Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Interest in Historical Encampments

Or, why I started Cooking
Being an Incredibly Biased Rendition of the Birth of the Guild of Saint Morritz

I originally wrote this as background to a post about cooking, but that turned into a multi-part post about cooking, and this intro turned into its own entry.

When Stephen decided he wanted to start a historical encampment, I told him I wanted to cook at it. Actually, that is not how all this started. The first summer I met Stephen we were both working Renaissance Faires. In fact, the first time we got to spend any time together was when he invited me to help out with a tiny little faire where his armored combat troupe had been invited to participate. I borrowed a friend’s renfaire garb and went to help “squire” for the knights in armour. The knights were required to perform two shows for the day, which meant there was a lot of hanging out time when they were not bashing each other about with swords. They spent a lot of that time sitting in front of a historical tent, teasing me just to get me to blush.

After that single day at a small event I was determined to hang out with the Armored combat troupe a lot more often, and not because of the teasing. I wanted to squire for the guys, I wanted to sit in front of historical tents, I wanted to bring more history to events that did not have a lot of real history. I convinced Stephen that squires could be a nice addition to their armored combat demonstration, and it turned out there were plenty of women in bodices willing to “squire” even there were not a lot of 6 to 12 year old boys. I convinced them that the tent might be more than a convenient changing room, it could also represent the home of a traveling knight. Two years later I was able to suggest that an encampment be included in the storyline of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire (though with Vikings instead of knights) and the year after that the knights took the encampment over. We still just had the single tent, now a sad rag of its former self, but we had a canvas fly set up in front to keep the rain off, a table and some historical chairs, and a copper fire dish where we warmed apple cider.  Pretty good for an endeavor that was really just a side project. Lest you think I was doing the entire thing on my own, I certainly was not. The other folks involved in the armored combat troupe thought an encampment was a pretty good idea and spent much more time on the faire days making the camp a lively and engaging place. By the end of the run that fall we were ambitious enough to try cooking a stew over our little fire, we all brought ingredients to the final Saturday, but before everyone arrived on site a dam broke upstream of the faire. It washed good portions of the faire away. We did not open that final weekend.

Things changed after that, the faire moved, our energies were directed elsewhere, some folks joined us, some folks left. Though we tried to make up a knight’s encampment over the next few years, it was never as successful at the one we did in 2005. But Stephen and I kept doing more historical endeavors, finding other ways to bring history to life, and when working with the cast of CTRF was no longer the focus for either of us, we got to think about starting a new history adventure. THAT was when Stephen said he wanted to start a historical encampment and I said I wanted to cook.

This is the intro to a series of posts about cooking. Part 2 is here, and part three is coming soon!

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