fd-Portugal-msg – 3/12/14
Food of medieval Portugal. References.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Sat, 05 Mar 2005 10:44:36 -0600
From: Robert Downie <rdownie at mb.sympatico.ca>
Subject: 16th C Portuguese Convent Sweets documentation so far
I've been perusing the Covent Sweets books I got from Portugal, and
surfing the web in hopes of documenting them specifically.
(I've also got a couple more on order: À MESA COM LUÍS VAZ DE CAMÕES -
the romance of Portuguese cookery in the Age of Discovery & DOCE NUNCA
AMARGOU (O) - history, decoration and recipes of Portuguese sweets...
I'm not sure how much useful historical info I'll find in the second
volume, but it'll be a fun read and good modern reference anyway).
I found this in one of the Alfredo Samargo volumes:
There exists writen record of D. João II (1481-1495) ordering several
items from convents in Évora for the wedding of his son, prince D.
Afonso to the princess of Castela:
-7 arrobas of " confeites" (confits)
-5 arrobas of "tâmaras" (dates)
-50 basins of "fritos doces" (fried pastries)
-30 basins of "fartens" (sweet fruit paste wrapped in pastry, I think)
(an arroba is equal to 14.688 KG)
The author goes on to say that D. Manuel I (crowned in 1495) requested 3
trays of sweets each day during his stays at the convent.
Filipe II considered the sweets of Évora and Beija to be the best he had
ever had. Filip III visited the various convents in Évora, where he
sampled various delicies, and in Santa Monica attended a repast where
the sweets were laid out over two tables "the size of 2 men laying down"
The bad news: no real names are specified (there are lots of different
fried pastry types, fartens may be the "fartos" referenced in the
extant15th C.Portuguese cookbook "Livro de Cozinha da Infanta D.
Maria") The recipe section of each book has lots & lots of recipes, but
although most are conjecturally period based on ingredients, none of
them are dated specifically. We are told which convents each recipe
originated from, and when those convents were established, but that's
it. However, I do get hungry after scanning the recipe pages! I'm
thinking of also going through the pastries in the 15th C. "Livro de
Cozinha" and seeing how may similar recipes I can find in the convent
My webcrawling also yeilded some interesting results:
Gaspar Frutuoso records in his "Saudades da Terra", a chronicle of the
history of the islands (Azores and Madeira), the splendors of sugarworks
in the embassy of Simão Gonçalves da Câmara to Pope Leão X in 1508 which
"muitos mimos e brincos da ilha de conservas, e o sacro palacio todo
feito de assucar, e os cardiais todos feitos de alfenim, dornados a
partes, o que lhes dava muita graça, e feitos de estatura de hum homem".
(many gifts and earrings (?) of the island of preserves, and the sacred
palace all made of sugar, and the cardinals all made of alfenin, gilded
in parts, and made in the stature of a man). *I'm not sure if by
"stature of a man" they mean life -sized. If so, I'm very impressed!
This is a modern recipe, but probably unchanged from the original, which
is supposed to have originated from the Moors
1 Kg sugar
1 T white wine vinegar
buter to grease the bowl
Bring the sugar to a boil with 400 ml of water and the vinegar and let
it boil until it reaches the soft-ball stage. Pour the syrup into a
greased metal bowl which is placed in a larger container filled with
cold water. As the sugar starts to set around the edges, you will need
to pull it back towards the center of the mass with a knife. As soon as
it cools down enough to handle, start kneading it with your hands,
pulling it out and stretching it, folding it and stretching it until it
becomes very elastic, opaque and white.
Divide the paste into sections, cutting it with scissors, and work it
while it is still warm. To keep the alfenim pieces moldable (ie not
allowing them to cool completely), keep them near the mouth of a warm
oven or the intermittent warmth of an electric radiator.
With the alfenim you can mold animals, flowers, etc. It can also be
eaten like candies.
There are some really neat subtlety like desserts in the recipe sections
of the books that I really wish I could document to SCA period (they may
very well all be that old, I just haven't been able to document them yet):
-Pombinhas de Alcorce e Caroços de Alcorce ( little doves and peach pits
-Lampreia de Ovos (lamprey of eggs)
-Peixes (faux fish)
-Sardinhas Albardadas (faux egg fried sardines)
-Nuvens do Ceu (clouds from the sky)
and there are so many others that just look so tasty, and all have
_conjecturally_ period ingredients... sigh, so close and yet so far...
