12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

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Brother Ranulf
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12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:19 am

Work is apparently well under way on a cook book derived from the discovery earlier this year of food recipes in a medical text currently held at Cambridge University (Sidney Sussex MS 51). The manuscript came from Durham cathedral priory and dates to the 1160 - 1180 period; although some early reports dated it to 1140, the text style, the ligatures and abbreviations are clearly from the last third of the century. I have seen an example of the original text and the later dating looks more correct to me.

The food section starts with the Latin text (in extremely abbreviated form): Incipiunt diversa genera pictavensium salsamentorum (here begin different kinds of Poitevin sauces), clearly placing the origin of the recipes in the Poitou duchy which passed to English control on the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in 1152.

The recipes cover meat and fish dishes served with some very tangy-sounding sauces, including lamb served with a sauce made from costmary (a member of the mint family). The emphasis is firmly on herbs, garlic, pepper, salt and vinegar - exactly as described by Alexander Neckham in his own writings of around 1180.

The writer(s) of the manuscript remain unknown, but there is some speculation that it was the work of two surgeon/physicians, hence the strong medical content with food included as an aid to a healthy constitution rather than as a strictly culinary exercise. It is obvious that the recipes were aimed at the top end of the social structure, with the emphasis heavily on meat dishes.

I have heard that the book will be titled Zingiber (ginger), but this is unconfirmed.
Last edited by Brother Ranulf on Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:35 am

Very interesting, thanks for raising this. Please let us know if a publication date becomes apparent.

Brother Ranulf wrote:including lamb served with a sauce made from costmary (a member of the mint family). .
...which contains substantial levels of beta-thujone, which might be one of the reasons it was used to flavour beer (hence one of it's other names, alecost). I have plenty of it in the herbarium, goes nicely in Pimms.

It's not a mint though.


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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:49 am

Quite right Matt, it's an asterid like chrysanthemum and daisy. That comes from relying too much on press releases - one of them tried to liken the 12th century recipe to modern mint sauce ( :D ). I have challenged several other false elements in the University's press statements on this story, which seem to get more garbled as they spread in blogs and elsewhere.


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:35 am

The book is now available at Amazon for pre-order, with a publication date of 1 September 2014:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zinziber-Twelft ... s=zinziber


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:11 pm

Well, I am really taken aback by developments on this. The original publication date has already been put back at least twice (now July 2015 according to the publisher's website) - but I just received a message from Amazon to say they have cancelled the order:

Unfortunately, we’re no longer able to offer this item for sale. Our supplier has informed us that it's been discontinued and is no longer
available. You may find that it's still available from third-party Sellers on Amazon.co.uk Marketplace but I'm afraid we can't source stock
from these Sellers.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope to see you again soon.


I would really like to get to the bottom of this (watch this space . . . ), I have never seen anything like it before. A real blow for everyone waiting to obtain a copy.


Brother Ranulf



"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:28 pm

I have been in touch with the publisher (Prospect Books) who tell me that the delay in production is due to one of the writing team being taken seriously ill. I will not go into details, but it certainly explains the repeated delays.

They say that the new publication date is expected to be July 2015 and the book can be pre-ordered direct from them at:
https://prospectbooks.co.uk/products-pa ... om-poitou/

That's the route I will be taking.


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Medicus Matt » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:19 pm

Thanks for the update Br. R.


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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Eve » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:05 am

Thanks for that Dave. I have pre-ordered it from Amazon but haven't yet had that email.



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Re: 12th Century Cook Book "In the Works"

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:13 am

Having followed developments on the publication of this book over the past three years, it has today been confirmed to me by Catheryn Kilgarriff at Prospect Books that publication of "Zinziber: Sauces from Poitou" has now sadly been cancelled. I am aware of the reason and suffice it to say that there was no alternative.

I am very dejected about this and I know that many people interested in 12th century recipes and manuscripts will be equally disappointed.


Brother Ranulf



"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138


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