No Eels, Please!

Non-Weird Period Food

By The Honorable Lady Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina

Perhaps you’ve sat through far too many feasts where you’ve been afraid to try the bowl of brown glop. Maybe the cook has served something you’re never had before and you’re pretty sure you don’t want try, like eels or organ meats. Or maybe it’s just that you can’t recognize a single dish that’s been brought out from the kitchen.

In any case, you’ve firmly decided that all medieval food is weird and nasty, you’re not touching it, and you’re never going on-board again! Where’s the nearest restaurant?

Well, there are hundreds of delicious, recognizable period dishes –ranging from early English and Anglo-Saxon to late-period French and German – many of which closely resemble ones that you eat mundanely.

Ever eat macaroni and cheese? Apple pie? Sausage? Salad? French toast? There are Medieval or Renaissance recipes for all of them, although some do have minor differences from the modern dish. (For example, period pain perdu does not contain vanilla extract, which is commonly added to modern French toast.) Many cooks do serve these dishes, because they’re similar to what they’re used to cooking and because they (rightly) assume that something that’s recognizable is generally more enticing to the wary feaster.

I believe very strongly in serving good redactions of period recipes, not perioid or modern food, at my feasts. Yes, there are period recipes for porpoises, lamprey, heron, swan, haggis, entrails, brains, testicles, aspic, and yes, even dormice. Yes, they’re what many of us would consider to be "weird." When prepared correctly, these adventurous and unusual dishes are quite delicious and are a wonderful change from standard modern dinner fare for most of us… but a majority of your on-board probably will not be willing to try them. If your entire menu is "weird" food, a lot will come back to the kitchen and go into the trash can, which wastes the feast budget, and people end up going away hungry from your feast. Bad cook! No biscuit!

Rather than serve a meal of all or mostly "weird" dishes, I suggest serving only one or two of these unusual dishes per feast and having the rest of the meal be period food which is easily recognizable to the average diner. If you’re redacting a "weird" dish, why not enter it in an A&S competition? If it’s really odd, it’s more likely to be appreciated there than at feast.

If you’ve sworn off feasts, consider checking the next event menu to look for some of these dishes and give it another try. If you’re a cook, consider serving a few of these in addition to the one or two more adventurous dishes you plan to make. That way, people won’t walk away hungry and they might be encouraged to try a taste of your "weird" dish… and find they like it!

When thumbing through period cookbooks, you’ll see a lot recipes for grain and legume porridges or potages, lots of soups, coffyns or pie crusts filled with meats and fruits, sweet fritters dusted with sugar, fruit tarts, and roasted fowl, fried fish, and boiled or roasted meats served with sauces. Does that sound all that strange? Cheese-making is quite period, as is butter-churning and sausage-making. Bread was served with every meal, and the poor commonly ate eggs in a variety of ways. They ate a few animals which we recognize but don’t commonly eat in America, such as rabbit, geese, venison, and a great variety of fish.

The following are the names of numerous Medieval recipes which resemble common modern dishes. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Rather, it demonstrates how many things we eat today date back to our period of study. For ones that are common in several cookbooks, such as bread and salad, I’ve provided more than one recipe.

Meat

Roast Pork Loin

Cormarye

Forme of Cury (The Art of Cooking), 1390, Reprinted Constance B. Hieatt, 1997

Take colyaundre, caraway smale grounden, powdour of peper and garlec ygrounde, in rede wyne; medle alle thise togyder and salt it. Take loynes of pork rawe and fle of the skyn, and pryk it wel with a knyf, and lay it in the sawse. Roost it whan thou wilt, & kepe that that falleth therfro in the rostyng and seeth it in a possynet with faire broth, & serue it forth with the roost anoon.

Sausages

If you would make good bratwurst

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Take four pounds of pork and four pounds of beef and chop it finely. After that mix with it two pounds of bacon and chop it together and pour approximately one quart of water on it. Also add salt and pepper thereto, however you like to eat it, or if you would like to have some good herbs, you could take some sage and some marjoram, then you have good bratwurst.

