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Medieval-Cook-art -10/20/00


"The Medieval Cook" by Lady Jehanne de Huguenin.


NOTE: See also the files: p-cooks-msg, p-menus-msg, headcooks-msg, Fst-Menus-art, feast-serving-msg, kitchen-clean-msg, camp-kitchens-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


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Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


                              Thank you,

                                   Mark S. Harris

                                   AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                        stefan at florilegium.org                                         



Originally published in August, AS 34 in "Storm Tidings", the newsletter for the Shire of Adamastor in Cape Town, South Africa.



                             The Medieval Cook

                        by Lady Jehanne de Huguenin


The 10th August is the feast of Saint Laurence, a Spanish deacon supposedly

martyred at Rome in 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. In the somewhat

obscure and slightly sadistic fashion of medieval associations, Saint

Laurence has become the patron saint of grilling, baking and cooking

generally, and hence of cooks. We have also just passed the feast of Saint

Martha, also a patron of cooks, on 29th July. In honour of these

feast-days, a feast of cooking notes for you!


The cook must be cleanly both in body and garments. She must have a quick

eye, a curious nose, a perfect taste, and a ready ear; and she must not be

butter-fingered, sweet-toothed, nor faint-hearted. For the first will let

everything fall; the second will consume what it should increase; and the

last will lose time with too much niceness.


Gervase Markham, The English Huswife, 1683.

(An ideal for the Guild to aspire to!)


A COOK they hadde with hem for the nones

To boille the chiknes with the marybones,

And poudre-marchant tart and galyngale.

Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Loundoun ale.

He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,

Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye...

... For blankmanger, that made he with the beste


Geoffrey Chaucer, the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales


...Woe was his cook but if his sauce were

Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere.


Geoffrey Chaucer, the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales


First you need a clerk or varlet to shop for the green herb, violet,

bread-crumbs, milk, cheese, eggs, fire-wood, coal, salt, vats and tubs for

the dining-room as well as for the pantry, verjuice, vinegar, sorrel, sage,

parsley, fresh garlic, two brooms, shovel and such small things.

Item, a cook and his varlets who will cost two francs to hire, without

their other rights, but the cook will pay the varlets and porters, and as

they say: the more bowls, the more to hire.

Item, two bread-slicers, of whom one will crumb the bread and make

trenchers and salt-cellars out of bread, and will carry the salt and the

bread and the trenchers to the tables, and will provide for the dining-room

two or three strainers for the solid leftovers such as sops, broken breads,

trenchers, meats and such things: and two buckets for soups, sauces and

liquid things.

Item, you need one or two water-carriers.

Item, big strong sergeants to guard the door.


Menagier de Paris, tr. Janet Hinson.

(This is a fourteenth century French text in which a wealthy merchant

instructs his young wife in household matters. I rather like the need for

kitchen bouncers!)


... [the] Chief Cook should have supplied and dispensed to him, quickly,

fully, generously and cheerfully, anything he may ask for or that may be

necessary for his lord or lady, or for the both of them, so that he may

serve them as he should.


Maitre Chiquart, Du Fait de Cuisine, 1420 Savoyard treatise.

(The above serves well as an admonition to Shires on how they should treat

their cooks!)



Copyright 1999 by Lady Jehanne de Huguenin, jessica at beattie.uct.ac.za, P O Box 443, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org