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 22:02:13 -0500
From: Robert Downie <rdownie at mb.sympatico.ca>
Subject: [Sca-cooks] More Translations of Portuguese Food Stuff (long)
To: Medieval_Spain at yahoogroups.com, mk-cooks at midrealm.org,
SCAFoodandFeasts at yahoogroups.com, sca-cooks <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>,
ns-cooks at northshield.org
I recently picked up a copy of _À Mesa Com Luís Vaz de Camões _ o
romance da cozinha no Portugal das Descobertas (At the Table With Luís
Vaz de Camões - the romance of cuisine in Portugal during the Age of
Discovery). Since at this point we only know of the one extant medieval
Portruguese cookbook (Livro de Cozinha da Infanta D. Maria), I though
this book may provide other literary references for Portuguese food in
the Renaissance period. I was quickly skimming through some of the
chapters, and this section dealing with food evolution through cultural
exchange caught my eye. I have tried to translate it as directly as
possible (and add explanatory comments where I could), my apologies in
advance if the language sounds somewhat stilted as a result.
Excerpt from the beginning of Chapter XIII "O poema da barriga vazia"
(the poem of the empty belly)
Comparisons between the novelties found, and those that were already
known from the homeland or other destinations already visited, are
always present in the descriptions of the travelers, whether Portuguese
or foreign. An example of this is illustrated in a letter written from
Goa by Thomas Stevens:
"I have not yet seen here a tree similar to those I have seen in Europe,
with the exception of grapevines, which here are useless, since all
wines come from Portugal."
Also curious are the references of Álvaro Velho, witness to the arrival
of Vasco da Gama to India. In his Guide, "jacas" (jack-fruit?) are
compared to melons <<except that outside they are crispy, but inside
they are sweet>>, and bananas to figs, which <<taste very good>>. To
melons he also compares coconuts of Moçambique, <<the interior pulp is
what is eaten and tastes like "junça aveladada" (the footnote says:
there are those who disagree with this interpretation, nevertheless, the
taste of junça avelanada, Cyperus esculentus, well know to the
Portuguese of the time, and from which was made a whitish beverage, with
a hazelnut-like flavour, appears to indicate this direction.)
[I looked up Cyperus esculentus. It is modernly listed as yellow
nutsedge, a North American problem weed, which doesn't sound right. The
footnote also refers to the making of an "orchata" with this plant, but
it's definition is: 'a refreshing beverage made with seeds of cucurbita'
or 'a drink made from a decoction of barley and ground sweet almonds',
again implying this is a different modern definition of the plant in
The "Soldado Prático" (practical soldier) by Diogo do Couto, says there
he ate <<wild grapes, like the ones from Portugal, and melons like those
from Abrantes>> and even a great sage of medicine, Garcia da Horta
doesn't resist comparing Indian products to national ones. To him
"assa-fétida" (a resinous syrup extracted from <celery?>) is/has an
<<appetizing bitterness, like that of olives>> and cinnamon smells
like oregano, <but with a milder scent>>. To refer to the cooking of
rice with coconut milk, (he) says that this <<is like rice with goat's
milk>>, and of bananas can affirm that that <<baked and placed in wine
with cinnamon on top (they) taste like baked quinces, and much better.>>
> From comparison to comparison, the Lusitanian palate begins to get used
to Asian tastes. Raised with a taste for bread and meat, wine, sauces
of olive oil and vinegar, the Portuguese of India do not immediately
become accustomed to fish fried in butter and rice with special sauces
from the natives. Gently they begin to blend, to make culinary
symbioses. They perfect and improvise (the dishes).
Their traditional delicacies mix with the local products. Bastardised
recipes, of "caldo-verde" with spinach and without olive oil, or stews
[modernly caldeirada denotes a fish/seafood stew] with ginger and
tamarind exist, still today, among the Goan peoples. The very
Lusitanian "cabidelas" of blood [stew of organ meats, necks, wings and
blood of birds] added t with tamarind, ginger and "curcuma" [a member of
the Zingiberaceae family, commercially referred to as
'saffron-of-the-Indies' - based on this definition, I suspect this is
galangal.]; "presunto" (ham), dried and salted, is seasoned with
cinnamon; tripe appears adorned with "saffron-of-the-Indies" and
tamarinds; simple "chouriços (sausages), so Christian, (now) use spices
in the manner of the orient. In the matter of sweets emerge delicate
tidbits that are placed on par with pear pastes and traditional
marmalades, with the use of new fruits in sugar preserves: are the mango
or coconut pastes, often enhanced with eggs. Of the confusion of those
first times, in which familiar names were adapted to living realities,
we have a similar sweet, made from bananas, which is, still today,
called "figada" [figos are figs], prepared with "figos-da-India"
The inverse also occurs, the Portuguese transmitting some of their
tastes to the natural inhabitants. Still among sweet dishes, we may
count the original "pão-de-ló", a "bolo podre" (name of a very sweet
cake recipe- 'podre' means rotten), "pastiés de nata" (cream tarts), and
"pasties de Sta. Clara" (pastries from the convent of Saint Clara),
perhaps left by the nuns of St Monica, (who were) famous for their
sweets. Delicacies that remain for ever rooted between the populations
of the Portuguese territories in India, demonstrating well the ancient
influence of Lusiadian tastes in those distant lands. "Vinha d'alhos"
(a common Portuguese marinade) takes on the role of the primordial
example of European tastes, spreading from Goa to China and to the
Malasian Islands, finally being transported, in more recent times, to
countries like England and America, where it is known as vindaloo.
