15:04
http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier1.html#titlepage

My favorite example of a nearly useless cookbook except when I want to fix something and just need to find a VERY general medieval recipe source to document it.  Wink

BTW - what is your take on what verjuice was?  It might have meant different things in different times and places but I have been leaning towards a catchup-like juice made from green grapes that were too late to ripen and they didn't want to waste them(?)
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2012 at 18:03
If by that you mean tomato ketchup, I don't think verjuice was quite that thick.
 
My feeling (and, yes, there seems to be a difference of opinion as to what it actually was) is that it is a ketchup in the 18th century sense (which would make it more like Worcestershire in consistency), made from the unripened grapes, as you say, but with a sour taste.
 
Did the sourness come from fermentation? My distinct impression is that verjuice was non-alcoholic, which would seem to leave fermentation out. So the question is, were the unripened grapes sour enough on their own? Or were they allowed to ferment but only for a short time, so that the alcohol doesn't develop? And if that's the case, how did they stop the process?
 
Basically, more questions than answers on this one. And a perfect example of one of the difficulties. How can you replicate, or even adapt, an ingredient if you're not really sure what it was?
 
Fortunately, the number of such ingredients is limited. Most of the time, even if it's not a modern thing, a little research identifies the product.
 
What do you use when it's called for, Karl?
 
 
Back to Top
Karl View Drop Down
Cook
Cook
Avatar

Joined: 23 January 2012
Location: Juneau
Status: Offline
Points: 207
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2012 at 18:43
"What do you use when it's called for, Karl?"

Most cooks I know skip it entirely which seems to roughly go with modern taste.  Sometimes vinegar or lime juice seems to work.   This is from the Food Channel:

Verjuice

Verjuice

Verjuice or verjus derives from the phrase 'green juice' and was widely used in the Middle Ages. Having fallen from favour, to the point where few people have even heard of it, it is now experiencing a fashionable revival.

It is usually a sour, acidic juice extracted from unripened grapes and therefore is often produced by wine makers, especially in France, Australia and Spain. In Britain verjuice used to be made with crab apples.

Verjuice is available in some delicatessens and online from suppliers such as http://verjuice.co.uk. It will soon be available in supermarkets too. Use lemon juice or sherry as a substitute - it won't be quite the same but will bring your recipe some of the necessary souring quality verjuice provides.

Use verjuice any place you would use white wine or dry sherry in cooking, for example sauces, stews and risottos, and especially for deglazing.

A traditional ingredient of made mustards, it is good for fish stock or court bouillon and makes delicious fruit compotes.

Someone has asked for a verjuice substitute on Wiki but no one has answered yet. 

Back to Top
Daikon View Drop Down
Chef's Apprentice
Chef's Apprentice
Avatar

Joined: 20 October 2011
Location: San Francisco
Status: Offline
Points: 379
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Daikon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2012 at 19:35
Huh.  I didn't realize that there was any confusion or scarcity with regard to verjus/verjuice.  It's available in several specialty food shops around here, and is also sometimes available from local wineries.  One of the products we more commonly see around here is actually made in Australia, and it is available online.
Back to Top
africanmeat View Drop Down
Chef
Chef
Avatar

Joined: 20 January 2012
Location: south africa
Status: Offline
Points: 910
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote africanmeat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2012 at 03:13
 
We got it in south africa it is made in cape town.
we cook and we  love to drink it with soda water on a hot day it is vary refreshing .
 
 
 
Ahron
Back to Top
HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
Master Chef
Master Chef


Joined: 21 February 2012
Location: Kentucky
Status: Offline
Points: 4396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 June 2012 at 21:20
 I didn't realize that there was any confusion or scarcity with regard to verjus/verjuice.
 
Depends, Daikon, on whether the modern versions and the historic versions are the same thing. They may or may not be.
 
For instance, on the Continent, verjuice was made from unripened grapes, as we've discussed. But in British usage, at least in the 1600s and early 1700s, it was made from crab apples.
 
It was already going out of fashion, in the British world, by the first half of the 18th century. Very few of my references even mention it after then.
 
The only time I've used it is when adapting Richard Bradley's 1726 recipe for traveling sauce. For that I mix 4 oz apple juice with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
 
It  cannot be stressed enough that modern ingredients and mixtures, even with the same name, can be radically different from historical ones. That's why, for example, with people like Karl and me talk about the modern condiment we specify "tomato ketchup." Previous to the mid-19th century, ketchup was made from a number of things---including walnuts, mushrooms, oysters, and anchovies. Tomatoes came long after these.  And ketchup, previous to the tomato version, were a thin sauce, more like Worcestershire, rather than the thick condiment of today.
 
Yet, they're all referred to merely as "ketchup."
 
So, just because you can buy ketchup in any market today, it is not the sauce I use when making 18th century dishes.
 
FWIW, in Bradley's recipe, equal parts of verjuice and vinegar are used. This makes for a very sour taste, much more so than modern tastebuds find palatable.
Back to Top
Karl View Drop Down
Cook
Cook
Avatar

Joined: 23 January 2012
Location: Juneau
Status: Offline
Points: 207
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Karl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 June 2012 at 17:17
First off, Africanmeat & Daikon - thank you for the verjuice sources which I plan to try. 

I meant verjuice as an example to the difficulty and uncertainty in obtaining many period ingredients.  Sometimes even simple dishes will require this much trouble and extra expense to find, order, research, and make the ingredients before actually cooking the unfamiliar dish.  Still it is generally more rewarding than frustrating right up until some individual refuses to try the dish that you are so proud of then convinces other people to not try it.  On the flip side though it is somewaht gratifying (if less challenging) when folks find they like a new food and ask you to keep serving it at every event. 
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.078 seconds.