Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Missing Recipe

I missed a recipe from the farmer's market demo. Apologies to Fionna.

To make fine bread
From: The Good Huswifes Jewel, Thomas Dawson, 1596
Take halfe a pound of fine suger well beaten, and as much Flower, and put thereto foure Egges whites, and being very well beaten, you must mingle them with anniseedes bruised, and beeing all beaten togither, put into your moulde, melting the sauce over first with a lyttle butter, and set it in the Oven, and turne it twice or thrice in the baking.
This is another done with the sort of skill acquired from cooking from period recipes. All I can add is that your oven should be at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and you can translate what you know of making quick breads into this process.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Farmer's Market Demo

Yesterday we did a cooking demo at the Beaverton Farmer's Market in Beaverton, Oregon. I was assisted by the Honorable Lady Eulalia de Ravenfeld and her family, who had fire and roasted things, Lady Havoise de Rohan who sent Shrewsbury Cakes, and Lady Fionnabhair who sent sweet bread and Marmalat of Peaches.
Eulalia has a webpage with links to her research, cooking, and other things. She's been specializing in sweets and her marchpane is to die for.
Here I present the recipes which were used for the demo. I served the sauces with roasted beef for dipping, a modern form (cubes on toothpicks) of a perfectly period method (slices held in fingers and dipped into communal bowls).

To Make Marmelet of Peaches
From: The Good Huswifes Jewel, Thomas Dawson, 1596

Original Recipe:
Take your peaches and pare them and cut them from the stones, and mince them very finely. Steep them in rose water, then strain them with rose water through a coarse cloth or strainer, into your pan that you will seethe it in. You must have to every pound of peaches half a pound of sugar, finely beaten, and put it in your pan that you do boil it in. You must reserve a good quantity to mould your cakes or prints withal that of sugar. Set your pan on the fire and stir it till it be thick or stiff, that your stick will stand upright in it of itself.
We have no modern version of this. Lady Fionnabhair inghean Donnchaidh Guthrie, who made it for the demo, presumably worked from the original, as do I frequently. You just get comfortable cooking like that. Lady Fionnabhair presented it as a 'wet sucket', meaning in a spreadable form rather than freestanding and molded or cut into cubes. Marmalades began as sliceable treats and were served in that form before becoming spreadable near the end of Elizabeth I's reign.

Shrewsbury Cakes
From: John Murrell, A Delightfull Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1621

Original Recipe:
Take a quart of very fine flower, eight ounces of fine sugar beaten and sersed, twelve ounces of sweete butter, a Nutmegge grated, two or three spoonefuls of damaske rose-water, worke all these together with your hands as hard as you can for the space of halfe an houre, then roule it in little round Cakes, about the thicknesse of three shillings one upon another, then take a silver Cup or glasse some foure or three inches over, and cut the cakes in them, then strowe some flower upon white papers & lay them upon them, and bake them in an Oven as hot as for Manchet, set up your lid till you may tell a hundreth, then you shall see them white, if any of them rise up clap them downe with some cleane thing, and if your Oven be not too hot set up your lid again, and in a quarter of an houre they will be baked enough, but in any case take heede your Oven be not too hot, for they must not looke browne but white, and so draw them foorth & lay them one upon another till they be could, and you may keep them halfe a yeare, the new baked are best.
Modern version:
¼ C sugar
½ C butter
1 C flour
1½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. rosewater
Cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Sift the flour with the nutmeg. Add the rose water to the sugar-butter mixture and stir in the dry ingredients only until just blended; then chill the dough, for ten minutes. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Pat the dough into a ball, then roll it out gently to 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out the cakes with a two- or three-inch round cookie cutter. Place them on an unbuttered cookie sheet and inch apart and bake at 350 degrees until slightly brown around the edges—from 12 - 15 minutes. Cool on a wire grille and store in an airtight tin.

Roast Onions
From: Libro della cucina del secolo XIV

Original recipe:
Take onions, cook them under the coals and then peel them, and slice them crosswise very long and very thin: add a fair amount of vinegar, salt, oil and spices, and serve.
Modern version:
2-3 medium sized onions, sweet or red
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
Peel the papery outer skin off the onions, place in a 350 degree oven directly on the bottom rack and roast for an hour to 90 minutes until soft to the touch. You may wrap them in foil to keep the juices in. Blend vinegar, oil and spices and let sit at room temperature while the onions cook to thoroughly blend flavors. Cool slightly, peel, and slice thin. Arrange on a large serving plate. Drizzle with spiced vinegar-oil blend and serve. Serves 4.

