A Miscellany - David D. Friedman

A Miscellany
Cariadoc and Elizabeth
(David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook)
(10th Edition)
Including as Part I
How to Milk an Almond
Stuff an Egg
And Armor a Turnip
A Thousand Years of Recipes
© David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook,
1988, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2011
ISBN 10: 1463789327
ISBN 13: 9781463789329
Copies may be purchased online from
If you wish to reproduce or reprint anything in this book, you may do so subject to the following conditions:
1. The material should be accompanied by a credit line giving the source and author.
2. Any article or recipe that is quoted must be quoted in full, with no changes, deletions, or additions.
3. If you are making more than 100 copies, you must first get permission from the author.
4. Recipes may be quoted on web pages, provided that the source is credited. We would appreciate a link to the online
version of this volume, at the URL below.
To the memory of
Marion Walke
Patri Pugliese
Terry Nutter
Mark Keller
This is the tenth edition of a collection
produced over the past forty years as part of
our activity in the Society for Creative
Anachronism, an organization of people who
do historical recreation from the Middle Ages
and Renaissance. It consists of three parts:
Part I contains more than 330 medieval
and renaissance recipes, giving for each the
original (or translation thereof) and how we do
it, along with articles on what ingredients were
available when, how to put on a medieval
feast, and related matters. The same material in
only slightly different form is also available
separately as: How to Milk an Almond, Stuff an
Egg, and Armor a Turnip: A Thousand Years
of Recipes.
The articles of Part II include discussions
of approaches to historical recreation, lessons
on how to creates the illusion of a medieval
storyteller speaking to a medieval audience,
detailed instructions for making armor, period
tents, furniture, and a period musical
instrument, and much more. In addition, period
short stories and anecdotes, mostly medieval
Islamic, are used as filler.
Part III contains poetry on a mix of
medieval and SCA topics and one story.
Readers who would like to see more of our
efforts, including links to the full text of
several period cookbooks, will find it at:
For more information on the SCA, and to
locate the nearest local group, see:
If you would like to discuss any of the
issues raised in the articles, exchange recipes,
volunteer to translate cookbooks, or
correspond with us on any other subject, our
address is:
David Friedman and Betty Cook
(Cariadoc and Elizabeth)
3806 Williams Rd.,
San Jose, CA 95117
Table of Contents
PART I: COOKING 1 SOURCES FOR RECIPES 1 EARLY PERIOD ............................................................. 1 ENGLISH/FRENCH 13TH-­‐15TH C. ........................... 1 ENGLISH 16TH-­‐17TH C. ............................................. 2 GERMAN ........................................................................ 2 ITALIAN, SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE ...................... 2 ISLAMIC AND INDIAN .................................................. 2 CHINESE ........................................................................ 3 OTHER ........................................................................... 3 INGREDIENTS 4 EUROPEAN DISHES 9 BREAD ........................................................................... 9 VEGETABLES ............................................................... 11 SEAFOOD ..................................................................... 19 SOUPS ........................................................................... 22 POULTRY ..................................................................... 25 MEAT DISHES ............................................................. 31 MEAT, CHEESE AND EGG PIES ................................. 40 DESSERTS, APPETIZERS, ETC. ................................. 46 DRINKS ........................................................................ 64 SAUCES ........................................................................ 65 PASTA, RICE, ETC. ...................................................... 68 MISCELLANEOUS ........................................................ 72 ISLAMIC DISHES 75 BREAD ......................................................................... 75 MEAT WITH SAUCE OR STEW .................................. 76 FRIED DISHES ............................................................. 93 DISHES WITH LEGUMES ............................................ 99 DISHES WITH GRAINS, BREAD, OR PASTA ......... 101 OVEN DISHES AND ROASTING .............................. 108 RELISHES & DIPS .................................................... 111 DESERTS ................................................................... 113 DRINKS ..................................................................... 125 ODDS AND ENDS ..................................................... 125 INDIAN DISHES 126 CHINESE DISHES 129 INDEX OF RECIPES 131 ADDITIONAL MATERIAL ON PERIOD COOKING 135 COOKING FROM PRIMARY SOURCES: SOME GENERAL COMMENTS ....................................... 135 LATE PERIOD AND OUT OF PERIOD FOODSTUFFS
............................................................................... 138 SCOTTISH OAT CAKES ............................................ 145 HILDEGARD VON BINGEN’S SMALL CAKES ........ 146 TO PREPARE A MOST HONORABLE FEAST ........ 147 TO MAKE A FEAST .................................................. 150 AN ISLAMIC DINNER .............................................. 155 HOW TO MAKE ARRACK ........................................ 157 A DINNER AT PENNSIC .......................................... 158 PART II: ARTICLES 159 ARTICLES WRITTEN IN PERSONA159 CONCERNING GEMSTONES .................................... 159 CONCERNING TREES AND THEIR FRUIT ............. 165 SOME RECEYPTES ................................................... 167 SOME RECEYTS ....................................................... 170 CONCERNING THE ARCHERY OF AL-­‐ISLAM ........ 172 AN EPISTLE .............................................................. 175 ARTICLES ABOUT PERSONA 177 CONCERNING A DREAM .......................................... 178 STAYING IN PERSONA AND OTHER THINGS ...... 179 CONCERNING KNIGHTHOOD ................................. 182 THE LITTLE THINGS ............................................... 182 SOME TRICKS ........................................................... 184 SOME SOURCES FOR ISLAMIC PERSONA ............. 185 ADJUSTING TO REALITY ......................................... 188 A DYING DREAM ..................................................... 189 THE ENCHANTED GROUND: A PROGRESS REPORT
............................................................................... 192 CONCERNING CONSISTENCY ................................. 195 MATTERS OF OPINION 197 IN DEFENSE OF AUTHENTICITY ........................... 197 CONCERNING CONTESTS ....................................... 199 CONCERNING THE C IN SCA ................................. 201 PEERS ERRANT ....................................................... 203 THE BARDIC ARTS: A COMMENT ........................ 205 NORSE RIDDLES ...................................................... 206 NO AUDIENCE .......................................................... 207 MEDIEVAL VS MEDIEVALISH ................................ 208 PERIOD SOLUTIONS ................................................ 210 WORDS AND THINGS .............................................. 212 TWO HUNDRED OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS .... 215 I HAVE SEEN THE PAST–AND IT WORKS .......... 217 COUNTIES: A PROPOSAL ....................................... 218 A LETTER ................................................................. 219 DECENTRALIZATION, DEMOCRACY, AND ALL THAT
.............................................................................. 223 HOW ANOTHER HOBBY IS ORGANIZED .............. 226 ANOTHER SORT OF LETTER ................................. 229 RIDDLES ................................................................... 229 MAKING STUFF 230 A 9TH-­‐CENTURY PUP TENT ................................. 230 MAKING A MEDIEVAL SINGLE-­‐POLE PAVILION 232 A PERIOD ROPE BED .............................................. 237 BUILDING A SIMPLE PERIOD TABLE ................... 240 THE CLUNY TABLE ................................................. 242 A PERIOD CHAIR ..................................................... 246 A PERIOD FOLDING CHAIR ................................... 250 A FOLDING ARMCHAIR .......................................... 253 CONJECTURALLY AUTHENTIC FURNITURE ........ 257 A TOURNEY CHEST THAT COMES APART .......... 261 A CLOTHING RACK ................................................. 263 TO MAKE A LYRE .................................................... 266 A JEWELER’S BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................... 273 PERIOD JEWELRY YOU CAN MAKE ...................... 275 THE ASHMOLEAN RING ......................................... 281 SHIELD AND WEAPON WEIGHTS ......................... 283 IN-­‐PERSONA STORYTELLING ................................ 288 CONCERNING HERALDIC DEVICES AND ARMS .. 293 NOTES ON ISLAMIC CLOTHING AND WEAPONS 295 TO TIE A TURBAN ................................................... 303 THE PERFECT ARMOR ........................................... 306 THE PERFECT ARMOR IMPROVED ....................... 315 CLOSED FORM HEATER: A VOICE FROM A.S. IV
.............................................................................. 320 ADDENDUM TO THE MANUAL .............................. 324 PART III: POETRY 330 QUEST FOR A KINGDOM ......................................... 330 DAWN OVER BARRENDOWN ................................ 330 GESTA GUGLIEMI .................................................... 331 TWO VOICES ............................................................ 333 HILDEBRANDSLIED ................................................. 334 THE MERRY HOLT .................................................. 335 THE BEES' TALE ..................................................... 335 TWO PROVENÇAL POEMS ..................................... 337 DAWN SONG US CAVALIERS SI JAZIA .................... 337 RIPOSTE MA DOMNA AM DE BONA GUIZA ....... 338 THE FROGGY WOODS ........................................ 338 TWELVE DAYS OF BATTLE .................................... 338 POEMS IN PRAISE OF THE LADIES OF CAID ......... 339 VILLANELLE ........................................................ 339 VERSES IN PRAISE OF THE LADIES OF CAID .. 339 XIII ............................................................................ 340 FLY DRAGON FLY .................................................... 340 A PENNSIC TALE ..................................................... 341 A SONG IN PRAISE OF THE WARRIORS OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM ............................................. 342 THE ANSTEORRAN TALE ....................................... 342 LIMERICKS ............................................................... 343 THE DEVIL AND EUGÉNIE ..................................... 345 BARAK'S SONG ........................................................ 345 TROUBLE ON THE FIELD ........................................ 346 THE MAPLE TREE ................................................... 346 VERSES IN HONOR OF SHAUGN RUBARU ............ 347 TWO VERSES FOR THE ROWING SONG FROM SILVERLOCK ......................................................... 347 THE NEW ORDER ................................................... 348 OLD THINGS ............................................................. 351 A REPORT, IN VERSE. ........................................ 351 VERSES PREPARED BY THE AMBASSADOR OF THE MIDDLE .................................................. 352 A BROTHER'S TALE ........................................... 353 PENNSIC I: BEFORE THE BATTLE ................... 354 INDEX OF ARTICLES ........................................ 355 INDEX OF FILLER MATERIAL .............................. 357 INDEX OF VERSE .................................................... 357 1
Part I: Cooking
The sources of these recipes range, with
a few exceptions, from the sixth century to the
sixteenth. The original, or an English
translation of the original, is given in Apple
chancery font, followed by a list of
ingredients with quantities and, usually but
not always, additional instructions. For a few
of the less readable early English recipes we
also give a modernized version of the original
text. The only intentional modifications we
have made are to modernize the spelling in
some recipes and to omit the medical
comments which Platina (routinely) and the
authors of the Andalusian cookbook
(occasionally) include in their recipes.
How well worked out the recipes are
varies; some we have been doing for many
years, others are the result of one or two tries.
Before serving to anyone other than close
friends and fellow cooking enthusiasts, try the
recipe out at least once and adjust it to taste.
Sources for Recipes
Early Period
Anthimus, De Observatio Ciborum,
translated by Shirley Howard Weber,
published by E. J. Brill Ltd, Leiden 1924.
This is a letter on the subject of diet, written
in the sixth century by a Byzantine physician
to Theoderic, King of the Franks. It includes
several recipes.
Apicius, The Roman Cookery Book, tr.
Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenbaum,
George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1958.
This is a recommended translation and
includes the Latin original. The earlier
translation by Vehling is not recomended, as
he changes the recipes considerably.
English/French 13th-15th c.
Ancient Cookery from A Collection of the
Ordinances and Regulations for the
Government of the Royal Household made in
Divers Reigns from King Edward III to King
William and Queen Mary also Receipts in
Ancient Cookery, printed for the Society of
London Antiquaries by John Nichols, 1740.
The recipes are from the early 15th century.
Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary
Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century
(Including the Forme of Cury), edited by
Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler,
published for the Early English Text Society
by the Oxford University Press, 1985. Still in
print as of 2010.
The Forme of Cury, A Roll of Ancient
English Cookery, ed. S. Pegge, printed for the
Society of London Antiquaries by John
Nichols, 1780. This is English c. 1390; for a
later edition see Curye on Inglysch above.
Constance B. Hieatt, An Ordinance of
Pottage, Prospect Books, London, 1988 (15th
c. English).
Constance B. Hieatt and Robin F. Jones,
Two Anglo-Norman Culinary Collections
Edited from British Library Manuscripts
Additional 32085 and Royal 12.C.xii,
Speculum v. 61 n. 4, pp. 859-882, 1986.
Referred to below as “Anglo-Norman.”
Le Menagier de Paris, 1395, tr. Janet
Hinson (Lady Mairoli Bhan); also translated
as The Goodman of Paris, Power and
Coulton, tr., but with only selections from the
recipes. Recipes from Power and Coulton are
given as “Goodman;” recipes from Hinson are
given as “Menagier.” Page references are to
volume II of the collection of source material
we used to sell. There is also a recent (and
apparently complete) translation by Greco and
Rose which we have not yet worked with. The
Hinson translation is webbed at:
A Noble Boke off Cookry Ffor a Prynce
Houssolde, ed. Mrs. Alexander Napier, 1882
(c. 1470).
Chiquart, Du Fait de Cuisine, 1420, tr.
by Elizabeth from the French original
published by Terence Scully in Vallesia v. 40,
pp. 101-231, 1985. There is also a published
translation by Scully. Elizabeth's transation is
webbed at:
Pepys 1047. Published as Stere Hit Well:
Medieval recipes and remedies from Samuel
Pepys's Library. Modern English version by
G.A.J. Hodgett. The modern English version
is unreliable but the book includes a facsimile
of the late fifteenth century original.
Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books
(1430-1450), Thomas Austin Ed., Early
English Text Society, Oxford University
Press, 1964.
Le Viandier (c. 1392), Taillevent. Our
recipes are from a partial translation by
Elizabeth Bennett [Mistress Alys Gardyner];
two complete translations have also been
English 16th-17th c.
Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of Sir
posthumously in 1669). This is slightly out of
period, but contains the earliest collection of
fermented drink recipes that we know of.
The English Huswife, by Gervase
Markham (1615, but Mistress Marion informs
us that Markham is a notorious plagiarist, so
the material is probably somewhat earlier).
Sir Hugh Platt, Delights for Ladies,
London, 1609.
A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye, ed.
Catherine Frances Frere, Cambridge, W.
Heffer and sons, Ltd., 1913 (16th century).
Daz Buoch von Guoter Spise (between
1345 and 1354), tr. Alia Atlas. Webbed at:
Sabina Welser's Cookbook, tr. from Das
Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (c. 1553) by
Valoise Armstrong, Little Rock, Arizona,
1998. Webbed at:
Italian, Spanish and Portuguese
Platina, De Honesta Voluptate, Venice,
L. De Aguila, 1475. Translated by E. B.
Andrews, Mallinkrodt 1967. (Both Platina and
Kenelm Digby were published as part of the
“Mallinkrodt Collection of Food Classics.”)
Reprinted by Falconwood Press, 1989. Page
numbers given herein are from the
Falconwood edition. This is the version we
have worked from; a new and (I gather)
inproved translation is Platina, On Right
Pleasure and Good Health, tr. Mary Ella
Milham, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and
Studies, Tempe, Arizona, 1998.
Due Libre B, An Early 15th Century
Recipe Collection from Southern Italy.
Translated by Rebecca Friedman. Webbed at:
Epulario, or, The Italian Banquet,
London, 1598. Reprinted Falconwood Press,
Albany, NY, 1990. This is a late-period
English translation of an Italian cookbook
with a lot of overlap with Platina, including
some of the same sequences of recipes and at
least one typo in common.
Translated by Master Basilius (Charles
Diego Granado, Libro del arte de cozina,
1599. A few recipes from this have been
translated by Robin Carroll-Mann (Lady
Brighid ni Chiarain).
Ruperto de Nola, Libro de Guisados,
1529. Translated by Robin Carroll-Mann
(Lady Brighid ni Chiarain). Webbed at:
Um Tratado Da Cozinha Portuguesa Do
Seculo XV (A Text on Portuguese Cooking
from the Fifteenth Century). Translated by
Jane L. Crowley with the assistance of a
modern Portuguese text by Professor Antonio
Gomes Filho. Referred to as “Portuguese”
Islamic and Indian
Ain-I-Akbari (part of the Akbarnama) by
Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak, H. Blochmann tr.,
edited by D. C. Phillott, Calcutta 1927. An
account of Mughal India, especially Akbar's
court, in the late 16th century. It includes
ingredient lists (with quantities but without
instructions) for thirty dishes and descriptions
of how to make bread and arrack. Webbed at:
Al-Baghdadi, A Baghdad Cookery Book
(1226 A.D./623 A.H.), A.J. Arberry, tr.,
Islamic Culture 1939, and republished in
Medieval Arab Cookery (see below). There is
now a new and probably better translation by
Charles Perry, but we have not yet used it.
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of
the Thirteenth Century, a translation by
Charles Perry of the Arabic edition of
Ambrosio Huici Miranda with the assistance
of an English translation by Elise Fleming,
Stephen Bloch, Habib ibn al-Andalusi and
Janet Hinson of the Spanish translation by
Ambrosio Huici Miranda, webbed at:
Referred to below as “Andalusian.” Page
references are to volume II of the collection of
source material we used to sell.
Annals of the Caliph's Kitchen, Ibn
Sayyar al-Warraq, Nawal Nasrallah tr., Brill,
Leiden and Boston. A large tenth century
cookbook. We also have a few recipes from
the same source translated by Charles Perry.
La Cocina Arabigoandaluza, translated
from Arabic into Spanish by Fernando de la
Granja Santamaria and from Spanish into
English by Melody Asplund-Faith. This
consists of selections from a much longer
Arabic original. It is referred to below as “alAndalusi.”
Medieval Arab Cookery, Essays and
Translations by Maxime Rodinson, A.J.
Arberry & Charles Perry, Prospect Books,
1998. Contains, along with much else, Kitab
al Tibakhah: A Fifteenth-Century Cookbook,
Charles Perry, tr., original author Ibn alMubarrad. Also The Description of Familiar
Foods, a cookbook based on al-Baghdadi with
additional recipes.
The Ni'matnama Manuscript of the
Sultans of Mandu: The Sultan's Book of
Delights, translated by Norah M. Titley,
Routledge, 2005. An Indian source c. 1500.
Paul D. Buell and Eugene N. Anderson,
A Soup for the Qan: Chinese Dietary
Medicine of the Mongol Era as Seen in Hu
Szu-Hui's Yin-Shan Cheng-Yao, Kegan Paul
International, London and New York, 2000. A
translation of a Chinese/Mongol medical book
with extensive commentary, including recipes
for both food and medicinals.
Teresa Wang and E.N. Anderson, Ni
Tsan and His 'Cloud Forest Hall Collection of
Rules for Drinking and Eating', Petits Propos
Culinaires #60,1 1998. See also “Some
remarks about the translation of Yun Lintang
Yinshi Zhidu Ji” published in PPC 60 by
Francoise Sabban, which has corrections and
alternative translations.
The Domostroi: Rules for Russian
Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible,
edited and translated by Carolyn Johnston
Pouncy, Cornell University Press: Ithaca
1994. A Russian household management
manual, most of which is probably from the
16th century, including a few recipes and a
good deal of information about food.
Rudolf Grewe, “An Early XIII Century
Proceedings of A Conference on Current
Research in Culinary History: Sources,
Topics, and Methods. Published by the
Culinary Historians of Boston, 1986. This is
an article attempting to reconstruct the lost
original from which several surviving
manuscripts, including the one we refer to as
“A selection from An Old Icelandic Medical
Miscelleny,” descend.
