The West Coast Culinary Symposium is an event put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Their web page promised "a chance for like-minded and enthusiastic people to get together and share their love and knowledge of pre-1600 period cooking and practices and share the tasty results. It is also a time to gather as friends, make new ones, share ideas, and teach our skills to others hoping to learn." All this came true and then some! Excited historical cooks from all over the United States and some international travelers attended.
First, the Food
The arrival evening was a "Traveler's Potluck" where we all brought something to share and the symposium supplied a variety of soups. What an opportunity for showing off our skills! I brought my Deviled Eggs for Dessert, An Illusion Food which I posted on this blog on March 15, 2014. But oh, the other offerings: homemade cheeses, meat pies, pickled vegetables, artisan breads and spreads, fruit pies, Roman era gingerbread, and more. Even taking small portions of these temptations didn't leave me enough room to taste all I wanted to try.
|Onion Relish and Herbed Cheese Spread with pear slices|
|Meat Pie! With pork, beef, chicken, and onions.|
|Meat Pie, the interior|
|Compost -- a medieval chutney|
|The groaning table|
|Breakfast: eggs, cheese, bacon, bread, apricot jam with rosewater, grapes, stewed greens|
|Lunch: Porridge, cheese, red cabbage, sausages, onion relish, cheese, fruit, shortbread, various sauces|
|The lunch table: I like how they served spreads in goblets|
|Elderberry cheesecake -- yum!|
|Meat pie as a peacock -- a subtlety|
|A meat stew subtlety, too|
|One of my servings : ) The chicken was baked with bacon and there is a nice spinach dish, too|
|A good morning start|
|Oatmeal with stewed fruit|
I took three classes but got the benefit of a fourth in that they shared their food creations.
In the Ottoman Turk cooking class we made several dishes, all tasty! Most of the time my hands were busy helping out so I don't have a lot of pictures showing the preparation steps. Also, with the construction going on, I can't find my notes. Once I do, I'll update this post.
One recipe involved eggplants and gourds. They were hollowed out, stuffed with a lamb and mint mixture, then steamed. For serving they were sliced and adorned with a yogurt sauce and chopped mint.
|Eggplant sliced open lengthwise and hollowed out|
|The hollowed gourd|
|Getting ready to steam|
|Slicing in anticipation of serving|
|What a lovely presentation!|
|Stuffed, rolled, and ready for steaming|
|Steamed and ready for eating!|
|The noodles, uncooked|
|The finished dish|
|The dough for the treats|
|Aren't they cute?|
|The finished product. YUM! Hard to save some for others.|
|The ceramic pots are used as cloches|
|Notice the spitted roast is off to the side of the fire and has a drip pan beneath it. The sand you see is only a few inches deep.|
|Love the medieval styling|
|The warmed cloche will go over the chicken, making a little oven and cooking the meat faster and more evenly|
Another surprise was the grilled pig nipples. They were marinated in some lovely sauce and then we helped to grill them. They, too, were chewy but I liked the bacon-y flavor and would definitely try them again.
|Heading to the grill. The specks are seeds in the marinade|
|Cooking up nicely.|
|Very, very tasty!|
|The carrots are made of meat loaf mixture and the shrimp are really marzipan.|
|This is made of sugar paste!|
|Adorable hard-boiled egg mice|
|Tools of the sugar paste sculpting trade|
|Mixing the gum paste with rosewater to make a smooth dough|
The days were packed with good food, good learning, and good people! We also had a keynote speaker and two competitions. One was called "Mortal Peril" and consisted of categories with answers to which we had to provide the questions. Anyone could participate in the first round and the top three winners went on to the final round. Great fun! The other competition was a spice identification challenge, where about 30 spices were put in numbered glass containers and the competitors were given a paper listing all the spice names. We could look at, sniff, and taste the spices to identify them. It was quite a challenge! I was pleased with how many I got right.
Overall it was exhausting, exhilarating, and worth every minute. I'm so glad I was able to go! Along with all the knowledge I got from the classes, I learned that I love elderberry cheesecake and anything with rosewater in it. I came home with cookbooks, spices, a two-hundred year old sourdough starter, a ceramic alembic, and a strong desire to sculpt in sugar paste. I met a lot of nice and interesting people, had conversations about all sorts of cooking styles and methods, enjoyed the mountain setting, and filled my stomach with tasty and exotic foods. I am not a member of the SCA but everyone was friendly and welcoming and accommodated my lack of SCA social skills.
This event has my hearty recommendation!