cookbooks2-bib - 9/3/97
Cookbook bibliography by Stephen Bloch. (mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib)
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
From: Stephen Bloch <sbloch at adl15.adelphi.edu>
Subject: books on medieval cooking
To: markh at risc.sps.mot.com
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 09:54:11 -0400 (EDT)
I was just looking through old mail messages, and came across the
following that I sent to a lady who was looking for sources. I thought
some of it might be a useful addition to your Florilegium file on
mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib
sbloch at panther.adelphi.edu
Math/CS Dept, Adelphi University
Sources for medieval cooking break down into several categories:
1) primary sources, perhaps translated and/or reprinted
2) modern cooks' interpretations of primary sources (at varying places
along the scale from "popular" to "scholarly")
3) modern cooks' inventions based on vaguely medieval ideas.
Eventually you'll probably want to work mainly with (1), but if you're
new at this you should start with (2), bearing in mind that some modern
cooks do more careful interpretations than others. Avoid (3). I
generally lump into category (3) any purportedly "medieval" cookbook
that doesn't include the original text of a recipe.
An infamous example of (3) is Madeleine Pelner Cosman's _Fabulous Feasts_,
which unfortunately is put out by a fairly major publisher and widely
available in inexpensive paperback. Some of the recipes are
recognizable as particular medieval recipes, some are "plausibly
medieval" but no other scholar in the world has seen an actual medieval
recipe for them, and some are total nonsense. (For example, the
infamous "pears, cranberries, and lentils" dish, or the bread with
parsley, celery seed, rosemary, and thyme mixed into the dough -- tasty
enough, but a pure figment of Cosman's imagination). None of her
recipes is cited as based on a particular medieval source, so you can't
check the accuracy of her interpretations, there's just a lengthy
bibliography of inaccessible manuscripts she claims to have looked at.
Some relatively popular, yet accurate, examples of (2) are
(a) _Pleyn Delit_ by Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler, ISBN
0-8020-6366-7, University of Toronto Press 1976. Many, many SCA cooks
have this. It provides each medieval recipe in its original spelling
and wording, followed by a modern interpretation with quantities, then
notes on why certain decisions were made in that interpretation. Each
recipe is cited to a particular medieval source, often a particular
(b) the second edition of same, with added author Brenda Hosington,
ISBN 0-8020-7632-7, University of Toronto Press 1996. The second
edition contains more recipes, as well as corrections to those in the
first edition: while the first edition was based largely on 18th- and
19th- century editions of the primary sources, the second is based on
personal examination of the original manuscripts, which include
English, French, Italian, Catalan, and (in one case) Baghdadi. And, of
course, the field of medieval cookery has learned a lot in the
intervening twenty years.
(c) _To the King's Taste_, by Lorna J. Sass, ISBN 0-312-80748-1, St.
Martin's/Marek 1975. Again, many many SCA cooks have this. Sass gives
each medieval recipe in its original spelling and wording, then a
literal translation to modern English, then a modern interpretation
with quantities. Unlike _Pleyn Delit_, this book takes all its recipes
from one source, a 19th-century edition of 15th-century English
manuscripts entitled _Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books_ (see below).
In the SCA you should have no trouble finding
(d) Cariadoc-and-Elizabeth's _Miscellany_ (self-published, with a new
edition everey year or two). Only about a third of this book is
concerned with cookery -- the rest consists of poems, stories, articles
about other arts and sciences, and essays about Cariadoc's (or rather,
David's) views on authenticity in the SCA -- but that portion includes
about 200 medieval recipes (in translation, where the original language
is not some form of English) each followed by a modern interpretation
Straddling the border between category (2) and category (1) are
(e) _An Ordinance of Pottage_ by Constance B. Hieatt, ISBN
0-907325-38-6, Prospect Books 1988. This time Dr. Hieatt restricts
herself to editing one 15th-century English manuscript. In the first
half of the book she gives each recipe in the original, then in the
second half gives modern interpretations with quantities of many (not
all) of the recipes.