A Selection From An Old Icelandic
Medical Miscelleny, ed. Henning Larson,
Oslo, 1931. For a more recent edition, see
Petits Propos Culinaires is an international
journal on food, food history, cookery and cookery
books. See: http://rdeh.tripod.com/
Mappae Clavicula: a Little Key to the World
of Medieval Techniques, tr. Cyril Stanley
Smith and John G. Hawthorne, Transactions
of the American Philosophical Society,
Philadelphia, 1974. This is a collection of
technical recipes which includes three candy
recipes; the manuscript translated here dates
to the 12th c. but there are earlier versions
with fewer recipes going back to the 9th c.
Asafoetida: Strongly flavored spice
available in Indian grocery stores, referred to
as “hing” or “heeng”.
Beef Broth: Canned beef broth is usually
concentrated; what we use is either that,
diluted in an equal quantity of water, or beef
broth from beef bouillon—1 cube per cup of
sometimes be found in Indian grocery stores;
it is very strongly flavored.
Cassia, aka chinese cinnamon: Cassia is
what is usually sold as cinnamon in the U.S.,
as distinguished from “true cinnamon,” aka
“ceylon cinnamon.” The two spices have
similar but not identical flavors.
Clarified butter, aka ghee: Available in
Indian grocery stores; Indian cookbooks often
have instructions for making it.
Coriander: Unless described as fresh we
interpret it as meaning coriander seed, with
the leaf of the same plant labelled “cilantro.”
Date syrup, aka dibs: Can sometimes be
found in Middle Eastern grocery stores.
Galingale: A root similar in appearance
to ginger, used in Thai cooking and sold in
oriental grocery stores, fresh or ground,
sometimes as “Galingas.”
Ghee: Clarified Butter.
Gourd aka pumpkin: Modern squashes
and pumpkins are from the New World; the
problem of identifying the old world
equivalent is discussed in the article “Late
Period and Out of Period Foods” at p. 143.
Our best guess is the opo gourd, often
available in Chinese grocery stores in the U.S.
Mastic: A strongly flavored resin; I like
to describe it as dehydrated turpentine. Try
Middle Eastern or Indian groceries and use it
in very small quantities.
Oranges/orange juice: in Europe and the
Middle East before about the 16th century, this
would have meant sour oranges. For more on
citrus fruit, see p. 139.
Powder fort: A spice mixture mentioned
in various period recipes; we have not yet
been able to find a description of what spices
it contains. What we use is a mixture
containing, by weight: 1 part cloves, 1 part
mace, 1 part cubebs, 7 parts cinnamon, 7 parts
ginger, and 7 parts pepper, all ground. This is
a guess, based on very limited evidence; it
works for the dishes in which we have tried it.
Poudre douce: A sweet spice mixture.
The composition probably varied; we usually
use a mix of four parts sugar, 2 parts
cinnamon, and 1 part ginger.
Samidh flour: Described in the al-Warraq
translation as “the finest variety of white
wheat flour.” Charles Perry thinks it may be
semolina, but is not sure; that is what we have
used. Cake flour is one possible alternative.
Sesame Oil: In Islamic recipes, this is the
clear to yellowish sesame oil sold in Middle
Eastern grocery stores, which is made from
untoasted sesame seeds and has only a slight
flavor; something very similar can be found in
health food stores. Chinese sesame oil, which
is much darker, is made from toasted sesame
seeds and is very strongly flavored.
Sumac: A sour red powder, found in
Iranian grocery stores (and restaurants).
Tarot: A starchy root that can sometimes
be found in Chinese grocery stores.
Tail: Fat from the tail of a fat-tailed
sheep, used as a cooking oil in Islamic
recipes. Since it is not available at the local
butcher, we substitute lamb fat.
Verjuice: Sour juice, usually from unripe
grapes. We use sour grape juice from Middle
Eastern grocery stores. Dilute vinegar can be
used as a substitute; two parts of verjuice
seems to be roughly equivalent to one part of
vinegar. Verjuice produced for the gourmet
trade and priced accordingly has become
increasingly common over the last few years.
Wheat Starch (Amidoun): Can be found
in Iranian grocery stores.
Other Spices: For cubebs, grains of
paradise, and long pepper try a good specialty
spice store or merchants at Pennsic; if you
cannot find them, substitute pepper. Saunders
is ground sandalwood root used as red food
coloring. We have heard that World Spice
Merchants is a good online source:
wsm@worldspice.com; www.worldspice.com
Islamic recipes frequently contain an
ingredient translated as “murri” or “almori.” It
was extensively used in early Islamic cooking,
rather as soy sauce is in Chinese cooking, and
vanished sometime after the fourteenth
century. Al-Baghdadi gives the following
recipes for making it; if you try one and it
works, let me know. According to Charles
Perry, the penny-royal in these recipes is a
mis-translation and should be budhaj (rotted
barley). He gives the following instructions
for making budhaj:
“All the recipes concur that budhaj was
made from barley flour (or a mixture of
barley and wheat) kneaded without leaven or
salt. Loaves of this dough were rotted,
generally in closed containers for 40 days,
and then dried and ground into flour for
further rotting into the condiments.”
(First recipe) Take 5 ratls each of pennyroyal and flour. Make the flour into a good
dough without leaven or salt, bake, and leave
until dry. Then grind up fine with the pennyroyal, knead into a green trough with a third
the quantity of salt, and put out into the sun
for 40 days in the heat of the summer,
kneading every day at dawn and evening, and
sprinkling with water. When black, put into
conserving jars, cover with an equal quantity
of water, stirring morning and evening: then
strain it into the first murri. Add cinnamon,
saffron and some aromatic herbs.
(Second recipe) Take penny-royal and
wheaten or barley flour, make into a dry
dough with hot water, using no leaven or salt,
and bake into a loaf with a hole in the middle.
Wrap in fig leaves, stuff into a preserving-jar,
and leave in the shade until fetid. Then
remove and dry.
As you can see, making murri is an
elaborate process, and tasting unsuccessful
experiments might be a hazardous one.
Charles Perry has experimented with this, and
some years ago became the first person in
recent centuries, so far as we know, to make
murri. He says it tastes a little like soy
sauce—which contains, in addition to soy
beans, fermented grains.
In addition to the surviving recipes for
murri, there are also at least two surviving
references to what was apparently a fake
murri, a substitute made by a much simpler
process. If one cannot have real murri, period
fake murri seems like the next best thing. The
recipe is as follows:
Byzantine Murri
Kitab Wasf, Sina'ah 52, p. 56, Sina'ah 51, p.
65: Charles Perry tr.
Description of byzantine murri [made]
right away: There is taken, upon the name of
God the Most High, of honey scorched in a
nuqrah [perhaps this word means 'a silver
vessel'], three ratls; pounded scorched oven
bread, ten loaves; starch, half a ratl; roasted
anise, fennel and nigella, two uqiyahs of each;
byzantine saffron, an uqiya; celery seed, an
uqiyah; syrian carob, half a ratl; fifty peeled
walnuts, as much as half a ratl; split quinces,
five; salt, half a makkūk dissolved in honey;
thirty ratls water; and the rest of the
ingredients are thrown on it, and it is boiled
on a slow flame until a third of the water is
absorbed. Then it is strained well in a clean
nosebag of hair. It is taken up in a greased
glass or pottery vessel with a narrow top. A
little lemon from Takranjiya (? Sina'ah 51 has
Bakr Fahr) is thrown on it, and if it suits that a
little water is thrown on the dough and it is
boiled upon it and strained, it would be a
second (infusion). The weights and
measurements that are given are Antiochan
and Zahiri [as] in Mayyafariqin.
Note: 1 ratl=12 uqiya=1 pint;
1 Makkūk=7.5-18.8 liters dry measure.
Nigella, aka kalonji or black onion seed, can
be found in Indian grocery stores. The
following quantities are for
of the above
3 T honey
1 T wheat starch
⅓ t celery seed
1 ½ oz bread
½ c salt in 3 T honey
⅔ t fennel
¼ t saffron
⅔ t nigela
¼ oz carob = 1 T
1 ½ oz quince
¼ oz walnut
1 pint water
lemon (¼ of one)
⅔ t anise
Cook the honey in a small frying pan on
medium heat, bringing it to a boil then turning
off the heat and repeating several times; it will
taste scorched. The bread is sliced white
bread, toasted in a toaster to be somewhat
blackened, then mashed in a mortar. Toast the
anise, fennel and nigela in a frying pan or
roast under a broiler, then grind in a mortar
with celery seed and walnuts. The quince is
quartered and cored. Boil all but the lemon
together for about 2 hours, then put it in a
potato ricer, squeeze out the liquid and add
lemon juice to it; this is the murri. The recipe
generates about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ c of liquid. You
can then add another ½ c of water to the
residue, simmer for half an hour to an hour
and squeeze out that liquid for the second
infusion, which yields about ⅓ c. A third
infusion using ⅓ c more water yields another
¼ c or so.
Exact quantities are sometimes given in
Islamic recipes; the units are: 1 ratl = 1 lb = 1
pint; 12 uqiya = 1 ratl; 10 dirham = 1 uqiya; 6
danaq = 1 dirham (information from
Arberry’s introduction to his translation of alBagdadi). So 1 dirham= ~.13 oz = ~1 ½ t of
ground spice
Units used in the Ain I Akbari are: 1 ser =
2 lb 2 oz, 1 dam = oz, 1 misqal = oz.
Units used in A Soup for the Qan:
1 chien = .011 oz, 1 liang = .11 oz, 1 chin =
16 liang = 1.8 oz.
10 ho = 1 sheng = 31.5 cubic inches = ~2 c;
1 tou = 10 shang = ~ 1 ¼ gallons.
All of these are modern values for the
units; the book notes that the sheng was
slightly less in the 14th century.
Other Minor Points
We usually interpret “meat” in Islamic
recipes as lamb, either leg or chops. Other
possibilities are mutton, veal, goat, beef and
kid. Pork is forbidden by Islamic law.
The Arberry translation of al-Baghdadi
uses “hour” for an Arabic term which,
according to Charles Perry, actually means an
indefinite length of time. We therefore have
not tried to stick literally to the timing given
in al-Baghdadi.
A common technique in medieval
European recipes is to pass ingredients
through a strainer. We generally follow the
recipe the first time but thereafter, and
especially when preparing large quantities,
substitute a food processor. An alternative is
to use a potato ricer—a sort of
plunger/strainer combination.
Saffron is a common medieval
ingredient. We find that it works better if you
first extract the color and flavor by crushing
the saffron thoroughly into a small quantity of
water, then adding the water and saffron to
your dish. Cariadoc is not fond of saffron; if
you are, you may want to increase our
quantities. The few (Islamic) recipes which
specify saffron by weight use considerably
more than they would if we had written them.
So far as we can tell, the fava or broad
bean is the only European/Mediterranean
variety of bean commonly available other
than lentils and chickpeas. It is therefore what
we use in recipes that call for beans.
In interpreting recipes that contain a
specific number of eggs, we usually assume
that the average medieval egg is somewhat
smaller than a modern large egg; we have no
evidence for whether this is correct other than
how the recipes come out. When we specify a
number of eggs in the worked out version of a
recipe, they are large eggs.
Our recipes occasionally show an
ingredient in brackets. This means either that
it is described as optional in the original or
that it is something, usually salt, that is not
mentioned in the original but that we think
should have been—one of our sources says
that he doesn’t mention salt because everyone
knows to put it in—or, occasionally, that it is
something in the recipe that we were unable
to get and so omitted. Which it is should be
clear from context.
In our recipes, spices such as cinnamon
or cloves are ground unless stated not to be.
Some of the early English recipes use the
thorn (þ), a letter that is no longer used in
English. It is pronounced “th.”
Pie Crust Recipes
Our only period English recipe for pie
crust is late period (p. 45: “To make short
paest for tarte,” from A Proper Newe Book); it
consists only of a list of ingredients, and we
believe is intended as a fancy rather than plain
pie crust. There is also a German recipe in
Sabina Welserin (p. 49). What we normally
use is a simple modern recipe that contains
only period ingredients and is made partly
with whole wheat flour, on the guess that
most period flour was coarser than ours and
that the finest white flour would probably not
have gone into pie crust. It is:
¾ c white flour
¼ c whole wheat flour
⅓ c salted butter
2 ½ T water
Mix flours, cut butter finely into flour
with two knives or a food processor, then mix
the water into the flour-butter mixture without
crushing the flour and butter together. Makes
a single 9" crust.
An alternative, for recipes that specify a
crust but do not say what sort, is to simply
knead flour and water with a little salt. The
result is much tougher than a pastry crust,
which has both advantages and disadvantages.
The quantities for one 9" pie are:
3 c flour
¼ t salt
about 1 ¼ c water
A number of our recipes use sourdough
as leavening. There are recipes for making
your initial batch of sourdough using wild
yeast from the air, but we have never done it;
we always started with a batch of sourdough
from someone else.
You can keep sourdough in the
refrigerator for quite a long time, but before
using it you will want to spend several days
getting the culture back to strength. Start by
combining ¼ c sourdough with ½ c water and
½ c flour; leave it covered at room
temperature for 24 hours. Take ¼ c of that,
combine with ½ c water and ½ c flour, leave it
covered for 12 hours. Repeat, again for 12
hours. Finally take ½ c of your now pretty
lively sourdough, combine with 1 c water and
1 c flour, leave it for 6 hours, use it in your
recipe. If you are going to require more than
that, scale up the final stage accordingly. Put
whatever sourdough is left into jars to give to
all your friends so that they can use
sourdough in their cooking too. Or find a
good sourdough pancake recipe and use the
rest for that. And remember to put some
sourdough back into the refrigerator.
Almond Milk
Almond milk is an ingredient common in
Medieval European recipes, particularly in
Lenten dishes (milk, eggs, and meat broth all
being forbidden in Lent). The recipe below is
a basic one. For some recipes we make a
thicker almond milk with more almonds
relative to the amount of water; other recipes
say “draw up a good milk of almonds with
broth (or wine),” in which case the broth or
wine is substituted for the water in making the
almond milk.
To make almond milk: Take ¼ c (1 ¾
oz) almonds. Put them in a food processor,
run it briefly. Add a little water, run it longer.
Continue adding water and running the
processor until you have a milky liquid. Strain
through several layers of cheesecloth. Put the
residue back in the food processor, add a little
more water, and repeat. Continue until the
residue produces almost no more milk. Throw
out the residue.This should give you about 1 c
of almond milk.
To Make Onion Juice
Peel your onions, cut them in pieces (8
pieces for a very large onion), put them in a
food processor and reduce them to mush. Put
the mush through a clean, wet dish towel (the
towel will end up a bit stained). To do that,
you pour the onion juice and mush into the
middle of the towel, holding up the edges.
When the really liquid part has gone through
into the bowl underneath, you pull the edges
together so that what is left is a ball of onion
mush wrapped in a dish towel. Squeeze until
the juice is out. You should get just over a cup
of juice per pound of onion.
To Make Cilantro Juice
Take cilantro (green coriander, aka
chinese parsley, as distinguished from
coriander, which is the seed). Grind it in an
electric spice grinder or mash it in a mortar
and pestle with 2 T water per ounce of
coriander; use a food processor if you are
making a lot. Squeeze it through a cloth to
give about 2 T of cilantro juice from each
ounce of cilantro.
Andalusian Meatballs
Recipes from the Islamic cookbooks
often call for meatballs or cabobs without
telling you how to make them. Here are
instructions for making meatballs from two
recipes in the anonymous Andalusian
cookbook, followed by one possible
Take red, tender meat, free of tendons, and
pound it as in what preceded about meatballs.
Put the pounded meat on a platter and add a bit
of the juice of a pounded onion, some oil, murri
naqî', pepper, coriander, cumin, and saffron. Add
enough egg to envelope the mixture, and knead
until it is mixed, and make large meatballs like
pieces of meat, then set it aside.
Pound well meat from the two legs, the
shoulder and the like. Throw in some sifted flour,
a head of garlic peeled and pounded with salt,
pepper, cumin, coriander and caraway, and let
the pepper predominate, and some good murri,
and beat all this well with five eggs or as many as
it will bear. Then take coarse fat, as much of this
as of the pounded meat or more, and cut up fine
and mix with the pounded meat. And if rue is cut
into it, good. Then make it into meatballs and fry
it; ...
1 lb ground meat
6 T flour
1 clove garlic
½ t salt
½ t pepper
¼ t cumin
¼ t coriander
1 T murri (p. 5)
2 eggs
4 T olive oil or meat fat
1 t rue
Chop the garlic. Combine all of the
ingredients and form into balls about 1" to 1
½" across; makes roughly 40 of them. Fry
until brown on both sides in another 4 T of oil
over medium heat, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Note that this is only one of many possible
variations; feel free to try your own.
Final Advice
The authors of the original recipes knew
more about their cuisine than we ever will. If
our worked out version appears to disagree
with the original, that might mean that we
know something about interpreting the
original—for instance that an Islamic pound
has twelve ounces, not sixteen—that you do
not. But it is more likely that we either have
made a mistake or were for some reason
unable to follow the original. If in doubt, trust
the original over our version.
European Dishes
Brazzatelle of Milk and Sugar
Messibugio, Libro Novo 1557
To make fifty brazzatelle of four ounces each
you will take fifteen pounds of best flour, three
ounces of rose water, three pounds of milk, two
pounds of white sugar, 25 eggs, four ounces of
butter, and you will knead these things together
very well.
Then you will make your brazzatelle
according to the method you want to use, and
then you will let rise with careful attention, and
after it has risen you will boil your water, and
then you will place inside the above-mentioned
brazzatelle to cook, and when they come to the top
you will take out, and then you will put in fresh
water, and when you have removed them from
within you will put them to cook in the oven, and
if you want to put inside anise it is a good deed.
[The recipe does not say what shape to
make them in; I think they are probably sweet
bagels, but they could be pretzels. This is one
sixth of the recipe, using our ounce for the
ounce and assuming a twelve ounce pound in
order to make the final weight come out right]
7 c flour
½ c sugar
[2 ½ T aniseed]
3 T butter
1 T rose water
¾ c milk
½ lb sourdough (~1 c)
3 eggs
Combine flour, sugar, and (optional)
aniseeds; cut in the butter. Combine the liquid
ingredients, including the sourdough, mix,
add to the dry ingredients and knead until you
have a smooth dough. Cover with a damp
towel, let rise two hours. Divide into 10 equal
Roll each into a cylinder about 10"-12"
long, join the ends to form a torus (bagel).
Roll each into a cylinder about 18" -24"
long, make into a pretzel shape.
Leave it to rise 1 hr 45 minutes or so at
room temperature.
Fill a pot at least three inches deep with
water. Bring the water to a boil. Put in as
many of the brazzatelle as you can manage
without their sticking together. Boil until they
rise to the top, which should start happening
in a minute or so; if they are sticking to the
bottom, loosen with a spatula (pancake
turner). When each brazzatella floats to the
top take it out, dunk it briefly in a bowl of
water, drain. Bake in a 425° oven until
brown—about 25 minutes.
(I use sourdough but you could also try it
with yeast.)
