Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium

substitutions-msg



This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

substitutions-msg - 3/7/05

 

Comments and guidelines for substituting ingredients in period recipe.

 

NOTE: See also the files: humorl-theory-msg, humorl-theory-bib, Redacting-art, redacting-msg, The-Saucebook-art, fasts-msg, vegetarian-msg.

 

************************************************************************

NOTICE -

 

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: Wed, 19 Apr 2000 21:51:06 +0200

From: "Cindy M. Renfrow" <cindy at thousandeggs.com>

Subject: SC - Re: substitutions

 

Here are a few quick examples.  Sorry I haven't time now to search for more.

 

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers - lxxxviij.  Mammenye bastarde. - "...&

.ij. galouns of Wyne or Ale..."

 

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers - Cxxiij.  Strawberye. - "...a-lay it with

Amyndoun o[th]er with [th]e flowre of Rys..."

 

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers - Cxxxij.  Sauke Sarsoun. - "...frye hem

in oyle o[th]er in grece..."

 

Laud MS. 553 - 10 Saug saraser. - "...lie it with amydon or with flour de

rys..."

 

Harleian MS. 279 - Potage Dyvers - Cl.  Cawdel out of lente. - "...bynd hym

vppe with fflour [of] Rys, o[th]er with whetyn floure, it is no fors..."

 

Harleian MS. 279 - Leche Vyaundez - lxiiij.  Towres. - "... [3]if [th]ou

wolt, a litel so[th]e Porke or vele y-choppid..."

 

Harleian MS. 4016 - 182 Chared coneys, or chardwardon. - "... And if thou

lust to make it white, leue the hony, And take so moch sugur, or take part

of [th]e one and part of [th]e o[th]er..."

 

Cindy

 

 

Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 09:57:14 -0400

From: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Substitution - Response

 

The problem with substitutions, as has been said before, is that we basicly

don't understand what and why a Medieval Cook might have substituted.

 

Problem the first:

 

We are so used to a wide availability of different foods in all seasons,

that it is often difficult for us to remember that they might not have had

access to, say, strawberries to mix with their apples. This includes their

meats. Harvesting of certain items was done at certain times of the year,

and they had no choice. While we can get veal calves or lamb year round,

this does not mean that they could, so in order to serve something out of

season, we need to know that they had it available out of season, at least

occasionally.

 

Problem the Second

 

Their health theories, regarding the balance of the humors, are very

different from our modern theories regarding the balances of flavors and

nutrition. If we were to substitute, for, say, a sweet spice which we didn't

have, we would perhaps substitute another sweet spice- cinnamon for nutmeg,

for example. They might well have had a completely different idea. If the

original spice was three degrees of warm in order to compensate for a food

which was considered three degrees of cool, they'd have substituted

something else which was considered three degrees of warm, rather than

something which was considered two degrees of damp. Their basic idea was to

either provide a "balanced" food, which might be readily "digestible" by

everyone, or to provide a group of foods, in which one might be damp, one

might be cool, one might be dry, and one might be warm.

 

The reason for sticking to the exact recipes and menus they produced is to

get an understanding for how they balanced their foods and menus, and how

far they might have allowed a particular food's humor to be out of balance.

 

We do the same sort of things today, just from a different point of view.

How many of us enjoy a cold beer with a bowl of hot chili? Or a dry red wine

with a beef roast? As good as that tastes to us, a Medieval person might

well have wanted a different, sweeter wine, to balance the perceived hot,

dry nature of mature beef.

 

Phlip

 

Philippa Farrour

Caer Frig

Southeastern Ohio

 

 

Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 20:51:29 -0400

From: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Substitution- long

 

Balthazar skrev:

>Is there proof that a medieval cook would have substituted fish for duck,

>rather than chicken, or is this merely conjecture?

