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European 14th Century Cookbooks
December 27, 2010 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Take oysters, parboile hem in her owne broth, make a lyour of crustes of brede & drawe it up wiþ the broth and vynegur mynce oynouns & do þerto with erbes. & cast the oysters þerinne. boile it. & do þerto powdour fort & salt. & messe it forth.

Three European 14th Century cookbooks:

The Forme of Cury, source of the above oysters recipe, is a collection of 14th Century recipes compiled by the Master-Cooks of King Richard II of England (1377-1399) around 1390. This version has an extensive introduction and extremely helpful annotation by Samuel Pegge, who published his edition in 1791 (many of the oddly spelled and unrecognizable words are explained at the top of the document).

Feast like a Plantaganet.

Le Viandier de Taillevent is attributed to Guillaume Tirel (aka Taillevent), 14th Century cook in the French Court, although the earliest version of the book has been traced to 1300, before Tirel's birth. Index of recipes. Le Viandier has lots of suggestions for fancy ways to feed your Valois King employer.

Le Menagier de Paris is, in its complete version, a book of guidance for women on marriage and running a household, written around 1393 by an unknown author. The version linked is only the food section. It contains recipes as well as complete menus, and shopping lists, and some sassy cooking and household advice: "Shoulder of Mutton, these are nothing but trouble and work. ... hedgehogs are made with mutton balls, and this is very expensive and a lot of work with poor returns and little profit, so no more of this." ... and the ever-important "MEDICINE TO CURE THE BITE OF A DOG OR OTHER ENRAGED BEAST. Take a crust of bread and write the following: Bestera bestie nay brigonay dictera sagragan es domina fiat fiat fiat."

Bonus Roman Cookbook:

Apicius: De Re Coquinaria is the earliest known European cookbook, and it's not Medieval at all. Compiled in the 4th or 5th Century by an unknown author, the book is named for 1st Century Roman gourmand Marcus Gavius Apicius, about whom Athenaeus writes, "About the time of Tiberius [42 B.C.-37 A.D.] there lived a man, named Apicius; very rich and luxurious, for whom several kinds of cheesecake called Apician, are named. He spent myriads of drachmas on his belly, living chiefly at Minturnæ, a city of Campania, eating very expensive crawfish, which are found in that place superior in size to those of Smyrna, or even to the crabs of Alexandria." More navigable but less pretty version.

Feast like Apicius.

More cookbooks.
posted by thirteenkiller (46 comments total) 107 users marked this as a favorite

Not another recipe plagiarism post.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seconding the Menagier de Paris; my step-mother was actually the co-translator for the new Cornell Press edition, which I recommend. It's quite interesting, and very revealing if you're at all interested in that period.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

176. Soup of red deer testicles in deer hunting season.

Scald and wash the red deer testicles very well in boiling water, cook them well, cool them, slice them into cubes (neither too large nor too small), and fry them in lard. To the same pan add some beef broth and leafy parsley. Add Fine Powder (in moderation so that it is not too spicy) steeped in one part of wine and two parts of verjuice (or gooseberries instead of verjuice). To give it liquid, you need to have a little Cameline [Sauce]; or take one or two chicken livers and a little white bread, [soak in beef broth], sieve, and add to your pot instead of Cameline [Sauce]. Throw in a bit of vinegar, and salt to taste.

From Le Viandier de Taillevent.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've definitely eaten something very close to that recipe.
posted by griphus at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2010


Take Chykens and serue hem the same manere and serue forth.


Take Pigges yskaldid and quarter hem and seeþ hem in water and salt, take hem and lat hem kele [2]. take persel sawge. and grynde it with brede and zolkes of ayrenn harde ysode. temper it up with vyneger sum what thyk. and, lay the Pygges in a vessell. and the sewe onoward and serue it forth.
From The Forme of Cury
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2010

Oh, one more link: One Recipe, Several Centuries
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:48 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Take Eelys and Samoun and smyte hem on pecys. & stewe it [1] in almaund mylke and verious. drawe up on almaund mylk wiþ þe stewe. Pyke out the bones clene of þe fyssh. and save þe myddell pece hoole of þe Eelys & grinde þat ooþer fissh smale. and do þerto powdour, sugur, & salt and grated brede. & fors þe Eelys þerwith þerer as [2] þe bonys were medle þe ooþer dele of the fars & þe mylk togider. and colour it with saundres. make a crust in a trape as before. and bake it þerin and serue it forth.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:49 PM on December 27, 2010

zolkes of ayrenn harde ysode

Unless I'm mistaken, that means hard-boiled egg yolks. Chaucer and Spenser finally pay off!
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:50 PM on December 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

I love medieval cooking. One of the most fun class projects I did in college was when the entire class cooked and served a medieval feast straight from the original recipes. I lucked out and got the cider recipe (simple compared to much of the cooking involved) and was shocked at how strongly spiced it was by even my jalapeno-chili-lovin' standards.
posted by immlass at 3:50 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is so cool.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:57 PM on December 27, 2010

I bookmarked this without even reading the link or comments. I just KNEW.
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

immlass, is a similar cider recipe in any of the books above? I love heavily spiced cider.
posted by melissam at 4:13 PM on December 27, 2010

231 For Flamingo and Parrot
In phoenicoptero

Scald1 the flamingo, wash and dress it, put it in a pot, add water, salt, dill, and a little vinegar, to be parboiled. Finish cooking with a bunch of leeks and coriander, and add some reduced must to give it color. In the mortar crush pepper, cumin, coriander, laser root, mint, rue, moisten with vinegar, add dates, and the fond of the braised bird, thicken, strain, cover the bird with the sauce and serve. Parrot is prepared in the same manner.
The Roman cookbook also features cranes in a large number of recipes. Yum, cranes and parrots.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:18 PM on December 27, 2010