Shrimp

Shrympys boyled

Constance B. Hieatt, An Ordinance of Pottage, 1988

Take quyke shrympy: pike hem clene. Make thy sauce of watyr & salt; cast hem yn. Let hem boyle but a lytyll; pour awey the watyr. Ley hem dry. When thu shalt serve hem forth, ley hem yn disches round all aboughte the sydez of the disches, & ley the backsyde outward, & every course till ye come to the mydward of the disches within. Serve hem forth; sauce hem with venygger.

Roast Lamb

Easter Lamb

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Take the lamb and draw off the skin and leave him the ears and the feet and the tail, cover with a wet cloth, so that the hair does not burn. Roast the whole lamb in this manner in the oven on a board. And if you like for it to be standing, then stick a spit into each leg. When it is almost roasted, then baste it with eggs and take it out...

Cornish Pasties

Grete Pye

Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks, 1430

Take faire yonge beef, And suet of a fatte best, or of Muton, and hak all this on a borde small; and caste thereto pouder of peper and salt; and whan it is small hewen, put hit in a bolle, And medle hem well; then make a faire large Cofyn, and couche som of this stuffur in. Then take Caoins, Hennes, Mallardes, Connynges, and parboile hem clene; take wodekokkes, Teles, grete briddes, and plom hem in a boiling pot; And hen Couche al this fowle in the Coffyn, And put in euerych of hem a Quantite of pouder of peper and salt. Then take mary, harde yolkes of egges, Dates cutte in ij peces, reisons of couraunce, prunes, hole cowched all thi foule, ley the remenaunt of thyne other stuffur of beef a-bought hem, as thou thenkest goode; and then strawe on hem this: dates, mary, and reysons, &c. And then close thi Coffyn with a lydde of the same paast, And puttte hit in the oven, And late hit bake ynough; but be ware, or thou close hit, that there come no saffron nygh the brinkes there-of, for then hit wol neuer close.

Roasted Chicken

Chike Endored

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take a chike, and draw him, and roste him, and lete the fete be on, and take away the hede.

Chicken Soup

Schyconys with the bruesse

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

Take halfe a dosyn Chykonys, & putte hem in-to a potte; then putte ther-to a gode gobet of freysshe Beef, & lat hem boyle wyl; putte ther-to Percely, Sawge leuys, Saurey, noyt to smal hakkyd; putte ther-to Safroun y-now; then kytte thin Brewes, & skalde hem with the same brothe; Salt it wyl.

Roast Beef

Roast Fillet of Beef

Robert May, The Accomplisht Cook, 1660

Take a fillet which is the tenderest part of the beef, and lieth in the inner part of the surloyn, cut it as big as you can, broach it on a broach not too big, and be careful not to broach it through the best part of the meat; roast it leisurely, and baste it with sweet butter, set a dish to save the gravy while it roasts, then prepare sauce for it of a good store of parsley, with a few sweet herbs chopped small, the yolkes of three or four eggs, sometimes gross pepper minced amongst them with the peel of an orange, and a little onion; boil these together, and put in a little butter, vinegar, gravy, a spoonful of strong broth, and put it to the beef.

Chicken Fricassee

Fricacee of Chicken

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, 1669

Cut chickens, which must be flead of their skin, into thin slices, and beat them; or the like with Veal. Put about half a pint of water or flesh-broth to them in a frying-pan, and some Thyme, and Sweet-marjoram, and an Onion or two quartered, and boil them till they be tender, having seasoned them with Salt, and about twenty Corns of whole white Pepper, and four or five Cloves. When they are enough, take half a pint of White wine, four yolks of Eggs, a quarter of a pound of butter (or more), a good spoonful of Thyme, Sweet-Marjoram, and Parsley (more parsley then of the others) all minced small: a Porrenger full of gravy. When all these are well incorporated together over the fire, and well beaten, pour it into the pan to the rest, and turn it continually up and down over the fire, till all be well incorporated. Then throw away the Onion and first sprigs of Herbs, squeeze Orange to it, and serve it up hot.

Shish Kebab

Note on the Kinds of Roast

An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century, Charles Perry translation, A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks, Duke Sir Cariadoc of the Bow, 1987

Although roasts are easy dishes, it is fitting that what has already been explained be followed, except that concerning the "covering." Take meat of a young, plump animal and cut it with a knife in thin fillets, so that the meat is mixed with fat, without bones, from the tender parts, meat from the shoulder or hip or similar things. Place it in a dish and pour on it whatever is needed of murri naqi, vinegar, thyme, pepper, pounded garlic, and a little oil; beat everything and coat the fillets with this; then order them on a spit, not placing the ones between the others, so that the fire reaches them, and turn them on the spit on a charcoal fire, turning continuously, until they are cooked and browned. Baste with this sauce, being careful until done; then sprinkle with this sauce or made mustard, already prepared, and use. This strengthens and increases the blood, but is difficult to digest and slow to go down.

Beef Stew

Beef y-Stewed

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take faire beef of the ribs of the forequarters, and smite in fair pieces, and wash the beef into a fair pot; then take the water that the beef was sodden in, and strain it through a strainer and seethe the same water and beef in a pot, and let them boil together; then take canel, cloves, maces, grains of paradise, cubebs and onions y-minced, parsley and sage, and cast thereto, and let them boil together; and then take a loaf of bread, and stepe it with broth and vinegar, and then draw it through a strainer, and let it be still; and when it is near enough, cast the liquor thereto, but not too much, and then let boil once, and cast saffron thereto a quantity; then take salt and vinegar, and cast thereto, and look that it be poynant enough, and serve forth.

Poached Fish

Pike in Galentyne

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take a pike and seth him ynowe in gode sauce; And then couche him in a vessell, that he may be y-caried yn, if thou wilt// And what tyme he is colde, take brede, and stepe hit in wyne and vinegre, and cast there-to canell, and drawe hit thorgh a streynour, And do hit in a potte, And caste there-to pouder peper; And take smale oynons, and myce hem, And fry hem in oyle, and cast there-to a few saundres, and lete boyle awhile; And cast all this hote vppon the pike, and carry him forth.

Grains

Rice

Rice Boiled Dry

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, 1669

The manner of boiling rice to eat with butter, is this. In a pipkin pour upon it as much water as will swim a good finger’s bredth over it. Boil it gently till it be tender, and all the water drunk into the rice, which may be a quarter of an hour or less. Stir it often with a wooden spatule or spoon, that it not burn to the bottom. But break it not. When it is enough, pour it into a dish...

Gnocci

If you want some gnocchi

Martino, Libro de Arte Coquinaria, 1400, The Medieval Kitchen, Odile Redon, 1998

Take some fresh cheese and mash it, then take some flour and mix with egg yolks as in making migliacci. Put a pot full of water on the fire and, when it begins to boil, put the mixture on a dish and drop it into the pot with a ladle. And when they are cooked, place them on dishes and sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese.

Egg Noodles

Spritzgebackenes

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Then take one third quart of milk and let it boil and take wheat flour, as if you were making steamed buns, and take six or eight eggs and beat them in one after the other until the dough becomes very soft and put it through a pastry bag and boil it slowly.

Bread

To Make Manchet

Gervase Markham, The English Hous-wife, 1649

Your best and principal bread is Manchet, which you shall bake in this manner: First your meal being ground upon the black stones, if be possible, which makes the whitest flower, and boulted through the finest boulting cloth, you shall put it into a clean Kimnel, and opening the flower hollow in the midst, put into it of the best ale-barm, the quantity of three pints to a bushell of meale and some salt to season it with; then put in your liquor reasonable warme, and kneade it very well together, with both your hands, and through the brake, or for want thereof, fould it in a cloth, and with your feete treade it a good space together, then letting it lie an houre or thereabouts to swel, take it foorth and mould it into Manchets, round, and flat, scorcht them about the wast to give it leave to rise, and prick it with your knife in the top, and so put into the oven, and bake with gentle heat.

