What do you eat at reenactments?

Chattahooch33

Sergeant Major
Annual Winner
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Location
Cobb's Legion Country - Bowdon, Ga.
I just returned from the 150th Pickett's Mill campaigner event. Going as Federals in the 6th Kentucky here is what we were issued on Friday night:

Salt Pork\Bacon
Hardtack
Wedge of Cheese
1/2 sweet potato
Apple
Coffee
Sugar

We cooked it Friday night and munched away over the weekend. We received a pickle on Saturday night.
 

1950lemans

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Location
Connecticut
At the naval tents during reenactments the following are always around: block of cheese under a linen cloth (even in the hottest August days - doesn't last too long anyway), "goobers" (shelled peanuts) and a basket of apples. In the morning there's baked bread and jam.

And yes, it the evening there's bottles and bottles of home-made grog!
 

Claude Bauer

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
It seems that the navy ate better than the army probably because the navy had cooks (I think they were petty officer ranked). There were cooks on regular ships and ironclads. Naval raiding parties oftentimes took food from the residents along the Miss. R. and its tributaries, bought foods (like fruits) from boat sutlers and blacks, and did a lot of hunting.

At a few naval reenactments some of the dishes were served. A fancy treat was pork pear stew (sometimes they threw apples in it). Some of the naval crews at reenactments served other foods like pease pudding which was like a pea soup made from split peas, potatoes, onions, peppers and left over ham and bacon. A popular naval desert from the time was dandyfunk: crushed old biscuits, salt pork and molasses baked in a shallow pan.

When I portray a Marine musician on the USS Constellation, the cook usually puts together a period authentic meal, which is always very hardy and tasty. He will incorporate items from where the ship was at the time, as well as what they might have had on board. If they were in the Mediterranean, for instance, he'll include things like dates and figs with the meal, for which the main dish is usually some kind of stew. But this is a living history event at a historical site, not a battle reenactment. We often have tourists watching us eat and asking about the food. The female spectators always get a kick out of all the men washing the dishes after the meal.

If I'm doing a living history event as an infantry soldier and need to bring food, I'm always aware that if you're snarfing down something from Micky D's or KFC, someone is going to post your picture on the Internet, in the newspaper, or on the evening news. So, my "haversack lunch" usually consists of a slice of sausage, a chunk of cheese, maybe a hard boiled egg, some cornbread, and an apple. I drink water from my canteen. Usually I'm too hot to eat it all, but none of it needs refrigeration or needs to be cooked. Most soldiers in the field wouldn't have had all that, but it's representative of the types of foods that were available. Sometimes I'll bring hard tack and salt pork to show people, but I don't eat it.
 
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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
This will not really advance the intent of the thread, but I'll toss it out anyway. A few years ago, my wife and I were in Lexington, Missouri on a Saturday. I had never seen the site of the famous "hemp bales" battle, so I was very eager to include that in our visit. When we got there, we found a group of re-enactors staging a Patriot's Day celebration from the period between the Mexican and Civil wars. It seemed impolite to just walk away from the presentation, so we watched. A barbecued hog lunch was part of the program and everyone was invited to have lunch. This was not 100% authentic, because the re-enactors knew they would be serving a large group of spectators, so they had to observe currently acceptable food service practices. Nevertheless, it was all a lot of fun and it is the only food I have ever eaten at a re-enactment. Darn it, I never did get down to the hill where the battle was fought, but we had a great time.
 

Claude Bauer

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
When I portray a Marine musician on the USS Constellation, the cook usually puts together a period authentic meal, which is always very hardy and tasty. He will incorporate items from where the ship was at the time, as well as what they might have had on board. If they were in the Mediterranean, for instance, he'll include things like dates and figs with the meal, for which the main dish is usually some kind of stew. But this is a living history event at a historical site, not a battle reenactment. We often have tourists watching us eat and asking about the food. The female spectators always get a kick out of all the men washing the dishes after the meal.

Last month, the cook on the Ship worked very hard at creating a period dish called "Duff" for dinner (lunch) and did a great job at recreating it. Apparently a version of this was served on the USS Monitor back in the day. http://recipes.hypotheses.org/3662

"Duff was a steamed or boiled pudding which was consumed frequently in the nineteenth century. It was simple to make and contained cheap ingredients, usually just flour, water, and a handful of fruit. Geer told his wife that he would “give you the recpt and you can try it.” He told her to “take ½ lb Flour to each person and wet it until it is a thick paste then put in one ounce [o]f Dride Apples to each person.” The apples, he noted, included “cores and dirt” and his wife should add them to the dough “without cutting them up or Washing them.” This mixture was to be put “in a Bag over night and boil then in the morning until it is about half done through then cut it up with a knife so as to make it as heavy as poseable.” The resulting lump of half-cooked dough was hard to digest, but it was filling – for although most puddings “will be apt to work out of your stomac in the course of time,” Geer joked, “this Duff is wanted to stay.”

Our cook used raisins instead of apples. It's a heavy dish, one I'd recommend in small portions for those not used to it. Like that sailor on the Monitor, I discovered that "this Duff wanted to stay." I had a large serving -- about the size of a softball -- and it sat there like a rock for the rest of the day.
 

yankee blue

Private
Joined
Jun 18, 2014
Location
Ohio
Being with the 66th ovi we eat well thanks to our cooks. We eat period correct food but most soldiers did not eat it.
 

James B White

Captain
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Being with the 66th ovi we eat well thanks to our cooks. We eat period correct food but most soldiers did not eat it.

That's a good example of how "period correct" has different meanings to different reenactors. Some would say that "period correct" means something is also typical for the situation portrayed, while others would say that anything which existed in the period is still "period correct," even in a context where it wouldn't have been.

For example, is a spot-on reproduction of a silk ball gown still period correct if someone portraying an average soldier on campaign is wearing it? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it hasn't magically turned to polyester with a zipper, so it's just as period correct as ever, but on the other hand, it perhaps doesn't give as good a sense of a soldier's clothing as another choice. :wink:
 

Biscuit

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2018
Location
NH
Not at a reenactment, but post-parade I managed to slink my way into a local pub with a few other lads. This was many MANY years ago.
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