DAILY LIFE IN THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE by Marcus Rautman is a good starting place for anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire. Sections on every imaginable aspect of daily living can be found in this book. The author gives references for further reading by way of chapter end-notes and a Bibliography. The book includes nice clear maps, a glossary of terms, index, list of rulers and their years in power, timeline, and illustrations. Chapter titles and headings are bold and informational and make finding a specific bit of information easier for the reader.

As an over-view of life in Byzantium the book is naturally limited in how deeply it can delve into each topic. In spite of this, the amount of detail the author has brought together is quite good. What is more, the types of information given serve well to help the reader imagine the details of life for a person living in the Byzantine Empire. For topics I have read about more extensively, I found this author to have given a good balanced over-view of what is known. I may update my evaluation of the book as I read further in new topics but as of this writing I approve of this book.

I highly recommend this book both for home school use (middle school or higher) and for the purposes of developing a persona to play in the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

I hope a good over-view book like this one will encourage more persons to opt for Byzantine in the SCA.

Period Preservation of Vegetables

Pliny, sometime around 50AD, wrote about lactic acid fermentation. This gives documentation to the process of fermenting vegetables to preserve them for my period of the 10th century. Crocks for fermenting vegetables and meats have been found all around the globe. So in the name of wonderful flavors and period food preparation both, I am putting boldly out into the sea of fermenting some cabbage (cheap if I foul up and must throw it out) and hoping that in a couple of weeks I will have a delicious sauerkraut. Apparently the Byzantine kitchen would have had an array of pots fermenting various vegetables and meats at any one time and every meal would have had the results as sauces, condiments and side dishes. The ancient Roman favorite Garum is the result of this sort of fermentation process.

Fermentation of cabbage seems to be found in nearly every culture. The Vikings were known to have soured cabbage, the Romans traveled with pots of it, and the peoples of Asia lifted it to amazing heights and probably were the originators of the process. For example: The Koreans make Kimchi and it is amazing! Some is only vegetable, but other types include fish. The traditional process was to cut it all up add brine and bury the closed pot in the ground for a couple months or more.

I own a crock and several heads of cabbage and sea salt. Now to put it all together!

Every tradition spices their fermentations differently. The options are amazing, the flavors stunning, and I am quite excited to be learning this ancient and marvelous practice.

Learning New Skills

Excitement! I am hoping to take a class at an Society for Creative Anachronism event this weekend on how to use embroidery to put carbochons on my clothing with thread. Very eager to learn this so I can decorate a fancy tunic with stones and pearls.

There are a whole lot of Inkle loom classes too. I hope to take at least one about card weaving and one about doing pick-up on my loom. Trouble is, I think I need more than one loom!

I won’t probably get to take them, but there will also be classes on creating the atmosphere with acting out your persona. Getting more people to “play” at events makes the fun greater for everybody. Historical accuracy for the garb between events, and creating a fantasy of the medieval period for playing at events. A place for all. I delight in historical details. Research is fun. I love reading about real life in the 10th Century.