"GaleL" <ecarian@...> wrote:
>> I have this vague idea about people in the middle ages having a stew pot that they might eat out >> of for a long time (keeping the food hot being a way to preserve it). I know there's crock pot
>> recipes that call for cooking food for 36 hours and so...so seems like long slow cooking might be
>> a way to keep food from going bad. But I'm having trouble finding any articles about this...I've
>> been looking for food preservation and finding a lot of canning, salting, smoking, and drying meat
>> into jerky, but not anything about using it in a soup. What I was curious was if my vague idea
>> (probably from movies I've seen) about people keeping a pot of soup always on the fire and just
>> continuously adding to it is true. I was wondering if there was a point where bacteria would creep
>> in in spite of it being kept at a high temperature.
> It's my understanding from various history courses I've had that indeed the stewpot was kept going
> throughout the year, and changing it out and startying anew was part of the new years "revelry". I
> seem to recall accounts of all sorts of debris being dumped out of the kettles around new years
> time. Just can't recall the actuall sources at this time.
And that's how this idea is perpetuated without documentation.
I won't accept it until i read something more credible than "i heard it somewhere". (this is not a personal attack on any previous poster - i sometimes forget my sources, too)
I know that in urban settings in the Roman world, the Near and Middle East, and in Ottoman cities, the poor rarely cooked because setting up a "kitchen" was financially beyond most - buying ceramic pots which were quite breakable, or metal pots which were quite costly, constantly paying for fuel which was often expensive. The urban masses more often bought prepared meats and dishes from food vendors - most often with a fairly stationary stall, but also ambulatory. In Constantinople food regulations kept the price of basic foodstuffs at a level such that even fairly poor workmen could afford to eat meat a few times a week, and there were imarets ("soup kitchens") to feed the truly impoverished two meals per day.
I direct the curious to:
-- Andrew Dalby, The Pleasures of Empire: Food and Cooking in Ancient Rome;
-- Stefan Yerasimos, A la table du Grand Turc (in French)/Sultan Sofralari (in Turkish) for info on 15th & 16th c. Ottoman cities;
-- essays by Charles Perry in Medieval Arab Cookery
I know fewer details about Western Europe, but i am skeptical of the bottomless kettle. Someone would have to be there most of the day to keep the fire going, and that would entail a lot of fire wood...
Some history teachers know little about actual medieval foodways, e. g., the not very old and quite false idea that medieval people (even the rich) ate a lot of rotten meat and covered the putrid flavor with spices has been repeated to students even at the community college level and published and republished in many books and articles.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)