I found this fabulous cookbook online – it dates from  the 15th century, was re-transcribed in 1862 with an added preface and a index, and it’s a cook book written in prose, in, (according to the preface), a Northern dialect probably around the time of Henry VI. I find the most amazing things online. Here is a recipe from the book for Nombuls, which some say is the origin for our expression “Humble Pie”. Nombuls being deer intestines, I believe.

Nombuls.
Take tho hert and tho mydruv and the kydnere,
And hew hom smalle, as I the lere;
Presse oute the blode, wasshe hom thou schalle,
Sethe hom in water and in gode ale;
Coloure hit with brende bred or with blode;
Fors hit with peper and canel gode,
Sett hit to tho fyre, as I the telle in tale;
Kele hit with a litelle ale,
And set hit downe to serve in sale.

From what I gather – heart, intestine, kidneys chopped fine. Press out the blood and wash well. Simmer (or set?) in water and good ale. Color with burnt bread or blood, season with pepper and good cinnamon, set on the fire, kill it with a little ale (I’m thinking maybe cool it with some ale? And serve in sale means serve in the hall! It’s quite fun to try to work out the meaning – will our writing seem so obscure in 500 years?

Pages  22 & 23 have lots of chicken recipes – Henne, chekyns etc.

One chicken recipe sounds good – scald the chicken (scalde the chekyn fair and clene!)  and stuff with parsley sage ‘other herbs’ and green grapes, steep in wine, then boil in good broth. Color with saffron – and “cast peron powder dowce” which I have no idea what could be – it’s “for to be served in good mennys howse” (a popular dish?)

Another recipe calls for boiling pheasants and partridges. (I’m guessing boiling was a popular means of cooking). The pheasants and partridges were to be boiled in a “goode brothe” of ale, flour, pepper and good quality whole cinnamon sticks. Then more “powder dowce” to be cast upon it before serving. Dowce being sweet – it’s sprinkled with a sweet powder (sugar?) – reminds me of the excellent Moroccan pigeon pie, which is served sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Other expressions I love, that are no longer in use: swongen eggs (beaten eggs); playand water (boiling water); play (boil); cowche (lay) – there is an index in the back with definitions – all in all, a wonderful book!

 

 

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