(f) _The Viandier of Taillevent_ by Terence Scully, ISBN 0-7766-0174-1,
University of Ottawa Press 1988. This is a scholarly edition of "all
extant manuscripts" of a particular 14th-century French cookbook.
Scully gives the medieval French without translation, pointing out
differences in wordings among the manuscripts, then in an appendix
gives modern interpretations with quantities of a few of the recipes.
Some other reasonably widely available sources don't even try to give
(g) _Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books_, ed. Thomas Austin, ISBN
0-8115-0148-5, Early English Text Society 1888 reprinted 1964.
(h) _A Fifteenth Century Cookry Boke_, ed. John L. Anderson, LC
62-15109, Charles Scribner's Sons 1962. Excerpted from the same
source, this book actually predates both the SCA and the current
interest in medieval cookery. The illustrations of medieval life and
costume are laughable, but the recipes seem to be accurately copied from
(i) _Curye on Inglysch_, ed. Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler,
ISBN 0-19-722409-1, Early English Text Society 1985. Hieatt and Butler
strike again, with scholarly editions of the recipes in five
14th-century English manuscripts.
(j) Cariadoc's _Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks_
(self-published, with a new edition every year or two). The first
volume, which has been static for about ten years, includes half-sized
photocopies of several medieval and Renaissance cookbooks that were
translated and printed, but not widely accessible when David started
this project. Some of them are now back in print and should be bought
from real live publishers. The second volume, which changes every year
or two, consists of translations done at David's request by dozens of
people, inside the SCA and out, including me.
(k) _On Honest Indulgence (De honesta voluptate)_, Platina, reprinted by
Falconwood Press. This is an English translation (the translator is not
credited, nor even dated) of a 1475 Italian cookbook.
There are also a number of (good and bad) books which, while not
primarily books of recipes, discuss medieval cookery.
(l) _Early French Cookery_ by D. Eleanor Scully and Terence Scully, ISBN
0-472-10648-1, University of Michigan Press 1995. The authors describe
the general features of medieval French cookery with the aid of c. 100
recipes from various sources, reprinted in the original French and
provided with modern interpretations.
(m) _Food and Drink in Britain from the Stone Age to the 19th Century_,
C. Anne Wilson, ISBN 0-89733-364-0, Academy Chicago Publishers 1991
(based on a first edition of 1973). The title says it all.
(n) _A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food Processing and Consumption_, Ann
Hagen, ISBN 0-9516209-8-3, Anglo-Saxon Books 1992. A compilation of
what little knowledge is available about food production, preparation,
and cconsumption in pre-Conquest Britain.
(o) _A Medieval Home Companion_, tr. and ed. Tania Bayard, ISBN
0-06-016654-1, Harper Collins 1991. This is a translation of a good
fraction of the _Menagier de Paris_, a late 14th-century French book of
housekeeping tips, including some recipes.
(p) _Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society_, Bridget Ann Henish, ISBN
0-271-00424-X, Pennsylvania State University 1976. A good (for twenty
years ago) survey of medieval customs relating to food.
(q) _Food and Feast in Medieval England_, P.W. Hammond, ISBN
0-86299-794-1, Alan Sutton Publishing 1993. My grandparents gave me
this as a birthday present a few years ago, and I haven't done much with
it yet, but it looks like a good survey of medieval English customs
relating to food.
(r) _Food in History_, Reay Tannahill, ISBN 0-8128-1437-1, Stein and Day
Publishers, 1973. This book doesn't concentrate on the Middle Ages, but
gives a reasonably good macroscopic view of the history of food.
(s) _The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages_, Terence Scully, ISBN
0-85115-611-8, Boydell Press 1995. Another survey of medieval customs
relating to food, including medieval medical theories, Lenten
Sources get more common for later periods, of course, and I've omitted
some that concentrate on the 17th century. There are also reprintings
of various other medieval cookbooks available, if you know where to look,
but this should keep you busy for a few years :-)
Permission 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.