Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Welcome! Or, I am insane for even thinking about doing this.

Yeah. So, this whole Time Traveling Cook thing seemed like a really good idea when I was lying in bed after two glasses of wine, trying to figure out a way to blog about SOMETHING that didn't involve wiping bodily fluids off of my toddler with the sleeve of my shirt, which is how I spend a good portion of my waking hours.

When I am not actively attempting to keep a two year-old from grievous bodily harm and an all-white-foods diet, I am trying to write a novel set in 14th century England. You know, the 1300s! Hundred Years' War! Black Death! Peasants' Revolt!

The one thing I manage to do in between the novel-ing and the offspring-death-preventing is cook. I cook for my patient, omnivorous husband and my patient, mostly-omnivorous friends. I cook to focus my chaotically jangled brain into a linear task-at-hand; to test my limits of taste and skill; to teach my daughter about the pleasures and dangers of knives, gas ranges, and well-seasoned, nearly-hereditary cast iron skillets; and to give gustatory pleasure to the people seated around my dining room table.

I cook my father-in-law's Azorean kale soup. I cook my step-grandfather's "bread on the pan." I cook my mom's baked macaroni with onions and tomatoes and obscene amounts of cheese. I cook red beans and rice from my college roommate's recipe. I cook grits because I grew up in the South; I long for good bagels because I was born in New Jersey. I cook my personal history. I am no purist, though; sometimes my personal history is made by Kraft and comes in a blue box, and I am OK with that, too.

 So back to me lying in bed NOT thinking about toddler secretions. I thought about how I cook my family history, then-- well, duh. Why not cook the human family history? In typical history-nerd fashion, my first impulse was to glean any relevant research titles from our fields of overstuffed Ikea bookshelves.  What I found only sort-of surprised me. Herewith are the books I am starting this project, along with notations:

The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages with 600 Classic International Recipes and Menus by William Harlan Hale, copyright 1968.
768 pages of usefulness.  I must admit I married into this particular tome; I found it on my husband's bookshelf while we were still in a delicate "are-we-or-aren't-we" period and put it on the bedside table as a bit of light reading. It stayed there for years. I am pretty sure it belongs to my better-half's ex-wife, who is also a history nerd, but she's not getting it back-- especially now that I have the recipe for stewed lampreys I've been longing for. Sorry, Lisa!

Food & Drink in Britain From the Stone Age to the 19th Century by C. Anne Wilson, copyright 1973.  I promise to cook something from the Stone Age. I am guessing it's going to be meat, and probably on a stick.

Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome by Patrick Faas, copyright 1994. The Romans were even more f-ed up than repeated viewings of Gladiator would have you believe, according to this book. And yes, vomitoriums were real.

Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome by Apicius, translated and edited by Joseph Dommers Vehling, copyright 1936. Oh, see above. This is generally regarded as the first cookbook of Western Civilization, and this is a Dover edition. I love Dover ANYTHING. Seriously, we gave out Dover books as favors at our wedding. There is a recipe in here for lentil stew with cumin, coriander, and leeks that sounds better than anything in the Moosewood Bible.

Oh crap. It's past midnight, Wow! That's a first post, right? If I promise to list the rest of my research books tomorrow will you all forgive me?


  1. Well, you would be forgiven if you had posted the list yesterday, but...

  2. Awesome!! Though, I am guessing as a vegetarian, maybe I won't get to partake in too many of the upcoming culinary adventures?

    I wanted to mention, last year I had to give a 90 minute lecture on city and countryside in medieval Europe, so if you need any help with setting the spatial background of the novel, just give a shout.