Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kudrun on Mars

Sometimes "class" is not the proper word for a sharing of information. This weekend I was able to participate with the Barony of Nordskogen at MarsCon. A hotel room was converted into the Great Hall of Nordskogn by means of banners, tapestries, benches, and gentlewomen in seemly attire. Period food was laid out on the board, and an atmosphere of quiet calm contrasted with the frenetic atmosphere of much of the convention.
One of the beverages we served was sekanjabin, a syrup of sugar, water and vinegar, sometimes flavored. Una Duckfoot had made many jars of the syrup using apple cider vinegar and mint tea, and since I had had the most experience with the beverage, I was the mixer and interpreter. Rosanore encouraged people to try this drink-that-didn't-come-from-a-can. 
Humans (including a 21-month-old acrobat), demi-humans, Klingons, and vampires were introduced to the virtues of sekanjabin.  I was lucky enough to chat with the Con's featured author, Esther Friesner, who had traveled in al-Andalus, the source of the 13th-century recipe for the drink. Her description of the deserts of Spain, where such a drink would be life-saving, reminded me of summer SCA camping events.
Here's how I make it:  Bring to a boil 1¼ cups of water and 2 cups of sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Add ½ cup of white wine vinegar, and simmer the mixture for about ½ hour. Throw in as much fresh mint as you can submerge in the liquid and let cool. Then strain out the mint. (Running warm water through the extracted mint will give you a few test servings.)  The syrup stores indefinitely.  To serve, mix syrup with water in a ratio of 1:5 to 1:10, according to taste. Serve warm or cold.
More information can be found here and here
Flavor variations I've tried include pomegranate, lemon zest, orange zest and warm spices, raspberry ginger... whatever.  Using honey instead of sugar (or with a reduced amount of sugar) is expensive, but worth it.  

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