Always remember that what you eat and how you prepare it is entirely up to you. Having said that…
Many SCA members enjoy the challenge of researching, deciphering, and recreating pre-modern era cuisine. Some folks however, are simply not interested in period food. This is because the basic rule of thumb for accuracy is to avoid foods that were not in general use (in Europe) before 1600. Many people are surprised what that includes. The discovery of the “new world” brought a revolution to food in the old world. The majority of SCA players have chosen personas that wouldn’t have ever experience tomatoes, potatoes, capsicum peppers (chili peppers), pecans or chocolate. Even coffee and tea were extremely rare or unknown to most of the European continent at the time.
There is a minority of players however, who enjoy recreating the historically accurate cuisine of regions like Africa and the far East. The spice routes of Asia provide many Persian personas with a wide variety of foods, that haven’t changed much over thousands of years.
As a result of this, you’ll typically find two worlds of culinary approach in the SCA; the historically accurate approach, and the “who cares, let’s eat” approach. Both are delicious!
Cooking styles at events can vary based on interest level and the type of event.
Some events are camping events, whereas others are simply day-trips that end around sundown. Camping events tend to be where the most impressive and ornate cooking displays are attempted. One of the principal concerns of camp cooking, is keeping your food fresh. This is where historically accurate snacks come in very handy. Typically, they don’t require much refrigeration. Cured meats, sausages, breads, cheeses, fruits, and wine are all excellent choices here.
The next level up is cooking semi-modern food (or modern food dressed up to look old-world) with modern utensils. You’ll find many SCA campers using Coleman ranges, and ice coolers for refrigeration. These modern kitchens are perfectly acceptable for most SCAdians, when hidden away and out of sight. Some of our more ambitious members however, cook completely period dishes over the campfire. It takes time, and sometimes it takes specialized equipment or ingredients, but it’s amazing to watch. (and eat!)
Non-camping events often include some kind of food, and many times, are host to cooking competitions.
“Feast” is usually the evening meal. Feasts can be planned at various “authenticity” levels, like camp food. The epitome of modern SCA feast cooking is a collection of heavily researched medieval dishes, prepared by a large volunteer cooking staff, served in numerous courses, to hundreds of diners. These happen often, and you should take every opportunity to experience one.