Posted by: wrmcnutt | May 11, 2009

Drink this – it’s not as bad as it sounds . . .

As you may have noticed, I’m in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is a large medieval re-creation group with chapters worldwide.  While we do many things, the most dynamic and visual of our practices is the martial art of heavy combat.  If you’ve ever seen people in real suits of armor in the park, beating each other with simulated swords, it was probably us.  We are divided into geographic regions we call Kingdoms, and each of these has a King.  My own kingdom is that of Meridies, or, as I like to think of it, the center-of-light-and-culture.  But I digress.

Each King must have his consort.  The font of all honor, and the gracious vessel of love and beauty:  the Queen.  Now, Kings and Queens in the SCA are pretty important people.  As important people, they are typically surrounded by an entourage.  The entourage serves several purposes.  First of all, they demonstrate how important the Crown is to anyone who might be watching.  Second, most of the entourage is made  up of people who make the Crown’s job easier.  For example, one guy might be the guy who hauls the Royal Pavilion to site because the King was short-sighted enough to buy a Volkswagen Beetle when he last bought a car.  Or one lady might be the Royal Travel coordinator, because the Queen becomes a shrieking harpy when people ask her questions about the schedule.   And so on.

With all this in mind, let me relate the story of how I spent one night in the entourage of the Queen.  In those days the Great Queen Broinnfhionn inghean Chathain The Elegant, the most Gracious, and Beautiful, called the Archer was Queen of Meridies.  To understand Brionfionn’s relationship with Archers, you have to understand a little bit about the social level of archers in the Middle Ages, and how it is reflected in our re-creation. 


Queen Bri is the cute one on the right. Picture from

[iframe width=”1″ height=”1″ src=”″%5DBack in the real Middle Ages, war went something like this: You got your caravan together, and spent a great deal of money hauling a lot of gear on bad roads, past bandits, and through all kinds of bad weather.  You traveled the length of England, over the channel, across France, across the Mediterranean Sea, and into the Holy Land. You crossed vast oceans, burning deserts, and desolate wastelands to reach your goal.  The morning of the battle, you ate a lousy breakfast, kitted out in heavy, expensive armor, and took the field.  All to be shot by some peasant with a cross-bow from so far away you can barely see him.  Now what fun is that?  In that time, it was not unheard of to maim captured archers so that they could no longer draw a bow, or just butcher them to a man.  In the SCA, you get your caravan together and spend a great deal of money hauling a lot of gear on bad roads, past gas stations whose prices make them look like bandits and through all kinds of bad weather. You travel the length of Tennessee, over the Mississippi River, across Lake Ponchetrain, all to get to Gulf Wars.  You cross vast Interstate  Highways, burning parking lots, and desolate fast-food outlets, all to reach Pennsic or Gulf Wars.    In the morning, you get up too early, eat a lousy breakfast, put on your heavy kit, hike to the battlefield, and get shot with an arrow from somebody you can’t see in the first five seconds of battle.  What fun is that?

Queen Broinnfhionn, in order to support, encourage, and promote combat archery in the Kingdom of Meridies chose to set aside her chosen weapon and pick up a bow, that she might lead and inspire us.  This is of particular significance, as Queen Broinnfhionn is also a squire to Sir Atos.  I don’t know if it was true, but the rumor among the Archers was that, back in those days, every time a squire was seen with a bow in his hand, he pushed his potential knighting back a year.

With all this you have an understanding of why the Archers of Meridies would walk into fire for her.

And so I found myself down at Panhandle Skirmishes, an annual get-together between Meridies and the barbarians of Trimaris.  We were over the Trimaran border, deep in barbarian territory, and far from home.  So far from home, in fact, that none of the Queen’s entourage had shown up for the weekend.  Her Majesty was just wandering around, utterly unsupervised.  So a troupe of her loyal archers took it upon themselves to follow her around to make her look important.

