Chef Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

3,599 Posts
I was given the book The Forme of Cury many years ago because of my dual interests in food and middle ages, and tried a couple of things from there but it's not a very user-friendly book i found. I also have another book by three french historians which i have in italian but may be translated also into english. The original french title is La Gastronomie nel Moyen Age - 150 Recettes de France et d'Italie by Redon, Sabban and Serventi. It's got an introduction by Georges Duby, the french historian who is associated with the new current of History of Everyday Life among historians. (They emphasize how people lived rather than what king was killing what other king).

Of the two, the french one is certainly better researched, using more modern methods and knowledge of what was available then (my edition, anyway, of the Forme of Cury, is from the 70s.) (I just happened to meet a guy who is a professor of history and a researcher into ancient foods - he was explaining that now they can chemically analyse the scrapings from the insides of old pottery to know about the chemical compositions of the foods that were contained in them.)

The historians who did the french book are very good cooks too, so they really have adapted their recipes to modern ingredients, but put in the original recipe in medieval french or italian, and then the translation into modern language, and then the adaptation using their understanding of the techniques of the times and the ingredients. I believe there is one or two recipes from england too.
I made quite a few of these. I imagine that norman cooking, that was brought over to england in 1066, would have been derived from or influenced by much of the northern french stuff in this book. And even in the 1200s, the Normans maintained their close contact with Normandy where they all had castles and lands, and the economy of the middle ages required that lords and their huge retinues of knights and hangers-on had to go around and consume the produce on the spot, so they were always on the move. So i imagine they ate much like their norman cousins.

Oh, and the book debunks the theory that marco polo brought pasta from china. Like all simple staple foods made from flour and water (bread, pita/pizza, pasta, couscous, polentas) they are ubiquitous. There's a recipe for "lasagne" which are large squares of pasta, boiled and seasoned with cheese that were eaten with toothpicks. (No tomatoes yet, of course, nor potatoes, and alot of other things back then before the discovery of the New World.)

In fact, italians, who were considered really overly refined asnd foppish in the middle ages because, among other things, they carried their fork with them when everyone else ate with their hands, probably did this because it's very uncomfortable to eat pasta with the hands.
But anyway, the recipe for pasta pre-dates marco polo.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.