On Bread

Platina, De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine (On Right Pleasure and Good Health), 1470

…Anyone, therefore, who does baking should use flour (farina) which is well-ground from wheat, although farina is so-called from far, ground grain. From this, he should separate the bran and the inferior flour with a very fine flour sieve, then put the flour, with warm water and some salt, on a baker's table closed in at the sides, as the people at Ferrara in Italy are accustomed to do. If you live in damp places and a bit of leaven is used, the baker, with help from his associates, kneads to that consistency at which bread can be made fairly easily. Let the baker be careful not to put in too much or too little leaven, for, from the former, bread can acquire a sour taste, and, from the latter, it can become too heavy to digest and too unhealthy, since it binds the bowels. Bread should be well-baked in an oven and not used the same day, nor is it especially nourishing when made from very fresh wheat and if it digested slowly.

If you would make good large buns like Semmel

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Then take milk, bring it to a boil, put two small crumbs of fat into it, also put salt and a small drop of water into it. Stir in flour, one or two spoons, according to how much you will make, make the dough in the pan very dry, put it in a bowl, beat eggs into it, until you think that it is right. Take afterwards a small iron spoon and with it put the buns in the pan.

Flatbread/Pita Wraps

Raghif

An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century, Charles Perry

Knead flour with a little water, then complete the kneading with oil. Then make little raghifs from a piece of it, rolled out with a cane, some fifteen raghifs.

Crepes

Crespes grandes et petites

The Viandier of Taillevent

The large ones are made with a syrup pot or a large brass pan, the small ones with an iron pan. They should be made of egg yolks and flour beaten together. get a deep wooden bowl and hot grease, put the batter in the bowl -- it should not be too thick -- turn your hand in the bowl over the hot grease; and keep them from browning too much. For Small Crepes you should beat yolks and whites together with flour, and it should be a little thicker than the batter for the Large Crepes. Keep a low fire going until (the grease is) hot; get a wooden bowl with a hole in the bottom, put the batter in it and then when everything is ready let it run out and make a sort of little loop, or a larger one, and across the loop make a sort of tongue of a buckle with the same batter; and let the Crepes cook in the grease until they have swollen up.

Lasagne

Losyns

Forme of Curye, Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit, 2nd Ed., 1997 (14th Century recipes)

Take good broth and do in an erthen pot. Take flour of pandemayne and make þereof past with water, and make þerof thynne foyles as paper with a roller; drye it harde and seeþ it in broth. Take chese ruayn grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce, and lay theron loseyns isolde as hoole as thou myst, and above powdour and chese; and so twyse or thryse, & serve it forth. Take good broth and put into an earthen pot. Take flour and make of it a paste with water, and make of it thin foils like paper, with a roller; dry it hard and boil it in broth. Take autumn cheese, grated, and lay it in dishes with sweet spice powder, and lay onto it lozenges as whole as you can, and above them powder and cheese, and repeat the layers twice or thrice, and serve it.

Macaroni and Cheese

Makerouns

Forme of Curye, Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit, 2nd Ed., 1997 (14th Century recipes)

Take and makke a thynne foyle of dowh, and kerve it on peces, and cast hym on boillyng water & seeþ it wele. Take chese and grate it, and butter melte, caste bynethen and above as losyns; and serve forth. Take and make a thin foil of dough, and cut it in pieces, and cast them into boiling water, and seethe it well. Take cheese and grate it, and melt butter, put beneath and above as you do with losyns, and serve.

Cheese Ravioli

Ravieles

Two Anglo-Norman Culinary Collections

Take fine flour and sugar and make pasta dough; take good cheese and butter and cream them together; then take parsley, sage, and shallots, chop them finely and put them in the filling. Put the boiled ravieles on a bed of grated cheese and cover them with more grated cheese and then reheat them.