As we walked through the night, saying hello and greeting the barbarians, as well as those of our own people who had made the voyage, we encountered a lone Trimaran, weaving along the dirt road that ran through the camp.  He recognized good Queen Broinnfhionn from her Heraldry, and greeted her respectfully, if a little lop-sidedly.

“Yer Majeshty  . . .Welcome to Tremerus. *hic*  I would like to offer you a Trimeran Delicacy.”

He waved a jar of dubiously colored green liquid, and a bottle of budget tequila in her general direction.

He continued, “It’s not as bad as it sounds.”

This is one of natures warning signs.  “It’s not as bad as it sounds.”

Her Majesty, ever the soul of courtesy, asked, “So tell me, what is this Trimaran delicacy?”

He smiled, and looked at her with both of his eyes.  “Tequila, and pickle juice!”  He smiled, and swayed in the road. I cringed.  A shudder ran down my spine.

He went on, “It’s like a mix-in-your-mouth-margarita.  You take a shot of tequila, and then a shot of pickle juice. ”

First, her Majesty is a gracious lady, and conscious of being a Cultural Ambassador for Meridies.  But more than that, as a Warrior of Meridies, she is, by definition, Unspeakably Brave.

“Very well.  I shall try this Trimaran delicacy.”

Oh God. *shudder*  She’s not serious, is she?

She was.  She took each of the shots in order, and kind of froze.  Her head kind of twisted around at an angle and her eyes squinted shut.  Her arms stuck straight out for a second, and a shudder ran through her.

And then she smiled.  “Thank you.  That was nice.  Oh, no, thank you.  I’m already over my limit, and I have to fight tomorrow.”

“Well, how ’bout you guys,” he said.

Okay – I wouldn’t have done this for just any royal.  But this was Queen Broinnfhionn the Archer.

The salt in the pickle brine worked well with the tequila.  The dill kinda, almost, substitutes for lime flavor.  If you like pickles, and fortunately, I do, it’s well, not as bad as it sounds.  But, tequila and pickle juice sounds pretty damn bad.



  1. Just for the record:

    “Not as bad as it sounds” does not equal “good”.

    Keep this in mind.

    • I could not have said it better myself. *shudder* Although the experience wasn’t nearly as bad as the Great Liver War.

  2. sweet pickled juice? or kosher?

    • Very specifically kosher dill. Budget, not Claussen’s. You might be able to improve on it by using a higher order of pickle juice. But _I’m_ not gonna experiment.

  3. I’m not that brave. I was just …intellectually curious. Not willing to be empirical with this one. nope.

    • It’s something you could actually tune up a lot. Various tequila vendors, middle, top and bottom shelf . . . difference kinds of pickle juice . . . is the pickle juice cold or room temperature?

      But I’m not gonna do it.

  4. I was just introduced to tequila and pickle juice this year. Tequila being my shot of choice, I was truly surprised. It’s good! I liked it! Better than a lemon or lime, imho. And easier to carry around. It does not work as well with Petron of any variation, but works very well with Don Julio Silver. Also, I recommend either budget pickle juice or Vlassic, and it must be kosher.

    • For those millions of you who missed it, Lady Eorann performed a “Janet” for the SCA Rocky Horror that left Susan Surandon in the dust. Much hotter, better voice.

      • 😛 Andreva, thank you (but Eeyore works just as well). Morgan played “Janet,” and yes, she was much hotter and had a better voice. I played “Columbia” and “Lips.” I still need to track down a recording of that. I think I shocked a few people by being able to dance in 4″ heels.

      • I’m old. I got the names confused. Never the actresses. I wish I could see you in heels more often.

      • Come to Atlanta for something other than an SCA event. 🙂 I tend to wear them quite a bit, especially now that the weather is cooperating.

      • And what does that have to do with tequila and pickle juice? *L* Although, after this weekend, I think I’ll lay off the alcohol….till at least Memorial Day weekend. *L*

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