Greetings all and welcome to our New series , Artisans and Crafters of Bryn Gwlad (and friends) . Monthly we will interview populace about what they create, and why they create it or do it ! Now on to the The interview ~
This month we are chatting with Sosha Lyons O’Rourk she is an amazing and very talented artisan in our lands and I am always amazed by what she does! I actually look for her projects weekly (not stalking.. well maybe a little… moas stalking) . Please enjoy !
- HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE SCA ? Over 30 years.
- WHAT IS THE ART FORM YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH US TODAY? Cooking (not supposed to speak about the after event body storage dump site(s)) lol (kidding)
- DID YOU START DOING THIS BEFORE YOU CAME TO THE SCA? I could cook but I couldn’t COOK, display, and do research like I can now when I started in the SCA. My go to for an event or war, was bread cheese, can or two of soup (with one spoon) and poptarts. In my defense!!! This was before bringing period food items was really big and the standard for most fighters were alcohol (enough to drown in a kiddie pool), poptarts, bread, cheese or going to town for take out.
- IF YOU DID THIS PREVIOUS TO THE SCA – DID THIS HELP TO DRAW YOU TO THE SCA ? I was a fighter at the start of my SCA career and I only wanted to fight. Cooking took a little bit for me to come into my own. See above response about what fighters use to eat in the dark days of the SCA from 1990.
- TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THIS ENTAILS, AND THE CREATION ASPECT OF IT. Cooking isn’t just throwing stuff in a pot and adding heat. Well it is, but that’s not the entirety. For SCA cooking, you have to be good at guessing the ingredients (and using google translate) or figuring out old Inglysh (English). You have to be comfortable in your spicing because most recipes don’t give you measurements. If you don’t have an ingredient, you have to make a substitution or go without. This changes the flavor of the dish. Sometimes you just make a mistake and have to redo, and a lot of period recipes, the more indulgent, are expensive. I’m not talking about spices (those can be expensive) but wine, meat, currents, raisins, dates, figs, pine nuts etc. Things common in the past, made better with spices, are now luxuries. A good example of Pine Nuts. Run close to 14.00 to 19.00 a pound. Even if you use 1/4 pound, that’s still not inexpensive. If you mess the dish up with your “luxury” items, it just adds up.
- HOW WOULD SOMEONE GO ABOUT BEGINNING RESEARCH ON THIS ? I usually start rank beginners with buying a mundane book called “A Feast of Ice and Fire” based from Game of Thrones. It’s not period but it has both period and modern recipes for the same dish from several different areas. Once a person is comfortable with this idea of expense, no measurements and not knowing what temperature to set an oven to; then I suggest “Take a Hundred Eggs” for an English Cooking start. “Medieval Arab Cookery” for those who want Middle Eastern. “Apicius” by Grocock and Graunger” “A Taste of Ancient Rome” for Roman recipes and “Around the Roman Table” for actual table and eating habits. Those are the base books for beginners. From there, if you so choose to expand into A&S, a person will need many books on growing habits for fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats etc. Sumptuary laws such as Coffee and Peacock. Gold. They didn’t have edible gold in period, they had tissue thin sheets of gold that was painted onto food with all of its heavy metal badass sexyness.
- HOW CAN THIS BE SHOWCASED IN THE SCA WHILE ATTENDING EVENTS AND THINGS? This is where things get expensive. Hot plates and serving dishes. Having a theme. Printing up the research. Realizing you just spent several hundred dollars on feeding 20 people that you can’t take home with you when the event is over. I’ve been winging it for years. Each year I get a little better at figuring out what looks good. What looks period. What taste good period wise to the modern palate. It’s time and practice. Just like any other art, it’s going to take time and dedication. For displaying, I’ve had to figure out a few things, again through trial and error. Now, I send people to my website (https://roxalanasredactions.com/category/elizabethan/subtleties/) asking only that if they use my redactions (how I translate a recipe and display it) that I am given credit while giving ideas on how to display or not to display. Art is very subjective with food being even more so as it includes taste and smell, not just touch and sight.
- IF SOMEONE WANTED TO LEARN, AS A BEGINNER WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE ON STARTING POINT? My advice to a beginner. Pick something cheaper. Something you can take home with you. Something that has a firm basis in the SCA. If that person still wants to cook, then it’s a long road (to and from events along with teaching yourself what you want to cook), expensive serving dishes/pottery, annoyance that many people think cooking is just tossing stuff into a pot and “Hey look I can do period stuff! Not sure what the fuss is about.”
- TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE JOY AND COMMUNITY YOU GET FROM THIS AND MAYBE SHARE SOME THINGS YOU’VE DONE . I really enjoy teaching. Helping people find their joy in what period food/time/area they want to explore. Trying out new recipes. Figuring out the most odd, fun food that will make someone say “Oh my god! How the hell did she do this.” I’m also not above cooking the nasty stuff (i.e. tripe, ham hock, head cheese) because I can and the judges have to eat the nasty stuff to judge. I amuse myself that way.
I’m including my website. It has redactions. Recipes. Library suggestions. Information on some ingredients.
Oh My !! Thank you so much for these wonderful answers and for being so willing to share your passion with us today !! You are amazing and I cannot wait to see what else you come up with for us to learn from !!
If you are inspired by her words please reach out to her , she is a wonderful teacher and will gladly share her experience with you !!
Until next month
Sigrun Sveinungsdottir iBiarka