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This book takes the reader on a gastronomic journey through the Middle Ages, offering not only a collection of medieval recipes, but a social history of the time. The fifty recipes, drawn from the earliest English cookbooks of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, are presented in two formats: the original middle English version and one adapted and tested for the modern cook.In a fascinating introduction, the author describes the range of available ingredients in medieval times and the meals that could be prepared from them—from simple daily snacks to celebratory feasts—as well as the preparation of the table, prescribed dining etiquette, and the various entertainments that accompanied elite banquets. Each chapter presents a series of recipes inspired by a historical event, a piece of literature, or a social occasion. Here we find descriptions of the grilled meats consumed by William the Conqueror’s invading forces; the pies and puddings enjoyed by the pilgrims in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales; and the more sumptuous fare served at royal feasts and Christmas celebrations. The author ends with a discussion of herbal recipes for various ailments. Beautifully illustrated with lively dining scenes from illuminated manuscripts and tapestries, this book serves up a delightful literary and visual repast for anyone interested in the history of food and dining.
The late Maggie Black was a food historian and freelance writer. She was the author of Food and Cooking in 19th Century Britain (English Heritage, 1985) and Medieval Cookery: Recipes and History (English Heritage, 2003).