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fennel-msg – 3/21/08


Medieval use of fennel. Cooking with it. Recipes.


NOTE: See also the files: vegetables-msg, comfits-msg, root-veg-msg, Enseignements-art, fd-Spain-msg, sausages-msg, salads-msg.





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.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 16:59:00 +1000

From: Robyn Probert <robyn.probert at lawpoint.com.au>

Subject: Re: SC - re:period recipes


TOMC = The Original Mediterranean Cuisine

TFCC = Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books



Fried Asparagus TOMC

Aspargus with Shallots TOMC



Fennel and Leek TOMC

Broccili with Fennel TOMC





Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 00:49:47 GMT

From: korny at zikzak.net (Kornelis Sietsma)

Subject: Re: SC - Broccoli & Fennel


On Mon, 4 May 1998 04:20:17 EDT, Kallyr wrote:

>Oh. Please share this recipe.  It sounds perfect & simple.  Just the original

>is fine.


Ok - this is from the text reprinted in "The Original Mediterranean

Cuisine", so the copyright for the translation may belong to the author of

that book...


The author also made the assumption that "tips of fresh cabbage", in a

recipe entitled "Green Cabbage" probably meant something akin to



Green Cabbage with meat  (Cauli Verdi con Carne)

- - Libro Della Cocina

- ----------------

Take the tips of fresh cabbage, and throw them into the boiling pot with

the meat, and boil them;  then take them out and put in cold water.  Then

take another lot of stock in another pot, and add the white part of fennel;

and when it is time to eat, add the said cabbage to the previous pot, and

bring it to the boil, and then add chicken stock, or oil.

- ----------------


I boiled 2 heads of fennel with about 500g of broccoli per table, in a huge

pot of stock.  I boiled them for abour 5 minutes, removed them, washed them

under cold water, and then put them back into the same stock for another 5

minutes.  I assumed that the change of stock was superfluous with modern

washed vegetables :)


The second batch of broccoli and fennel I cooked didn't get parboiled first

- - it just took too much time - but they still tasted fine.


- -Korny

- --

Kornelis Sietsma   http://zikzak.net/~korny  icq: 2039172

  e-mail: korny at zikzak.net  or  korny at a2.com.au



Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 19:13:38 +1000

From: Robyn Probert <robyn.probert at lawpoint.com.au>

Subject: SC - RE: Recipes as promised (long)


TOMC = The Original Mediterranean Cuisine


<snip of asparagus recipes>


Fennel and Leek TOMC

"Take the white part of the fennel, finely chopped, and fry with a little

white of leek, finely chopped, with oil or salted pork, and add little

water, saffron and salt, and bring to boil, and add beaten egg if desired."


'Salted pork' is pancetta.


Broccoli with Fennel TOMC

"Take the tips of green cabbage, and throw them into the boiling pot with

the meat and boil them; tghen take them out and put in cold water. Then take

abnother lot of stock in another pot and addthe white part of fennel; and

when it is time to eat, add the said cabbage to the previous pot, and bring

it to the boil and then add chicken stock, or oil."


Note the blanch-then-cold-water technique! This one could be easily adapted

fopr vegetarians by using vegetable stock (as per previous discussion). As

an aside, you can add body and "mouth feel" to a veggie stock by using the

cooking water from a pot of beans as a starter/additive. Also adds

nutritional value (the protiens are what make the stock thicken).





Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 13:23:12 EDT

From: ChannonM at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re: A fennel question


Some of you may recall that I'm working on a feast from Platina. One of the

vegetables I am going to use is fennel root, basted with olive oil,salt and

peppered and roasted (hopefully over a fire).


I've looked at pictures of fennel and anise. It appears that they are fairly

different (at least in some period references) even though they have a

similar taste (licoricey). I quickly checked out references in Root's "Food".

Now, when perusing my fruits and veges isle at the local Grocers, I have seen

what appears to be fennel root labelled as anise. I bought it anyway to try

it out and it sure tastes like fennel.


Was this a goof up on the part of the grocer, or are they so closely related

that even their roots taste the same? If someone tells me they are one and

the same, I will voluntarily crawl under that rock.





Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 13:56:28 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at tulgey.browser.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: A fennel question


> I've looked at pictures of fennel and anise. It appears that they are fairly

> different (at least in some period references) even though they have a

> similar taste (licoricey). I quickly checked out references in Root's "Food".

> Now, when perusing my fruits and veges isle at the local Grocers, I have seen

> what appears to be fennel root labelled as anise. I bought it anyway to try

> it out and it sure tastes like fennel.


> Was this a goof up on the part of the grocer,


It was a goof up on the part of the grocer or the distributor or the

marketer-- anise does NOT form bulbous roots the way fennel does. What you

are seeing is fennel.


Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne at tulgey.browser.net



Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 12:56:41 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: A fennel question


It is probably a grocer's goof.  Fennel and anise are both members of the

carrot family, but they are different plants.


Anise is Pimpinella anisum.  Fennel is applied to several herbs mostly in

the genus Foeniculum, most commonly Foeniculum vulgare.





Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000 13:35:51 -0700

From: "Brian L. Rygg or Laura Barbee-Rygg" <rygbee at montana.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Seeking Cabbage Recipe


Here is the requested recipe.  I included the original and its translation

as she did take some liberties with her redaction IMHO.  I wouldn't use

bacon but the fresh salt pork slices that just look like bacon.




Cabbage with fennel and apple (Santich's redaction)


    Finely shred 1/4 Savoy (green) cabbage, drop into boiling salted water

and boil 1 minute, then drain and rinse.  Finely slice 1 small onion and

half a bulb of fennel.  Fry in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil until soft. Peel,

quarter, and core a small apple and cut into small cubes (chop). Add to

onion and fennel with drained cabbage and a little stock or water. Cover and

steam for 5 min., then remove lid and cook a little longer to evaporate most

of the liquid. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.

    As a variant, add strips of pancetta to the pan with the onion and

fennel.  The salty tang of the pancetta contrasts nicely with the natural

sweetness of the onion, fennel, and apple.


Cauli Verdi (Libro Della Cochina) (original)


    Togli le cime dei cauli, e falle bullire: poi le cava, e friggile

nell'oglio con cipolle tagliate, e bianco di finocchi, e pome tagliate; e

poni dentro un poco di brodo: et poi fa' le scudelle. e gittavi su de le

spezie.  Possonsi eziandio fare con lo lardo, col cascio e con l'ova

perdute, et ponervi de le spezie; e dara' al Signore.


Green Cabbage (translation)


    Take the tips of cabbage, and boil them: then remove them, and fry in

oil with sliced onion, and the white part of fennel, and sliced apple; and

add a little stock: and then serve it in bowls and sprinkle with spices.

And you can also cook it with salted pork fat, with cheese and with poached

eggs, and add spices; and offer it to your Lord.



Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2005 11:35:33 -0600

From: Sheila McClune <smcclune at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Effects of Fennel, was Nibbles

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


From: Samrah <auntie_samrah at yahoo.com>


Fennel is also an excellent diuretic (Lawless, Enc. of Essential Oils,

IBSN 1-85230-311-5, p. 97), and from personal experience.



Yeah, that's one I learned the hard way.  A friend did "Fenkel in Sops"  

at a feast once.  I found it delightful, and had seconds ... and thirds ...


On the way home the next day, I personally inspected every rest area  

between Albuuerque and Denver ... and the rest rooms of a few fast  

food joints, too. :)


<sigh> <grin> My friend Rivka still razzes me about that trip.



(experimental learning, what's that?!?)



Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 10:32:16 -0700 (PDT)

From: Louise Smithson <helewyse at yahoo.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] fennel and orange salad

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


I don't have my books here at work (caveat out of the way), however,  

I will post the appropriate references later.


   The book on Italian food (Italian Cuisine: A cultural history,  

Capatti et al) indicates that sweet or fleshy fennel was actually a  

food that was starting to spread in Italy in the mid to late 16th  



   I have the book on geography of food crops at home and as far  as  

I remember it also indicated that bulb/florence/fleshy fennel is a  

16th century crop.  Before then you have the herb type fennel which  

has much less flesh at the base and is mostly stalks with flowers/seeds.

