How well worked out the recipes are varies enormously; some we have been doing for many years, others are the result of one or two tries. Before serving to anyone other than close friends and fellow cooking enthusiasts, try the recipe out at least once and adjust it accordingly.
In most cases, the title of the recipe gives the source and two page numbers. The first is the page number in the original source, the second is the corresponding page number in the collection of sources that we sell. Unfortunately the page numbering of the Andalusian cookbook in Volume II of the collection has changed from one edition to another as more material has been added, so the numbers given may not correspond to the edition you have. In the following list of sources, those in Volume I of the collection are marked by an asterisk, those in Volume II by two asterisks.
Our collection of sources presently consists of two volumes. The first contains works either originally written in English or with published translations. The second consists almost entirely of translations done for us by people in the Society.
[ Ed. note: for information on obtaining paper copies of the two volumes of sources, see the ordering information. ]
al-Baghdadi, A Baghdad Cookery Book* (1226 A.D./623 A.H.), A.J. Arberry, tr., Islamic Culture 1939.
Ancient Cookery* from A Collection of the Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal Household made in Divers Reigns from King Edward III to King William and Queen Mary also Receipts in Ancient Cookery, printed for the Society of London Antiquaries by John Nichols, 1740. This is early 15th century English.
Anthimus, De Observatio Ciborum, translated by Shirley Howard Weber, published by E. J. Brill Ltd, Leiden 1924. This is a letter on the subject of diet, written in the sixth century by a Byzantine physician to Theoderic, King of the Franks. It includes several recipes.
Chiquart, Du Fait de Cuisine** 1420, tr. by Elizabeth. French original published by Terence Scully in Vallesia v. 40, pp. 101-231, 1985.
Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby, Opened* (published posthumously in 1669). This is slightly out of period, but it contains the earliest collection of fermented drink recipes that we know of.
Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (Including the Forme of Cury), edited by Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler, Published for the Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985. Still in print as of 1988.
The English Huswife, by Gervase Markham (1615, but Mistress Marion informs us that Markham is a notorious plagiarist, so the material is probably somewhat earlier).
The Forme of Cury, A Roll of Ancient English Cookery,* ed. S. Pegge, printed for the Society of London Antiquaries by John Nichols, 1780. This is English c. 1390; for a more modern edition see Curye on Inglysch above. [ Facsimile on the web at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/foc/. ]
Rudolf Grewe, An Early XIII Century Northern-European Cookbook,* in Proceedings of A Conference on Current Research in Culinary History: Sources, Topics, and Methods. Published by the Culinary Historians of Boston, 1986. This is an article attempting to reconstruct the lost original from which several surviving manuscripts, including the one we refer to as "A selection from An Old Icelandic Medical Miscelleny," descend.
Constance B. Hieatt, An Ordinance of Pottage, Prospect Books, London, 1988 (15th c. English).
Kitab al Tibakhah: A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook,* Charles Perry, tr. The translation was published in Petits Propos Culinaires #21(note 1). The original author is Ibn al-Mabrad or Ibn al-Mubarrad.
Kitab al-Tabikh wa-islah al-Aghdiyah al-Ma'kulat by Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyar al-Warraq. This is a tenth century collection of cookbooks; the Arabic original has been published in Studia Orientalia vol. 60, ed. Kaj Ohrnberg and Sahban Mroueh. Charles Perry has translated a few recipes from it, only one of which has been published (the Badinjan Muhassa, in Symposium Fare, recipes from the 1981 Oxford Symposium).
La Cocina Arabigoandaluza,** translated from Arabic into Spanish by Fernando de la Granja Santamaria and from Spanish into English by Melody Asplund-Faith. This consists of selections from a much longer Arabic original. It is referred to below as "al-Andalusi."
Le Menagier de Paris,** tr. Janet Hinson (Lady Mairoli Bhan); also translated as The Goodman of Paris, Power and Coulton, tr., 1395. The former includes all of the cooking section of Menagier; the latter is a translation of the whole book, but includes only selections from the recipes. Recipes from Power and Coulton are given as "Goodman;" recipes from Hinson are given as "Menagier."
A Noble Boke off Cookry Ffor a Prynce Houssolde,* ed. Mrs. Alexander Napier, 1882 (c. 1470).
