Prof. Michael Fuller, St. Louis Community College
SCA, Lord Michael of Safita
Barony of Three Rivers within the Kingdom of Calontir
Experimental Archaeology at Pennsic, Summer 2008.
Michael and Neathery of Safita cooked two dishes during the open fire
cooking experiment with SPCA (Soup Pot Cooks Association) camp at
Pennsic. The main experiment was cooking Tfahkiyah which is served in
the restaurants in Skopje, Macedonian. Two professional cooks in
Skopje reported that the dish is of Turkish origins, but the word is
very clearly Arabic. The ingredients and preparation of the Balkin
Tfahkiyah are very close to the recipe for Tuffahiyya given by Farouk
Mardam-Bey in Ziryab: Authentic Arab Cuisine as tracing to the
Medieval writings of al-Baghdadi. The second dish that we prepared was
Mujaddarah (Arabic, traditional lentil dish) over an open fire.
Commercial apples - nothing special.
Neathery of Safita peels and cores the apples.
She keeps the base of the core to replace in the base of the apple so the nuts and cinnamon will not be lost.
She used a horn handle knife forged in Prelip, Republic of Macedonia and purchased in Skopje.
Honey is measured into a wooden spoon brought from Novgorod, Russia.
Two tablespoons of honey dissolved in hot water.
Apples are covered with the honey water and start to warm as the water warms.
The pottery used in the experiment was produced by Lynn McAdams (left)
based upon archaeological drawings that I had provided at Pennsic
University when lecturing on Medieval artifacts from the Battlefield
of KuleKovo. Jim McAdams (right) learned to maintain the fire and
coalbed during the 6 hours of cooking. Lynn is known to her friends in
the SCA as Elaine Ladd from the Middle Kingdom. Two cookpots of apples
were prepared. One cooked for approximately 5 hours and the other
cooked for approximately 4.5 hours
The water never boiled in the two pots, but slowly warmed during the afternoon. The apples
were removed and quickly finished with cinnamon and crushed walnuts.
Cinnamon is sprinkled over the cooked apples.
Two handfuls of crushed walnuts in a lathe turned wooden bowl manufactured by traditional craftsmen in the Republic of Macedonia.
Core of the apples loaded with crushed walnuts.
The dessert, as served in Skopje, is topped with plain pudding and a
cherry. We finished half of the apples in this manner and left the
other plain because some of the cooks can not eat certain types of
dairy products. Our cooks (Michael and Neathery of Safita) were
disappointed with the texture of the apples because they needed either
a higher temperature or longer cooking time. The other cooks felt that
are evaluation was too harsh and they praised the dessert. We had
actually feared that the apples were overcooked after 4 hours in the
cookpots, but that was not the case.
The lentils for Mjaddarah were soaked for 12 hours before cooking.
The lentils were added to water and placed in a hotter portion of the coals. The single cookpot of lentils boiled after approximately an
hour and would continue to boil/stew for 4 hours. I feared that this was not enough time, but the lentils were perfectly done when served.
A single onion was diced and browned in olive oil using a pottery
skillet produced by Lynn McAdams.
The pottery skillet cracked after approximately 30 minutes of cooking. The onion were quickly added to the lentil
stew just before a second crack totally destroyed the effectiveness of the skillet. The crack may have resulted from heat migrating from the larger pot (filled with apples) that was touching the skillet.
Saint Phlip provided a nice piece of lamb that was grilled over the open fire.
Saint Phlip kept sprinkling water on the fire to keep the grease fires
from putting too much carbon on the outside of the meat. The lamb
seared over the fire for approximately 8 minutes, then it was placed
on a platter. It was covered and allowed to let it rest and finish
The feast included several other dishes - bread cooked in a dutch
oven, cabbage with marrow from a medieval English cookbook. spring
rolls, and barley soup. These were prepared by Andrew MacRobb, Damaris
MacRobb and Kenneth MacAndrew.
The cooks who prepared the feast.
Webpage created 24 August 2008
updated 29 August 2008