 

Then, Allison skrev:

>SAUCE TO BOIL IN PIES OF YOUNG WILD DUCK, DUCKLING, YOUNG RABBIT >OR WILD

>RABBIT. Take lots of good cinnamon, ginger, clove, grains, half a nutmeg

>and mace, galingale, and grind very well, and soak in half verjuice and

>half vinegar, and the sauce should be clear. ...

 

OK, Balthazar, this is exactly what I'm talking about. When I was using the

image of subbing in fish for duck, I was speaking hypothetically about the

matter, which, rather than exchanging one bird for another, as we as modern

people would tend to do, we might find Medieval folk exchanging a food item,

fish, which, being of the element, Water, for a bird, a duck, which again,

might be attibuted to the element of Water, regardless of our modern

taxonomic definitions. Instead, Allison provides us with a recipe in which

rabbits are considered interchangeable with ducks. Why? I don't know, but

this is a perfect example of why our modern logic might avail us naught in

attempting to use substitutions for the ingredients specified.

 

Thanks, Allison, I owe you one ;-) You definitely saved me some research and

typing.

 

Phlip

 

Philippa Farrour

Caer Frig

Southeastern Ohio

 

 

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 14:40:59 EDT

From: CBlackwill at aol.com

Subject: SC - Documented Substitutions (Long)

 

Greetings to this fair assembly,

 

I was asked if I would post a list of the "documentable" substitutions I have

come across, so here is a sample.  Bear in mind that these are just a few....

 

Le Menagier de Paris (pp 159) 'Cretonnee of new peas or Fava beans': "For

another Liaison you can use crushed peas or fava beans. But you can use the

Liaison you like best."

 

Le Menagier de Paris (same recipe):  "  When it is ready, you should prepare

some pieces of young chicken, veal or goose giblets...."

 

Liber de Coquina 'Of Lasagne' :   " And, if you like, you can also add good

powdered spices and powder them on them..."

 

Libra de arte coquinaria - 'Ravioli for Meat Days' : "...and a libra of fat

hog's tripe or calfs' head...<snip> ...and if you add the chopped breast of a

capon, so much the better...<snip> ...You can make ravioli with breast of

pheasant, partridge, and other birds"  (this is the first recipe I came

across with actual substitution suggestions in the recipe itself.  It seems

to validate my belief that medieval cooks regularly substituted one meat for

another, and not necessarily because of humoral theory)

 

Le Menagier de Paris - ' White Poree' :  "...served with pork loin,

andouille, or ham on meat days in autumn and winter...<snip> ...put them to

cook in a pot with the water from salt meat or with pork and pork

fat...<snip> ...sometimes a bread liaison is made for the leeks." (note:  

this recipe suggests a lot of substitutions for days of abstinence)

 

Le Menagier de Paris - 'Green poree for days of abstinence' :  "...And at the

bottom of the bowl, under the poree, put some salted or fresh butter, or

cheese or curd, or aged verjuice."

 

Libro della cucina del secolo - ''Of little leaves' : "...These herbs,

finely pounded in a mortar, if chopped fish or meat is added, can be made

into mortadella or comandelli and many other things; to make this, you can

use cultivated plants, or wild ones if you cannot get garden plants."  (This

recipe then goes on to list at least five variations of the same recipe,

which indicates that it is a very versatile dish, and often used as a

foundation for creating other dishes, much the way a modern cook would.)

 

Libro de arte coquinaria - ' Fresh Fava beans with meat broth' :  "...And you

can do the same with peas or any other fresh vegetable, but note that they

should not be skinned with hot water like fava beans..."  (question:  In

humoral theory, were all vegetables considered to have the same properties,

as this recipe makes no mention of it, and seems to treat all vegetables

generically?)