Two Fifteenth Century p. 52
Take fayre Flowre, and þe whyte of Eyroun,
and þe yolk, a lytel; þan take Warme Berme, and
putte al þes to-gederys, and bete hem to-gederys
with þin hond tyl it be schort and þikke y-now,
and caste Sugre y-now þer-to, and þenne lat reste
a whyle; þan kaste in a fayre place in þe oven,
and late bake y-now; and þen with a knyf cutte
yt round a-boue in maner of a crowne, and kepe
þe crust þat þou kyttyst; and þan pyke al þe
cromys with-ynne to-gederys, an pike hem smal
with þyn knyf, and saue þe sydys and al þe
cruste hole with-owte; and þan caste þer-in
clarifiyd Botor, and mille þe cromes and þe botor
to-gederes, and keuere it a-gen with þe cruste, þat
þou kyttest a-way; þan putte it in þe ovyn agen a
lytil tyme; and þan take it out, and serue it forth.
2 ¼ c flour
2 egg whites
½ T dried yeast
(mixed with ½ c water)
½ c sugar
1 egg yolk
1 c clarified butter
After mixing all ingredients except for
butter, let the dough rise 45 minutes to an
hour. Mold the dough on a greased cookie
sheet, let rise a little more. Bake at 350° about
1 hour. Cut off top as described, mix insides
of loaf with melted butter, and replace top.
Second baking is about 5 minutes at the same
Para Hazer Tortillon Relleno: To Make a
Stuffed Tortillon
Libro del arte de cozina
Knead two pounds of the flower of the flour
with six yolks of fresh eggs, and two ounces of
rosewater, and one ounce of leaven diluted with
tepid water, and four ounces of fresh cow’s butter,
or pork lard which has no bad odor, and salt, and
be stirring said dough for the space of half an
hour, and make a thin leaf or pastry and anoint
it with melted fat which should not be very hot,
and cut the edges around, sprinkle the pastry
with four ounces of sugar, and one ounce of
cinnamon, and then have a pound of small
raisins of Corinth, which have been given a boil in
wine, and a pound of dates cooked in the same
wine, and cut small, and all of the said things
should be mixed together with sugar, cinnamon,
and cloves, and nutmeg, and put the said mixture
spread over the pastry with some morsels of cow’s
butter, and beginning with the long end of the
pastry, roll it upwards, taking care not to break
the dough, and this tortillon or roll must not be
rolled more than three turns, so that it will cook
better, and it does not have to go very tight.
Anoint it on top with fat, not very hot. It will
begin to twist by itself at one end which is not
very closed, in such a manner that it becomes like
a snail. Have the pie pan ready with a pastry of
the same dough, somewhat fatty, anointed with
melted fat, and put the tortillon lightly upon it
without pressing it, and make it cook in the oven,
or under a large earthen pot with temperate fire,
tending it from time to time by anointing it with
melted cow’s butter, and being almost cooked, put
sugar on top, and rosewater, and serve it hot. The
pie pan in which you cook the tortillones must be
wide, and must have very low edges.
(Translator’s notes: All of the recipes
which bear the name “tortillon” have a
rolled-up pastry with some kind of filling. If I
had to translate the Spanish, I would render it
as something like "roll-pastry". The noun
"manteca" can mean either butter or lard. I
have translated "manteca de vaca" as cow’s
butter, "manteca de puerco" as pork lard, and
undifferentiated "manteca" as fat.)
2 lb = 7 c flour
½ c butter
6 egg yolks
4 T rose water
2 T dried yeast
1 ¼ c water
2 t salt
1 lb = 3 ½ c currants
1 lb = 3 ½ c chopped dates
3 c wine
¼ c sugar
½ t cinnamon
¼+ t nutmeg
⅛ t cloves
to use in making loaf:
½ c sugar
~3 T melted butter
3 ½ T cinnamon 1 t rosewater
2 T butter
1 T sugar
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl; mix
yeast with warm water, beat egg yolks with
rosewater, melt ¼ c butter. Make a well in the
center of the flour and pour the liquids into it,
stir together with a wooden spoon, then knead
for 10-15 minutes until smooth. (The original
says half an hour, but the extra quarter hour
doesn’t seem to make much difference.) Let
rise an hour and 20 minutes. To prepare
filling, bring wine to a boil, add currants and
dates and let boil two minutes; drain and add
sugar and spices. When dough has risen,
pinch off about an eighth of it and spread it
out flat in the bottom of a greased 11" pie pan;
spread 1 t melted butter over it. Roll the rest
of the dough out on a floured board to a
rectangle ~21"x18", spread with 2 t melted
butter, and sprinkle on ¼ c sugar and 1 oz (3
T) of cinnamon. Spread the filling on top of
that; dot with 2 T of butter in pieces. Roll up
from the long side and pinch together to seal,
so that the filling won’t all ooze out. Coil on
top of the piece of dough in the pan and
spread another 2 t of melted butter over the
top. Let rise another 10 minutes or so and put
in a pre-heated oven at 350°. Bake 50 minutes
or so, taking out once or twice to spread with
more melted butter. After 45 minutes baking,
sprinkle with rosewater and sugar, then put
back in oven for another 5 minutes.
On Bread
Platina pp. 13-14 (Book 1)
... Therefore I recommend to anyone who is a
baker that he use flour from wheat meal, well
ground and then passed through a fine seive to
sift it; then put it in a bread pan with warm
water, to which has been added salt, after the
manner of the people of Ferrari in Italy. After
adding the right amount of leaven, keep it in a
damp place if you can and let it rise. ... The bread
should be well baked in an oven, and not on the
same day; bread from fresh flour is most
nourishing of all, and should be baked slowly.
¾ c sourdough
2 c warm water
1 c whole wheat flour
5 c white flour
1 T salt
Mix sourdough with warm (not hot!) water
and salt. Mix the flours, stir in the liquid,
knead it smooth. Form into two or three round
loaves and let rise overnight (8-10 hours).
Bake at 350° about 50 minutes. Makes 2
loaves, about 8" across, 3"-4" thick, about 1.5
lb, or three smaller loaves. If you prefer a
more sour loaf, use more sourdough and/or a
longer rising time.
slices about the same size. Layer turnips,
sliced cheese and spices in 9"x5" baking pan,
and bake 20 minutes at 350°.
We have modified this recipe in
accordance with the more detailed version in
Martino’s cookbook, which calls for “some
sugar, some pepper and some sweet spices.”
Martino was apparently the source for many
of Platina’s recipes.
On Preparing Carrots and Parsnips
Platina p. 68 (Book 4)
... The parsnip should be boiled twice, the first
liquid thrown away and cooked the second time
with lettuce. Then it is put on a plate and dressed
with salt, vinegar, coriander, and pepper, and is
very fit to serve. ... The carrot is prepared in the
same way as the parsnip, but is considered more
pleasant when cooked under warm ashes and
1 lb carrots
⅔ lb lettuce
½ t salt
4 t vinegar
½ t coriander
t pepper
Wash carrots, wash and tear up lettuce. Put
carrots in boiling water, boil 12 minutes.
Drain them. Put carrots and lettuce in boiling
water for another 6 minutes. Drain them. Add
the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Armored Turnips
Platina p. 147 (Book 8)
Mustard Greens
Anthimus p. 37
Cut up turnips that have been either boiled or
cooked under the ashes. Likewise do the same with
rich cheese, not too ripe. These should be smaller
morsels than the turnips, though. In a pan
greased with butter or liquamen, make a layer of
cheese first, then a layer of turnips, and so on, all
the while pouring in spice and some butter, from
time to time. This dish is quickly cooked and
should be eaten quickly, too.
1 lb turnips
10 oz cheddar cheese
2 T butter
½ t cinnamon
¼ t ginger
¼ t pepper
1 t sugar
Boil turnips about 30 minutes, peel and
slice. Slice cheese thinner than turnips, with
Mustard greens are good, boiled in salt and
oil. They should be eaten either cooked on the
coals or with bacon, and vinegar to suit the taste
should be put in while they are cooking.
1 ¼ lb mustard greens
3 T oil
4 t vinegar
1 t salt
4 slices bacon
Wash mustard greens. Boil stems 2
minutes, then add leaves, boil 6 more minutes
and drain. Fry bacon or cook 6 minutes in
microwave. Heat oil, add greens and stir, then
add salt and cook 5 minutes. Crumble bacon
and put over greens with vinegar. Stir it all up
and cook another 3 minutes.
Russian Cabbage and Greens
Domostroi pp. 162-3
Chop cabbage, greens, or a mixture of both
very fine, then wash them well. Boil or steam
them for a long time. On meat days, put in red
meat, ham, or a little pork fat; add cream or egg
whites and warm the mixture. During a fast,
saturate the greens with a little broth, or add
some fat and steam it well. Add some groats, salt,
and sour cabbage soup; then heat it. Cook kasha
the same way: steam it well with lard, oil, or
herring in a broth.
Note: the ingredient translated as “sour
cabbage soup” turns up elsewhere in the
Domostroi in lists of things to brew: “For
brewing beer, ale, or sour cabbage soup, take
malt or meal and hops. Beer from the first
grade makes good sour cabbage soup. You
can make vinegar, too, from a good mash.”
This suggests that it may really be something
like alegar (beer vinegar). We therefore
substitute malt vinegar.
Version 1
2 % lb green cabbage (1 head)
% lb turnip greens
3 c water
1 $ lb beef or lamb
6 egg whites
1 c dry buckwheat groats (kasha)
“sour cabbage soup”: 1 T malt vinegar
2 t salt
Version 2
2 lb green cabbage (1 head)
' lb mustard greens
2 $ c water
1 " lb pork butt roast
$ c cream
c dry buckwheat groats (kasha)
1 $ t salt
“sour cabbage soup”: 1 T malt vinegar
Chop cabbage and greens very fine. Bring
water to a boil, add cabbage and greens and
simmer 30-40 minutes covered. Cut meat into
bite-sized chunks. Add meat and simmer
another 25 minutes (the time probably
depends on the cut of meat). Add groats, salt
and vinegar, and cook another 15 minutes
uncovered on moderate heat, until the liquid is
almost absorbed. Stir in egg whites or cream,
heat for a minute or two, and remove from
These are two possible interpretations of a
recipe with lots of alternatives. In particular, it
is not clear whether the groats, salt, and “sour
cabbage soup” belong only to the fast-day
version or to both meat-day and fast-day
versions; we have assumed the latter.
Curye on Inglysch p. 99
(Forme of Cury no. 9)
Take oynouns and erbes and hewe hem small,
and do #erto gode broth; and aray it as #ou
didest caboches %&seeth...and do #erto safroun &
salt, and force it with powdour douce&'. If #ey be
in fyssh day, make on the same manere with
water and oyle, and if it be not in lent, alye it
with yolkes of eyren; and dresse it forth, and cast
#erto powdour douce.
Note: “chibolles” are green onions, so
from the title, onions should be a major
$ lb onions
$ oz parsley
4 oz mustard greens
4 oz kale
4 oz spinach
1 c beef broth or
1 c water + 2 T oil
10 threads saffron
$ t salt
3 egg yolks
$ t poudre douce (p. 4)
Cut up onions and greens, mix with broth
(or, for the fish day version, water and oil)
and saffron and salt, bring to boil and cook
uncovered 20 minutes on medium, until most
of the broth is boiled away. Separate eggs,
mix yolks with some of the broth out of the
pot, and add to onions and greens. Heat for
about two minutes. Sprinkle on poudre douce
and serve.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 6 (Good–and easy)
Take fayre caboges, an cutte hem, an pike
hem clene and clene washe hem, an parboyle hem
in fayre water, an thanne presse hem on a fayre
bord; an than choppe hem, and caste hem in a
fayre pot with goode fresshe broth, an wyth merybonys, and let it boyle: thanne grate fayre brede
and caste ther-to, an caste ther-to Safron an salt;
or ellys take gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, ydraw thorw a straynour, and caste ther-to. An
whan thou seruyst yt inne, knocke owt the marw
of the bonys, an ley the marwe ij gobettys or iij in
a dysshe, as the semyth best, and serue forth.
1 medium head cabbage
4 c beef broth
4 lb marrow bones
6 threads saffron
1 T salt
~ 2 c breadcrumbs
Wash cabbage. Cut it in fourths. Parboil it
(i.e. dump into boiling water, leave there a
few minutes). Drain. Chop. Squeeze out the
water. Put it in a pot with beef broth and
marrow bones. Simmer until soft, stirring
often enough to keep it from sticking (about
20 minutes). Add saffron, salt, enough bread
crumbs to make it very thick. Simmer ten
minutes more. Serve.
Cress in Lent with Milk of Almonds
Menagier p. M14
Take your cress and parboil it with a handful
of chopped beet leaves, and fry them in oil, then
put to boil in milk of almonds; and when it is not
Lent, fry in lard and butter until cooked, then
moisten with meat stock; or with cheese, and
adjust it carefully, for it will brown. Anyway, if
you add parsley, it does not have to be blanched.
Lenten version
2 c cress = ⅓ lb
½ c beet leaves
1 T olive oil
½ c almond milk (p. 7)
¼ c parsley = ½ oz
pinch salt
Fish-day version
2 ¼ c cress = 6 oz
1 ½ c beet leaves
2 T butter
1 ½ oz brick cheese
[3 sprigs parsley]
[⅛ t salt]
Meat-day version
2 ¼ c cress = 6 oz
1 ½ c (2 oz) beet leaves
2 T lard and/or butter
½ c meat stock
[3 sprigs parsley]
[⅛ t salt]
Chop the cress and beet leaves. Dump
them into boiling water, let the water come
back to a boil, then drain them (about 2
minutes total in water). Heat oil or lard or
butter in a skillet, add drained greens (and
chopped parsley if you are using parsley). Stir
fry for about 3 minutes. For Lenten version,
add almond milk, let boil with greens about a
minute. For fish-day version, add cheese,
chopped up, and stir until cheese is melted
into the greens. For meat-day version, add
meat stock and cook down 2-3 minutes. Add
salt, serve.
Notes: Measure greens pressed down in the
measuring cup. Use a mild cheese such as
brick cheese. Substitute spinach for beet
leaves if necessary; the Menagier regards
spinach as a kind of beet leaf. We have tried
several ratios of cress to beet leaves; all seem
to work reasonably well.
Lenten Foyles
Ordinance of Potage p. 38 (no. 9)
Take the same maner of herbes as thu dost to
jowtys, and onyons clene paryd. Perboyle hem;
presse out the watyr. Do hem yn a potte. Frye
reysons in clere oyle that have be fryed yn before,
and do therto with a perty of the oyle, and boyle
hit up with the mylke of almondys; and put
therto sugure & salte.
Note: “jowtys” is another recipe for
cooked greens; the one in this cookbook calls
for “kawlys [cabbage-type vegetables] &
percellye and othir good herbes.”
¼ head cabbage = ⅜ lb
1 bunch parsley = 1 ½ oz
¼ lb spinach
2 oz turnip greens
1 oz collard green
6 oz onions
⅓ c raisins
1 T oil
2 c almond milk
(p. 7)
1 t sugar
½ t salt
Wash greens, remove stems, cut up
cabbage and onion. Make almond milk.
Parboil vegetables 2-3 minutes, drain. Fry
raisins in oil until they puff up and turn light
brown (a few minutes). Put greens back in pot
with raisins, add almond milk. Simmer 10-15
minutes, adding sugar and salt near the end.
Gourd in Juice
Platina p. 123 (Book 7)
Cook a gourd in juice or in water with a few
little onions and after it is cut up, pass it through
a perforated spoon into a kettle in which there is
rich juice, a little verjuice and saffron. Take it
from the hearth when it has boiled a little. After
it has been set aside and cooled a little, put in a
little aged cheese ground up and softened with two
egg yolks; or keep stirring it with a spoon so that
lumps do not spoil it. After you have put it into
saucers, sprinkle with spices.
2 ¾ lb zucchini squash
4 T verjuice
or 2 T wine vinegar
½ c beef or chicken broth
7 threads saffron
5 oz Parmesan
spices (cinnamon,
ginger or nutmeg)
2 egg yolks
½-¾ lb onions
Peel squash, remove seeds, slice; coarsely
chop onions. Cook 10 minutes in water to
cover. Drain and mash. Mix broth, verjuice,
and saffron and add mashed squash. Heat,
then add egg yolks and cheese. Sprinkle with
one of the spices: cinnamon was considered
We have also made this using opo gourds
from a Chinese grocery store which we
believe are Lagenaria siceraria, our best
guess at the gourd used in period; see the
discussion at p. Error! Bookmark not
defined. below. The recipe we worked out is:
Double the quantity of onions and beef broth,
keeping the other proportions as in the version
with squash. Peel the gourd, boil it with whole
small onions for an hour, then discard the
onions (which seems to be what the original
recipe implies). Slice gourd, mash through
strainer (or use a potato ricer). Add beef broth
and verjuice, heat 15 minutes on low, let cool
10 minutes, add grated cheese and egg yolks.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
Fried Gourd
Platina p. 119 (Book 7)
Scrape off the skin from the gourd and cut it
sideways in thin slices. When it is boiled once
transfer it from the pot onto the board and leave
it there till it has dried out a little. Then roll it in
salt and good white flour and fry it in oil; when it
is done and put on a platter, pour a garlic sauce
over it, with fennel blossoms and breadcrumbs so
dissolved in verjuice that it looks thin rather than
thick. It would not be amiss to pass this sauce
through a strainer. There are those, too, who use
only verjuice and fennel bloom. If you like
saffron, add saffron.
1 ⅛ lbs gourd (p. 143)
1 c flour
1 t salt
olive oil
Peel gourd and slice very thin, boil in
water 7 minutes, spread out and let dry for 40
minutes. Mix flour and salt, dip gourd in it,
and fry for ~4 minutes per batch in a pan with
at least ¼" hot olive oil. See under sauces for
Platina's garlic sauce (p. 66).
On Preparing Lettuce
Platina p. 61
... . Sprinkle them with ground salt and a little
oil and pour a little more vinegar, and eat it
right away. There are those who add a little mint
and parsley to this preparation, so that it does
not seem too bland; and so that there is not too
much chill from the lettuce to harm the stomach,
put cooked lettuce, with the water squeezed out, in
a dish when you have dressed it with salt and oil
and vinegar, and serve it to your guests. There
are those who add a bit of cinnamon or pepper
well-ground and sifted.
Raw Lettuce
2 c lettuce
1 t salt
1 T oil
2 T vinegar
1 T chopped mint
1 T parsley
Chop up mint and
everything together and toss.
Cooked Lettuce
2 c lettuce
1 t salt
¾ T oil
¾ T vinegar
1 t cinnamon or pepper
Chop the lettuce, dump it in boiling
water for two minutes, drain it very
thoroughly squeezing out the water, add the
other ingredients, serve it.
Moorish Eggplant
(Berenjenas a la Morisca)
De Nola no. 52
Peel the eggplants and quarter them, and
their skins having been peeled, set them to cook;
and when they are well-cooked, remove them from
the fire, and then squeeze them between two
wooden chopping blocks, so they do not retain
water. And then chop them with a knife. And let
them go to the pot and let them be gently fried,
very well, with good bacon or with sweet oil,
because the Moors do not eat bacon. And when
they are gently fried, set them to cook in a pot
and cast in good fatty broth, and the fat of meat,
and grated cheese which is fine, and above all,
ground coriander; and then stir it with a
haravillo like gourds; and when they are nearly
cooked, put in egg yolks beaten with verjuice, as if
they were gourds.
