Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The joys of translating period recipe ingredients

In reading my various leather dye recipes (and the same thing happens when looking at cooking recipes too), I keep seeing strange ingredients that I've never heard of before. This presents a challenge as you have to figure out what it could be.

In my earlier recipes, I had to figure out what curcuma was. Turns out is plain old turmeric. Not so hard really with a bit of Google-fu.

But sometimes the period names are really rather intimidating.

Case in point, a number of my recipes call for something called "Roman vitriol". Now, I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like some pretty nasty stuff. Probably not something you'd want to keep in your house, right?

And besides, where the heck are you going to buy "Roman vitriol"? I don't really have a handy store that carries ancient Roman chemicals down the street. Although, come to think of it, I do.

Because you see the scary sounding "Roman vitriol" is modernly known as copper sulphate, which is used to kill roots in septic systems, and sometimes to get rid of algae in ponds. I can actually buy it at Home Depot a couple of blocks from my house.

Now, copper sulphate is still pretty toxic stuff so you have to handle it carefully. But it just doesn't have that scary ring to it that "roman vitriol" does.

No comments:

Post a Comment