 

Libro della cucino del secolo - 'Civet of Hare or other Meat':  "...The same

can be done with partridges.." (This would seem to back up Huette's comments

that medieval cooks classified meats differently than we do today.  But

again, was this due to humoral theory, or rather a similarity in the flavor

and affinity for certain cooking styles?  I'm still researching this)

 

Libro de arte coquinaria - 'To make a game-meat civet' : ...then add plenty

of ginger and cinnamon so that it be mild or strong according to the

collective taste, or to that of your master..." (This seems to illustrate

quite plainly that the recipe is very flexible, based upon the persoanl likes

and dislikes of the diners, or the lord of the manor.  The recipe itself does

not indicate which meat to use, and so leaves this wide open to the cook.  It

is merely, like most of these recipes, a guideline from which to work.)

 

Liber de Coquina - 'Limonia' :...When the time to serve nears, add the juice

of lemons, limes or bitter oranges."

 

Libro della cucina del secolo - 'Saracen Brodo': "...You can use a similar

method for sea fish.  You can put apples and pears in these brodi."  (Again,

much room for variation on the theme, and not a rigid, lock-step production

schedule)

 

These are just a few I have noticed.  I have plenty more, if anyone is

interested.  Again, I understand the concern for stepping too far away from

the documented recipes, but this does illustrate my point that, indeed, the

medieval cook was not as bound by the recipe as the list seems to think.  

Those who are in this for pure research will, of course, not be willing to

make any assumptions from this, and I understand the reasoning.  But, for

those adventurous few who are, I hope this helps.

 

Balthazar of Blackmoor

 

 

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 13:45:28 -0700

From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>

Subject: Re: SC - Documented Substitutions (Long)

 

"catwho at bellsouth.net" wrote:

> > Libra de arte coquinaria - 'Ravioli for Meat Days' :  "...and a libra of fat

> > hog's tripe or calfs' head...<snip> ...and if you add the chopped breast of

> > a capon, so much the better...<snip> ...You can make ravioli with breast of

> > pheasant, partridge, and other birds" (this is the first recipe I came

> > across with actual substitution suggestions in the recipe itself.  It seems

> > to validate my belief that medieval cooks regularly substituted one meat for

> > another, and not necessarily because of humoral theory)

>

> But notice though that they aren't substituting beef for fowl.  They

> list a series of different fowl that would be appropriate.  Probably

> if calf wasn't available they might  have used lamb (or vice versa)

>  Small game such as rabbit might be substituted for other small game

> animals.  Make sense?  So you wouldn't substitute beef for pheasant.

This is quite like what I have been thinking.

 

While I was making lunch I had a sudden flash of... something- I don't

know what really. Here goes-

 

There are many ways to make meatloaf. One of my cookbooks has three

different recipes on the same page. You can use onions or not, tomato

sauce or not, you can use hamburger or a combination of beef and pork,

you can even put ketchup on top. And you can use breadcrumbs or oatmeal

for filler.

 

These illustrate a great variety of variations for what is in essence

the same recipe (reminds me a little of bukenade and the 8 bazillion

ways to make it!). However- these variations can't necessarily transfer

to other recipes. For instance, you can use either oatmeal or

breadcrumbs in you meatloaf. But you can't then turn around and use the

meatloaf as rationale to substitute breadcrumbs for the oats in your

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Well, you could, but it would no longer

be an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie! It would be something else and it

doesn't sound all that yummy to me.

 

Some recipes say to use fish or fowl. But the bukenade recipe doesn't

list fish as one of the alternatives. If you make it with fish it will

be different, and it won't be Bukenade. I don't find this limiting-

because there are so many recipes for fish, that there really is no need

to change a chicken recipe.

 

Is that any more clear?

 

'Lainie

 

 

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 11:21:29 -0400

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Documented Substitutions (Long)

 

The Issue, Balthazar, rests on knowlege and certainty.

A supposition adds a degree of uncertainty to any postulate.

 

If we are trying to be accurate, we should eschew supposition as far

as possible. This means trying to stay with substitutions we KNOW to have been made. That is, IF we are trying to be accurate.

 

Many of are trying to do that, and so, the issue is not "do we know that

substitutions were made?".  I think we have fairly well established that

substitutions were made.  The REAL ISSUE is "What substitutions do we KNOW were made?". Any substitutions that did not appear in the corpus of period recipes cannot  correctly be said to be KNOWN as having been done

 

Look at it like Archery...