2 ¼ lb eggplants
2 slices bacon = 3 oz
or oil
2 oz lamb fat
2 oz Parmesan
1 ½ c meat broth
1 ½ t coriander
3 egg yolks
1 T verjuice
Peel and quarter eggplants, put in boiling
water, bring back to a boil and simmer for 20
minutes. Remove eggplant from water, press
between two cutting boards to remove surplus
water, and chop. Fry bacon about 10 minutes,
add chopped eggplants, and cook 25 minutes
over moderate heat. Chop lamb fat finely and
grate cheese; add to eggplant with broth and
coriander and cook 10 minutes, stirring
frequently. Add egg yolks with verjuice and
cook a minute or two until egg yolk is cooked.
Longe Wortes de Pesone
Two Fifteenth Century p. 89
Take grene pesyn, and wassh hem clene, And
cast hem in a potte, and boyle hem til they breke;
and then take hem vppe fro the fire, and putte
hem in the broth in an other vessell; And lete hem
kele; And drawe hem thorgh a Streynour into a
faire potte. And then take oynones in ij. or iij.
peces; And take hole wortes, and boyle hem in
fayre water; And then take hem vppe, And ley
hem on the faire borde, And kutte hem in .iij. or
in .iiij. peces; And caste hem and the oynons into
þat potte with the drawen pesen, and late hem
boile togidre til they be all tendur, And then take
faire oile and fray, or elles fressh broth of some
maner fissh, (if þou maist, oyle a quantite), And
caste thereto saffron, and salt a quantite. And
lete hem boyle wel togidre til they ben ynogh; and
stere hem well euermore, And serue hem forthe.
1 c split peas
1 whole onion = ⅝ lb
wortes: ½ lb chard
¼ c olive oil
(or fish broth)
8 threads saffron
½ t salt
Wash peas, put in 4 c of water, simmer 50
minutes covered, squash the peas with their
liquid through a potato ricer, let cool. Cut up
the onion into eighths. Simmer onions
covered in 3 c water for 20 minutes. Add
chard, cover again, cook 10 minutes more.
Remove chard, cut in quarters, combine
everything with peas. Add salt, saffron. Bring
to simmer and add oil, simmer, stirring
constantly, another 10 minutes.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 83
Take grene pesyn, and boile hem in a potte;
And whan they ben y-broke, drawe the broth a
good quantite thorgh a streynour into a potte,
And sitte hit on the fire; and take oynons and
parcelly, and hewe hem small togidre, And caste
hem thereto; And take pouder of Canell and
peper, and caste thereto, and lete boile; And take
vynegur and pouder of ginger, and caste thereto;
And then take Saffron and salte, a litull quantite,
and caste thereto; And take faire peces of
paynmain, or elles of such tendur brede, and
kutte hit yn fere mosselles, and caste there-to;
And then serue hit so forth.
1 lb peas
2 ½ c water
4 oz onions
2 T parsley
½ t cinnamon
¼ t pepper
1 T vinegar
¼ t ginger
3 threads saffron
¾ t salt
2 slices bread (~ 2 oz)
Simmer peas in water for about 40
minutes. Mash the peas and the broth through
a strainer. Add chopped onions, parsley,
cinnamon, pepper. Boil for ten minutes. Add
vinegar and ginger, salt and saffron. Chop up
bread, put it in, boil briefly, serve.
On a more literal reading of the recipe, the
peas are being discarded, perhaps to go into
some other dish, and only the broth is being
used; we have not yet tried it that way.
Grene Pesen Reale
Ancient Cookery p. 470
Take grene peas clene washen and let hom
boyle awhile over the fire, and then poure away al
the brothe, and bray a few of hom with parcel
and myntes, and in the brayinge alay it with
almonde mylke, and draw hit up with the same
mylk, and put in the same pot, and let hit boil
with hole pesen, and cast thereto sugre and
saffron, and in the settynge doune of the pot, if
hit be a pot of two galons, take 12 zolkes of eyren
and bete hom, and streyne hom, and cast hom
into the pot, and stere hit wel, and loke the potage
be rennynge; and when it is dressed, straw suger
above, and serve hit forthe.
almond milk: (p. 7)
¼ c almonds
½ c water
1 lb green fresh peas
2 t fresh parsley
1 t fresh mint
1 T sugar
6 threads saffron
2 beaten egg yolks
[⅛ t salt]
2 T sugar
Make almond milk and boil peas. When the
peas are boiled, mash ½ c of the peas with the
parsley and mint, and add almond milk
gradually. Put back with peas, add 1 T sugar
and saffron, and heat; add egg yolks and salt
and remove from heat; sprinkle on 2 T sugar
before serving.
Lange Wortys de Chare
Two Fifteenth Century p. 5
Take beeff and merybonys, and boyle yt in
fayre water; þan take fayre wortys and wassche
hem clene in water, and parboyle hem in clene
water; þan take hem vp of þe water after þe fyrst
boylyng, an cut þe leuys a-to or a þre, and caste
hem in-to þe beef and boylle to gederys; þan take
a lof of whyte brede and grate yt, an caste it on
þe pot, an safron & salt, & let it boyle y-now,
and serue forth.
1 ½ lb beef shank
(meat and bones)
3 c water
⅞ lb mustard greens
1 ⅜ lb kale
1 t salt
12 threads saffron
¾ c breadcrumbs
Cut meat from bones, trimming off
connective tissue and cutting to bite-sized
pieces, put in water, bring to a boil and
simmer 1 hour and 10 minutes. Wash greens;
fill a large pot half full of water, bring to a
boil, and parboil greens about 3 minutes.
Drain and cut in thirds. Add to meat, bring
back to a boil, and cook 20 minutes. Crush
saffron into a little of the broth; add bread
crumbs, salt and saffron, stir until thickened
(another five minutes), and serve.
Note: This is the meat-day version of the
recipe; the fish-day version is longe wortys de
pesone on page 15.
Fried Broad Beans
Platina p. 115 (book 7)
Put broad beans that have been cooked and
softened into a frying pan with soft fat, onions,
figs, sage, and several pot herbs, or else fry them
well rubbed with oil and, on a wooden tablet or a
flat surface, spread this into the form of a cake
and sprinkle spices over it.
1 c dried fava beans 1 ½ c spinach
6-8 T lard
1 ½ c parsley
⅔ c figs
1 ½ c mustard greens
½ t salt
For sprinkling on top:
½ t sage
¼ t ginger
½ c+ onions
½ t cinnamon
1 ½ c turnip greens
¼ t pepper
(Greens are measured packed)
Cut the figs in about 8 pieces each. Bring
beans to a boil in 2 ½ c water, leave to soak
about ½ hour, then simmer another hour until
soft. Drain the beans, mix the whole mess
together and fry it in the lard for 10 minutes,
then serve it forth with spices sprinkled on it.
This is also good with substantially less
Curye on Inglysch p. 115
(Forme of Cury no. 76)
Take groundon benes and seeþ hem wel; take
hem vp of the water and cast hem in a morter.
Grynde hem al to doust til þei be white as eny
mylke. Chawf a litell rede wyne; cast þeramong in
þe gryndyng. Do þerto salt. Leshe it in disshes,
þanne take oynouns and mynce hem smale and
seeþ hem in oile til þey be al broun, and florissh
the disshes þerwith, and serue it forth.
1 cup dried beans
1 t salt
½ c red wine
2 large onions
enough oil to fry the onions
Soak the beans overnight then simmer 4-6
hours until tender. Chop up the onions fairly
fine. Drain the beans, use a food processor to
puree. Heat the wine and add it. Put the beans
in each dish, fry the onions and add. Broad
beans (fava beans) would be more authentic
than pea beans, but we have not yet tried them
in this recipe.
Curye on Inglysch p. 100
(Forme of Cury no. 12)
Take funges and pare hem clene and dyce
hem; take leke and shrede hym small and do hym
to seeþ in gode broth. Colour it with safroun, and
do þerinne powdour fort.
½ lb mushrooms
1 leek
1 c beef broth
or chicken broth
6 threads saffron
¼ t powder fort (p. 4)
¼ t salt
Wash the vegetables; slice the leek finely
and dice the mushrooms. Add saffron to the
broth and bring it to a boil. Add the leek,
mushrooms, and powder fort to the broth,
simmer 3-4 minutes, remove from the heat,
and serve.
We prefer to use beef broth, but it is also
good with chicken.
To Make a Tarte of Spinage
Proper Newe Booke, p. 41
Take Spynage and perboyle it tender, then
take it up and wrynge oute the water cleane, and
chop it very small, and set it uppon the fyre wyth
swete butter in a frying panne and season it, and
set it in a platter to coole then fyll your tart and
so bake it.
20 oz spinach
¼ lb butter
1 t cinnamon
¼ t mace
¼ t salt
9" pastry shell
1 T sugar
Note: recipes for other pies in this book
say “season it up with sugar and cinnamon
and sweet butter” or also with mace or just
with sugar and butter.
Parboil spinach 3 minutes, rinse in cold
water, wring it dry. Fry 2-3 minutes in butter
with spices. Cool. Fill shell and bake at 350°
for 40 minutes.
Potage of Onions Which They Call
De Nola no. 46
Take peeled onions which are well washed and
clean and cut them in thick slices, and cast them
in a pot of boiling water, and then having let
them come to a boil once or twice, take them out of
the pot and press them between two wooden
chopping boards and them fry them gently with
good lard or with bacon grease, stirring with a
little shovel and moving it about in the frying
pan with the aforementioned little shovel which
should be of wood. And if the onions dry up, cast
in some good fatty mutton broth until the onions
are well cooked. And then take almonds which are
well peeled and white and grind them well in a
mortar and then dissolve them in good mutton
broth and pass them through a woolen strainer
and then cast the almond milk in the pot with the
onions and mix it well, and cook them well until
the onions are cooked in the almond milk, and
cast good grated cheese from Aragon in the pot,
and stir well with a stirrer as if they were gourds,
and when they are well mixed with the cheese and
you see that it is cooked, prepare dishes, first
casting into the pot a pair of egg yolks for each
dish, and upon the dishes cast sugar and
cinnamon if you wish; and it is good.
2 ½ c lamb broth
½ c almonds
1 lb 10 oz onions
1 T bacon fat or lard
2 ½ oz Parmesan
4 egg yolks
1 t sugar
⅛ t cinnamon
To make the broth, put a quarter to half a
pound of lamb trimmings in 4 c water and
simmer an hour or so. Blanch almonds. Peel
and slice onions. Grate cheese. Separate eggs.
Grind almonds fine and use 2 c of the lamb
broth to make almond milk from them (p. 7).
Bring 4 c of water to a boil; add sliced onions,
bring back to a boil, let boil a minute or two
and then remove from heat and drain. Squeeze
the onions between two wooden boards and
drain off the juice. Heat bacon fat, add onions
and fry for 10 minutes; add ½ c broth and
cook another 5-10 minutes. Add almond milk,
simmer about another 10 minutes. Stir in
grated cheese; as soon as it is melted, add egg
yolks, stir them in and remove from heat. Put
into serving bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar
and sprinkle over the top.
Benes Yfryed
Curye on Inglysch p. 141
(Forme of Cury no. 189)
Take benes and seeþ hem almost til þey
bersten. Take and wryng out the water clene. Do
þerto oynouns ysode and ymynced, and garlec
þerwith; frye hem in oile oþer in grece, & do þerto
powdour douce, & serue it forth.
30 oz fava beans
1 small onion
3 T olive oil
3 t poudre douce (p. 4)
3 cloves garlic (1 oz)
Drain and wash the beans (canned and so
precooked—dried would require soaking and
cooking). Chop onion, crush and mince garlic.
Simmer onions and garlic in ½ c water for 3
minutes, drain. Heat the frying pan with oil at
medium heat, add onions and garlic and beans
(will splatter—be careful), cook, stirring
frequently, 10 minutes. Then add poudre
douce, mix well, cook 2 more minutes, and
serve. Remember to keep stirring.
An Excellent Boiled Salad
English Huswife book 2, p. 40
To make an excellent compound boil'd Sallat:
take of Spinage well washt two or three handfuls,
and put it into faire water and boile it till it bee
exceeding soft and tender as pappe; then put it
into a Cullander and draine the water from it,
which done, with the backside of your Choppingknife chop it and bruise it as small as may bee:
then put it into a Pipkin with a good lump of
sweet butter and boile it over again; then take a
good handfull of Currants cleane washt and put
to it, and stirre them well together, then put to as
much Vinegar as will make it reasonable tart,
and then with sugar season it according to the
taste of the Master of the house, and so serve it
upon sippets.
10 oz spinach
2 T butter
⅝ c currants
4 T sugar
3 T wine vinegar
1 lb of bread to toast
Boil about 4 c water, add spinach, boil
about 10 minutes. Remove and drain. Spread
the spinach on a cutting board, chop and mash
it by striking with the back edge of a large
kitchen knife. Put it in a pot with the butter,
cook about five minutes, add currants,
vinegar, and sugar. Cook a few minutes
longer. Serve on slices of toast.
Leek Pottage (Potaje de Porrada)
De Nola no. 105
You must take leeks, well-peeled, and washed
and cleaned the night before, set them to soak in
an earthen bowl filled with water, in the night
air; and let them be this way all night until the
morning; and then give them a boil, moderately,
because they are very difficult to cook; and when
they are well-boiled, press them a great deal
between two chopping blocks, and gently fry them
with the fat of good bacon; and do not cast salt
upon them; and when they are well gently fried,
set them to cook in a little good broth which is
fatty; and then take almond milk and cast it in
the pot and cook it until it is quite thick; and
when it is thick, taste it for salt, and if it lacks
salt cast it in; and then prepare dishes, and [cast]
upon them sugar and cinnamon.
3 medium leeks (1 ¼ lb)
½ c chicken or beef broth
2 slices bacon (~ 2 oz)
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t salt
1 t sugar
⅛ c almonds
⅜ c water
Trim roots and green part from leeks,
wash and put to soak overnight.
Make almond milk (p. 7). Cut leeks into 1"
pieces. Put into boiling water and cook 15
minutes. Fry bacon in a large frying pan until
crisp and remove bacon, leaving fat in pan.
Drain leeks and press between two cutting
boards to force out the water. Fry the leeks 3
or 4 minutes at medium heat in the bacon fat.
Put the broth and the leeks into a pot and
bring to a boil, then add the almond milk.
Cook 5 minutes; add salt if needed. Mix
cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top
before serving.
A Puree with Leeks
Buoch von Guoter Spise no. 64
A puree with leeks. Take white leek and cut
small and mix well with good almond milk and
with rice meal and boil that well and do not
3 medium leeks
1 T rice flour
¼ c almonds
1 ⅛ c water
¼ t salt
Make 1 c almond milk (p. 7). Chop
white and pale green parts of the leeks and put
in a pot with almond milk and rice flour.
Cook, stirring often, 18-20 minutes over
medium heat. Add salt and serve.
Salmon Casserole (Cazuela de Salmon)
De Nola no. 182 (Good)
You must take the clean and well-washed
salmon; and put it in a casserole with your spices
which are: galingale, and a little pepper and
ginger and saffron; and all of this well ground,
and cast upon the fish with salt, and a little
verjuice or orange juice, and let it go to the fire of
embers; and then take blanched almonds and
raisins and pine nuts and all herbs. That is,
moraduj, which is called marjoram, and parsley,
and mint; and when the casserole is nearly halfcooked cast all this inside.
2 lb salmon
½ t galingale
⅛ t pepper
3 T verjuice or
sour orange juice
¼ t salt
1 t fresh marjoram
¼ c blanched almonds
1 T pine nuts
¼ t ginger
1 T fresh parsley
1 t fresh mint
3 T raisins
15 threads saffron
Put salmon fillets in heavy pot and
sprinkle on spices and verjuice. Cover and put
on stove on medium low; as soon as it is at a
simmer, turn down to very low heat. Chop the
herbs very fine and get the nuts and raisins
ready. After 15 minutes, add the remaining
ingredients, and cook another 10 minutes.
Salmon Roste in Sauce
Two Fifteenth Century p. 102
Take a Salmond, and cut him rounde, chyne
and all, and rost the peces on a gredire; And take
wyne, and pouder of Canell, and drawe it þorgh a
streynour; And take smale myced oynons, and
caste þere-to, and lete hem boyle; And þen take
vynegre, or vergeous, and pouder ginger, and cast
there-to; and þen ley the samon in a dissh, and
cast þe sirip þeron al hote, & serue it forth.
1 ¾ lb salmon
¾ c white wine
¾ t cinnamon
1 medium onion, 6 oz
¼ c red wine vinegar
¼ t ginger
Chop onion; put onion, wine, and
cinnamon in small pot, cook on medium about
20 minutes. Add ginger and vinegar. Simmer.
Meanwhile, take salmon steaks, cut into
serving sized pieces, place on ungreased
baking pan or cookie sheet. Broil for 10
minutes until lightly browned. Turn salmon,
making certain pieces are separated, cook
another 4 minutes or until done. Serve
immediately with sauce over it.
Sturgeon pour Porpeys
Two Fifteenth Century p. 105
Take a sturgeon, turbot or porpoise, and cut it
in fair pieces to bake; and then make fair cakes of
fair paste, and take powder of pepper, powder of
ginger, canel, and salt, and medle these powders
and salt together; and take and lay a piece of the
fish on a cake and lay the powders underneath
the fish, and above enough; and then wet the sides
of the paste with fair cold water, and close the
sides together, and set him in an oven, and bake
him enough.
1 lb filleted fish
2 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
~ 1 c water
½ t pepper
½ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
½ T salt
Mix flour together, stir in water, knead to a
smooth dough. Divide in 24 portions. Roll out
each portion into an oval about 4"x5 ½". Cut a
piece of fish about 1 ½"x3"x⅜". Mix ginger,
cinnamon, and salt. Take ⅛ t of the mixture,
put about half of it on one end of the rolled
out piece of dough, put on the piece of fish,
put the rest of the spice mixture on the fish.
Fold over the other half of the dough and seal
the edges, using a wet finger if necessary; it
should look like a big ravioli. Put on a baking
sheet and bake 20-30 minutes at 325°. Eat.
Variants: Make smaller or larger pasties,
as you like; what I describe is simply one way
that works. As an alternative to the ravioli
shape, roll out the dough in a roughly circular
shape, put the fish in the middle, pull the
dough up at the edges and join it on top—sort
of like a shu mai.
Note: Turbot is a delicate flat fish, related
to halibut. We were told that Orange Roughy
or Taliapia is similar, that it is not fat and does
not taste very fishy. Flesh is "white, firm,
flaky and savoury". The porpoise (mammal) is
said to be oily.
Ancient Cookery p. 448
Take hole roches, or tenchys, or plays, but
choppe hem on peces, and frie hem in oyle; and
take crusts of bredde, and draw hem with wyn,
and vynegur, and bray fygges, and draw hem
therwith; and mynce onyons, and frie hem, and
do therto, and blaunched almonds fried, and
raisinges of corance, and pouder of clowes, and of
ginger, and of canell, and let hit boyle, then do thi
fissh in a faire vessell, and poure thi sewe above,
and serve hit forthe colde.
1 lb fish
1 slice bread
3 T wine
2 T figs
1 T minced onion
2 T blanched almonds
pinch ground cloves
⅛ t ginger
½ t cinnamon
3 T vinegar
2 T currants
Cut up the fish and fry in oil. Mix bread,
wine, vinegar, and chopped or ground figs.
