… cheese! This was definitely one of the most successful weeks of this seminar – not to mention one of my favorites! However, I think that out of all the weeks, this week left me feeling the least connected with ancient methods. We made the cheese from prepared packages with instructions and pre-portioned amounts of store-bought materials and tablets, using cooking utensils and microwaves. However, in light of the use of modern utensils, I was able to gain perspective as to what went into making cheese and how much harder and time-consuming the process would have been. And although this cheese was delicious – and beautifully braided -, I’m sure that it would have tasted even better after a longer laboring process.

… bread! This week was by far my favorite week of the seminar. The class experimented with making leavened and unleavened bread. My group opted for unleavened bread. After mixing the dough and flouring it enough to knead by hand, we were all fairly optimistic as to how it would turn out. We had fun shaping it and then flipping it on the upturned wok. After letting it cool, we were reassured that this was indeed a time-effective and taste-satisfying food option. We began to experiment, by coating the dough with oil and sugar, creating a sweet carmelized bread; shaping the dough into a pretzel shape and then coating with oil and salt, creating salted pretzels; coating the cooked bread with jam, creating a simple yummy snack. This was by far the best week in terms of learning how easily bread could be a food source and how easily it could be manipulated to provide many different yummy tastes!

… lamb! This week was not our group’s most successful week, although it may have been one of the most authentically primitive. We were broken up into competitive teams, with the tasks of harvesting as many calories as possible from a pumpkin, leg of lamb, and grain. Using obsidian, our group was actually relatively successful in harvesting food – with the exception of grinding the grain into powder – and was able to collect pumpkin seeds, chunks of pumpkin and lamb meat, as well as a very small amount of marrow. The part that was the most challenging was perhaps what made this week the most realistic: raiding and defending against raids from other groups. Team members were assigned the tasks of guarding the food that others would collect. Our group, in an attempted raid to get a brick from a neighboring group so that we could begin grinding our grain, had the majority of our meat pile stolen. All in all, though our group was more successful at the beginning of the day than the end – finding ourselves next to meal-less – I gained insight as to why pre-emptive strikes against neighboring groups may be beneficial, that diligence is perhaps the best tool one can have, and that the protection of resources is harder than the acquisition.

Janae Monfort