Extremely interesting is the saga of "Sarapatel" (dish of blood, liver,
kidneys, meat and heart of pork or mutton, with broth) food of humble
folk in Portugal, made with the economic organs of the animals that this
people will introduce everywhere they travel. Sarapateis exist in Goa,
for many years supplemented with hot spices, of ginger, cinnamon and the
oriental "curcuma", the-saffron-of-the Indies [galangal?] which here
substitutes saffron of the flower. But sarapateis are also present in
the recipe collections of Cabo Verde, Angola, Moçambique, Brasil, and
even in the more distant stops of Timor or Macau it appears, always with
natural adaptations, convenient to the palate of each nation.
Nevertheless, the most interesting (fact) is that that dish, which has
also been called"sarrabulhada", "laburdo" or "bazulaque", has returned
to our tables, now as a foreign curiosity, almost exclusively served as
an exotic specialty in Goan restaurants.
Very important, in relation to the national culinary panorama, is also
the story of one of the foods given to the sick in India, made of
<<water from cooking rice with pepper and cumin (which they call
'canje')>>, in the words of Garcia da Horta, or as he states farther
along: <<sour milk mixed with rice and shredded chicken in the water
from this rice, (which they call 'canje')>>. Ask any modern Portuguese
person and he will swear that canja is one of the most genuine
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 23:14:13 +0000 (GMT)
From: emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it>
To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Livro de Cozinha (portugese)
A while ago someone mentioned a portugese cookbook.
If you go to google books, an edition, translation and introduction is online (though not for download in pdf format)
Search words: livro and cozinha in the field "title".
O "livro de Cozinha" Da Infantad D. Maria de Portugal
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009 23:21:54 +0000 (GMT)
From: emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it>
To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Messisbugo 1600
At books.google there is a somewhat later edition (1600, also a 1610 edition) of Messisbugo:
Libro nuovo nel qual s'insegna il modo d'ordinar Banchetti ...
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 19:04:57 +0200
From: Ana Valdes <agora158 at gmail.com>
To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
Cc: "sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] OOP - Portuguese/Brazilian cooking
I bought some books in Bahia when I was there some years ago and I have tried now to translate a bit. Jorge Amado, the Brasilian writer, born himself in Bahia, wrote down many recipes collected from the popular culture. Brasil is still a society with a very low level of literacy and many of those recipes were not written but passed on as oral heritage. Bahia became quickly the biggest harbour for slave trading in South America and the slaves took from Africa many of their staple food and many of their cooking uses.
Things such as farofa, mandioca flour, cassava, were unknown for the Portuguese, a fishing nation using cod and bacalao or sardines as base for their food.
The use of sugar was common both for Africans and Arabs, who had been ruling Portugal and Spain for centuries.
Until today the monasteries in Portugal and the Black people in Brazil make pastries and sweets with recipes from 13th century.
13 apr 2011 kl. 18:34 skrev Sam Wallace <guillaumedep at gmail.com>:
What is the source of the early Brazilian recipes you mention? I did a
Portuguese feast a few years ago and have a couple of good sources
that I will share as soon as I get home this evening. I do not recall
seeing anything from Brazil when I looked, so finding something "new"
in this region/culture would be really nice. It was interesting to me
that some of the words for ingredients used in the Portuguese texts
have changed in modern Portuguese from Portugal, but stayed the same
I am not sure about the borders of the period but Brazil is an old country and the Portuguese colonized it already in the 16th century, Bahia was the first capital from 1549 to 1763. I have some recipes from the time where Bahia was newly built and the Brasilian ingredients and the Portuguese cooking started to mix. For example: vatapa is made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a creamy paste. This food is very popular in the North and Northeast, but it is more typical in the northeastern state of Bahia where it is commonly eaten with acaraj, although Vatapa is often eaten with white rice in other regions of Brazil.