Platina, De Honesta Voluptate, Venice, L. De Aguila, 1475. Translated by E. B. Andrews, Mallinkrodt 1967. (Both Platina and Kenelm Digby were published as part of the "Mallinkrodt Collection of Food Classics." Reprinted by Falconwood Press, 1989.)
Sir Hugh Platt, Delights for Ladies,* London, 1609.
A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye,* ed. Catherine Frances Frere, Cambridge, W. Heffer and sons, Ltd., 1913 (16th century).
A Selection From An Old Icelandic Medical Miscelleny,* ed. Henning Larson, Oslo, 1931. For a more modern edition, see Grewe.
Pepys 1047. Published as Stere Hit Well: Medieval recipes and remedies from Samuel Pepys's Library. Modern English version by G.A.J. Hodgett. This is a late fifteenth century English cookbook. The modern English version is unreliable but the book fortunately includes a facsimile of the original.
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century,** a translation by Charles Perry of the Arabic edition of Ambrosio Huici Miranda with the assistance of an English translation by Elise Fleming, Stephen Bloch, Habib ibn al-Andalusi and Janet Hinson of the Spanish translation by Ambrosio Huici Miranda, published in full in the 5th edition of volume II of the cookbook collection. Referred to below as "Andalusian."
Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books* (1430-1450), Thomas Austin Ed., Early English Text Society, Oxford University Press, 1964.
Um Tratado Da Cozinha Portuguesa Do Seculo XV (A Text on Portuguese Cooking from the Fifteenth Century). Translated by Jane L. Crowley with the assistance of a modern Portuguese text by Professor Antonio Gomes Filho.
Le Viandier (c. 1392), Taillevent. Translated by Elizabeth Bennett [Mistress Alys Gardyner].
Note 1: Petits Propos Culinaires is an international journal on food, food history, cookery and cookery books. We recommend it highly. Inquiries should be addressed to PPC North America, c/o Jennifer & Nic Spencer, 5311 42nd St NW, Washington, D.C. 20015. Currently a subscription costs $18 for one year (three issues).
Sources for Ingredients
While most of the ingredients in the recipes are standard, there are a few spices that you may find it difficult to get. Galingale is sold in oriental grocery stores as "Galingas;" it is used in Thai cooking. Cubebs, grains of paradise and possibly mastic should be available from a good spice store. If you cannot get cubebs or grains, substitute pepper. Saunders is sandalwood-I think the root; it is used to provide a red coloring. Aphrodisia (282 Bleeker St., NY, N. 10014, (212) 989-6440), which was my source for spices many years ago, sells both retail and mail order, as does Magickal Childe, Inc. (35 West 19th St., NY, NY 10011, (212) 242-7182). Wheat starch and sumac can be found in Iranian grocery stores, taro in Chinese or Indian.
Modern: C. zeylanicum (Ceylon Cinnamon), C. lourereii (Saigon cinnamon) are apparently similar to each other and distinguished from the inferior C. Cassia (Chinese cinnamon). The latter is available in chinatown as ground Cassia bark. In India, "Cassia Cinnamon" refers to C. Tamala (Simoons). According to Simoons, both true cinnamon and Cassia were imported to the West from classical antiquity on, but there is considerable uncertainty as to what came from where when. The Andalusian cookbook distinguishes between "chinese cinnamon" and "cinnamon."
The 13th-century Islamic recipes frequently contain an ingredient translated as "murri" or "almori." It is one of a group of condiments that were popular in early Islamic cooking and vanished sometime after the fourteenth century. Al-Baghdadi gives the following recipes for murri; if you try one and it works out, let me know. According to Charles Perry, the translator of the Kitab al Tibakhah mentioned above, the penny-royal in these recipes is a mis-translation and should be budhaj (rotted barley). He gives the following instructions for making budhaj:
"All the recipes concur that budhaj was made from barley flour (or a mixture of barley and wheat) kneaded without leaven or salt. Loaves of this dough were rotted, generally in closed containers for 40 days, and then dried and ground into flour for further rotting into the condiments."