Meat Ravioli

Ravioli for Meat Days

Martino, Libro de Arte Coquinaria, 1400, The Medieval Kitchen, Odile Redon, 1998

To make ten platefuls: take a half libra of aged cheese and a little of another fat cheese and a libra of fat hog's tripe or calf's head, and cook it in water until very tender. Then chop it well and take nice herbs, thoroughly chopped, and some pepper, cloves, and ginger; and if you add the chopped breast of a capon, so much the better. And mix all these things together. Then make the dough very thin and enclose the mixture in the dough as it should be. And these ravioli should be no larger than half a chestnut; and cook them in a broth of capon or good meat, colored yellow by saffron when it boils. And let them boil for the time two paternosters. Then serve and put on top grated cheese and sweet spices mixed together. You can make similar ravioli with breast of pheasant, partridge, and other birds.

Noodles

Minestra di Tagliatelli

Bartolomeo Scappi, L'Opera

Mix 2 pounds of excellent white flour, 3 eggs, and lukewarm water, mixing them well on a table, then roll out thin and leave the dough to dry a little, trimming at the edges and when dry (but not so dry it crumbles) sprinkle with flour from the collendar to prevent the dough from sticking. Take one end of the dough and roll it gently around the roller, then slice the dough with a sharp, wde knife. When the noodles are cut, lay them out and let them dry a little.

Vegetables/Side Dishes

Salad

To Make A Sallet of All Kinds of Herbes and Flowers

Gervase Markham, The English Huswife, 1615

Your compound Sallets, are all manner of wholesome Herbes… as Lettice and many others mixed together, and then served up to the Table with Vinegar, Sallet-Oyl, and Sugar.

To Make a Sallat of All Kinds of Hearbes

Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1587

Take your hearbes and picke them very fine into faire water and pick your flowers by themselves and washe them all cleane and swing them in a strainer and when you put them in a dish, mingle them with cowcumbers or lemons, payred and sliced, and scrape sugar, and put in vinegar and oyle, and throw the flowers on the toppe of the sallat, and of every parte of the aforesaide things and garnish the dish about with the foresaide things and harde eggs boyled and laide about the dish and upon the sallat.

On Preparing a Salad of Several Greens

Platina, De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine (On Right Pleasure and Good Health), 1470

A preparation of several greens is made with lettuce, bugloss, mint, catmint, fennel, parsley, sisymbrium, origan, chervil, cicerbita which doctors call teraxicon, plantain, morella and other fragrant greens, well washed and pressed and put in a large dish. Sprinkle them with a good deal of salt and blend with oil, then pour vinegar over it all when it has sat a little; it should be eaten and well chewed because wild greens are tough. This sort of salad needs a little more oil than vinegar. It is more suitable in winter than in summer, because it requires much digestion and is stronger in winter.

Quiche

Tart in Ymbre Day

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit, 1997

Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out the water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it up with ayren. Do therto butter, safroun & salt, & raisouns courans, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serve it forth.

To make an herb tart

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Take one handful of sage, a handful of marjoram and some lavender and rosemary, also a handful of chard, and chop it together, take six eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and rosewater and let it bake.

To make a tarte of Spennedge

Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1587

Boyle your Egges and your Creame together, and then put them into a bowle, and then boyle your Spinnedge, and when they are boyled, take them out of the water and straine them into your stuffe before your straine your Creame, boyle your stuffe and then straine them al againe, and season them with suger and salt.

Glazed Carrots

On Turnips

Platina, De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine (On Right Pleasure and Good Health), 1470

Toward All Saint’s Day take large turnips and peel them and cut them into four pieces and set them to cook in water; and when they have been cooking for a short while, take them out and put them in cold water to make them tender, and then set them to drain; and take honey and melt it... and be careful not to cook your turnips too long. At the season of All Saint’s, you shall take as many carrots as you will, and scrape them well and cut them into pieces and cook them like turnips...

Fresh Peas

Pescodde

Le Menagier de Paris

In new peas cooked to be eaten in the pod, you must add bacon on a meat day: and on a fish day, when they are cooked, you separate the liquid and add underneath melted salt butter, and then shake it.

Cabbage Soup

Caboches in potage

Forme of Cury

Take caboches and quarter hem, and seeth hem in gode broth with oynouns ymynced and the whyte of lekes yslyt and ycorue smale. And do þerto safroun & salt, and force it with powdour douce.

Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions

Mushrums after the Oliver

Francis de LaVarenne, The French Cook, English translation, 1653, reprinted by Susan J., Evans, 1991

After they are well clensed, cut them into quarters, and wash them in several waters to take off the earth; when they are wel clensed, put them between two dishes with an onion and some salt, then set them on the chafing dish, that they may cast their water; press them between the two plates, take very fresh butter, with parsley and chibol, and fry them, then stove them, and after they are well sod, you may put to them some crèame or white meat, and serve.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

How to Stew Potatoes

Joseph Cooper, The Art of Cookery Refin'd and Augmented, 1654

Boyle or roast your Potatoes very tender, and blanch them; cut them into thin slices, put them into a dish or stewing pan, put to them three or foure Pippins sliced thin, a good quantity of beaten Ginger and Cynamon, Verjuice, Sugar and Butter; stew these together an hour very softly; dish them being stewed enough, putting to them Butter and Verjuice beat together, and stick it full of green Sucket or Orrengado, or some such liquid sweet-meat; sippit it and scrape Sugar on it, and serve it up hot to the table.

French Onion Soup

Onion Pottage

Robert May, The Accomplisht Cook, 1660

Fry a good store of slic't onions, then have a pipkin of boiling liquor over the fire, when the liquor boils put in the fryed onions, butter and all, with pepper and salt: being well stewed together, serve in on sops of French bread.

Breakfast

Scrambled Eggs with Onions

Hanoney

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take and draw the White & the yolks of the Eggs through a strainer; then take Onions, & shred them smell; then take fair Butter or grease, & scarcely cover the pan therewith, and fry the onions, & then cast the Eggs in the pan, & break the Eggs & the Onions together; and then let them fry together a little while; then take them up, and serve forth all broken together on a fair dish.

Waffles

Waffres

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

Take the Wombe of A luce, & sethe here wyl, & do it on a morter, & tender cheese ther-to, grynde hem y-fere; than take flowre an whyte of Eyroun & bete to-gedere, then take Sugre an pouder of Gyngere, & do al to-gerderys, & loke that thin Eyroun ben hote, & ley ther-on of thin paste, & than make thin waffrys, & serue yn.

French Toast

Payn Purdeuz

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take fair yolks of Eggs, & pick them from the white, & draw them through a strainer, & take Salt and cast thereto; then take fair bread, & cut it as slices round; then take fair Buter that is clarified, or else fair Fresh grease, & put it in a pot, & make it hot; then take & wet well thine slices in the yolks, & put them in the pan, and so fry them up; but beware of sticking to the pan; & when it is fried, lay them on a dish, & lay Sugar enough thereon, & then serve it forth.

Pancakes

Fritter of Milk

Forme of Curye

Take of curds and press out the whey. Do thereto sugar, white of eyroun. Fry them. Do thereto and lay on sugur and mess forth.

Desserts

Apple Pie

To make a very good apple tart

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Peel the apples, and remove the cores, and them be afterwards be finely chopped. After that put a half pound of sugar and a half ounce of finely ground cinnamon thereon and make a dough for a tart and spread it on top.

Applesauce

Rapeye

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

…Take Raw Appelys, an pare hem and stampe hem, an drawe hem vppe with wyne, or with draf of Almaundys, or both, than caste pouder of Gyngere, Canel, Maces, Clowes, & caste ther-on Sugre y-now; than take a quantyte of flowre of Rys, an throwe ther-on, & make it chargeaunt, an colore it wyth Saffroun... an serue forth; an strawe Canel a-boue.

Fried Apples

Apels

Francis de LaVarenne, The French Cook, English translation, 1653, reprinted by Susan J., Evans, 1991

Pare and cut them into round slices, and frie them with very fresh butter; when they ar fried, serve, making a broth with a little nutmeg. Another way. Cut them into halfes, take out the seed, and all what is about; serve them under the skin, and put them in a dish with butter, sugar, and water and a little cinnamon, let them seeth thus; when they are enough, serve them sugared.