Black Pepper Sauce
From: The Viander de Taillevant, Edited by Terence Skully, recipe 227

Original Recipe:
Crush ginger and charred bread and pepper, moisten with vinegar and verjuice, and boil.
Modern version:
Dark-toast 2 slices of whole wheat bread, crumble finely (food processor crumbs are great) and mix with 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Stir into 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp verjuice and then bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.

Tournai-style Cameline Sauce
From: Le Menagier de Paris

Original version:
Note that at Tournai to make cameline they bray ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg moistened with wine, then take it out of the mortar, then have white breadcrumbs, not toasted but moistened them with wine strain them, then boil all together and put brown sugar last of all and that is winter cameline. And in summer they do the same, but it is not boiled.

Modern version:
1 slice whole wheat white bread
2 cups good wine (I use whatever I have, red or white)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground saffron
4-6 tsp. raw or turbinado sugar
Let the bread soak in the wine until it falls apart and then blend in the spices. Bring to a boil and stir in the sugar. It'll be sweet, so you might wish to add the sugar in increments and taste. I called my version 'medieval barbecue sauce' and it went over very well indeed.

From: Du fait de cuisine, by Master Chiquart

Original recipe:
A jance: and to give understanding to him who will make the said jance let him take a great quantity of fair and good fine white bread according to what he wants to make and make it into crumbs well and properly on a fair cloth; then let him take a fair, clear, and clean pot and pour in fat broth of beef and mutton, and let him check that it is not too salty; and then let him take eggs and mix them with the said bread and then put this gently into the said broth while stirring constantly with a fair wooden spoon; and also let him put in his spices, that is white ginger, grains of paradise, and a little pepper, and saffron to give it color, and let him flavor it with verjuice; and let him put all this to boil together and then dress it for serving.
Modern version:
2 cups rich beef broth, unsalted if possible
3 slices whole wheat bread, made into crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 tsp grains of paradise
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground saffron
4 tablespoons verjuice
Put broth in heavy cooking pot. Beat egg, mix with bread crumbs, then stir into broth. Stir in spices and verjuice. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. This is alchemy, you can watch it change states as it cooks. This recipe makes a great deal of sauce, so you might wish to halve it, but it goes over well so perhaps not. As it cools it might form a skin, so watch it and stir frequently.

White Garlic Sauce
From: Libro de arte coquinaria, by Maestro Martino

Original recipe:
White garlic sauce. Take carefully skinned almonds and pound them, and when they are pounded halfway, add as much garlic as you like, and pound them very well together, adding a little cool water to prevent them from becoming oily. Then take crumb of white bread and soften it in lean meat or fish broth depending on the calendar; this garlic sauce can be served and adapted at will for meat days and days of abstinence.
Modern version:
I was very tired. I dumped a double handful of blanched almonds into the food processor and then dropped in seven peeled cloves of garlic and maybe a quarter cup of cold tap water and processed until small bits. I'd been soaking three slices of whole wheat bread in four cups of beef broth and dumped that into the food processor and ran it until it looked good.
That's about a cup and a half of almonds.
In retrospect I'd maybe cut everything back by three-quarters (my intended quantity was 'about a quart', which is an awful lot) for general serving. I recommend half a cup of almonds, two good-sized garlic cloves, a cup of broth and a slice or so of bread, pre-crumbed. It was fine as I made it, though.

I also prepped a Yellow Sauce, but never put it out. It's in the freezer.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Recipes of the Week 1

Initially posted about six weeks ago, this was the first installment of what's become an irregular but at least once a week thing for me. The modernized versions here are mine, all mine, and are heretofore unpublished. Feel free to share them without charge. If you'd like to print any of my recipes, email me and ask.

