Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hello again everyone! I have some exciting new books to share with you! The first is a facsimile edition of William Turner’s A New Herball. This was first published in its first part in 1551, the second and third parts coming later. A New Herball is “the very first genuine attempt to identify scientifically, in English, the plants which were of medical use to everyone.”[1] (I strongly encourage students to borrow this book from our library sometime and thumb-through its beautiful illustrations!) I was able to get a lot of good information from this book. As I found out, late medieval doctors were having some of the same trouble that I’ve run into when tracking down sources for our herbal: They could not read Latin fluently. They could not benefit directly from the masters of ancient times, and so they had to rely on word-of-mouth.[2] The need was becoming greater and greater for a compilation of plants’ identification and medical uses, in English, that one physician and botanist finally composed it.[3] The editors also urge us to think of the potential dangers of someone administering medicine or care without knowing what exactly they’re doing![4]

So, this book contains precise descriptions of the plant, and then how to prepare a remedy. For example, “the juice [of oregano] drunken with wine will remedy the bitings of serpents.”[5]

William Turner: A New Herball The front page of William Turner’s 1551 herbal

The second book I have is more ‘just for fun’ although it does tie in nicely to the uses of a medieval garden. The Goodman of Paris was “a rich French landowner” who compiled a little book for his new wife of 15.[6] Included in this was a book of recipes, which Maggie Black has modernized (exact measurements and cooking times were not included in the 14th century) and one of which I include here!

Have fun making this dish from the Middle Ages and I’ll see you later at the Heraldic Garden!

Cabbage chowder
1 ¼ lbs firm-hearted cabbage or 1 ½  lbs open-hearted cabbage or spring greens
8 oz. onions, peeled and finely chopped
8 oz. white part of leeks, thinly sliced into rings
Teaspoon dried saffron strands
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each ground coriander, cinnamon, sugar
3 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock

“The Goodman of Paris has quite a lot to say about cabbages, from the small spring shoots for salads, to the frost-bitten winter leaves; only his recommendation to boil cabbages all morning is best ignored when dealing with a modern vegetable.
            This recipe will make a main-course soup for supper if you add sippets of toast and fried bacon--both well-known medieval additions.
            If using a firm-hearted cabbage, cut it into eight segments and remove the center core. If using open-hearted cabbage or greens, cut off the stalks and cut the leaves into strips. Put into a large pan with prepared onions and leeks. Stir the saffron, salt and spices into the stock, adjusting the amount of salt if required. Cook gently, covered, for about 20 min. or until segments of firm cabbage are tender,”[7]

[1] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner A New Herball, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Anne Van Arsdall stresses the importance of “the unwritten text” in apprenticeship traditions to the practice of medieval medicine. Van Arsdall, Anne, “Reading Medieval Medical Texts with an Open Mind.” In Textual Healing: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Medicine Ed. Furdell, Elizabeth Lane, Koninklijke; Brill, 2005.  I wonder if the rampant danger caused by this was itself caused in large part by the exclusion of women from the practice of medicine. 
[5] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner A New Herball, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
[6] Black, Maggie, The Medieval Cookbook, Los Angeles: Getty Publishers, 2012.
[7] Ibid.

No comments:

Post a Comment