Custard

Crème boyled

Harleian Manuscript, 14th Century, from Constance B. Hieatt, Pleyn Delit

Take swete crème of melke; do hit in a pott Do therto buttur claryfyed. Set hit on the fyre; stere hit. When hit boyles, have yolkes of eyron drawyn thorowgh a streynour into a bole, & put boylyng crem therto with a ladyl.. Styr hit well for a quallyng, & put hit in the pott ayen; & yf be nede, yeve hit a lytyl more of the fyre. Loke hit have white sygure ynowghe, & of the bature also loke hit be standyng as mortruys; & coloure hit with safron. Loke hit be salt. Messe hit forth, and strew on poudur of gynger. If thu wilt, thu may hete hit: have smal kovenys bakyn byfore, & poure hit theryn & serve hit in the stede of cold bakemete. Or yf thu wilt, poure hit by that on syde and crem of almondes or els a stondyng potage of quynsys or of fruet colourd yolow, & fil up that othir syde, & strew theron anneys in confyte & othir dragge, what thu wylte, & srve hit forth cold.

Cheesecake

Sambocade

Forme of Cury (The Art of Cooking), 1390, Reprinted Constance B. Hieatt, 1997

Take and make a crust in a trap & take cruddes and wryng out the wheye and drawe hem thrugh a straynour and put hit in the crust. Do therto sugur the thridde part, & somedel whyte of ayren, & shake therin blomes of elren; and bake it up with eurose, & messe it forth.

Doughnuts

If you would make good hollow doughnuts

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (Sabina Welser's Cookbook) 1553, Valoise Armstrong translation, 1998

Take good flour of the very best and pour on it one third quart of cream and beat eggs into it, six, eight, according to how much you will make, and knead the dough as carefully as possible and roll it out very thin. Afterwards, fry them, then from the inside they will rise like tiny pillows, then they are ready.

Poached Pears in Wine Sauce

Wardonys in syryp

Harleian MS

Take wardonys, an caste on a potte, and boyle hem till [th]ey ben tender; [th]an take hem vp and pare hem, an kytte hem in to pecys; take y-now of powder of canel, a good quantyte, an caste it on red wyne, an draw it [th]orw a straynour; caste sugre [th]er-to, an put it [in] an er[th]en pot, an let it boyle: an [th]anne caste [th]e perys [th]er-to, an let boyle to-gederys, an whan [th]ey haue boyle a whyle, take pouder of gyngere an caste [th]er-to, an a lytil venegre, an a lytil safron; an loke [th]at it be poynaunt an dowcet.

Shortbread

Fine Cakes

John Partridge, The Widowes Treasure, l585

Take a quantity of fine wheate Flower, and put it in an earthen pot. Stop it close and set it in an Oven, and bake it as long as you would a Pasty of Venison, and when it is baked it will be full of clods. Then searce your flower through a fine sercer. Then take clouted Creame of sweet butter, but Creame is best: then take sugar, clove, Mace, saffron and yolks of eggs, so much as wil seeme to season to season your flower. Then put these things into the Creame, temper all together. Then put thereto your flower. So make your cakes. The paste will be very short: therefore make them very little. Lay paper under them.

Drinks

Cider

To make Cider

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, 1669

Take a peck of apples, and slice them, and boil them in a barrel of water, till the third part be wasted; Then cool your water as you do for wort, and when it is cold, you must pour the water upon three measures of grown apples. Then draw forth the water at a tap three or four times a day, for three days together. Then press out the liquor, and tun it up; when it hath done working, then stop it up close.

Lemonade

How to make lemonade

Francis de LaVarenne, The French Cook, English translation, 1653, reprinted by Susan J., Evans, 1991

It is made feveral waies, according to the divtersity of the ingredients. For to make it with jalfomine, you muft take of it about two handful, infufe it in two or three quarts of water, and there leave it for the fpace of eight or ten hours; then to one quart of water you fhal put fix ounces of fugar; thofe of orange flowers, of mufcade rofes & of gilli flowers are made after the fame way. For to make that of lemon, take fome lemons, cut them and take out the juice, put it in water as above said, pare another lemon, cut it into flires, put it among this juice, and fome fugar proportionably. That of orange is made the same way.

