Last Friday’s class was the most enjoyable thus far in terms of the cooking process. The lack of detail in the recipe for the mustard sauce forced my team to experiment with the proportions of ingredients and to progressively taste the sauce we were making, and to consult the original French version of the text to look for nuances that might be lost in translation. My team ended up preparing four different sauces, each made of the same ingredients but varying based on process and ingredient proportions. The taste of the sauce given its striking combination of sour, spicy, salty, and sweet tastes was quite new but wonderful to me, and thinking about what it meant to make a sauce ‘thick like cinnamon’ had me and my team members thinking about the material qualities of ingredients we would otherwise take for granted in their isolated forms. In the end, the cooking process and the sensory experience of eating were certainly enriched by our interpretive struggles.
I also found the musical presence of the members of Cut Circle quite wonderful as it is perhaps the first time we have extended the sensory experience of feasting beyond the food and into other aesthetic experiences that flow through time. Because eating and attending musical performance is often quite strictly divorced in the contemporary world, thinking about how food and music coincided in the Medieval feast took a what I found to be a productive stretch of the imagination. Thinking about the notion that music might aid digestion or thinking about how a specific musical form would lend itself better to the feast were among some of the points discussed in class that I found particularly interesting.
In light of this, I’m excited to see how the student performances turn out and to continue cooking off of vague or confusing recipes for future classes!