Fry minced onion and almonds; add to the
sauce, along with remaining ingredients. Put
the fish in a dish, cover with the sauce, and
serve cold.
To Make Blamaunger in Lenten
Curye on Inglysch p. 89
(Utilis Coquinario no. 30)
Tak almound melk & do it in a pot, & tak
floure of rys aftere þat þe quantite is of þe melk,
or hol rys. & take of þe perche or of a luce & hew
it as þou woldest do braun, & if þou fayle þerof
tak newe ray &alye it up, & do þerto sugre &
oyl of almoundes, or elles oyle dolyf þat is newe,
or elles þe gres of a brem; & whan it is soþe, do þe
oyle þerto & tak almoundes koruen on foure
ifried in oyle & sette in þe disches whan it is
dressed, & strew sugre aboue manerlych.
2 c almond milk: (p. 7)
½ c almonds
2 c water
4 T rice flour (or rice)
1 lb perch
1 T sugar
1 T almond oil
or olive oil
1 c almonds
1 T sugar
Make almond milk. Put in a pot, add rice
flour and fish, cut up into small cubes. Cook
until fish is done, about 10 minutes, add 1 T
sugar and oil, cook another minute. Cut
almonds in four pieces each and fry. Serve
with fried almonds and second T of sugar on
Vyaunde de Cyprys in Lent
Two Fifteenth Century p. 28
Take good thick milk of almonds, and do it on
a pot; nym the flesh of good crabs, and good
salmon, and bray it small, and temper it up with
the foresaid milk; boil it, and lye it with flour of
rice or amyndoun, and make it chargeaunt; when
it is yboiled, do thereto white sugar, a gode
quantitie of white vernage pimes [apparently a
wine like muscadine] with the wine, pomegranate.
When it is ydressed, strew above the grains of
2 oz almonds
1 c water
7 oz crabmeat
7 oz salmon
2 T rice flour
3 T sugar
4 t Rhine wine
2 T pomegranate juice
pomegranate seeds
Make almond milk (p. 7). Remove skin
and bones from salmon, cut salmon and crab
into cubes and shred it. Mix fish and almond
milk and cook over medium heat; add sugar,
wine, and pomegranate juice after 5 minutes;
add rice flour after 10 minutes, cook, stirring,
another minute, remove from heat and keep
stirring another half minute. Garnish with
pomegranate seeds.
Galantine for Carp
Goodman p. 289
Bray saffron, ginger, clove, grains of paradise,
long pepper and nutmegs, and moisten with the
greasy sewe in which the carp has been cooked,
and add thereto verjuice, wine and vinegar and
let it be thickened with a little toasted bread, well
brayed and colorless (natheless strained bread
maketh the best sauce) and let it all be boiled and
poured over the cooked fish, then put onto plates.
1 ½ lb catfish or carp
5 threads saffron
¼ t ginger
¼ t pepper
½ t nutmeg
⅛ t grains of paradise
¼ t cloves
2 T broth from fish
1 ½ c verjuice
2 t red wine
4 T wine vinegar
3 T bread crumbs
Oysters in Bruette
Two Fifteenth Century p. 23
Take an schene oystrys, an kepe þe water þat
cometh of hem, an strayne it, and put it in a
potte, & Ale þer-to, an a lytil brede þer-to; put
Gyngere, Canel, Pouder of Pepir þer-to, Safroun
an Salt; an whan it is y-now al-moste, putte on
þin Oystrys: loke þat þey ben wyl y-wasshe for þe
schullys: & þan serue forth.
2 slices bread
¾ c liquid from oysters
¾ c ale
t ginger
⅛ t cinnamon
⅛ t pepper
8 threads of saffron
¼ t salt
1 ¼ c oysters
Mix bread, torn up small, with liquids and
heat; add seasonings and simmer until the
bread has come apart and the sauce is fairly
thick. Add oysters, let simmer until the
oysters are done and serve forth.
A Potage with Turnips
Platina pp. 117-118 (book 7)
Turnips that have been well washed and cut
up into nice bits, you cook down in some rich
juice. When they have cooked and been mashed,
put them near the fire again, in more rich juice,
even better than before, if possible; and put in
little pieces of salt pork, pepper and saffron. When
it has boiled once, then take it and serve it to
your guests.
3 lb turnips
5 c beef broth
6 oz salt pork
-⅛ t pepper
24 threads saffron
Wash turnips and cut off ends and slice
¼"-½" thick. Combine 2 ½ c of the beef broth
with 5 c water, heat it to a boil, then add
turnips. Simmer 20 minutes, remove turnips
and get rid of broth. Cut salt pork into small
pieces, cutting off rind, and fry it until lightly
browned, about 8 minutes. Drain. Mash
turnips with a potato masher, return to pot
with another 2 ½ c of beef broth, salt pork,
pepper and saffron; bring to a boil, boil briefly
and remove from heat. Produces about 9 c of
Note: a recipe for potage of peas earlier in
the same chapter says to fry morsels of salt
flesh, so we do so with the salt pork here.
Rapes in Potage [or Carrots or Parsnips]
Curye on Inglysch p. 99
(Forme of Cury no. 7)
Take rapus and make hem clene, and waissh
hem clene; quarter hem; perboile hem, take hem
vp. Cast hem in a gode broth and seeþ hem;
mynce oynouns and cast þerto safroun and salt,
and messe it forth with powdour douce. In the self
wise make of pastunakes and skyrwittes.
Note: rapes are turnips; pasternakes are
either parsnips or carrots; skirrets are,
according to the OED, “a species of water
parsnip, formerly much cultivated in Europe
for its esculent tubers.” We have never found
them available.
1 lb turnips, carrots,
or parsnips
½ lb onions
2 c chicken broth
6 threads saffron
¾ t salt
3 t poudre douce (p. 4)
Wash, peel, and quarter turnips (or cut into
eighths if they are large), cover with boiling
water and parboil for 15 minutes. If you are
using carrots or parsnips, clean them and cut
them up into large bite-sized pieces and
parboil 10 minutes. Mince onions. Drain
turnips, carrots, or parsnips, and put them
with onions and chicken broth in a pot and
bring to a boil. Crush saffron into about 1 t of
the broth and add that and the salt to the
potage. Cook another 15-20 minutes, until
turnips or carrots are soft to a fork and some
of the liquid is boiled down. Sprinkle on the
poudre douce and serve.
Potage from Meat
Platina p. 116 (book 7) (Good)
Take lean meat and let it boil, then cut it up
finely and cook it again for half an hour in rich
juice, having first added bread crumbs. Add a
little pepper and saffron.
When it has cooled a little, add beaten eggs,
grated cheese, parsley, marjoram, finely chopped
mint with a little verjuice. Blend them all
together in a pot, stirring them slowly with a
spoon so that they do not form a ball. The same
may be done with livers and lungs.
2 ⅓ lb stewbeef
4 c water
2 ½ c beef broth
1 ½ c bread crumbs
¾ t pepper
8 threads saffron
5 eggs
1 ½ c grated cheese
⅜ c parsley
1 t fresh marjoram
1 ½ T fresh mint
6 T verjuice
[1 t salt (to taste)]
Bring meat and water to a boil and cook 10
minutes; take meat out and cut up small; put
back in water with broth, bread crumbs,
pepper, and saffron. Simmer ½ hour over low
flame, being careful that it does not stick. Mix
in remaining ingredients; the herbs should be
chopped. Cook, stirring frequently, for about
5 minutes. This makes about 10 cups.
This is a rather meat-rich version; it also
works with as little as half this much meat.
The Soup Called Menjoire
Taillevent p. 112
First you need the necessary meat–Peachicks,
pheasants or partridges and if you can't get those,
plovers, cranes or larks or other small birds; and
roast the poultry on a spit and when it is almost
cooked, especially for large birds like peachicks,
pheasants or partridges, cut them into pieces and
fry them in lard in an iron pan and then put
them in the soup pot. And to make the soup you
need beef stock from a leg of beef, and white bread
toasted on a grill, and put the bread to soak and
skim the broth and strain through a sieve and
then you need cinnamon, ginger, a little cloves,
long pepper and grains of paradise and hippocras
according to the amount of soup you want to
make, and mix the spices and the hippocras
together and put in the pot with the poultry and
the broth and boil everything together and add a
very little vinegar, taking care that it just
simmers and add sugar to taste and serve over
the toasted crackers with white anise or red or
pomegranate powder.
2 lbs chicken pieces
lard to fry in
~3 c beef broth
4 slices white bread
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t ginger
3 whole cloves
¼ t long pepper
¼ t grains of paradise
½ c hippocras (p. 64)
1 T vinegar
1 T sugar
¼ t ground aniseed
Bake chicken pieces 45 minutes at 350°.
You may wish to debone them after they have
cooled enough to handle before frying them in
lard. Bread is toasted and then soaked until
soft, then beaten into the soup along with the
spices and hippocras. Add vinegar and sugar.
Simmer soup about 45 minutes. Serve over
toasted crackers with aniseed sprinkled on.
The hippocras in the recipe might be the
spice mixture hippocras is made from rather
than hippocras itself, in which case you would
use a teaspoon or so—we have not tried that
Saffron Broth
Platina p. 103 (book 6)
Put thirty egg yolks, verjuice, the juice of veal
or capon, saffron, a little cinnamon together into
a bowl and blend. Pass them through a strainer
into a pot. Cook it down slowly and stir it
continuously with a spoon until it begins to
thicken. For then it is taken from the hearth and
served to ten guests. While in the dishes, sprinkle
with spices.
7 egg yolks
2 T verjuice
21 oz chicken broth
10 threads saffron
½ t cinnamon
⅛ t nutmeg
¼ t black pepper
Platina p. 104 (book 6)
Take seven eggs, half a pound of grated cheese,
and ground bread all blended together. Put this
into the pot where the saffron broth is made, when
it begins to boil. When you have stirred it two or
three times with a spoon, compose your dishes, for
it is quickly done.
Saffron broth (one recipe)
3 cups ground mozzarella
4 eggs
3 slices bread
Variants on Platina Soups
Platina p. 104 (book 6)
Green Broth: Take all that was contained in
the first broth [Saffron Broth] except for the
saffron and to these things add orach and a little
parsley and a few ground sprouts of wheat if
there are any green ones at the time. Pass this
through a strainer and cook it in the same way as
½ c orage
2 T parsley
2 T wheat sprouts.
Grind them up in a mortar to get the green
color. You can use spinach to substitute for
the orage.
Green Pottage: You prepare green potage in
the same way as described above [Zanzarella], but
instead of saffron, put in herbs which I noted
with the green broth.
Cretonnée of New Peas
Menagier p. M-19
Cook them almost to a puree then remove from
the liquid and take fresh cow's milk. And first boil
this milk before you put anything in it for it still
could turn then first grind ginger to give appetite
and saffron to yellow: it is said that if you want
to make a liaison with egg yolks pour gently in
from above these yolks will yellow it enough and
also make the liaison but milk curdles quicker
with egg yolks than with a liaison of bread and
with saffron to color it. And for this purpose if
you use bread it should be white unleavened
bread and moisten it in a bowl with milk or meat
stock then grind and put it through a sieve and
when your bread is sieved and your spices have
not been sieved put it all to boil with your peas
and when it is all cooked then add your milk and
saffron. You can make still another liaison, with
the same peas or beans ground then strained; use
whichever you please. As for liaison with egg
yolks, they must be beaten, strained through a
sieve, and poured slowly from above into the milk,
after it has boiled well and has been drawn to the
back of the fire with the new peas and spices. The
surest way is to take a little of the milk and mix
with the eggs in the bowl, and then a little more,
and again, until the yolks are well mixed with a
spoon and plenty of milk, then put into the pot
which is away from the fire, and the soup will not
curdle. And if the soup is thick, thin with a little
meat stock. This done, you should have quartered
chicks, veal, or small goose cooked then fried, and
in each bowl put two or three morsels and the
soup over them.
1 lb = 4 c peas
[meat stock]
1 c milk
½ t ginger
4 egg yolks
or bread and saffron
2 chicken legs
or veal or goose
Note: Save the water in which you cook
the peas–it is useful for making other soups.
Boil peas 10 minutes. Mix 1 c warm milk
with 4 egg yolks. Add ginger and salt to the
peas, then milk and eggs; thin with meat stock
if it is thicker than you want. Makes about 6
Potage of Beans Boiled
Curye on Inglysch p. 77
(Diuersa Servicia no. 81)
For to make a potage fene boiles, tak wite
benes & seþ hem in water, & bray þe benys in a
mortar al to noght; & lat þem seþe in almond
mylk & do þerin wyn & hony. & seþ reysouns in
wyn & do þerto & after dresse yt forth.
1 c dried fava beans
1 c (5 oz) almonds
1 ½ c water
⅛ c wine
1 ½ T honey
¼ c raisins
¼ c more wine
[½ t salt]
Soak beans overnight in 2 c water, drain.
Boil them for 40 minutes in 2 c of water.
Drain them, mush them in a mortar. Make 1 c
almond milk (p. 7) with almonds and 1 ½ c
water and set to boil; throw beans into boiling
almond milk, add ⅛ c wine and honey,
simmer 1 hour. Simmer the raisins in ¼ c
wine for about ten minutes, add them to the
pottage a few minutes before it finishes
Green Broth of Eggs and Cheese
Menagier p. M-22
Take parsley and a little cheese and sage and
a very small amount of saffron, moistened bread,
and mix with water left from cooking peas, or
stock, grind and strain: And have ground ginger
mixed with wine, and put on to boil; then add
cheese and eggs poached in water, and let it be a
bright green. Item, some do not add bread, but
instead of bread use bacon.
3 T parsley
½ oz grated cheese
3 small leaves fresh sage
5 threads saffron
2 thin slices white bread
or bacon
2 c pea stock
or chicken stock
⅛ t ginger
1 T white wine
1 ¾ oz cheese
3 eggs
Grate bread and soak it in stock (either
water left from cooking peas or ½ c canned
chicken broth + 1 ½ c water). Grind parsley,
sage, and saffron in a mortar thoroughly; add
½ oz cheese and soaked bread and grind
together. Strain through a strainer; if
necessary, put back in mortar what didn't go
through, grind again, and strain again. Mix
wine and ginger, add to mixture, and bring to
a boil over moderate heat; be careful that it
does not stick to the bottom. Stir in the rest of
the cheese; break eggs into soup, and continue
to simmer until eggs are poached.
Note: We have used both Gouda and
cheddar cheese; both are good.
Icelandic Chicken
Icelandic p. 218 (Good)
One shall cut a young chicken in two and
wrap about it whole leaves of salvia, and cut up
in it bacon and add salt to suit the taste. Then
cover that with dough and bake like bread in the
5 c flour
about 1 ¾ c water
fresh sage leaves to cover
(or 3 T dried sage)
½ lb bacon
3 lb chicken
Make a stiff dough by kneading together
flour and water. Roll it out. Cover the dough
with sage leaves and the sage leaves with
strips of bacon. Cut chicken in half and wrap
each half chicken in the dough, sealing it. You
now have two packages which contain,
starting at the outside, dough, sage, bacon,
chicken. Put them in the oven and bake like
bread (325° for 2 hours). We find the bacon
adds salt enough.
The part of the bread at the bottom is
particularly good, because of the bacon fat
and chicken fat. You may want to turn the
loaves once or twice or baste the top with the
Roast Chicken
Platina p. 94 (book 6)
You will roast a chicken after it has been well
plucked, cleaned and washed; and after roasting
it, put it into a dish before it cools off and pour
over it either orange juice or verjuice with
rosewater, sugar and well-ground cinnamon, and
serve it to your guests.
large chicken
1 ½ T sour orange juice
2 t rosewater
2 T sugar
½ t cinnamon
Note that orange juice at this period would
have been from sour oranges.
Chykens in Hocchee
Curye on Inglysch p. 105
(Forme of Cury no. 36)
Take chykens and scald hem. Take persel and
sawge, with oþer erbes; take garlec & grapes, and
stoppe the chikenus ful, and seeþ hem in gode
broth, so þat þey may esely be boyled þerinne.
Messe hem & cast þerto powdour dowce.
3 ½ lb chicken
4 T fresh parsley
1 ½ t fresh sage
1 t fresh marjoram
1 ¾ t fresh thyme
¾ oz = ~10 cloves garlic
½ lb red grapes
5 c chicken broth
1 ½ t poudre douce (p. 4)
Clean the chicken, chop parsley and sage
fine then mix with herbs in a bowl. Herbs are
fresh, measured chopped and packed down.
Take leaves off the fresh marjoram and thyme
and throw out the stems, remove as much
stem from parsley as practical. Add garlic
cloves whole. Add grapes, and thoroughly but
gently mix with the herbs. Stuff the chicken
with the herbs, garlic and grapes. Close the
bird with a few toothpicks. Place chicken in
pot with broth and cook on stove top over
moderate heat ½ hour, turn over, another ¼
hour (in covered pot). Serve on platter with
poudre douce sprinkled over.
Capons Stwed
Two Fifteenth Century p. 72 (Good)
Take parcelly, Sauge, Isoppe, Rose Mary, and
tyme, and breke hit bitwen thi hondes, and stoppe
the Capon there-with; colour hym with Safferon,
and couche him in a erthen potte, or of brasse,
and ley splentes underneth and al about the sides,
that the Capon touche no thinge of the potte;
strawe good herbes in the potte, and put thereto a
pottel of the best wyn that thou may gete, and
none other licour; hele the potte with a close led,
and stoppe hit aboute with dogh or bater, that no
eier come oute; And set hit on the faire charcole,
and lete it seeth easly and longe till hit be ynowe.
And if hit be an erthen potte, then set hit on the
fire whan thou takest hit downe, and lete hit not
touche the grounde for breking; And whan the
hete is ouer past, take oute the Capon with a prik;
then make a sirippe of wyne, Reysons of corance,
sugur and safferon, And boile hit a litull; medel
pouder of Ginger with a litul of the same wyn,
and do thereto; then do awey the fatte of the sewe
of the Capon, And do the Siryppe to the sewe, and
powre hit on the capon, and serue it forth.
3 lb chicken
6 threads saffron + 1 t water
First batch of herbs: Second batch of herbs:
⅓ c fresh parsley
2 T parsley
1 T dried sage
½ t sage
1 t dried rosemary ½ t rosemary
1 t thyme, ground
½ t thyme
2 T hyssop, dried about ½ c flour
1 ½ c wine
enough water to make a
stiff dough
½ c wine
½ c sugar
½ c currants
10 threads saffron
¼ c wine
1 t powdered ginger
Mix first batch of herbs and stuff chicken
with them. Put chicken and wine in a pot with
a lid; if you are using a stove top rather than
an oven, you may want to put wood pieces or
something under the chicken to keep it from
sticking. Paint the chicken with water with
saffron crushed into it. Sprinkle on second
batch of herbs. Mix flour and water into a stiff
dough, roll it out into a string, and use it
between pot and lid as a seal. Bake at 350° or
simmer on stove top about 1 ½ hours. Take
out, drain, separate out some of the liquid
without the fat. Make a thick syrup of wine,
sugar, currants, and a pinch of saffron. Boil
briefly. Mix another ¼ c wine with powdered
ginger. Combine. Add ½ c of the liquid from
the chicken to this, heat, pour over capon,
Ordinance of Potage no. 38
Take capons and othir fowlys. Perboile hem;
dyse hem. Cast hem yn a pott with cowe mylke &
boyle hit therwithe. Draw payndmayne with som
of the mylke and put togedyr. Take sodyn eyron;
hew the white & caste therto. Sesyn hit up with
poudyr, sigure, & safferyn & salt, and aley hit up
with yolkes of eyron sodyn hard, & frye hem a
lytyll. Ley hem in disches; poure the sewe abovyn
and floresch hit with anneys in comfite.
