What I like about the Society for Creative Anachronism
It's my wife's fault really. I met her in 2006 through a completely different hobby. She told me of this group of people that liked to dress up in funny clothes and hit each other with big sticks. I mean, who wouldn't be interested in something like that? So I attended a meeting, and then an event, and then I was hooked.
What is the SCA?
First I think it is important to explain just what the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is, or at least what I feel the SCA is for me since it is something different for everyone. At its core, the SCA sets out recreate the better parts of the middle ages. Each participant chooses a time period and a locale that he or she wants to be a part of. For me, 13th Century Milan simply called to me.
The research of the period is, for me, very challenging but also very interesting. My research centers around the clothes people wore and the food they ate during that time. My goal is not to become a 13th Century Milanese Noble, but to do my best to look and act the part. It has been six years since my first experience, and I am still excited about adding to my history, making new garb (clothes) and learning new recipes to share with anyone interested in eating.
Some of my experiences so far
My first event is something that I will certainly never forget, though it might serve me well to do so. This was an annual event that our local group, the Shire of Rokeclif, was holding in Galesville, Wisconsin. Somehow, someone told the group that I loved to cook - I am quite sure I know the culprit, but she shall remain nameless at this time. I was asked to help in the feast kitchen.
So, no crap, there I was, ginsu steak knife in one hand, turnip in the other. I knew right then and there that my role would become one of cook for the shire, and I can say that I truly enjoy this. The feast that event was awesome and I remember the roasted root vegetables very well (that's where the turnips went). It wasn't long after this event that the shire made a pilgrimage to a restaurant supply store for proper kitchen equipment.
Fast forward to July, 2007 and what I refer to as camping on the Serengeti Plain. This was the Warriors and Warlords event, and as you can imagine, mid July is going to be hot. Add to this that my wife and I were camping with our 3 month old daughter, and that it was the first camping event we had attended. It was hot, and sunburn was very apparent on many of the attendees. The evenings cooled off some, but it was still nearly unbearable.
Jump again to January 2008, and the Twelfth Night event in Nordskogen. I awoke that morning to leave for the event only to find that the temperature was below zero - 27 degrees below zero to be exact. The wife and daughter opted to stay home, and I ventured forth into the frozen world to attend an event where nobody I knew was planning to attend. I wandered the event most of the day with nothing to do, enjoyed a nice lunch, and left before the event was over.
So, with all of this, why do I still do this? Where else can you endure particularly horrible conditions, cold weather, rain, and just pure misery and still leave smiling? The SCA, it's not always the utopia we dream it to be, but it always leaves fond memories.
Getting into the Food
Those good gentles who know me would not be at all surprised to hear that I created a very period lunch for That Moot Thingy XI held in February 2011. I set out to bring Hot Dogs and Macaroni and Cheese, a modern favorite of many young men and women, to an event that is supposed to be a lot of fun.
Research into period macaroni yielded a dish of macaroni in a Parmesan cheese sauce that could have had a bit more cheese. A period recipe for pasta turned out to create a noodle that closely resembled Penne, and some experimenting with the cheese made for a dish that was quick and simple to make.
Hot dogs of course are not period, but people have been meat into intestines to make sausage for many years. This recipe was for something that was more of an Italian sausage than a hot dog, but the cinnamon and fennel added some very interesting flavor.
Topped off with sugar cookies from 16th century Spain, homemade breads, and a selection of fruit, this meal turned out to be something extremely fun to research, prepare, and serve.
The Future of the Past
Although I have been unable to attend as many events as I would like in the past couple of years, my interest in the SCA is still as strong as ever. Plans for future events, including an event all about playing games, making new garb, and researching new recipes are all on the list of activities for this year. Our local shire has become more active, with meetings just about every week and plans for some very fun events this year and next.
Now, if you still don't understand why I enjoy the SCA so much, then perhaps it's time for you to find your local group and get involved. There really is something for everyone!