Monday, 1 March 2010

Everybody's Doin' It, Doin' It

As Irving Berlin might say...

Doing what?
Blogging their way through cookbooks!

(Okay, not everyone, but it does seem to be the new trend du jour.)

There are several levels on which this resonates with me:
- It's a useful and in-depth way to meet/present a cookbook.
- I'm interested in the thought processes that guide other cooks.
- I enjoy being involved in a progress through a cookbook, even if I'm not particularly interested in the cooking, or the eating, of some of the recipes.
- I find it valuable to get a sense of other people's opinions on the results, the processes, and on the cookbook and how its information was presented.
- It gives a basis for an on-line journal, when blogging with any sort of regularity, or intelligibility can be a struggle.
- Sometimes it's just very entertaining, and a window onto other people's worlds.

There are some cons, though.
I don't know of any cookbook on my shelves, of which there is a goodly quantity, which I'd want to 'cook my way through'. I either am not interested in all the recipes, or can't get or afford ingredients for them, or simply would not wish to tread where they might ask me to. And it is the act of 'cooking my way through' which would actually be the useful goad to write about them, and the spur to an ongoing set of experiments. (Trying to make skyr can sometimes just involve a little too much curdled dairy product!)
And since my faintly intelligible food blog is about historic food, not just any cookbook will do, either. (Not to mention that it's where my head is at right now!)

So, after commenting that 'gee, if I were going to do that, the cookbook I'd do it with should be...', let's come right to the point and say it out loud:

I think I should take a stab at wending my way through Prehistoric Cooking by Jacqui Wood. [] I mean why not? Fortunately, her first chapter with recipes is about bread. That should at least give me a chance to try to actually make some recipes before I run into the roadblock of inaccessible or mystery ingredients. And by then, well, maybe I can just talk my way through them. (Hmmm....yes, Clay-Baked Hedgehog might prove problematic!)

I do imagine that there are recipes in here that I'll want to try again come spring, when the possibility of outdoor cooking once more comes our way. She's mostly proposed these recipes for use in a modern kitchen, though she does make mention of probable methods that would be used in period. And I'm nothing, if not all, about the period cooking techniques. (Can they work? How can I reproduce them? How do the techniques/tools affect the results?) Also I fully imagine that I'll have to have some mental discussion about how to apply some of this stuff on my side of the pond. As we move into the chapters on herbs and vegetables, there will be ingredients I probably can't get, and quite possibly ingredients I won't even be able to easily identify.

And since Ms. Wood is looking at Iron Age cookery, there will be some aspects to this that may be both very appropriate to my interest in early period, specifically Viking Age cooking, as well as being quite different. Certainly there may be types of food that will not apply to the Scandinavian world, and possibly techniques that may be unlikely, either for having been outmoded, or less suited. But I do feel there will be enough parallels that it will be a useful and intriguing experience.