If I am trying to consistently hit a target, I will try to eliminate or account for all the variables. Shooting in a dark room unnecessarily adds a level of

uncertainty.

 

If I want to cook as much like a period cook as I can, I'll stick to

the recipes and substitutions that I KNOW come from the period corpus

of recipes.

 

Adding additional substitutions that MAY have been done, but which

I cannot be sure of, removes a level of certainty, and the likelyhood that

the meal I am making would have been _actually_ served in period to

period eaters goes from say 90% to say 50%, and decreases more with

each change I make that I cannot be sure was made in period.

 

Would a Period cook have departed form the period recipe as written?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I don't _know_ for sure.

That is the point.

 

I DO know that at least one period cook used the Recipe as written.

Since that is all I can actually verify, that is as far as I can go and still

be sure.  

So If I want to serve a meal that I can prove was served in period, I

have to stick to the period recipes and any substitutions called for in them.

 

If I want to serve food and don't care about making it "Documentably

Period" (as you might say) I can make such substitutions as I feel the

recipe merits.

 

But such a meal cannot be said to be just like one served in period.

It might be, but then again, it might not. I can't be sure.

It might be made in the same _style_ as one served in period, but that

is not the same thing.

 

Depends on what level of uncertainty you consider acceptable for the

menu you are doing.  

 

brandu

 

 

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 21:21:22 EDT

From: allilyn at juno.com

Subject: SC - Re: Substitutions

 

Here's a substitution for a visual reason, I believe. It's in

 

Redon, Odile; Sabban, Francoise; Serventi, Silvano . THE MEDIEVAL

KITCHEN.  Schneider, Edward., translator.  The University of Chicago

Press, Chicago & London. 1998.  ISBN 0-226-70684-2.

 

#39.  Seyme' of Veal

Grave' or seyme' is a winter potage.  Peel onions and cook them all cut

up, then fry them in a pot; now you should have your chicken split down

the back and browned on the grill over a charcoal fire; and the same if

it is veal; then you must cut the meat into pieces if it is veal, or in

quarters if it is a chicken, and put it into the pot with the onions,

then take white bread browned on the grill and soaked in broth made from

other meat; then crush ginger, cloves, grains of paradise, and long

pepper, moisten them with verjuice and wine without straining this, and

set aside; then crush the bread and put it through a sieve, and add it to

the brouet, strain everything, and boil; then serve.   Menagier de Paris

151.

 

"The recipe gives us the choice of chicken or veal; we have chosen the

latter.  Here, seyme' is given as the equivalent of grave'; for the

moment we have nothing to add on this matter of terminology."  p. 93.

 

What I have to add is that I think he is going for the effect that is

produced by a seyme' in heraldic illustration.  Reading through the

recipe, the brouet is going to be a deep brown, and the chicken and veal

are both white or light meats.  Even though browned on the grill (for

humoral reasons, I think, as they are both moderately warm and moist)

they are then cut up and the light flesh would stand out against the

brown broth.  

 

How does this sound to the rest of you?  If I'm right, then we have

another reason for making possible substitutions.  Even more visually

effective if the meat were cut into dice sized pieces, as might have been

done in a feast kitchen rather than a home kitchen--labor intensity.  I'd

serve this in a wide, shallow soup dish, to let the light meat peek out

of the brown brouet.

 

BTW, someone mentioned substituting pork for beef.  Don't think that

would have happened: beef was hot and dry, pork was cold and moist.  By

the time you changed the cooking methods and the liquids, seasonings and

sauces, you had a different recipe.

 

Allison,     allilyn at juno.com

 

 

Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 13:26:29 -0500

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: SC - Substitutions

 

About a month ago (which is how far I am behind on the list), Ras and

Balthazar were discussing substititions and Ras wrote:

 

>Is such a list of substitutions available? More importantly are there any

>manuscripts which give details about exactly how a period cook would have

>substituted and what would have been substituted for what? I am only aware of

>specific substitutions detailed in specific recipes.