To make poor Knights
The Queen's Closet Opened
Incomparable Secrets in physick, chyrurgery,
preserving and candying &c...
Printed for Nathaniel Brook
at the Angell in Cornhill, 1655

Cut two penny loaves in round slices dip them in half a pint of Cream or fair water, then lay them abroad in a dish and beat three Egs and grated Nutmegs and sugar, beat them with the Cream, then melt some butter in a frying pan, and wet the side of the toasts and lay them in on the wet side, then pour the rest upon them, and so fry them, serve them in with Rosewater, sugar and butter.
This recipe requires almost no translation. I find that three eggs and half a pint of cream (light) plus about a tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg does five or six slices of bread trimmed into circles (or untrimmed), though the instructions make our little modern pans too small to cook as directed. My remedy was to dip one side of each slice, lay aside on a tray gooey side down, then melt a tablespoon of butter and tuck as much bread into the skillet as you can and then pour over the proper percentage of liquid (eyeball it or use the tablespoon you measured the sugar with). Flip once and they'll brown very quickly. Repeat as needed and keep a decent amount of butter in the pan.
Experimenting with rosewater as a sprinkle I discovered that a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in a quarter cup of rosewater sprinkled over the hot Knights was wonderful. But I like rosewater and that ratio imparts a lot of rose flavor, so play with it to taste, but the rosewater really adds something to the final product.

A Tart of Ryce
From: The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1596
Boyle your Rice, and put in the yolkes of two or three Egges into the Rice, and when it is boyled, put it into a dish, and season it with Suger, Sinamon and Ginger, and butter, and the juyce of two or three Orenges, and set it on the fire againe.
Everyone has a version of this one, and they're all different, so why not me, too? Earlier rice dishes almost invariably called for the rice to be cooked in almond milk but by this period rice cooked in fayre water was cropping up, and with the addition of orange juice I figured that one should boyle your Rice in plain water. Awhile back I gave up on long-grain rice and medieval cooking. The results just don't seem right. I use medium grain, usually something like arborio bought in bulk at WinCo. Rice is easy - one part dry rice to two parts water, mix, bring to a boil, lid, turn the heat down and stay out of the pot for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, remove the pot from the burner and leave for another five before taking the lid off. Or use the modern miracle called a rice cooker.

My version of the above recipe:
2 cups water
1 cup medium grain rice rice
three egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar (I like it sweet, no less than two tablespoons but
sweeten to your taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (like above, no less than 1/4 tsp. to taste if
you like less spice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tablespoons butter
juice of three oranges (that's about a cup for modern oranges but
we're thinking 16th century so no more than 3/4ths of a cup and more like 2/3rds

Mix rice and water in a pan, bring to a boil, lid, reduce heat to simmer, and leave for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in three egg yolks, slightly beaten, Here I flipped the cooked rice into a casserole dish and sprinkled the salt, cinnamon and ginger over it then poured the orange juice over that, dotted it with the butter like a pie, and stuck it into the oven (350 degrees) for about ten minutes until the orange juice had mostly disappeared from puddling at the bottom of the dish. Others have suggested mixing in the butter, sugar, spices and orange juice and simmering until the liquid was mostly absorbed.

Not having been able to get small, medievally bitter oranges I went with the sharpest unsweetened frozen concentrate I could get and mixed in a bit of lemon juice to tart it up some. Then I destroyed my efforts to make it tart with a lot of sugar. It was wonderful. I envision this served with pork roast and herbed carrots sometime. My batch didn't survive long enough to become part of a meal. This would probably also make a wonderful cold side dish - extremely refreshing.

From: Forme of Curye, 14th c.
Take parsel, myntes, sauerey, & sauge, tansey, veruayn, clarry, rewe, ditayn, fenel, southrenwode, hewe hem & grinde hem smale, medle hem up with Ayrenn. do butter in a trape. & do þe fars þerto. & bake it & messe it forth.
The odd characters in the above are where the letter thorn should be, which is the soft th in 'the' and 'thing'. Depending on your browser, you might even see the real thing.

The trap is, of course, a pie dish, which in period would have been made of a stiff pastry which existed as much to hold the ingredients together as to eat. Frequently I find instructions to make the trap (or coffin) nice and sturdy in period recipes, and pie lids were often beautifully decorated and apparently re-used, as the proper way to deal with a pie with a top crust was to lift the crust off and scoop out the interior and serve rather than slice in wedges as we modern folks do. Since I can't make a decent short pie crust to save my skin, I totally appreciate this method and treatment of the pastry.

I've found that taking two pie crusts and doubling them, that is pressing one in atop the other that's already in the dish, makes a fairly sturdy but still edible 'trap'. It also looks interesting if you lift your crusts into a square dish and bake in that instead of the slant-edged pie tins that are so annoyingly modern. One lady I've known used a springform pan and popped the rim off to leave a rather vertical side to her tarte which again, I appreciated very much. I love a well-crafted pie or tarte but the aluminum Plush Pippin pan beneath shakes me out of my medieval frame of mind enough that I find myself drawn toward inedible, but cool-looking crusts.

I've said it before: I can't make short crust, so I rely on frozen, and for this I doubled, tilting the second pan and then laying the crust in on top of the other before filling, having brushed the lower with a bit of water to stick them together. This results in something tough but you can peel the pie tin right off it and serve it on a plate and that looks pretty nifty.

You can also make this without any crust at all and it sets nicely. I prefer it that way. The eggs will hold their shape just fine out of the pie plate and if made in glass, slide right out. I highly suggest using the 'trap' as nothing more than something in which to cook the erbolates, meaning no crust.

My version of Erbolates:
crust for two 9" deep-dish pies, or thick crust lining a 8" square (seriously optional)
cake pan (you need depth here) is using crust, pie tin if not
six eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
enough herbs to make about 1/2 cup chopped. The recipe calls for:
- parsley
- mint (always peppermint, never spearmint)
- savory
- sage
- tansy
- vervain
- clary (clary sage)
- rue
- dittany
- fennel leaves
- southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum - this stuff's pretty awful)
so pick what you can find or like - I found a few dried at the herbal remedies place, of all things, and found many of them terribly bitter so suggest you taste and balance out with parsley and savory and a bit of mint to taste. Dried herbs work fine here but are, naturally, concentrated so balance with fresh parsley (did I mention go with flat-leaved because it's better than garnish parsley?) and fennel leaves for bulk. You shouldn't need more than a teaspoon of any one sort of dried herb.
(I also made a half-size once in a small iron skillet using entirely dried herbs, just a mixture of what I had on hand with only a nod to the list above. At about a tablespoonful of dried bits I was hitting the limit of how much should be included and they rose in the baking process and turned the top a funny dark green, but the taste was fine.)

Wash, dry and chop the herbs then mix into the beaten eggs. Melt the butter in your baking dish in the oven, or into the bottom of the unbaked pie crust, also in the oven. Pull the pan out and fill with egg and herb mixture, return and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until nicely set (longer without a crust, up to 45 minutes). Salt lovers will need to sprinkle liberally on the finished product but I highly suggest you add none before baking to give the punch of the herbs a chance to shine without the addition.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Re-Create a Recipe

First, if I may, a bit of semantics. To redact something is to write it out, write it down, edit it for publication or revise text. Certainly sometimes recipes are redacted by researchers of historic cookery, but we are usually re-creating or interpreting a recipe instead, particularly when experimenting with measurements and weird or obscure ingredients.

Now, when tackling a recipe that lists a bunch of ingredients, implies that the reader knows what 'appropriate spices' and such are, and otherwise is intended as a guide for someone who has done this before in an instruction period with their master or mother, I rely on my 'master' and mother. My 'master' is the collection of cookery books (modern and period) which I have accumulated and used in my lifetime, and my 'mother' is usually grandmother because as soon as I could reliably stir my mother pretty much stopped cooking because she hated it. My grandmother, however, raised five kids during the Depression, and trust me, the cooking education I got from someone who was rationed four pounds of meat a week for six people (she lost her eldest at age 5 in 1931) was invaluable for this sort of cooking.

I've come to the point where I try to ignore the 'modern' version supplied in a great many collections of period recipes. The book writer took liberties with the original. How they can translate 'sugar a grete deal' to one teaspoon is beyond me, and they sometimes seem to think we're too stupid to find out what certain ingredients are and find them or acceptable substitutes. I work from the original words, perhaps brought into modern English, and using the occasional help in figuring out what certain terms are (the online Middle English Dictionary and Anglo-Norman Dictionary are very helpful) so I can start by being as accurate as possible. Remember that what fails can meet up with a can of cream of something soup and become casserole or a batch of vanilla pudding or ice cream and become dessert, so don't worry about a lack of success. You won't waste any food.

Read the recipe. Then go take a shower or something so you can think about it a bit. Relate it to what you know about cooking, how to handle the various ingredients, dishes that use similar ones. Go back to the recipe later and read it again, noting whatever you missed the first time. Reconsider what's modern and similar. You'll begin to formulate an idea or proportions and measures. If necessary, look up a few recipes in modern books to help. Put the modern books back down, they're only for ideas.

Read the recipe again and begin assembling ingredients. Get half again more than you think you'll need of pretty much everything (you can always make a half-batch later or put it into a frittata, but not having enough will stop you cold.). Start playing with your food. Handle the packaging, read the ingredients list if they have one, look at it. Feel it, learn its texture, mass, scent. Get out utensils and pretty much every measuring thing you have, and lots and lots and lots of bowls. You'll maybe use half of them but if you want to dump two tablespoons of rice flour without adding it to the mix a clean bowl nearby is very handy.

Read the recipe again. Measure. Ballpark it, don't worry about leveling and all the minutiae of distressingly accurate modern cooking, just dump what seems right into separate bowls. Use what you know of cooking, your experience, and that little voice in your ear that whines, "that's too much salt" or "oh, come on, you like dates, add more!" or your 'mother' saying, "Too much liquid, it will never set at this rate." Check a modern cookbook for a similar recipe to decide what heat settings to use. Put the cookbook away again.

Make something. Whole batch, half-batch, whatever you feel comfortable with. While you're adding ingredients, watch it. If it looks too scant, add more. If it seems to be right and you still have half a cup, consider it right. Play with your food. If it's safe, taste it while you're working. Add all flavor-adding ingredients to suit your own taste. Don't omit a listed ingredient, but feel free to make it a token amount. Cook it.

Taste the finished product. Have friends in, SCA or modern (but warn them that it's 'foreign' so their palates won't get stuck on 'ewww' and negate the help), for a critique. Have stuff on hand to fix anything that's awful. Dead cakes make good syllabub and you can do amazing things with cream soup and a casserole dish with meat that's just not right. Figure out what you need more of, less of, none of, might consider adding.

Now you're ready to do an educated re-creation of that period recipe. Get more ingredients, learn from your previous experience, and make it again with alterations. I'll bet you it comes out good. Then write it down (redact it!) to save the information you've discovered.

It can take hours, days, or a week, but when you're done you've just taught yourself to cook in a period manner. And have one dish that's your own. And, hopefully, gotten over the worry that you'll be unable to achieve culinary pleasure for yourself and others.

I scared many of my kitchen crew by not listing measurements on spices and other augmentations used in the recipes for the Chateau feast. And the one dish that came out badly? The one I cooked all by myself without help from a set recipe. I burned the blancmange. Everyone who had to 'season to taste' and 'add until it looks/smells right' instructions came out with wonderful dishes that were met with pleasure and delight from the feasters.

Don't be afraid of your food. It and you are partners in life, and there is quite literally no 'wrong' way to re-create a period dish using the original ingredients. (Like all period cooks went to the CIA? Suuure.) And you'll end up having fun, too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Author/Book Report - Ken Albala

The author actually has a blog on this same system. He might find this and read it sometime. I hope so; it would be wonderful to be in touch with him.

This is a loose opinion piece on two books by Ken Albala. I have not completely read either book, and so it will be by nature slightly loose and cannot be considered a thorough study of either book. I have not had the opportunity to read any of his other works. There, all the caveats.

I also just discovered that the author has a blog called Ken Albala's Food Rant. I recommend it, if only for the image on the latest (September) page of the pipkin cooking in his fireplace full of a 16th century rabbit recipe. He has a nice, personal, insight into food and food culture, so far.

Now, on to the books. From the my local library system I got two of his works:
Food in Early Modern Europe, by Ken Albala. 260 pages.
Greenwood Press, 2003. ISBN: 0313319626
Cooking in Europe, 1250-1650, by Ken Albala. 153 pages.
Greenwood Press, 2006. ISBN: 0313330964

(I am apparently the first person to ever check these books out, as some of the pages weren't thoroughly trimmed and I've had to gently separate them at the edges.)

The first is a treatise on the subject. The second is a cookbook of sorts. I'll deal with each volume separately.

Food in Early Modern Europe
His historic scope seems to be 1492 with the discovery of the New World to 1800+, which makes much of the book post-period. It doesn't suffer any for this, however, and is still a resource for the SCA's time period.

I respect the author for his interest in food and culinary history, but would not recommend this book as more than a casual source. Unlike other books in this genre, the author opines on various subjects without giving sources for his information, and I have caught at least one serious factual inaccuracy. I also find myself a bit dismayed at the lack of actual bibliography, the scarcity of notes, and the conspicuous absence of certain well-established sources from his Further Readings list.

Albala states that table manners were invented in the early modern timeperiod, without any reference to where he got his information. [1] This would likely come as a surprise to Thomasin of Zerclaere, an Italian from Trieste who in about 1215 wrote Der Wälsche Gast (The Italian Guest) for a German audience in which a great many table manners were outlined [2]. Although Albala couldn't have listed Strong (my source) in his Suggested Further Readings as it postdates his book, he does list Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massino Montinari's Food: A Culinary History which states specifically, "Numerous normative texts devoted to good manners began to appear at the beginning of the twelfth century." [3] Honestly, I find this a bit annoying.

Another point of interest factually is his insistence that bowls were for soup from an early period. While this might be so, he doesn't give any sources for this claim, and everything else I've read thus far has indicated that bowls were for drinking and that pottages and other runny foods were sopped with bread from the trencher. If there is evidence for bowls for runny foods early on it would have been a good thing to provide the source information; as it is I find myself wondering if he's over-generalizing or misinterpreting sources.

However, I do like this book, even if I recommend using caution and comparison to information from other writings in the food history genre. For one thing, there is a nice listing of ingredients and another of cooking methods. Both are pleasant additions to a book like this, though again I find myself bemoaning the lack of footnotes or source links and appearance of personal speculation over interpretation of information. And second, Albala cares about what he's presenting. He has obviously dabbled in actually preparing food from primary sources, and in fact states that he will not interpret nor present 'modern' versions of recipes for the reader, instead giving us the original text in a readable-by-modern-English-speaking-persons format. I respect that.

He also lays out modern food culture and those things which have caused great changes even in the last century in contrast to how things were in history with insight I find myself thoroughly appreciating. This man recognizes how things have changed and wants the reader to, also. Over-generalized, perhaps, but touched on in a manner I haven't seen so plainly addressed before.

In summary, read the book and enjoy but be aware that his facts might or might not be accurate. I highly recommend checking anything he says (yes, anything - in my eyes one or two mistakes potentially taint the whole thing) against other works. But do trust him to present recipes in as close to the original format as is feasible for the scope of his book.

Cooking in Europe 1250-1650
I want this book! This volume is part of a series, Daily Life Through History, and concentrates entirely upon recipes from primary sources. Unlike Food in Early Modern Europe it is both well-annotated and has a fine, fine bibliography. And like that other book, he hasn't given any modern version of any recipe, not even measurements. The contents are arranged by time period, broken down into the middle ages, Renaissance, and late Renaissance/Elizabethan eras, but he has also (joy!) given us lists of recipes by country (modern, period geographical region), type, and listed recipes for special occasions (including food for the sick). And if that's not fine enough, the index is by subject including ingredient. You can look up onions and get page numbers for every recipe which includes onions.

Every recipe has a bit of information beneath it. Sometimes this is insight from Albala's personal knowledge as a historic cook, sometimes it's factual information about ingredients or other intricacies of cooking. And each and every recipe is presented in as close to the original format as can be while translating it into modern English. He doesn't omit ingredients, he doesn't act as though his readers are
too dumb to go out and find verjuice if they need it. He respects his readers and writes for those of us interested in food history rather than making it 'seem medieval' using whatever we can get at Albertson's.

This is a later volume than the other book and I think Albala is shaping up well as a food writer for we in the SCA interested in truly cooking period food. The book is probably somewhat overpriced at $40.51 (alibris .com) to $53.50 (powells.com) but I still want it.

- Teceangl

[1] Albala, Ken, Food in Early Modern Europe, p. xv: "Even such
apparently commonplace things as forks and table manners were first
introduced in this period."
[2] Strong, Roy, Feast, ppg. 68-69 referencing William Michael Rossetti, Italian Courtesy Books.
[3] Flandrin, Jean-Louis and Massino Montinari, ed., Food: A Culinary History, in the article 'Mind Your Manners: Etiquette at Table' by Daniela Romangnoli, pg. 330.

First post

I was never going to have a blog. What's the point? If anyone cares about what I have to say, they can ask me directly. Or so I thought until I started posting my musings, commentary and recipes to mailing lists and it struck me that a place where everything could be archived, and I could put crossover information, would be a good idea.

I will likely be casual and unscheduled and use this space as an archive as much as anything. The look of things will change periodically and it might get slightly chaotic. I'll forget to add stuff. Feel free to email me if you think something should be here, want something here, can't find something, whatever.

Now, why a blog? Well, I'm in the Society for Creative Anachronism and in the SCA I do many things. Everyone in the SCA does many things. It's the ultimate dabbler's organization. Right now my two concentrations of interest are heraldry and food lore, specifically cooking. So I've created this space as a repository for whatever I have to say about pre-1650 food lore and recipes and whatever else comes to mind that's related. So here it is, for whatever it's worth, and I hope that it proves useful and informative.