I’ve read that some bloggers will blog about anything and everything, including whatever they had for lunch. So this is me blogging about lunch… and managing to turn even this into something relevant to writing.
Quite a while back, I saw a post on some writing forum where someone was attempting to debunk some common misconceptions about living in a medieval-ish setting, the better to prevent stoopid stuffs being written in fantasy fiction. One of those misconceptions is “stew/soup is a good food to make when traveling.” Y’see, soup takes hours and hours to make, even assuming you have a pot to cook it in, which you won’t because you’re traveling.
Like the fool I am, I disagreed with that claim. I said that, whenever I make soup or stew, it takes me less than an hour and a half, start to finish. But what the hell do I know? I’m just some guy who lives in the modern world. Back in Medieval Times, it took hours and hours to make soup. It’s a fact.
I’m not apologizing for the sarcasm in this post.
Today, since I had planned to make soup anyway (had chopped onions in the fridge, left over from when the clone made his famous chili, that needed to be used soon), I decided to keep careful track of exactly how long everything took…
Prep time (washing pot big enough to cook three quarts of soup in, chopping vegetables and meat): fifteen minutes. Today has been — so far, at least — a day without a lot of pain in my hands, so it didn’t take me longer than usual to chop up one and a half pounds of potatoes, one pound of meat, however many carrots make a cup and a half when sliced… The onions, this time, were already diced, but that wouldn’t have added much to the total time. (Like a sensible person, on days when I cannot use my hands due to high pain levels, I don’t even attempt to make soup. Or post things on the Internet talking about it.)
Cook time: one hour. I’m slightly allergic to all members of the nightshade family, so I have to cook potatoes a long time to make sure they’re not going to go something evil to me. Otherwise the cook time would be a shorter. Having someone around to help with the prep work would also have shortened the total time — something to keep in mind for your hypothetical medieval-ish travelers.
This, to me, doesn’t seem like a terribly long time for a cooked meal, especially since I know how long it takes to roast things on a spit or buried in hot coals. Believe me, throwing everything in a pot with some water and boiling it is easier than skewering it all on a spit (really? for carrots?) which has to be turned constantly. And the buried-in-coals thing makes it harder to know when the food is done, plus you must have the hot coats first…
I won’t actually eat this soup until later today. I want to reduce the fat content, so it’ll sit in the fridge for a while until the fat from the meat solidifies, and I can just scoop it off the top and discard.
However, while the soup was cooking, I made my lunch out of 1) the last leftovers of that chili I mentioned, 2) a cup of leftover quinoa (if chili is sort of like curry, quinoa is sort of like rice — and besides, it adds more protein, which I desperately need), and 3) the rest of the leftover onions. Nuked it all together for a few minutes. Ate it while reading Goodreads forums.
One more thing I want to say about soup: If someone tells you that it’s not good for you because cooking things in water removes all the nutrients, tell them they’re an idiot. Yes, boiling potatoes to then take out of the water and mash up means they’ll have a lot of their nutrients removed (and even more if you peel them first — ewwww), but who the hell picks the meat and veggies out of soup but leaves the broth? And since the broth is eaten, too, why does it matter if some of the nutrients are in the broth now instead of in the vegetables? The only stuff you lose from making soup is stuff that’ll be lost just from cooking the ingredients at all — the vitamins that are destroyed by heat. But it isn’t as if potatoes have a high vitamin C content anyway, and the main vitamin in carrots (vitamin A) isn’t even water-soluble.
So go forth, O ye writers of medieval-ish fantasy fiction! Enjoy soup for lunch or dinner (or breakfast if you made enough for leftovers), and allow your traveling characters to do the same — as long as they remembered to bring a cook pot.