[Artemisia] An Odd query for the True History Wonks

LadyPDC at aol.com LadyPDC at aol.com
Mon Dec 15 22:05:43 CST 2003

In a message dated 12/15/2003 7:46:32 PM Mountain Standard Time, 
glchrist at srv.net writes:
Thoughts?  Do trends with cookbooks or in other areas
shed light?

Abbastanza Buon Non E Abbastanza Buono
bapadget at yahoo.com
(Who someday may gain the patience to leave a theory
in the oven until it's fully baked.)
One which comes to mind in English cookbooks is the one somewhat titled 
"Forme of Curry" or "15th Century Cookbook"  (sorry my mind is a bit fuzzy on 
medication right now so the titles may not be exact).

The basic history behind these books is that the group of cooks preparing 
dishes for a certain English king followed tradition when the group broke up 
after many years and each took copies of the recipes they wanted.  Many years 
later (and under a different reign) some of those cooks and their kin got together 
and reunited some of those recipes.   Many many years later (in the late 1600 
and 1700's I think) a project was put together to put back together as many 
of these recipes as possible.  

If you read these books carefully, you find some recipes referred to that no 
longer exist except by reputation.   You also find several recipes for the 
same thing but with slightly different ingredients or preparations.  Some of this 
occurred because the original cooks took the recipes and then made slight 
changes based on local tastes or available ingredients.  Where there are these 
similarities, the recipe in it's most common form is listed with footnotes 
giving the variations in different manuscripts.

The best example (and the reason I know about this) is the recipe for 
"Salat".  This is really a basic salad.  Some of the ingredient differences I found 
could be attributed to taste, but, when I checked availability it all came 
clear.  The majority of the variations had to do with the season in which the 
salad would be prepared and what growing things would be available in England 
during that season.

So, yes, cookbooks bear you out in some of your assumptions.  You might also 
want to add in the fact that actually researching and compiling information 
seems to have become more popular with the upper class masses in England in the 
late 1600's and onward.  Popularity has much to do with what is both done and 
retained.  Though many things may have been done, invented, practiced, etc. in 
period, I suspect that such were not recorded or compiled until research and 
such became a popular noble past-time which, unfortunately, did not happen 
until post period.



"Never say a thing's impossible
For chances are you'll rue it.
Because some fool who doesn't know,
Will come along and do it."
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