Condiments

Mustard

To Make Mustard

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, 1669

The best way of making mustard is this: Take of the best mustard-seed (which is black) for example a quart. Dry it gently in an oven, and beat it to a subtle powder, and searse it. Then mingle well strong wine-vinegar with it, so much that it pretty liquid, for it will dry with keeping. Put to this a little pepper beaten small (white is the best) at discretion, as about a good pugil, and put a good spoonful of sugar to it (which is not to make it take sweet, but rather quick and to help the fermentation) This will keep long, and grow better for a while. It is not good till after a month, that it have fermented a while.

Horseradish Sauce

Sauce of Horse Radish

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, 1669

Take roots of horse-radish scraped clean, and lay them to soak in fair-water for an hour. Then rasp them upon a grater, and you shall have them all in a tender spungy pap. Put vinegar to it, and a very little sugar, not so much to be tasted, but to quicken (by contrariety) the taste of the other.

Pesto

White, Green, and Yellow Garlic Sauce

Cristiforo di Messisburg, Banquets, Composition of Meals, and General Equipment, 1549

Take shelled walnuts and clean them, and white bread without crusts soaked in some good broth and garlic, as much as you’d like, and salt, and pound all these things together well. Then dilute with good meat broth, depending upon your preference, and if you do not want garlic put in pepper and juniper...if you want it green, take parsley juice or chard juice and when the greens are well cooked and thick, put them through a sieve and dilute with broth, then mix into your sauce.

Honey Butter

Anthimus, De Obseruatione Ciborium (On the Observance of Food), Mark Grant translation, 1996

77. The same is true if anyone suffering from consumption eats fresh butter. However, the butter should be unsalted, because it does a great deal of harm if salted. The butter should be blended with a little honey, and the patient should lie on his back and slowly lick this mixture.

How to make sundry sorts of most dainty butter with the saide oils

Jewel-house of Arte & Nature, Sir Hugh Plat, 1594

In the month of May, it is very usuall with us to eat some of the smallest, and youngest sage leaves with butter in a morning, and I think the common use thereof doth sufficiently commende the same to be wholsome, in stead whereof all those which delighte in this heabe may cause a few droppes of the oile of sage to be well wrought, or tempered with the butter when it is new taken out of the cherne, until they find the same strong enough in taste to their owne liking; and this way I accoumpt much more wholsomer then the first, wherin you will finde a far more lively and penetrative tast then can be presently had out of the greene herbe. This laste Sommer I did entertaine divers of my friends with this kinde of butter amongst other country dishes, as also with cinnamon, mace, and clove butter (which are all made in one selfe same manner. Ore, if by som means or other you may not give a tincture to your creme before you chearne it, either with roseleaves, cowslep leaves, violet or marigold leaves, &c. And thereby chaunge the color of your butter. And it may be that if you wash your butter throughly wel with rose water before you dish it, and work up some fine sugar in it, that the Country people will go neere to robbe all Cocknies of their breakfasts, unlesse the dairie be well looked unto. If you would keepe butter sweete, and fresh a long time to make sops, broth or cawdle, or to butter any kinde of fishe withall in a better sorte then I have seene in the best houses where I have come, then dissolve your butter in a clean galsed, or silver vessell & in a pan, or kettle of water with a slow and gentle fire, and powre the same so dissolved, into a bason that hath some faire Water therein, and when it is cold, take away the soote, not suffering any of the curds, or whey to remain in the bottome: and if you regarde not the charge thereof, you may either the first or the second time, dissolve your Butter in Rosewater as before, working them well together, and so Clarifie it, and this butter so clarified, wil bee as sweet in tast, as the Marrow of any beast, by reason of, the great impuritie that is remooved by this manner of handeling:

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Redaction Sources

If you’re nervous about redacting, here’s some books which contain redactions of some of the recipes noted above:

The following websites contain excellent redactions of period recipes:

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

College of Three Ravens

Feb. 3, 2001

©2001 Chris P. Adler

Katjaorlova@yahoo.com