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Fresh meat at events

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  • jeffrey.heilveil@ndsu.edu
    ... Ok. I ll try to keep the tone even keeled, and if it starts to sound preachy, it s not meant that way. Regardless of where you live, you can at least have
    Message 1 of 54 , Jul 1 6:56 AM
      > It seems to me that avoiding fresh meat and
      > milk takes one as much away from a typical medieval experience as
      > bringing a cooler -- simply in a different direction.

      Ok. I'll try to keep the tone even keeled, and if it starts to sound
      preachy, it's not meant that way.

      Regardless of where you live, you can at least have fresh meat on the
      first day of the event (except maybe up here in ND, where it could be
      frozen by the time you get to dinner. :-) ). Please listen and hear me
      out. First off, plan to do this with beef or pork. The major issues that
      these meats have is with _E. coli_, a surface bacterium. Yes, there may
      be some build-up, but it won't be that much. Frankly, 110 or whatever
      silly temp you may get in your local area is a little warmer than _E.
      coli_ prefers. Also, it likes it humid. So if you have hot and dry, your
      situation isn't as dear as you may think. Even in the Barony of Wurm Wald
      (Champaign Illinois, which has near ideal _E. coli_ growing conditions, it
      isn't that bad. Strains of _E. coli_ that are used for molecular biology
      have been chosen for optimal growth rates. That means that they grow
      faster than your native _E. coli_ that are suspended in the air at an
      event. Even so, it takes over 16 hours to go from an inocculation of a
      LARGE number of cells (millions) to a small smear of bacteria. _E. coli_,
      however, is a SURFACE bacterium. Therefore, if you wash your meat before
      use (which you should always do anyway) and then surface sterilize it
      (WITH FIRE/HEAT) you'll be fine. If you really think your meat needs to
      go from a live cow straight to an ice box, go to the nearest butcher and
      ask him to explain aged beef to you. You know, the stuff that's REALLY
      expensive. Don't go directly after lunch though, if you are squeamish.

      Pork, at least in the US, can also be treated the same way. There hasn't
      been a case of _Trichinella spiralis_ in the US in a long time. There's a
      reason. The herds are watched VERY carefully. My friends working on
      their graduate degrees in meat sciences eat rare pork on a regular basis.
      So do I. It's yummy (I still am not a fan of cured ham though).

      I would, however, suggest trimming off as much external fat as possible,
      so it doesn't get nasty (as one period German cookbook puts it).

      One of the big problems here is that the Department of Health people go by
      guidelines that are not set to biologically-meaningful standards, they are
      set so that stupid people running a kitchen don't kill people. According
      to their guidelines, no meat would ever be served medium-rare, let alone
      rare, the way I like it. That's why menus all have the "eating
      undercooked..." line, it's to get around the internal temperature
      requirements. The problem is that the Department of Health never points
      out that these are maximally safe guidelines, so people think that if
      things are kept to that standard, the diners will all keel over by the end
      of the second course.

      Now all this being said, I use refrigerators when I have them in the
      kitchen, or cool rooms (which, by the by, are period), but if something is
      sitting out at room temp for a while, I don't immediately throw it out.
      Think of how long food sits on the table during Thanksgiving, and yet you
      still eat the turkey later that week for sandwiches.

      So in summary, you CAN have fresh meats without fear of keeling over, at
      least on the first day of your event. I stick to beef and pork for it
      though, since I don't like the changes in the texture of chicken if it's
      not cool before cooking. Post cooking, I definitely don't worry as much.
      If you cook something the night before you leave, put it in a container in
      the refrigerator, and then take it to the event, it should be fine for
      most of the day. I've done this with fish sausages, venison dumplings,
      chicken dumplings, you name it.

      Anyway, I'm sure I've given some people enough twitches to last them a
      month. But I'm serious about the aged beef. Find out how it's done and
      you'll realize a lot of our precautions are ... overzealous.

      Jeffrey S. Heilveil, Ph.D.
      Postdoctoral Fellow
      Department of Biological Sciences
      North Dakota State University
      Stevens Hall
      Fargo, ND 58105
    • Andrea Huwydd Lycsenbwrg
      A few random thoughts on fish days.... It isn t actually necessary to assume that because today is a Friday in 2005, it corresponds to Friday in 1275 or
      Message 54 of 54 , Jul 9 10:12 AM
        A few random thoughts on fish days....

        It isn't actually necessary to assume that because
        today is a Friday in 2005, it corresponds to Friday in
        1275 or whatever (in fact, because of the calendar
        issues, it probably doesn't....)

        When did Saturday become a day of abstinence in the
        West? In the early Church, Wednesday and Friday were
        the fast days, as they still are in the Orthodox
        Church. So whether you abstain from meat on Saturday
        depends not only on where in Europe but when.

        Was a fast day counted from midnight to midnight, as
        now, or from Vespers or sundown the night before?

        A pious Christian should not have been attending a
        party during Lent (or the Nativity or Pentecost fasts)
        anyhow. If he did, though, the hospitality rule would
        supercede the fasting: you eat what you are served,
        not put the host to extra trouble to accommodate your
        fasting. And if you happen to be the host, and others
        in your party are not fasting,well, interpretations
        vary. Ask your priest. And then too, if you were
        travelling the fasting requirements would be relaxed
        to some extent.

        --- msgilliandurham <msgilliandurham@...> wrote:

        > Dairy products and eggs, as far as I can figure out,
        > were allowed
        > on "fish days" except in Lent, and maybe Advent. I'm
        > still trying to
        > figure that out -- anybody have a good source?

        I believe that is correct for Western Europe in later
        period, based on the recipes for "tarts in Ember Day"
        which include eggs and dairy. (Ember days by
        definition fall on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.) I
        seem also to recall references in cookbooks to "fish
        days not in Lent" which imply that eggs and dairy
        would be acceptable.

        So there are plenty of ways not to fast during events
        while being a pious and observant medieval Roman
        Catholic. (Or Eastern Orthodox.) If you need to
        observe the fasting regulations mundanely, well,
        that's beyond the limits of this list, although I
        would be interested in discussing it offlist with
        anyone who has dealt with the issue.

        That said, an authentic Ember Day feast would be a lot
        of fun, at least once.


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