   The salads in Scappi menus for the most part are often single  

item, not compound salads.  So you find salad of asparagus, salad of  

fennel, salad of lettuce etc.  Also there is call for a salad of sour  

oranges dressed with sugar and rosewater, think plate of sliced  

oranges with yummy stuff on.


   There is interestingly a book on salads (Archidopero overo  

dell'insalata) which was published just out of SCA period (1615)  

which covers salads quite comprehensively and has a lot to say about  

what you dress your salad with.


   Now in this book the acids with which you dress your salad vary  

dependent upon the time of year and what you are dressing.

   All salads are dressed with salt and olive oil,

   Acid choices are verjuice, sour orange juice, vinegar,

   Sweet notes may be added by adding mosto cotto.

   Now I cannot tell you what the choice is for fennel (because I  

haven't looked it up yet), however the choice for asparagus is a  

dressing consisting of sour orange juice, salt and olive oil.  I have  

tried this it is a really good combination.


   The dressing combination for roasted onions is vinegar, mosto  

cotto, pepper, salt and oil, also excellent.


   That said I expect that sour orange juice dressing is also one of  

the ones suggested for fennel.  (please note that I have not looked  

it up yet).  So a fennel and orange salad is possible in period BUT  

it is likely not fennel and chunks of sour orange as much as fennel  

served with sour orange dressing.


   I'll follow up later tonight when I have my references handy.





Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 14:33:23 -0400

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] salad of fennel and seville oranges?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Liber de coquina uses fennel (f(o)eniculum) as a vegetable, so I'd say fleshy

> fennel exists by then (probably not quite as flesh as our bulbs, but fleshy

> nonetheless). That gives us very early 14th c, with probable antecedents in

> the 13th (the book dates to 1310 and is believed to be a translation of an

> earlier text).


Forme of Cury refers to 'blades' of fennel:


"Fenkel In Soppes. XX.III. XVII. Take blades of Fenkel. shrede hem not

to smale, do hem to seeþ in water and oile and oynouns mynced þerwith.

do þerto safroun and salt and powdour douce, serue it forth, take brede

ytosted and lay the sewe onoward."


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 17:51:34 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] salad of fennel and seville oranges?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Both the Greeks and the Romans used fennel for seed and vegetable.  The

fleshy, bulbous base probably wasn't present.  This is very likely to be the

wild form of the plant known as "bitter fennel." References in Atheneaus,

Columella, Plautus, and Apicius.


Sweet fennel first appears in Charlemagne's order as to what to grow in his

gardens.  It is probably a cultivated variety of the wild fennel,

specifically grown for its better flavor when young.


Florence fennel, the bulbous fennel in supermarkets, has a reference or two

that place it not earlier than the 17th Century.




> Does anyone have within easy reach any info on the anise/bulb variety  of

> fennel? Seems to me that medieval varieties may have been non-fleshy, of

> the sort that the French use today in dried form as a seasoning herb for

> fish dishes...


> I'll have to dig out a few books. I guess Tacuinum Sanitatis is  

> the  place to start.


> Adamantius



Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 09:55:09 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Fresh  fennel

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Nov 20, 2006, at 9:41 AM, Sue Clemenger wrote:


> It reminds me of celery, Stefan, but with an alien touch to it. The upper

> ends of the stalks are definitely frond-y, kind of like fresh dill weed.

> I'm not overly fond of the flavor, but I've used it a few times as a finely

> chopped ingredient in something like a vegetarian lasagna, so I can

> definitely see using it in other things if one liked the flavor.  I suspect

> that if I used it as often as Cordelia, I'd probably try drying the frond

> bits thoroughly, and then crumbling them and saving them for future use as

> an herb/flavoring (like dill weed).  Not sure how much flavor it

> would/wouldn't have in the dried form, but I can imagine that it would be

> pleasant in herb breads, or in some chicken or fish dishes, or as a garnish.

> --Maire


FWIW, dried fennel stalks and fronds (albeit wild, generally)  are a

classic French seasoning for fish dishes... it ain't bouillabaisse

without it.




<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