That is just going to duck up your parrot. Jesus, you may as well fry some Spam if you are just going to ruin it like that.
posted by Keith Talent at 4:29 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ducking spell check.
posted by Keith Talent at 4:29 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

From Apicius:




Damn, I want me some laser flavor!
posted by Xoebe at 4:30 PM on December 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

My household owns a medieval recipe book with the archaic spellings followed by the modern versions, resulting in the in-joke of now ending all recipes with 'and serve it forth'.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:34 PM on December 27, 2010 [8 favorites]

posted by chaff at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is laser another word for garlic?
posted by spicynuts at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

A little research shows that you won't be able to get any laser flavor.
posted by hippybear at 4:38 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

A little research shows that you won't be able to get any laser flavor.

For some reason that I can't explain, that makes me genuinely sad.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:59 PM on December 27, 2010 [10 favorites]

Man, these are so good that I want to publish them in my magazine without attribution after modernizing all of the spelling and then talk shit about the person who found them while defending my "right" to not give her any compensation.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:07 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Or possibly you can after all (scroll down), hippybear.

Someone should get on this.
posted by motty at 5:12 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was in college I embarked on a course of self-study in early cookbooks. Lemme tell you, older cookbooks have gonzo recipes. Especially early American cookbooks which often begin with something like: "Get ye a terrapin! Scoop out all ye olde meats within the terrapin and fill with oysters! Throws out ye terrapin meats". It was a land of endless bounty and the recipes really reflect that
posted by GilloD at 5:17 PM on December 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

Whene cattes comme and crye and wayle in the kyttcen, ooþen canne wyth payper laybel pyctoor of pusse's fayce and serue it forth, and enjoye sylenthe.
posted by longsleeves at 5:19 PM on December 27, 2010 [36 favorites]

Helps to read these like John Cleese channeling Juila Child.
posted by hal9k at 5:21 PM on December 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

In the mortar crush pepper, cumin, coriander, laser root, mint, rue,

Pew pew pew
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:57 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can really follow the culinary timeline here. Starting when extra virgin olive oil was known poetically as "Olyve espression savored ov maidenhead" to Rachel Ray's modern mongoloid utterance "EVOOOOOO".
posted by dr_dank at 5:57 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

"Fyrste, stealeth thee aye chykken..."
posted by briank at 6:03 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Was it the book Shogun that had the English captive hanging a goose or something from its neck until it fell? And then it was time to cook it?
posted by Splunge at 6:05 PM on December 27, 2010

Splunge, my dad used to do that with pheasants in the garage. That's how I like it now!
posted by unSane at 6:14 PM on December 27, 2010

wow. reading that long page om 14th century history reminded me of all that history i studied and competely have forgotten about.
posted by tustinrick at 7:24 PM on December 27, 2010

14th Century - During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.

The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate "soteltie" or "subtilty." Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). In the 14th to 17th centuries, the sotelty was not always a food, but any kind of entertainment to include minstrels, troubadours, acrobats, dancers and other performers. The sotelty was used to alleviate the boredom of waiting for the next course to appear and to entertain the guest. If possible, the sotelty was supposed to make the guests gasp with delight and to be amazed at the ingenuity of the sotelty maker.

During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy's chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie. Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the "captive" Church in the Middle East.

posted by StickyCarpet at 7:45 PM on December 27, 2010

I've seriously been looking for a reason to buy brains from my local butcher. I finally found it.
posted by madred at 8:02 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Out of the pie came a captive girl

how come that never happens with MY pies?
posted by unSane at 8:16 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did you start with all-girl natural filling?
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Read labels carefully, not all girls are all-natural.
posted by Bonzai at 8:38 PM on December 27, 2010

Anybody know of any similar cookbooks for ye olden times of India?
posted by NoMich at 8:42 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like this, you might also enjoy The Supersizers Eat... Medieval and Ancient Rome.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:55 PM on December 27, 2010

Wow. Thanks so much hot soup girl. I love this.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:21 PM on December 27, 2010

A lot of the first published curry recipes wound up in old English cook books because of the English colonization of India. There used to be cook books devoted to mead.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:04 PM on December 27, 2010

Back when I worked a reference desk, I had a very serious (aren't they all?) 4th grader come in one day and ask for a recipe from the 14th century. The class had been assigned to find one, cook it for extra credit.

We had exactly one in the library, that went something like this; take a chicken, smush it and cook. We think it may have been a hash.

Of course, most of the class ended up coming in and asking for 14th century recipes. I ran home at lunch and brought back about 8 books from my personal library. I also wrote a note to the teacher asking if she was going to do this again, so we could prepare.

The teacher never responded, but a year later, in came the 4th graders looking for 14th century recipes.

Way to assign homework to parents and librarians, teacher!
posted by QIbHom at 7:04 AM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

QIbHom, which 8 books from your personal library had 14th century recipes in them? I suspect I would like your personal library.
posted by madred at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2010

melissam, I didn't see one in the three listed here, but there are cider recipes on the Gode Cookery site. You'd be looking at something closer to their clarrey or hippocras recipes than the modern cider recipes, though.

Sadly when I did it in college, there wasn't enough time to age it for a month.
posted by immlass at 11:19 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wish I could remember, madred. I donated a couple thousand books to the Book Thing a couple years ago, because moving them was a right bitch. My medieval cookery books were part of that donation.
posted by QIbHom at 12:11 PM on December 28, 2010

Medieval cookbooks got retained, I had only a couple anyway. That advice to a young Parisian wife, and some French recipes.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:58 PM on December 28, 2010

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