 

The closest equivalent of this that I know of is Chiquart's cookbook,

_Du Fait de Cuisine_ (15th c. French. by the chief cook of the Duke

of Savoy). Unlike all other period cookbooks I know of, it is largely

the plan for a particular feast: sort of "this is how you would do

the biggest feast anyone would want to do". He gives a complete set

of recipes for a large two-course meat-day feast, with many dishes in

each course. Then, with the comment that at such a feast there will

be many noble lords and ladies who are not eating meat, he gives a

parallel menu for the equivalent fish-day feast, so that for each

meat-based dish in the first set of recipes, there is a fish or other

non-meat version in the second set of recipes. If I wanted one place

at which to look to see just what substitutions were done for the

constraints imposed by medieval fast-day rules, this is it.

 

To answer another comment in the same thread, I would disagree with

Balthazar that it is obvious to us what substitutions a medieval cook

would have used when he needed to for some reason; to use his

example, I can't think of any period recipes where walnuts are

suggested as a possible substitution for almonds--but I remember one

place where hazelnut milk is suggested as an alternative to almond

milk, which would never have occurred to me. I think when you have to

subtitute or guess, it is worth going to some trouble to find similar

recipes that give you an indication what substitutes would have been

used or what "good spicery" would have consisted of.

 

Elizabeth/Betty Cook

 

 

Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 08:55:10 -0400

From: Gaylin <iasmin at home.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Substitutions

 

Elizabeth kindly wrote:

>I can't think of any period recipes where walnuts are

>suggested as a possible substitution for almonds-

 

I can. Platina (Milham's translation).

 

"Garlic Sauce with Walnuts or Almonds. Add to

semicrushed almonds or nuts as much as you

want of clean garlic, and grind best at the same

time, as is sufficient, sprinkling continually with

a bit of water so it does not produce oil. Put into

the ground ingredients bread crumbs softened in

meat or fish stock, and grind again. If it seems too

hard, it can be easily softened in the same juice.

It will keep very easily to the time we mentioned

for mustard. My friend Callimachus is very greedy

for this dish, even though it is of little nourishment,

delays a long time in the stomach, dulls the vision

and warms the liver (Milham, pg. 359)"

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but this is in the

Miscellany, no? :)

 

Jasmine

Iasmin de Cordoba

iasmin at home.com

gwalli at infoengine.com

 

 

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] what are your thoughts on period-style food?

Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 10:30:48 -0500

From: Kirrily Robert <skud at infotrope.net>

 

Rosine wrote:

> For documentational purposes, I think recipes are very necessary - but I

> also keep in mind that medieval people ran out of supplies (at times), had

> too many of something going bad (at times), had personal tastes that

> determined the amounts of ingredients... and found that they preferred

> their version.

 

I've found heaps of substitutions recommended in the texts I've been

working with.  Common types are:

 

"Take a capon, or if you have no capon a chicken or some other fowl of

like size..."

 

"Take beef or mutton or any other meat..."

 

"Spinach and violet leaves or any other sweet herbs..."

 

"Or if it be Lent..." (substitute oil for butter, almonds/almond milk

for dairy/eggs, pea broth for meat broth, etc)

 

"... according to your master's taste" (usually used for spices, sugar,

and sharpness; sometimes you see "and make it sweet or sharp according

to your taste.")

 

"take marrow if you have it..."

 

I try to get a feel for what are usually acceptable substitutions or

modifications within the same cookbook, or similar cookbooks (eg, I'd

consider two late-16th century English cookbooks interchangeable in

this case), and use those in preference to totally made-up ones.

 

Katherine

--

Lady Katherine Rowberd (mka Kirrily "Skud" Robert)

Caldrithig, Skraeling Althing, Ealdormere

 

<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