Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.
I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!
One of my life long interests has been human history.
Not the names and dates, wars and politics, conquerors and empires stuff.
No. My interest has always been in, how did ordinary people live? What did they wear? How did they work? What tools did they use? What kind of homes did they have? How and what did they hunt? What foods did they gather or grow? What skills did they develop? How did they do for fun?
Over the years, I found that the best way to learn about a people and their culture is through what they wore, and what they ate. It’s amazing how much everything else revolves around those two things!
In the process, I developed a love of historical cooking.
Recently, I discovered a YouTube cooking channel that has become my favorite. My daughters and I will happily sit and watch them together, one after another.
My recommendation this week is Historical Italian Cooking.
This channel has only been around for a year, but has so much going for it! They focus specifically on the recreation of dishes from ancient Roman, Renaissance and Medieval periods of the region.
It is very different than most cooking channels and, subject matter aside, those differences are why I like it so much. I’ve tried watching other videos dedicated to historical cooking, and often find myself turned off by so many things. I think what I find the most irritating about these other channels is that they try too hard to be “entertaining”. I don’t enjoy the hosts going off on tangents, chattering with the crew, or all those other things that supposedly make them seem more “authentic”.
Just cook the food and tell me about it. That’s all I really want.
This channel, for me, makes perfect cooking videos!
The first thing that makes it stand out is the format.
Most of each video is just the camera filming from above a clean, distraction free, work surface. All you see of the chef is his hands. The various containers, bowls, boards and ingredients are laid out simply and clearly. When they go through the ingredients and fresh herbs are mentioned, it cuts to their garden, and the picking of herbs. Only the chefs arms are seen.
When the actual cooking occurs, you see the fire or oven and the cooking vessels. Again, the only view of the chef is of his hands.
The other thing I love about it is the narration. The speaker has a very calm, rhythmic manner of speaking. Even in the few videos where a woman takes over the narration (because the chef lost his voice), she speaks in the same rhythmic, soothing manner.
They also enunciate their words very clearly. For me, this is extremely important. I have an auditory processing problem. Though my hearing is quite excellent, when it comes to speech, sometimes things don’t translate well between the vibrations picked up by my ear drums, and how my brain turns those signals into words. If there are a lot of distractions, or a person has a particularly strong accent, instead of hearing words, I hear gibberish. Or sometimes, nothing at all. It’s like a blank spot, part way through a sentence. Most of the time, my brain can fill in the missing information, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work. When speaking to someone, I’ll ask them to repeat what they’ve said, but most mistake my request as me not understanding the meaning of what they were saying, so they rephrase what they said, instead of repeating their words. Which doesn’t usually help at all.
The narrator(s) in these videos speak English with very strong Italian accents. If they emoted more, or spoke faster, or were any more chatty, my brain would have endless problems processing their words. Instead, their measured and clearly enunciated speaking mannerisms are exactly right for me to hear every word. And I love it!
Another thing I love about this channel is how informative it is. While the chef is, say, busily grinding things with mortar and pestle, the narration will go on to explain where the recipe came from, the history of certain ingredients, what they had to do to recreate recipes that don’t include things like quantities or cooking times and temperature, or why they chose certain ingredients when the recipe itself didn’t specify anything beyond a general description. For ingredients that are difficult to find, they give modern alternatives. They even talk about the names and words used at times. It’s a fascinating and educational experience.
It’s very clear that the people making these videos have spent a great deal of time researching and testing these recipes before finally making the videos. Their dedication to authenticity shows everywhere. Many of the dishes, bowls, cups and cooking vessels are clearly hand made, using materials that would have been used in the time periods they cover. This includes tools made of wood, terracotta and even horn.
In the process of going through their “about” section on the channel, I found they also have a website, where you can find their recipes in English or Italian.
With our internet data limitations making video watching something I have to ration, I’m happy to find this, because I am really looking forward to trying some of these recipes myself!