5 ½ lb chicken
4 c milk
5 slices white bread
5 hard-boiled eggs
1 T lard or oil
1 T sugar
candied anise seed
1 t pepper
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
½ t salt
10 threads saffron
Quarter chicken, put it in boiling water
for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain. Debone and dice
the meat. Put it in the milk, simmer 20
minutes until the meat is well cooked.
Remove from heat. Cut the bread into small
pieces, combine with 1 ¼ c of the milk. Chop
egg whites, fry the egg yolks in lard or oil for
about 5 minutes. Mush the bread, add egg
whites, egg yolk, spices including sugar and
salt, using a little milk to extract color and
flavor from the saffron, simmer together for
about 5 minutes. Serve the chicken with the
sauce over it, sprinkling candied anise over
Veal, Kid, or Hen in Bokenade
Two Fifteenth Century p. 13
liquid to pot, simmer another ½ hour. Add salt
to taste.
Take Vele, Kyde, or Henne, an boyle hem in
fayre Water, or ellys in fresshe brothe, an smyte
hem in pecys, an pyke hem clene; an than draw
the same brothe thorwe a straynoure, an caste
ther-to Percely, Sawge, Ysope, Maces, Clowys, an
let boyle tyl the flesshe be y-now; than sette it
from the fyre, and a-lye it vp with raw yolkys of
eyroun, and caste ther-to pouder Gyngere,
Verjows, Safroun, and Salt, and thanne serue it
forth for a gode mete.
Maumenye Ryalle
Two Fifteenth Century p. 22
meat (½ chicken)
2 T fresh parsley
3 leaves of sage
½ T hyssop
⅛ t mace
⅛ t cloves
8 egg yolks
1 t powdered ginger
3 T vinegar
5 threads saffron
½ t salt
Boil meat 20 minutes before “smiting in
pieces”, another 20 minutes after adding
parsley, etc.
Cinnamon Bruet
Menagier p. M-19
Cut up your poultry or other meat, then cook
in water and add wine, and fry; then take raw
almonds with the skin on, unpeeled, and a great
quantity of cinnamon, and grind up well, and
mix with your stock or with beef stock, and put to
boil with your meat: then grind ginger, clove, and
grain, etc., and let it be thick and yellow-brown.
3 ¼ lb chicken
6 c water
1 ½ c wine
2 c almonds
8 t cinnamon
½ t cloves
1 t grains of Paradise
½ t ginger
[½ t salt]
Mix wine and water, put in the cut up
chicken, bring to a boil, cook half an hour.
Remove chicken and fry for about 10 minutes.
Grind almonds fine. Add almonds, cinnamon,
ginger, cloves and grains to the pot of broth
from boiling the chicken, put the pieces of
chicken back in, simmer 20 minutes. Remove
and bone chicken, return almonds, chicken,
Take Vernage, oþer strong Wyne of þe beste
þat a man may fynde, an putte it on a potte, and
caste þer-to a gode quantyte of pouder Canelle,
and sette it on þe fyre, an gif it an hete; and
þanne wrynge it soft þorw a straynour, þat þe
draf go nowt owte, and put on a fayre potte, and
pyke fayre newe pynys, and wasshe hem clene in
Wyn, and caste a gode quantyte þer-to, and take
whyte Sugre þer-to, as moche as þe lycoure is,
and caste þer-to; and draw a few Sawnderys wyth
strong wyne þorwe a straynoure, an caste þer-to,
and put alle on one potte, and caste þer-to Clowes,
a gode quantyte, and sette it on þe fyre, and gif it
a boyle; þen take Almaundys, and draw them
with mythty Wyne; and at þe firste boyle ly it
vppe with Ale, and gif it a boyle, and sette it on
þe fyre, and caste þer-to tesyd brawn, (of defaute
of Pertrich or Capoun) a gode quantyte of tryid
Gyngere perase, and sesyn it vppe with pouder
Gyngere, and Salt and Safroun; and if it is to
stonding, a-ly it with Vernage or swete Wyne,
and dresse it Flat with þe backe of a Sawcere in
þe Vernage or mygthty Wyne, and loke þat þou
haue Sugre y-nowe, and serue forth hote.
3 lb chicken
1 c vernage
1 T cinnamon
½ t saunders
½ c more wine
¼ c pine nuts
½ t cloves
1 c sugar
10 T ground almonds
½ c ale
1 T fresh ginger
¼ t powdered ginger
¼ t salt
6 threads saffron
Microwave (or boil in very little water)
chicken 6 minutes initially to make it easier to
bone. Chicken should be boned, skinned, and
shredded. Put vernage (or other sweet white
wine) and cinnamon into the pot and boil; mix
saunders with extra wine and add that and
pine nuts, cloves, and sugar to pot; add
almonds, let cook while chopping ginger, and
add everything else, then boil about 30
minutes uncovered.
Moorish Chicken
Portuguese p. P-3
Cut up a fat hen and cook on a mild flame,
with 2 spoons of fat, some bacon slices, lots of
coriander, a pinch of parsley, some mint leaves,
salt and a large onion.
Cover and let it get golden brown, stirring
once in a while. Then cover hen with water and
let boil, and season with salt, vinegar, cloves,
saffron, black pepper and ginger. When chicken is
cooked, pour in 4 beaten yolks. Then take a deep
dish, lined with slices of bread, and pour chicken
on top.
4 lbs chicken
10 oz onion
1 t parsley
½ T mint
⅓ c cilantro
2 T lard
5 strips bacon
2 ½ c water
½ t salt
2 T vinegar
¼ t cloves
8 threads saffron
½ t ginger
½ t pepper
4 egg yolks
6 slices bread
Dismember chicken (thighs, legs, wings in
two pieces, etc.), slice onion, wash and
coarsely chop parsley, mint, and cilantro. Melt
fat, fry bacon a couple of minutes, put
chicken, herbs, salt, and onion into pot and fry
uncovered about 10 minutes, cover and cook
covered another 20 minutes. Add water,
vinegar, additional spices, bring to a boil and
cook 45 minutes. Toast bread, arrange toast in
bowl. Break egg yolks, stir them in and
remove pot from heat, and pour into bowl
with toast.
Note that this is a 15th-century
Portuguese idea of an Islamic dish: a real
Islamic dish would not include bacon!
How You Want to Make a Food of Hens
Daz Buoch von Guoter Spise p. B-7 (#28)
This is called King's Hens. Take young
roasted hens. Cut them in small pieces. Take fresh
eggs and beat them. Mix thereto pounded ginger
and a little anise. Pour that in a strong pot,
which will be hot. With the same herbs, which you
add to the eggs, sprinkle therewith the hens and
put the hens in the pot. And do thereto saffron
and salt to mass. And put them to the fire and let
them bake [at the] same heat with a little fat.
Give them out whole. That is called King's Hens.
3 lb chicken
2 T fresh ginger
¾ t anise
5 eggs
2 t fresh ginger
¼ t anise on chicken
12 threads saffron
1 t salt
7 T chicken fat
Put whole chicken in oven at 350°, bake 1
hour. Let cool, cut into pieces, partially
deboning. Cut 2 T ginger up fine and pound
with ¾ t anise in mortar. Take a bowl, beat
eggs, add ginger, anise, beat together. Heat a
pot on the stove, add egg mixture. Put cut up
chicken on the egg mixture. Sprinkle chicken
with another 2 t ginger and ¼ t anise. Crush
saffron into 1 t water, sprinkle saffron and salt
over pot. Sprinkle chicken fat (drippings from
baking the chicken) overall. Put in oven, bake
30 minutes at 350°.
Mirause of Catelonia
Platina p. 92 (book 6) (Good)
The Catelans are a refined people who in
character and customs are hardly unlike the
Italians and skillful with food; they have a dish
which they call mirause and prepare it thus:
capons or pullets or pigeons well cleaned and
washed they put together on a spit and turn over
the hearth until they are half cooked. Then they
remove them and cut them in pieces and put them
in a pot. Then they chop almonds that have been
toasted under warm ashes and cleaned with some
cloth. To this they add some bread crumbs lightly
toasted with vinegar and juice and pass all this
through a strainer. This is all put in the same
pot with cinnamon and ginger and a good
amount of sugar and left to boil on the coals with
a slow fire until it is done, all the time being
stirred with a spoon so that it does not stick to the
3 ¼ lb chicken
¾ c roasted almonds
¼ c breadcrumbs
1 T vinegar
½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
1 T sugar
10.5 oz concentrated
chicken broth
Preheat oven to 450°. Put in chicken,
reduce temperature to 350°, bake about 45
minutes. Chop almonds fine, mix chopped
almonds, breadcrumbs, vinegar, and a little of
the chicken broth and run through a food
processor until smooth (or squish through a
strainer, grind the residue with a mortar and
pestle, and then put it through the strainer).
Cut up chicken into large pieces, put in pot
with sauce, spices, sugar, the juice from
roasting the chicken and the rest of the
chicken broth and cook about 15 minutes,
stirring almost constantly.
Bruette Saake
Two Fifteenth Century p. 27
Take Capoun, skalde hem, draw hem, smyte
hem to gobettys, Waysshe hem, do hem in a potte;
þenne caste owt þe potte, waysshe hem a-gen on
þe potte, and caste þer-to half wyne half Broþe;
take Percely, Isope, Waysshe hem, and hew hem
smal, and putte on þe potte þer þe Fleysshe is;
caste þer-to Clowys, quybibes, Maces, Datys ytallyd, hol Safroune; do it ouer þe fyre; take
Canelle, Gyngere, tempere þin powajes with wyne;
caste in-to þe potte Salt þer-to, hele it, and whan
it is y-now, serue it forth.
3 lbs frying chicken
2 c broth
2 c wine
4 T fresh parsley
1 ½ T fresh hyssop
⅛ t cloves
¼ t cubebs
½ t mace
¼ c = 3 oz dates
15 threads saffron
½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
2 t more wine
½ t salt
Cut chicken into separate joints, add broth
and wine and set to boil. Chop herbs and
grind cubebs in a mortar; add herbs, dates,
cloves, cubebs, and mace and cook about 35
minutes uncovered. Mix cinnamon and ginger
with remaining wine, add them and salt to
chicken, cover and let simmer another 30
minutes. Should be served with bread (or rice,
although that is less appropriate for 15thcentury England) to sop up the sauce.
Notes: One could also interpret “smyting
to gobbetys” as taking the meat off the bones
and cutting up; my gobbets are the size of the
thigh or half the breast. I assume the parsley
and hyssop are intended to be fresh since they
are being washed. Fresh hyssop tastes
somewhat like parsley but rather more bitter
and spicier; I would suggest, if you can't get
it, substituting more fresh parsley rather than
dried hyssop, which is pretty tasteless.
Cold Sage Chicken
Goodman p. 277
Take your chicken and quarter it and set to
cook in salt and water, then set it to get cold.
Then bray ginger, cinnamon powder, grain of
Paradise, and cloves and bray them well without
straining; then bray bread dipped in chicken
broth, parsley (the most), sage, and a little saffron
in the leaf and color it green and run it through
a strainer (and some there be that run therewith
yolk of egg) and moisten with good vinegar, and
when it is moistened set it on your chicken and
with and on the top of the aforesaid chicken set
hard boiled eggs cut into quarters and pour your
sauce over it all.
½ chicken, quartered
¼ t ginger
½ t cinnamon
¼ t grains of paradise
less than ⅛ t cloves
3 slices of bread
4 T parsley
3 leaves sage
10 threads saffron
2 egg yolks
1 T vinegar
4 hard boiled eggs
Douce Ame
Form of Cury p. 35
Take good cowmilk and do it in a pot. Take
psel., sage, Hissop, savory, and other good herbs.
Hew them and do them in the milk and seethe
them. Take capons half y-roasted and smite them
on pieces and do thereto pine and honey clarified.
Salt it and color it with saffron and serve it forth.
2 ¼ c milk
¼ c fresh parsley
1 t dried sage
1 t hyssop
1 t dried savory
other herbs to taste
2 lb chicken
1 T pine nuts
½ T honey
¼ t salt
a pinch saffron
Bake chicken about 40 minutes at 350°.
Simmer in milk about 45 minutes.
Conyng, Hen, or Mallard
Two Fifteenth Century p. 80
Take conyng, hen or mallard, and roast him
almost enough; or else chop him, and fry him in
fresh grease; and fry onions minced, and cast
altogether into a pot, and cast thereto fresh broth
and half wine; cast thereto cloves, maces, powder
of pepper, canel; then stepe fair bread with the
same broth and draw it through a strainer with
vinegre. And when it hath well boiled, cast the
liquor thereto, and powder ginger, and vinegre,
and season it up, and then thou shall serve it
4 ½ lb duckling,
or 3 lbs chicken
or 3 lb rabbit
lard for frying
½ lb onions
2 c chicken broth
1 c wine
⅛ t cloves
¼ t mace
¼ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
6 slices bread
2 T red wine vinegar
¼ t ginger
[½ t salt]
1 T vinegar
Roast the duck, chicken or rabbit for about
an hour and a quarter. Bone the meat, or break
it into small pieces. Chop onions and fry them
in 2 t of the drippings for about five minutes,
until they turn yellow. Add dismembered
chicken (or …), broth, wine, cloves, mace,
pepper and cinnamon to the pot, bring to a
simmer, and cook twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, tear up the bread, spoon about
1 c of the liquid from the pot over the bread,
and let it soak for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 T
vinegar, force through a strainer or mash very
thoroughly, and add to the pot along with
ginger and another T of vinegar. Bring back to
a boil, stirring, and serve.
Chicones in Mose
Curye on Inglysch p. 86
(Utilis Coquinario no. 17)
To make chicones in mose. Tak blaunched
almoundes & grynde hem smale & tempere hem
with clene watere, & do hem in a pot & put þerto
floure of rys & sugre & salt & safroun, & boyle
hem togedere. & ley þe yelkes of harde sothe eyren
in disches, & tak rosted chikenes & tak þe lemes &
þe wynges & þe braun, & cut þat oþer del on
lengthe, & ley it in þe disches with yolkes and
take the sauche and hilde hit into the disches &
do aboue clowes & serue it forth.
4 lb chicken
8 eggs
1 c blanched almonds
1 c water
1 T rice flour
1 T sugar
½ t salt
8 threads saffron
8 whole cloves
Roast the chicken for about an hour and
35 minutes, preheating oven to 450° and
turning down to 350° when the chicken is put
in. While it is baking, put eggs in cold water
and bring to a boil; after 15 minutes remove
them, separate the yolks and set aside. Grind
the almonds fine. Shortly before the chicken
is done, combine almonds with water, bring to
a boil, stir in the rice flour, sugar, salt and
saffron and cook until thickened.
Cut legs and wings off the chicken,
remove white meat and cut into strips.
Arrange on a platter with the egg yolks on the
chicken and pour the sauce over. Put on a few
whole cloves for ornament and serve forth.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 72
Take faire Garbage, chikenes hedes, ffete,
lyvers, And gysers, and wassh hem clene; caste
hem into a faire potte, And caste fressh broth of
Beef, powder of Peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces,
Parcely and Sauge myced small; then take brede,
stepe hit in þe same brothe, Drawe hit thorgh a
streynour, cast thereto, And lete boyle ynowe;
caste there-to pouder ginger, vergeous, salt, And a
litull Safferon, And serve hit forthe.
1 lb chicken livers
1 lb gizzards
2 ½ c beef broth
⅛ t pepper
½ t cinnamon
⅛ t cloves
¼ t mace
½ c fresh parsley, packed
1 t fresh sage
3 ½ oz bread
¼ t ginger
3 T verjuice
½ t salt
10 threads saffron
Cut up gizzards to remove the thin bits of
gristle connecting the lumps of meat. Wash
and chop parsley and sage. Put broth, meat,
herbs, pepper, cinnamon, mace and cloves
into a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer
uncovered 1 hour 10 minutes. About 15
minutes before it is done simmering, remove
about ¾ cup of the broth and tear up the bread
into it; let soak briefly and mash thoroughly
with a mortar and pestle. Put back into pot,
bring back to a boil and cook, stirring, about 5
minutes, add remaining ingredients and cook
a couple of minutes, stirring, and serve. Note
that the original has chickens' heads and feet,
which we have left out because they are not
easy to get hold of.
Almond Fricatellae
Platina p. 150 (book 9)
Pass almonds that have been well cleaned and
ground through a strainer with milk and
rosewater. And to these add the breast of a
chicken, boiled and ground separately, and blend
in well some meal, two or three egg whites, and
sugar. When this has been prepared, as you wish,
fry them either in oil or liquamen.
2 oz almonds
⅜ c milk
1 ½ t rosewater
1 lb chicken breasts
5 egg whites
½ c meal
½ t salt
1 T sugar
oil or lard
Blanch and grind almonds. Mix with
rosewater and some milk. Boil chicken breasts
about 10 minutes. Cut up chicken breasts and
run them through a blender or food processor,
using egg whites and remaining milk if
necessary to make them sufficiently liquid to
blend. Combine egg whites, almonds, and
remaining ingredients. Make into patties or
spoon into oil and flatten with a pancake
turner. Fry about 1 minute a side in ½" oil
until brown. They are good served with salt
sprinkled over them.
For the meal, I use whole wheat (the kind
that looks like hard brown rice) ground in an
electric coffee grinder (a sort of miniature
food processor, also useful for grinding
almonds and spices). You can use flour
instead, but it does not come out the same.
Meat Dishes
Boiled Meats Ordinary
The English Huswife p. 47
You shall take a racke of mutton cut into
peeces, or a leg of mutton cut in peeces: for this
meat and these joints, are the best, Although any
other joint, or any fresh beefe will likewise make
good pottage: and having washt your meat well,
put it into a cleane pot with faire water, and set
it on the fire: then take violet leaves, endive,
succory [chiccory?], strawberie leaves, spinage,
langdebeefe, marygold flowers, Scallions, and a
little persly, and chop them very small together,
then take halfe so much oatmeale well beaten as
there is herbes, and mix it with the herbes, and
chop all very wel together: then when the pot is
ready to boile, skumme it very wel and then put
in your herbes: And so let it boil with a quicke
fire, stirring the meat oft in the pot, till the meat
be boild enough, and that the hearbes and water
mixt together without any separation, which will
be after the consumption of more then a third
part: then season them with salt, and serve them
up with the meat either with sippets or without.
1 lb mutton or lamb
3 scallions
2 ½ c water
1 t salt
2 T parsley
7 oz oats ≅ 1 ⅜ c
14 oz mixed greens ≅ 5 c
(Greens: endive lettuce, Belgian endive,
spinach, …)
Cut lamb into bite-sized pieces. Put in a
pot with water, bring to a simmer. Chop
greens, including parsley and scallions, and
mix with oatmeal (steel-cut oats, since rolled
oats are long out of period). Add the oatmeal
and greens to the pot, along with salt. Simmer
45 minutes to 1 hour—perhaps a little longer
if you are using mutton.