Take 5 ratls each of penny-royal and flour. Make the flour into a good dough without leaven or salt, bake, and leave until dry. Then grind up fine with the penny-royal, knead into a green trough with a third the quantity of salt, and put out into the sun for 40 days in the heat of the summer, kneading every day at dawn and evening, and sprinkling with water. When black, put into conserving jars, cover with an equal quantity of water, stirring morning and evening: then strain it into the first murri. Add cinnamon, saffron and some aromatic herbs.
Take penny-royal and wheaten or barley flour, make into a dry dough with hot water, using no leaven or salt, and bake into a loaf with a hole in the middle. Wrap in fig leaves, stuff into a preserving-jar, and leave in the shade until fetid. Then remove and dry.
As you can see, making murri is an elaborate process, and tasting unsuccessful experiments might be a hazardous one; Charles Perry, who has done experiments along these lines, warns that the products may be seriously carcinogenic.
In addition to the surviving recipes for murri, there are also at least two surviving references to what was apparently a fake murri, a substitute made by a much simpler process. If one cannot have real murri, period fake murri seems like the next best thing. The recipe is as follows:
Kitab Wasf, Sina'ah 52, p. 56, Sina'ah 51, p. 65: Charles Perry tr.
Description of byzantine murri [made] right away: There is taken, upon the name of God the Most High, of honey scorched in a nuqrah [perhaps this word means 'a silver vessel'], three ratls; pounded scorched oven bread, ten loaves; starch, half a ratl; roasted anise, fennel and nigella, two uqiyahs of each; byzantine saffron, an uqiya; celery seed, an uqiyah; syrian carob, half a ratl; fifty peeled walnuts, as much as half a ratl; split quinces, five; salt, half a makkuk dissolved in honey; thirty ratls water; and the rest of the ingredients are thrown on it, and it is boiled on a slow flame until a third of the water is absorbed. Then it is strained well in a clean nosebag of hair. It is taken up in a greased glass or pottery vessel with a narrow top. A little lemon from Takranjiya (? Sina'ah 51 has Bakr Fahr) is thrown on it, and if it suits that a little water is thrown on the dough and it is boiled upon it and strained, it would be a second (infusion). The weights and measurements that are given are Antiochan and Zahiri [as] in Mayyafariqin.
1 ratl = 12 uqiya = 1 pint
1 Makkuk = 7.5-18.8 liters dry measure
The following quantities are for 1/32 of the above recipe. The first time I used more bread and the mixture was too thick.
3 T honey
1 1/2 oz bread
1 T wheat starch
2/3 t anise
2/3 t fennel
(2/3 t nigela)
1/4 t saffron
1/3 t celery seed
1/4 oz carob
1/4 oz walnut
1 1/2 oz quince
1/2 c salt in 3 T honey
1 pint water
lemon (1/4 of one)
I cooked the honey in a small frying pan on medium heat, bringing it to a boil then turning off the heat and repeating several times; it tasted scorched. The bread was sliced white bread, toasted in a toaster to be somewhat blackened, then mashed in a mortar. The anise and fennel were toasted in a frying pan or roasted under a broiler, then ground in a mortar with celery seed and walnuts. The quince was quartered and cored. After it was all boiled together for about 2 hours, it was put in a potato ricer, the liquid squeezed out and lemon juice added. The recipe generates about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c of liquid. I then add another 1/2 c or water to the residue, simmer 1/2 hr -1 hr, and squeeze out that liquid for the second infusion, which yields about 1/3 c. A third infusion using 1/3 c yields another 1/4 c or so.
Other Minor Points
Islamic recipes frequently refer to "tail." This is apparently the fat from the tail of a fat-tailed sheep, used as cooking oil. Since it is not available at the local butcher, we substitute lamb fat.
We usually interpret "meat" in Islamic recipes as lamb, either leg or chops. Other possibilities are veal, goat, beef and kid. Pork would not be used, since it is forbidden by Islamic law.
Islamic recipes refer to both fresh and dry or dried coriander; we have interpreted the latter as coriander seed. A less likely alternative is the dried leaf.
Islamic recipes often call for sesame oil. This should be the kind of sesame oil sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores, which is made from untoasted sesame seeds and has only a slight flavor; something very similar can be found in health food stores. Chinese sesame oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and is very strongly flavored.
Islamic recipes occasionally call for date syrub. This is sometimes available in Middle Eastern grocery stores; its other name is "dibs."
