DYKIP-Frid-Fd-art - 7/4/09
"Did You Know its Period? Part 4: Fried Foods" by HL Rowan Houndskeeper.
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
This article was first published in "The Barge", the newsletter of the Barony of Three Rivers, Calontir.
Did You Know its Period? Part 4: Fried Foods
by HL Rowan, Houndskeeper
They may not be good for you (or your New Year's Resolution to lose weight) but some of the most surprisingly "modern" medieval foods are the numerous items that wouldn't be out of place at a State Fair: Funnel Cakes, Donuts dripping in honey, Apple Fritters, Fried Apple Turnovers, Fried Cheese Sticks or Cheese Balls, Fried Cheese Curds, and more. Such deep fried foods are not at all calorie or cholesterol conscious, but you have to admit they taste good, and in these cases, all of them are period too.
It is always interesting to look at what appear to be variations of a single period recipe – either similar recipes from different cultures or a single recipe that has "evolved" over time in a single culture. This is a fun exercise that you can easily do with the two most readily available medieval cookbooks – Forme of Cury (14th century; available as part of Curye on Inglish); and Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks. Presented first in this article we have two similar recipes from these two sources that result in two different fried treats. The Cryspes of the 15th century recipe may have evolved from the Crispels recipe of the 14th century, but the later recipe results in funnel cakes, while the earlier recipe results in a fried pastry in honey that is similar to modern donuts.
Cryspes = Funnel Cakes
Modern recipes for funnel cakes typically sprinkle with confectioners (powdered) sugar. Although there is some evidence for a medieval "powdered" sugar – probably the finest white sugar available ground in a mortar and pestle then sifted – I suggest using plain white sugar for a more medieval dish. Also, even though the recipe says you should make your Cryspes by letting"thine batter run down by thine fingers into the chafer [pot]" – I recommend you use one of the suggested implements for a less messy endeavor (or make sure no one is watching you play with your food).
Crispels = Donuts
You'll notice that the original recipe for Crispels only calls for you to roll the pastry dough thin, but does not tell you how to make the dough. This is quite common in period manuscripts – there are rarely recipes for doughs. It seems it was just assumed that everyone knew how to make pastry dough and bread dough. The recipe I give in the redaction is just a suggestion - try your favorite pie or pastry dough as well. Just remember that (as I mentioned in the previous article) there was no baking power or baking soda in the time periods we re-create. Therefore you'll want to find a pastry recipe that doesn't use either of these, such as a pie dough or the sweet dough used for sopapillas (which is what the above dough is based on).
Frutours = Apple Fritters
The above is another example of a recipe that appears to have "evolved" between the 14th century Forme of Cury and the later Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks. Both clearly result in a dish similar to the modern Southern fried treat of apple fritters. However, the earlier recipe contains very little liquid for the batter and the somewhat odd (to modern tastes) addition to the batter of pepper and saffron, while the later recipe appears to use a very familiar beer batter. Note that different types of beer will change the flavor of your batter and your fritters quite a bit. You'll want to experiment with your various beer, stout, or ale brands (or homebrew) to obtain the batter that suits your own tastes (I tend to use cheap commercial beer).
To Fry Applepies = Fried Apple Turnovers
This recipe from a 1653 cookbook is slightly out of period for the SCA, but the results would be familiar to anyone who frequents either a County Fair or a fast food restaurant. Due to the rosewater, the resulting flavor of the fried pies is just different enough to modern tastes to be a pleasant surprise. And once again, as mentioned earlier, the original recipe just assumes that you know how to make pastry dough. Try experimenting with different types of pie dough to obtain the results that best suit your tastes (I use a simple oil pie crust recipe).
You can also "short-cut" this recipe by using canned apple pie filling and canned refrigerator biscuits. Simply flatten the biscuits, spoon filling into the center and fold over, pinching the edges to seal, then drop into hot oil to fry. This shortcut is certainly not what I would suggest for an experience in medieval cooking, but it is useful for when you are short on time, would like to serve a treat at a camping event, or have children helping you prepare your treats.
Dough to make pipes = Fried Cheese Balls
Pipefarces = Fried Cheese Sticks
To Make Curd-Cakes = Deep Fried Cheese Curds
Here is another opportunity to compare similar period recipes, this time across cultures. All three of the above recipes are for Deep Fried Cheese. The first is a 15th century Dutch recipe for fried cheese dough balls, the second is a French recipe for fried cheese sticks (as quoted in Cariadoc's Miscellany), and the third a slightly out of period English recipe for fried cheese curds.
Unless you are from Wisconsin or a few other places where fried cheese curds are a common tasty-but-bad-for-you snack, of these three period recipes the one that will feel most modern and familiar is the Pipefarces recipe. Note that although cheddar is suggested in the redaction, it is questionable if cheddar was a period type of cheese - a white cheese like mozzarella also works. However, the type of cheese can significantly affect the resulting end product - too moist a cheese results in soggy cheese sticks. So experiment a little with your favorite types of hard cheese to see which you like best.
The Dutch recipe was redacted by Lady Emeline de Moulineaux (Erin Mulanax) for the 2007 Lilies Taste of Calontir Table. The Pipefarces recipe was redacted by and is available in Cariadoc's Miscellany.
Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. Austin, Thomas. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trčbner & Co., 1888.
Wel ende edelike spijse: manuscript UB Gent 1035. translated by Christianne Muusers at http://www.coquinaria.nl/kooktekst/Edelikespijse0.htm
A True Gentlewomans Delight, 1653. As available via 17th Century English Recipes at http://www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec.html
Le Menagier de Paris, 1395. trans. Janet Hinson (Lady Mairoli Bhan); also translated as The Goodman of Paris, trans. Power and Coulton, As available via Cariadoc' Miscelleny.
Cariadoc's Miscellany: A Collection of Medieval Recipes, 9th edition. Cariadoc and Elizabeth (David Friedman and Betty Cook) at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/miscellany.html
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. CB Hieatt, B Hosington, and S Butler. University of Toronto Press, 1996.
Gode Cookery website at http://www.godecookery.com/godeboke/godeboke.htm
Medieval Cookery website at http://recipes.medievalcookery.com
Copyright 2009 by Teresa Roberts, 9900 Juniper Ct. St Louis MO 63123. <tkroberts at toast.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible 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.