Variants: If you want the pottage green
but without visible herbs, beat the oatmeal
and herbs in a stone mortar with a wooden
pestle. Strain it, using some warm water from
the pot. If you want it without herbs, use lots
of onions and more oatmeal than before.
Pottage with Whole Herbs
English Huswife, book 2, p. 48
Take mutton, veal or kid, break the bones but
do not cut up the flesh, wash, put in a pot with
water. When ready to boil and well skimmed, add
a handful or two of small oatmeal. Take whole
lettuce, the best inner leaves, whole spinach, whole
endive, whole chiccory, whole leaves of colaflorry
or the inward parts of white cabbage, with two or
three onions. Put all into the pot until done.
Season with salt and as much verjuice as will
only turn the taste of the pottage; serve up
covering meat with whole herbs and addorning
the dish with sippets.
1 lb veal
1 ½ c oatmeal
3 ½ oz lettuce
1 c spinach
1 small endive
2 oz chicory
5 flowerettes cauliflower
2 small onions
½ T salt
2 T verjuice
6 slices of toast
Note: “Oatmeal” should be steelcut/Irish
oatmeal, not moden rolled oats.
Cook veal whole about ½ hour in enough
water to cover. Add vegetables as soon as the
water comes to a boil and is skimmed.
Stwed Mutton
Two Fifteenth Century p. 72
Take faire Mutton that hath ben roste, or
elles Capons, or suche oþer flessh, and mynce it
faire; put hit into a possenet, or elles bitwen ii
siluer disshes; caste thereto faire parcely, And
oynons small mynced; then caste there-to wyn,
and a litull vynegre or vergeous, pouder of peper,
Canel, salt and saffron, and lete it stue on þe
faire coles, And þen serue hit forthe; if he have no
wyne ne vynegre, take Ale, Mustard, and A
quantite of vergeous, and do þis in þe stede of
vyne or vinegre.
Wine Version
1 ½ lb boned lamb
¼ c parsley
1 ¼ lb onions
¾ c wine
2 T vinegar
1 t pepper
½ t cinnamon
1 t salt
3 threads saffron
½ c water
Beer Version
Substitute 1 c dark beer and ½ t ground
mustard for the wine. Substitute 4 T of
verjuice for the vinegar if you have it.
Roast the lamb (before boning) at 350° for
about 1 hour, then chop it into bite sized
pieces. Chop onions fine. Combine all
ingredients (and the juices from roasting the
lamb) in a covered stew pot; use enough water
so that there is just enough liquid to boil the
meat in. Simmer it about ½ hour and serve it
forth. It is good over rice.
Beef y-Stewed
Two Fifteenth Century p. 6
Take faire beef of the ribs of the forequarters,
and smite in fair pieces, and wash the beef into a
fair pot; then take the water that the beef was
sodden in, and strain it through a strainer and
seethe the same water and beef in a pot, and let
them boil together; then take canel, cloves, maces,
grains of paradise, cubebs and onions y-minced,
parsley and sage, and cast thereto, and let them
boil together; and then take a loaf of bread, and
stepe it with broth and vinegar, and then draw it
through a strainer, and let it be still; and when it
is near enough, cast the liquor thereto, but not too
much, and then let boil once, and cast saffron
thereto a quantity; then take salt and vinegar,
and cast thereto, and look that it be poynant
enough, and serve forth.
1 medium onion = 6 oz
¼ c parsley
⅛ t grains of paradise
⅛ t cubebs
1 t fresh sage
1 lb beef
¼ t mace
⅛ t cloves
½ t cinnamon
2 slices bread = 3 oz
12 threads saffron
1 T vinegar
1 t salt
1 t more vinegar
Chop onions and herbs, grind grains of
paradise and cubebs. Put beef in a pot, add 1
½ c water, bring to a boil, add parsley, sage,
onion, and spices. Simmer about 45 minutes
covered. Tear up bread, put to soak in 1 T
vinegar and ⅝ c broth from the meat. After 45
minutes put bread through a strainer (or a
food processor); add that, saffron, salt and 1 t
vinegar to the meat. Adjust salt and vinegar to
your taste, bring back to a boil and serve.
Bruet of Savoy
Du Fait de Cuisine no. 3
And again, another potage, that is a bruet of
Savoy: to give understanding to him who will be
charged with making this bruet, to take his
poultry and the meat according to the quantity
which he is told that he should make, and make
ready his poultry and set to cook cleanly; and
meat according to the quantity of potage which
he is told to make, and put to boil with the
poultry; and then take a good piece of lean bacon
in a good place [a good cut?] and clean it well and
properly, and then put it to cook with the
aforesaid poultry and meat; and then take sage,
parsley, hyssop, and marjoram, and let them be
very well washed and cleaned, and make them
into a bunch without chopping and all together,
and then put them to boil with the said potage
and with the meat; and according to the quantity
of the said broth take a large quantity of parsley
well cleaned and washed, and brayed well and
thoroughly in a mortar; and, being well brayed,
check that your meat is neither too much or too
little cooked and salted; and then according to the
quantity of broth have white ginger, grains of
paradise, and a little pepper; and put bread
without the crust to soak with the said broth so
that there is enough to thicken it; and being
properly soaked, let it be pounded and brayed
with the said parsley and spices, and let it be
drawn and strained with the said broth; and put
in wine and verjuice according as it is necessary.
And all of the things aforesaid should be put in to
the point where there is neither too little nor too
much. And then, this done, put it to boil in a
large, fair, and clean pot. And if it happens that
the potage is too green, put in a little saffron, and
this will make the green bright. And when it is to
be arranged for serving, put your meat on the
serving dishes and the broth on top.
2 lbs chicken pieces
1 ¼ lb veal
3 stalks marjoram
2 stalks parsley
1 stalk fresh sage
1 stalk hyssop
4 slices bacon
4 slices white bread
¾ c more parsley
1 t ground ginger
1 t grains of paradise
¼ t pepper
1 ½ t verjuice
2 T wine
[⅛ t salt]
[8 threads saffron]
Tie sage, parsley, hyssop and marjoram
with string and put them in a pot; cut up leg
quarters, slice veal, add them along with
enough water to cover. Cut off about half the
fat from the bacon (or start with lean bacon if
you can find it); cut the remainder in small
pieces. Simmer for about ½ hour. Drain off
broth, put bread in broth; grind up the rest of
the spices and the additional ¾ c parsley.
Soak the bread in about 1 c broth then add
parsley and spices, put through the strainer.
Add wine and verjuice, boil about 10 minutes,
serve with the sauce over the meat.
Curye on Inglysch p. 109
(Forme of Cury no. 54)
Take colyaundre, caraway smale grounden,
powdour of peper and garlec ygrounde, in rede
wyne; medle alle þise togyder and salt it. Take
loynes of pork rawe and fle of the skyn, and pryk
it wel with a knyf, and lay it in the sawse. Roost
it whan þou wilt, & kepe þat fallith þerfro in the
rostyng and seeþ it in a possynet with faire broth,
and serue it forth wiþ þe roost anoon.
1 t caraway
3 cloves garlic
1 t ground coriander
½ t pepper
1 ½ c red wine
½ t salt
1 ½-3 lb pork roast
½ c chicken broth
Grind caraway in a mortar, then grind
garlic with it (or use a spice grinder and a
garlic press). Combine with coriander, pepper,
wine and salt to make a marinade. Stick pork
with a knife lots of times. Put pork in
marinade and let it marinate over night,
turning it once or twice. Heat oven to 450°,
put in pork, turn down to 350°, roast until it is
done (170° on a meat thermometer), basting
with the marinade every ten or fifteen
minutes. It should take about an hour and a
half to two hours, depending on the size and
shape of the roast; for larger roasts the rule is
about half an hour/pound (if you use more
than a three pound roast, you probably want to
scale up the amount of marinade). Collect the
drippings from the broth, combine with half
their volume of chicken broth, simmer for at
least 15 minutes and serve over the pork.
Meat Casserole (Cazuela De Carne)
De Nola no. 124
Cow's Meat
Anthimus p. 11
You must take meat and cut it into pieces the
size of a walnut, and gently fry it with the fat of
good bacon; and when it is well gently fried, cast
in good broth, and cook it in a casserole; and cast
in all fine spices, and saffron, and a little orange
juice or verjuice, and cook it very well until the
meat begins to fall apart and only a little broth
remains; and then take three or four eggs beaten
with orange juice or verjuice, and cast it into the
casserole; and when you wish to eat it, give it four
or five stirs with a large spoon, and then it will
thicken; and when it is thick, remove it from the
fire; and prepare dishes, and cast cinnamon upon
each one. However, there are those who do not
wish to cast in eggs or spice, but only cinnamon
and cloves, and cook them with the meat, as said
above, and cast vinegar on it so that it may have
flavor; and there are others who put all the meat
whole and in one piece, full of cinnamon, and
whole cloves, and ground spices in the broth, and
this must be turned little by little, so that it does
not cook more at one end than the other. And so
nothing is necessary but cloves and cinnamon,
and those moderately.
Cow's meat however, steamed and cooked in a
casserole should be eaten, in a gravy. First, it
should be put to soak in one water, and then it
should cook in a reasonable quantity of fresh
water, without adding any water as it cooks, and
when the meat is cooked, put in a vessel about a
half mouthful of vinegar, and put in the heads of
leeks and a little pennyroyal, parsley root, or
fennel, and let it cook for an hour; then add
honey to half the quantity of the vinegar, or
sweeter according to taste. Then let it cook on a
slow fire, shaking the pot frequently with the
hands, and the sauce will well season the meat.
Then grind: pepper fifty grains; costum and
spikenard, a half solidus each; cloves, one
tremissis. All these grind well in an earthen
mortar, add a little wine, and when well ground,
put into a vessel and stir well, so that before it is
taken from the fire it may warm up a little and
put its strength into the gravy. Moreover, where
there is honey, or must, or caroenum, put in one
of these as it says above, and do not let it cook in
a copper kettle, but in an earthen vessel; it makes
flavor the better.
[Another recipe from this book says: “all
manner of fine spices, which are: good
ginger, and good cinnamon, and saffron, and
grains of paradise, and nutmeg, and mace...”]
1 ½ lb lamb
¼ t cinnamon at end
1 slice of bacon
fine spices:
1 ½ c chicken broth
⅛ t ginger
15 threads saffron
¼ t grains of paradise
2 T verjuice
⅛ t mace
2 eggs
½ t cinnamon
1 T more verjuice
⅛ t nutmeg
Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Fry
the bacon to render out the fat; fry the meat in
the bacon fat (more like simmering because of
liquid from the lamb) for about ten minutes.
Add broth, fine spices, saffron, and 2 T
verjuice, cook for an hour and a quarter until
only a little liquid remains. Beat 2 eggs into
the additional 1 T verjuice, add to casserole,
cook another couple of minutes. Serve with a
little more cinnamon sprinkled over.
1 ¾ lb beef
2 t honey
3 c water
2 T wine
3 leeks
½ t pepper
4 t vinegar
½ t cloves
1 t fennel seed
1 t spikenard
(or pennyroyal or parsley root)
Cut beef into 1" pieces. Bring beef and
water to a boil, turn down heat to low and
cook covered 45 minutes. Wash and slice
leeks, using only the half starting at the white
end. Grind fennel seed and add vinegar,
honey, leeks and fennel to stew. Cook
uncovered on moderate heat one hour. Grind
pepper, cloves, and spikenard (we don’t know
what “costum” is) together, add wine and
grind some more. Put this with stew and cook
ten minutes and serve.
As spikenard is related to lavender, we
have used lavender when we could not get
Fylettes en Galentyne
Two Fifteenth Century p. 8 (Good)
Take fair pork, the fore quarter, and take off
the skin; and put the pork on a fair spit, and
roast it half enough; then take it off and smite it
in fair pieces, and cast it on a fair pot; then take
onions and shred them and peel them, and not too
small, and fry in a pan of fair grease; then cast
them in the pot to the pork; then take good broth
of mutton or of beef, and cast thereto, and cast
thereto powder pepper, canel, cloves, and mace,
and let them boil well together; then take fair
bread, and vinegar, and steep the bread with the
same broth, and strain it on blood, with ale, or
else with saunders, and salt, and let them boil
enough, and serve it forth.
2 lb pork roast
2 big onions
2 T lard
4 c beef broth
¼ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
¼ t cloves
¼ t mace
¼ loaf of bread = 4-5 oz
¼ c vinegar
small pinch of saunders
½ t salt
Put the pork in a 450° oven, turn down to
325°, and roast until about half done—140°
on the meat thermometer. Cut it in slices, put
it in a pot. Cut up the onions, not too fine, fry
in lard until they are limp. Put them in the pot,
along with the broth and spices. Bring to a
boil and simmer for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, soak your bread in vinegar and
enough of the broth from the pot to get it
thoroughly soggy, add saunders and salt and
force it through a strainer (or use a food
processor to reduce to mush). Add it and the
salt, boil another ten or fifteen minutes.
Alternatives: add ½ c of ale (good), or else
use ½ c of blood instead of the saunders,
reducing the beef broth by ½ c to compensate.
Brawn en Peuerade
Two Fifteenth Century p. 11
Take Wyne an powder Canel, and draw it
þorw a straynour, an sette it on þe fyre, and lette
it boyle, an caste þer-to Clowes, Maces, an powder
Pepyr; þan take smale Oynonys al hole, an parboyle hem in hot watere, an caste þer-to, and let
hem boyle to-gederys; þan take Brawn, an lesshe
it, but nowt to þinne. An if it sowsyd be, lete it
stepe a whyle in hot water tyl it be tendere, þan
caste it to þe Sirip; þen take Sawnderys, an
Vynegre, an caste þer-to, an lete it boyle alle togederys tyl it be y-now; þen take Gyngere, an
caste þer-to, an so serue forth; but late it be nowt
to þikke ne to þinne, but as potage shulde be.
1 lb small onions (~10)
4 c wine
½ t cinnamon
½ t cloves
½ t mace
¾ t pepper
2 ¼ lb pork
½ t saunders
¼ c vinegar
½ t ginger
Simmer onions in wine with spices
(cinnamon, cloves, mace, pepper) for about 15
minutes, then slice meat and add it. Add
saunders and vinegar. Cook together at
moderate heat about one hour, then add ginger
and remove from heat.
Autre Vele en Bokenade
Two Fifteenth Century p. 13
Take Vele, an Make it clene, and hakke it to
gobettys, an sethe it; an take fat brothe, an
temper up þine Almaundys þat þou hast ygrounde, an lye it with Flowre of Rys, and do
þer-to gode powder of Gyngere, & Galyngale,
Canel, Maces, Quybybis, and Oynonys ymynsyd, & Roysonys of coraunce, & coloure yt
wyth Safroun, and put þer-to þin Vele, & serue f.
1 lb stew veal
2 ½ c water
4 oz almonds
1 ½ c broth from veal
2 T rice flour
½ t ginger
¼ t galingale
1 ½ t cinnamon
½ t mace
½ t cubebs
2 oz onion
5 T currants
8 threads saffron
[½ t salt]
Cook veal in water about 20 minutes;
grind almonds, mix with the rest of the
ingredients in a small pot (including the broth
from the veal). Simmer about 20 minutes
(veal is also still cooking). Combine sauce
and veal.
Mete of Cypree
Curye on Inglysch p. 55
(Diuersa Cibaria no. 56)
Vor mete of Cypree. Vurst nim of alemauns, &
hwyte of heom one pertie, ah hwyte summe hole &
þe oþur do to grinden. Soþþen nim þe hole
alemauns & corf heom to quartes; soþþen nim fat
broþ & swete of porc oþur of vþur vlehs; tempre
þin alemauns & soþþen drauh out þi milke & so
þe do hit in an veyre crouhe. Soþþen nim þe
braun of chapouns oþur of hennen oþur of porc,
& ef noed is let hakken, & soþþen do in a morter
þat hit beo wel igronden, & soþþen nym hit & do
hit to þe milke. Soþþen nim blod of cycchen oþur
of oþur beste, & soþþen grind hit & do hit to þe
vlesche. Soþþen do þe crouhe to þe vure & seoþ hit
wel; & soþþen nym gode poudre of spices: gynger,
kanel, maces, quibibes, and so zeoþ hit wiþ þilke
metee. Soþþen nim wyn & sucre & make me an
stronge soupe. Do hit in þilke to zeoþen. Soþþen
nym flour of ris & do a quantite þat hit beo wel
þikke. Soþþen nim þin alemauns icoruen & frie
heom wel in grece; soþþen nim gynger & par yt
wel & heuw hit. Soþþen nym þin alemauns yfried
& þi gynger to þe dressur, & so do hit to þilke
mete, & soþþen nym saffron & colore wel þi mete:
& gef þat to gode men vor god mete & riche.
Version with modernized English: For
meat of Cyprus. First take of almonds, &
blanche of them one part, the white should be
whole & the other do to grind. Then take the
whole almonds & carve them to quarters; then
take fat broth & suet of pork or of other flesh;
temper thine almonds & then draw out thy
milk & then do it in a fair crock. Then take
the meat of capons or of hens or of pork, & if
need is let it be hacked, & then do in a mortar
that it be well ground, & then take it & do it to
the milk. Then take blood of chicken or of
other beast, & then grind it & do it to the
flesh. Then do the crock to the fire & seethe it
well; & then take good powder of spices:
ginger, canel, maces, cubebs, and so seethe it
with that meat. Then take wine & sugar &
make me a strong soup. Do it in that to seethe.
Then take flour of rice & do a quantity that it
be well thick. Then take thine almonds carved
& fry them well in grease; then take ginger &
pare it well & hew it. Then take thine almonds
yfried & thy ginger to the dresser, & so do it
to this meat, & then take saffron & color well
thy meat: & give that to good men for good
meat & rich.
⅓ c almonds
1 c chicken broth
¾ lb pork (or chicken)
¼ t cubebs
⅛ t ginger
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t mace
4 t wine
4 t sugar
2 T rice flour
2 T slivered almonds
2 t lard
½ T fresh ginger
Grind whole almonds in food processor.
Add ½ c of the broth, run the food processor,
strain out liquid, put back residue; add another
¼ c broth, repeat; add another ¼ c, repeat.
Grind meat and add to liquid; add blood if you
can get it. Put on the heat; grind cubebs and
add spices. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring
frequently; add wine and sugar. Cook another
couple of minutes, add rice flour; cook a
minute and remove from heat. While meat is
cooking, fry the slivered almonds in grease,
cut ginger into very little pieces. When meat
is done, sprinkle almonds and ginger over and
See p. 21 for a fish (Lenten) version of this
Curye on Inglysch p. 65
(Diuersa Servicia no. 18)
For to make a froys. Nym veel and seþ yt wel
& hak it smal, & grynd bred, peper & safroun
and do þereto & frye yt, & presse yt wel vpon a
bord, & dresse yt forþe.
1 lb veal
2 slices bread
10 threads saffron
⅜ t pepper
[½ t salt]
2 ½ T lard for frying
Put veal in pot, cover with water, bring to
a boil and cook 15 minutes. Cut it to ¼"
pieces, including fat. Grind bread in food
processor, crush saffron into about 1 T of the
broth, and mix meat, bread, pepper and salt.