The Arberry translation of al-Baghdadi uses "hour" for an Arabic term which, according to Charles Perry, actually means an indefinite length of time. We therefore have not tried to stick literally to the timing given in al-Baghdadi.
A common technique in medieval European recipes is to pass ingredients through a strainer. We generally follow the recipe the first time but thereafter, and especially when preparing large quantities, substitute a food processor. Another alternative that works quite well is to use a potato ricer--a sort of plunger/strainer combination.
Saffron is a fairly common medieval ingredient. We have found that it works better if you first extract the color and flavor by crushing the saffron thoroughly into a small quantity of water, then adding the water and saffron to your dish. Cariadoc is not fond of saffron; if you are, you may want to increase our quantities.
Powder fort is a spice mixture mentioned in various period recipes; we have not yet been able to find a description of what spices it contains. What we use is a mixture containing, by weight: 1 part cloves, 1 part mace, 1 part cubebs, 7 parts cinnamon, 7 parts ginger, and 7 parts pepper, all ground. This is a guess, based on very limited evidence; it works well for the dishes in which we have tried it.
Verjuice is a sour fruit juice, sometimes from crabapples or unripe grapes. We usually substitute dilute vinegar. We have recently found sour grape juice for sale in a Middle Eastern grocery store; two parts of this seems to be roughly equivalent to one part of vinegar.
A number of period recipes use an ingredient translated as "gourd" or "pumpkin;" the problem of identifying it is discussed in the article "Late Period and Out of Period Foods" later in this book. We generally use some form of squash.
So far as we can tell, the only old world variety of bean other than lentils and chickpeas commonly available is the fava or broad bean, so we use it in bean recipes.
In interpreting recipes that contain a specific number of eggs, we generally assume that the average medieval egg is half the size of a modern large egg; we have no evidence for whether this is correct other than how the recipes come out. When we specify a number of eggs in the worked out version of a recipe, they are large eggs.
Some of the early English recipes use the thorn (+ ), a letter that is no longer used in English. It is pronounced "th."
Our only period recipe for pie crust is late period ("To make short paest for tarte," from A Proper Newe Book); it consists only of a list of ingredients, and we believe is intended as a fancy rather than plain pie crust. What we normally use is a simple modern recipe that contains only period ingredients, and is made partly with whole wheat flour, on the guess that most period flour was coarser than ours and that the finest white flour would probably not have gone into pie crust. It is:
Pie Crust Recipe
3/4 c white flour
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c salted butter
2 1/2 T water
Mix flours, cut butter finely into flour with two knives or a food processor, then mix the water into the flour-butter mixture without crushing the flour and butter together. Makes a single 9" crust.
An alternative, for recipes that specify a crust but do not say what sort, is to simply knead a dough of flour and water with a little salt. The result is much tougher than a pastry crust, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The quantities for one 9" pie are:
3 c flour
about 1 1/4 c water
1/4 t salt
A number of our recipes use sourdough as leavening. There are recipes for making your initial batch of sourdough using wild yeast from the air, but we have never done it; we always started with a batch of sourdough from someone else. Once you have your initial batch, you make more by combining at least 1/2 c of sourdough with 2 1/2 c flour and 2 c water, mixing it to a reasonably smooth batter, and leaving it at room temperature overnight. In the morning refill your starter jar, use as much sourdough in the recipe as it calls for, and put the rest into jars to give all your friends, so that they can use sourdough in their cooking too. Or find a good sourdough pancake recipe and use the rest for that.
Almond milk is an ingredient common in Medieval European recipes, particularly in Lenten dishes (milk, eggs, and meat broth all being forbidden in Lent). The recipe below is a basic one. For some recipes we make a thicker almond milk with more almond relative to the amount of water; other recipes say "draw up a good milk of almonds with broth (or wine)", in which case the broth or wine is substituted for the water in making the almond milk.
To make almond milk: Take 1/4 c (1 3/4 oz) blanched slivered almonds. Put them in a food processor, run it briefly. Add a little water, run it longer. Continue adding water and running the processor until you have a milky liquid. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth. Put the residue back in the food processor, add a little more water, and repeat. Continue until the residue produces almost no more milk. Throw out the residue.This should give you about 1 c of almond milk.
Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir