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Recipes from the Middle Ages

April 10, 2010

The first English recipe book is the Forme of Cury and was completed in 1390 during the reign of Richard II. Thoroughly impractical for a modern kitchen, it consists of a long roll of hand stitched parchment pieces. The John Ryland Museum is currently putting this book online so that anyone can study it. At first sight it looks daunting, as we are used to cooking times, quantities and temperatures, none of which appear in this – obviously, as Medieval cooks were using open fires and temperatures reached would depend on the wood used amongst other variables. This English cookery book arrived on the scene approximately 10 years after Le Vivandier was produced in France and both show the high standard and expertise of Medieval cookery, as well as the wide range of spices and colourings available to those with a deep enough purse to pay for them. One thing  immediately obvious is the fallacy that they spiced their food to disguise taint. The combinations of spices, though sometimes unusual, are quite specific, and would have gone a long way to prevent monotony caused by the limitations on diet caused by seasonal limitations or church dietary requirements.

Recipes:

Firmity (a sort of cooked grain porridge)

Marchpane ( a cooked and decorated marzipan centre piece)

Pigges Rolles ( a spiced medieval sausage roll)

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