Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hi everyone! I have a fun, ‘new’ recipe for you to try! It’s from a guide and cookbook put together by the Goodman of Paris, an “upright French landowner of sixty,” for his young wife, who would be entering into his household at 15 years old.[1] The whole guide itself was written in the late 14th century, and includes instructions on how to manage the household affairs, an herbal section and recipes “taken from books in his library.”[2] It does sound like an invaluable record of life for the upper-middle class of France at this time, and I would be very happy to see his section on plants and their uses for our herbal. But for now, this recipe I’m going to give you has the, perhaps misleading, name of pottage, but it is NOT every-day peasant fare, rather, this recipe is for a “genteel dish,” as Maggie Black calls it, because it uses fine white bread, wine and “precious white sugar.”[3] The instructions are very detail and thorough, ranging in subjects from issues with the servants to shopping. I guess he wanted her to get it right…well, he meant well anyway, and we get a yummy recipe from it too! Enjoy!

“Cherry pottage                            Wash the cherries and discard the
2 lbs fresh ripe red cherries                                                   stems and stones. Purée the fruit in a
1 ½ cups red wine                                                                   blender with 10 tablespoons of the
6 oz. white sugar                                                                    wine and half the sugar. Add more
2 oz. unsalted butter                                                               wine if needed. Melt the butter in a
8 oz. soft white bread crumbs                                                      saucepan, add the fruit purée, bread-
Pinch of salt                                                                            crumbs, and remaining wine and
                                                                                                sugar, and the salt. Simmer, stirring
Flower heads of small clove pinks                                        steadily, until the purée is very thick.  
or gilded whole cloves (Soluble gold gouache                      Pour in a serving bowl, cover and let
can be used to gild the tops of whole cloves,                                    cool. When quite cold, decorate the
but do not bite them; they stun the taste-buds)                      edge of the bowl with flowers or
                                                                                                [gilded] cloves. And sprinkle coarse
Course white sugar for sprinkling                                         sugar over the center.”[4]

Maggie Black finishes off this yummy recipe by telling us that “any hostess, married or not, would enjoy showing off this pretty recipe.”[5]

[1] Black, Maggie, The Medieval Cookbook, Los Angeles: Getty Publishers, 2012.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid. emphasis added. Also, see my blog on carnations and John Harvey's article "Gillyflower and Carnation" for more discussion on clove pinks. 
[5] Ibid. 
Image appears with recipe in The Medieval Cookbook. 'European Columbines and Sweet Cherry' from Mira calligraphiae monumenta, Joris Hoefnagel, Vienna, Austria, 1291-96. Watercolors, gold and silver paint and ink on parchment. 

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