Melt lard; fry mixture 4-5 minutes over
moderately high flame until pieces are getting
browned. Press out excess lard on cutting
board with a spatula and transfer to serving
Froyse out of Lentyn
Two Fifteenth Century p. 45
Take Eyroun & draw þe yolkes & þe whyte
þorw a straynoure; þan take fayre Bef or vele, &
sethe it tyl it be y-now; þan hew cold oþer hote, &
melle to-gederys þe eggys, þe Bef, or vele, & caste
þer-to Safroun, & Salt, & pouder of Pepir, &
melle it to-gederys; þan take a fayre Fryingpanne, & sette it ouer þe fyre, & caste þer-on
fayre freysshe grece, & make it hot, & caste þe
stuf þer-on, & stere it wel in þe panne tyl it come
to-gederys wel; cast on þe panne a dysshe & presse
it to-gederys, & turne it onys, & þanne serue it
1 ¼ lb beef steak
15 threads saffron
8 eggs
⅜ t pepper
¾ t salt
2 oz bacon fat
Cut meat into 2 inch chunks, boil in
water 20 minutes. Cut into pea sized pieces.
Grind 15 threads of saffron in 2 T warm
water. Pass eggs through a strainer or simply
beat them. Render out bacon fat, mix
everything together, then cook the mixture in
a frying pan, stirring frequently until set up,
about five minutes. Press it all together and
flip it, then invert onto a plate and serve.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 31
Take Porke or Beef, wheþer þe likey, & leche it
þinne þwerte; þen broyle it broun a litel, & þen
mynce it lyke Venyson; choppe it in sewe, þen
caste it in a potte & do þer-to Freyssh brothe;
take Erbis, Onynonys, Percely & Sawge, & oþer
gode erbis, þen lye it vppe with brede; take Pepir
& Safroun, pouder Canel, Vynegre, or Eysel
Wyne, Broþe an Salt, & let yet boyle to-gederys,
tylle þey ben y-now, & þan serue it forth
½ lb pork or beef
1 small onion = 2 oz
1 oz fresh parsley
5 leaves fresh sage
[½ t rosemary]
[¼ t oregano]
1 ½ c beef broth
¼ c bread crumbs
⅛ t pepper
6 threads saffron
¼ t cinnamon
2 T wine vinegar
⅓ c more beef broth
½ t salt
Chop meat and then brown in a frying pan
with chopped onions; put with herbs and 1½ c
broth and bring to a boil, adding bread crumbs
as it comes to a boil; add remaining
ingredients and simmer for about five
minutes, then remove from heat. Good over
Fricassee of Whatever Meat You Wish
Platina p. 91 (book 6)
You make a fricassee from fowl or whatever
meat you choose in this way: in a pot with lard,
close to the fire, put meat or birds well cleaned
and washed, whether cut up finely or in slices.
Stir this often with a spoon so that it does not
stick to the side of the pot; when it is nearly
cooked, take out most of the lard and put in two
egg yolks beaten with verjuice and pour in juice
and spices mixed into the pot. To this dish add
some saffron so that it is more colorful. Likewise,
it will not detract from the enjoyment of it to
sprinkle finely chopped parsley over the dish.
Then serve it immediately to your guests.
1 lb boneless chicken
2 egg yolks
2 T verjuice
3 threads saffron
3 T chicken broth
¼ t pepper
⅛ t cloves
¼ t cinnamon
[¼ t salt]
1 T parsley
¼-⅓ c lard
Cut up meat. Beat egg yolks with verjuice.
In another small dish, crush saffron into a
little of the broth, then add the rest of the
broth and spices. Chop parsley. Heat lard. Fry
meat about 8 minutes, stirring often, then add
egg yolk mixture and broth mixture. Cook
another two minutes. Remove from heat and
sprinkle parsley on top.
Bourbelier of Wild Pig
Menagier p. M-23 (Good)
First you must put it in boiling water, and
take it out quickly and stick it with cloves; put it
on to roast, and baste with a sauce made of spices,
that is ginger, cinnamon, clove, grain, long pepper
and nutmegs, mixed with verjuice, wine, and
vinegar, and without boiling use it to baste; and
when it is roasted, it should be boiled up together.
And this sauce is called boar's tail, and you will
find it later (and there it is thickened with bread:
and here, not).
3 lb pork roast
60 whole cloves
¼ t ginger
⅛ t cinnamon
⅛ t cloves
¼ t grains of paradise
½ t long pepper
⅛ t nutmeg
½ c verjuice
1 c wine
½ c vinegar
Preheat oven to 450°. Briefly immerse the
roast in boiling water, drain it, stud it with
whole cloves, baste with a mixture of the
remaining ingredients, then put into oven.
Immediately after putting it in, turn oven
down to 350°. Roast meat 1 hour 45 minutes
(for this size roast), basting every 15 minutes.
Gourdes in potage
Curye on Inglysch p. 99
(Forme of Cury no. 10)
Take yong gowrdes; pare hem and kerue hem
on pecys. Cast hem in gode broth, and do þerto a
gode pertye of oynouns mynced. Take pork soden;
grynde it and alye it þerwith and wiþ 3olkes of
ayren. Do þerto safroun and salt, and messe it
forth with powdour douce.
1 lb pork
¾ t salt
3 ¼ lb opo gourd 3 egg yolks
½ lb onions
1 ½ T poudre douce (p. 4)
40 threads saffron
Cut pork into large chunks (2" or so), put
it in a pot with 1 c of water, boil for about 15
minutes. Peel and slice and quarter gourd (see
p. 143). Put gourds and onions in pot with
pork broth. Bring to a boil, simmer 30
minutes (until gourds are soft).
Grind up the pork in a food processor or
mash it in a mortar. Stir the pork, saffron, salt
and egg yolks into the simmering liquid.
Simmer another ten minutes. Combine spices
to make your poudre douce, serve with
pottage with poudre douce sprinkled over it.
Mortrewys of Flesh
Two Fifteenth Century p. 14
Take porke, and seþe it wyl; þanne take it
vppe and pulle a-way þe swerde [skin], an pyke
owt þe bonys, and hakke it and grynd it smal;
þenne take þe sylf brothe, & temper it with ale;
þen take fayre gratyd brede, & do þer-to, and
seþe it, an coloure it with saffroun, & lye it with
ƺolks of eyroun, and make it euen salt, & caste
powder gyngere, a-bouyn on þe dysshe.
1 lb+ pork roast
1 c ale (or beer)
⅔ c bread crumbs
3 threads of saffron
3 egg yolks
1 t salt
1 t ginger
Simmer a small pork roast for 45 minutes.
Take it out. Separate the meat from the bones
and fat. Chop it up small–if you have a large
mortar mush it in that. Mix 2 c of the broth
from the pork with ale and bread crumbs. Boil
it, add saffron, mix in egg yolks to thicken.
Add salt. Pour over the meat. Sprinkle
powdered ginger over all and serve.
Picadinho de Carne de Vaca: Beef Hash
Portuguese p. P-2
Wash tender beef and chop fine. Next add
cloves, saffron, pepper, ginger, minced green herbs,
onion juice, vinegar and salt. Saute it all in oil
and let cook until water dries up. Serve on slices of
2 lb beef
¼ t cloves
20 threads saffron
1 t pepper
1 t ginger
4 t cilantro
2 t mint
¼ c parsley
4 t onion juice
2 T wine vinegar
¾ t salt
2 T oil
6 slices bread
Chop meat to a little coarser than
hamburger, using a food processor; mix
everything but oil and bread. The herbs
chosen are those mentioned commonly in
other recipes in this cookbook. Heat oil over
moderately high heat in a large frying pan and
add beef mixture; cook about 20 minutes,
stirring constantly until water comes out of
the meat, then occasionally until water dries
up. We considered it done when it still looked
moist but there was no longer standing liquid.
Serve over bread or toast; also good on rice.
Brawune Fryez
Two Fifteenth Century p. 43
Take Brawune, and kytte it þinne; þan take
þe yolkes of Eyroun, and sum of þe whyte þerwith; þan take mengyd Flowre, an draw þe
Eyroun þorw a straynoure; þen take a gode
quantyte of Sugre, Saferoun, and Salt, and caste
þer-to, and take a fayre panne with Fressche gres,
and set ouer þe fyre; and whan þe grece is hote,
take þe Brawn, an putte in bature, and turne it
wyl þer-yn, an þan putte it on þe panne with þe
grece, and late frye to-gederys a lytil whyle; þan
take it vppe in-to a fayre dyssche, and caste Sugre
þer-on and þan serue forth.
10 oz pork
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
½ c flour
1 T sugar
2 threads saffron
¼ t salt
oil or lard to fry
~ 2 t sugar on top
Slice meat thin (¼" or less). Beat eggs and
egg yolks and combine with flour, sugar,
saffron and salt to make a batter, crushing the
saffron into ½ t water before mixing it in.
Melt lard and heat over moderate heat. Dip
strips of meat into the batter on both sides and
fry until brown, about half a minute to a
minute on each side (it is hard to give exact
time since that depends on the heat of the
lard). Sprinkle sugar on top and serve.
Alows de Beef or de Motoun
Two Fifteenth Century p. 40
Take fayre Bef of þe quyschons, and motoun
of þe bottes, and kytte in þe maner of Stekys; þan
take raw Percely, and Oynonys smal y-scredde,
and yolkys of Eyroun soþe hard, and Marow or
swette, and hew alle þes to-geder smal; þan caste
þer-on poudere of Gyngere and Saffroun, and
tolle hem to-gederys with þin hond, and lay hem
on þe Stekys al a-brode, and caste Salt þer-to; þen
rolle to-gederys, and putte hem on a round spete,
and roste hem til þey ben y-now; þan lay hem in
a dysshe, and pore þer-on Vynegre and a lityl
verious, and pouder Pepir þer-on y-now, and
Gyngere, and Canelle, and a fewe yolkys of hard
Eyroun y-kremyd þer-on; and serue forth.
⅓ c parsley
¼ c onion
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 T lamb fat or marrow
¼ t ginger
4 threads saffron
½ lb lamb or beef
¼ t more ginger
¼ c vinegar
pinch pepper
[salt to taste]
¼ t cinnamon
Mix chopped parsley, finely chopped
onions, 2 egg yolks, and fat or marrow; chop
it all together and add ginger and saffron.
Slice the meat ¼" thick; slices should be about
6" by 2". Spread with parsley, etc. mixture,
roll up on skewers or toothpicks, broil about
10-12 minutes until brown. Mix sauce with
the remaining ingredients and pour over.
Makes 6-8 rolls 2" long and 1" to 1 ½" in
The Flesh of Veal
Platina p. 94 (book 6)
From the haunch of veal take the lean meat
and slice it into long thin slices; stroke them with
the back of the knife so that they do not break;
right away sprinkle them with salt and ground
fennel, then on the meat spread marjoram and
parsley, with finely diced lard, and sprinkle
aromatic herbs over the slices and immediately
roll them up and put them on a spit near the fire,
taking care that they do not dry out too much.
When they are cooked serve them immediately to
your guests.
3 T parsley
2 t fresh marjoram
2 T fresh basil
1 t salt
1 t fennel seed, ground
¾ lb lean veal
1 T lard
¼ t dry thyme
Chop parsley, marjoram and basil
coarsely. Sprinkle salt and fennel onto the
meat slices, dot with lard, sprinkle on
remaining herbs. Roll meat up in the direction
that the fibers run, since otherwise it will tear,
and secure it with toothpicks or skewers. Bake
40 minutes at 350°.
Curye on Inglysch p. 100
(Forme of Cury no. 14)
Take the noumbles of calf, swyne, or of shepe;
perboile hem and kerue hem to dyce. Cast hem in
gode broth and do þerto erbes, grene chybolles
smale yhewe; seeþ it tendre, and lye with yolkes of
eyren. Do þerto verious, safroun, powdour douce
and salt, and serue it forth.
1 lb calf heart
2 ½ c beef broth
4 oz spinach
6 oz scallions
4 oz turnip greens
8 egg yolks
¼ c verjuice
12 threads saffron
1 T poudre douce (p. 4)
1 t salt
Parboil heart in 4 c water: bring water to
boil, add heart, bring back to boil, total time
about 4 minutes. Drain. Cut heart in ½"-1"
cubes. Put with broth and chopped washed
greens, simmer about 20 minutes. Stir in
beaten egg yolks, turn off heat. Add verjuice,
saffron (crushed into a little water), poudre
douce, salt, and serve it forth.
Numbles means innards. We suspect the
title of the recipe is derived from the French
word for “heart” and therefore use heart, but it
is also good made with kidney.
Chopped Liver
Du Fait de Cuisine no. 61
For the chopped liver: he who has the charge
of the chopped liver should take kids' livers–and if
there are not enough of those of kids use those of
veal–and clean and wash them very well, then put
them to cook well and properly; and, being cooked,
let him take them out onto fair and clean boards
and, being drained, chop them very fine and,
being well chopped, let him arrange that he has
fair lard well and properly melted in fair and
clean pans, then put in to fry the said chopped
liver and sauté it well and properly. And then
arrange that he has a great deal of eggs and
break them into fair dishes and beat them all
together; and put in spices, that is white ginger,
grains of paradise, saffron, and salt in good
proportion, then put all of this gently into the
said pans with the said liver which is being fried
while continually stirring and mixing with a
good spoon in the pans until it is well cooked and
dried out and beginning to brown. And then
when this comes to the sideboard arrange the
aforesaid heads [reference to preceding recipe in
the original] on fair serving dishes, and on each
dish next to the heads put and arrange the
aforesaid chopped liver.
½ lb calf liver
8 threads saffron, ground
3 eggs
¼ t salt
¼ t ginger
2 T lard
¼ t grains of paradise
Simmer liver for about 5 minutes, drain,
then chop very fine. Beat the eggs, add spices.
Melt the lard, add liver and eggs, stir
constantly until cooked.
Meat, Cheese and Egg Pies
Tart on Ember Day
Ancient Cookery p. 448 (Good)
Parboil onions, and sage, and parsley and hew
them small, then take good fat cheese, and bray it,
and do thereto eggs, and temper it up therewith,
and do thereto butter and sugar, and raisyngs of
corince, and powder of ginger, and of canel, medel
all this well together, and do it in a coffin, and
bake it uncovered, and serve it forth.
1 lb onions
7 oz cheese
⅓ c parsley
2 T chopped fresh sage
(or 1 ½ t dried)
4 eggs
3 T melted butter
1 T sugar
4 T currants
¼ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
9" pie crust
Parboil the onions and sage 5 minutes,
drain and chop. Grate cheese. Mix everything
and put in pie crust. We have used several
kinds of cheese, all of which work in this
Spinach Tart
Goodman p. 278 –“A Tart” (Good)
To make a tart, take four handfuls of beet
leaves, two handfuls of parsley, a handful of
chervil, a sprig of fennel and two handfuls of
spinach, and pick them over and wash them in
cold water, then cut them up very small; then
bray with two sorts of cheese, to wit a hard and a
medium, and then add eggs thereto, yolks and
whites, and bray them in the cheese; then put the
herbs into the mortar and bray all together and
also put therein some fine powder. Or instead of
this have ready brayed in the mortar two heads
of ginger and onto this bray your cheese, eggs and
herbs and then cast old cheese scraped or grated
onto the herbs and take it to the oven and then
have your tart made and eat it hot.
⅓ lb spinach
and/or beet greens
½ cup fresh parsley
2 T dried
or ¼ c fresh chervil
1 or 2 leaves fresh fennel,
or 1 t fennel seed, ground
6 oz Parmesan
6 oz mozzarella
5 eggs
½ t ginger
[½ t salt]
9" pie crust
Chop greens, chop or grate cheese and mix
filling in a bowl. Make pie crust and bake at
400° for about 10 minutes. Put filling in crust
and bake about 40 minutes at 350°. We
usually substitute spinach for beet leaves,
dried chervil for fresh, and fennel seed for
fresh fennel leaves because of availability.
Malaches of Pork
Curye on Inglysch p. 134
(Form of Cury no. 162)
Hewe pork al to pecys and medle it with ayren
& chese igrated. Do þerto powdour fort, safroun
& pynes with salt. Make a crust in a trap; bake it
wel þerinne, and serue it forth.
13 oz boneless pork
½ lb Parmesan
3 eggs
8 threads saffron
¾ t powder fort (p. 4)
¼ c pine nuts
½ t salt
Cut up the pork raw into ½"-¼" cubes.
Grate cheese and mix with eggs in a bowl.
Crush saffron into a teaspoon or so of water.
Combine everything. Make a 9" pie crust,
prebake about 10 minutes at 350°. Put filling
in crust and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes.
We have also used mozzarella and cheddar
for the cheese, but Parmesan is better.
Mushroom Pastries
Menagier p. M-25
Mushrooms of one night are the best, and are
small and red inside, closed above; and they
should be peeled, then wash in hot water and
parboil; if you wish to put them in pastry add oil,
cheese, and powdered spices.
Fine Powder of Spices (Menagier p. M-40):
Take an ounce and a drachm of white ginger, a
quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a
quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a
quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.
1 lb mushrooms
9 oz Parmesan
1 T olive oil
1 t ginger
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t grains of paradise
⅛ t cloves
¼ t sugar
Slice mushrooms and parboil (put into
boiling water and cook two minutes); drain.
Grate or chop cheese. Grind grains of paradise
and mix up spices. Mix mushrooms, ⅔ of
cheese, spices and oil. Put mixture into crust,
put remaining cheese over. Makes scant 9"
pie. Bake about 20-25 minutes at 350°.
To Make a Chicken Tart
Due Libri di Cucina B: no. 42
the problem. Or the pie might have been eaten
out of the crust rather than cut in wedges.
If you want to make a pie of chickens, one can
do it in four ways. Take them and dismember
them and fry them in lard and get boiled
shoulder meat beaten very well and good cheese
with it and good finest spices and eggs that you
need, and put the chickens and these things
together, and make the pie, and annoint it of the
top with yolks of egg with saffron, and to all these
things one must give salt.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 48
3 c flour
1 c water
¼ t salt
2 ½ oz Parmesan
¾ lb pork shoulder
1 lb chicken
3 T lard
4 eggs
⅛ t nutmeg
⅛ t cloves
⅛ t pepper
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t galingale
¼ t ginger
2 egg yolks
10 threads saffron
¼ t salt
Knead together flour, water and salt, roll
out to about a 10" circle, use it to line a 9"
greased pie pan. With a fork prick the shell on
the bottom and along the bottom edge so as to
minimize lifting from steam underneath. Bake
25 minutes at 350°.
Cut pork into several chunks, boil in 2 c
water for about half an hour. Drain it.
Dismember the chicken to the smallest
coherent pieces, fry in the lard at medium
high for 5-10 minutes until brown. Put into
the pie crust.
Grate the cheese, mash the pork in a
large mortar then combine it with eggs,
spices, cheese and salt. Use this to fill in the
pie crust under and between the pieces of
chicken—the endoring will look better on
chicken than on the mashed pork mixture.
Grind the saffron in a small mortar, add egg
yolks, stir together so the saffron colors the
egg yolks, use to paint the top of the tart.
Bake ½ hour at 350°. Serve.
If you use boneless chicken quarters you
can cut the pie without running into chicken
bones, but that doesn’t seem to be how the
original was done. It may have used a bigger
pie and smaller chickens, which would reduce
Take buttys of Vele, and mynce hem smal, or
Porke, and put on a potte; take Wyne, and caste
þer-to pouder of Gyngere, Pepir, and Safroun,
and Salt, and a lytel verþous, and do hem in a
cofyn with yolks of Eyroun, and kutte Datys and
Roysonys of Coraunce, Clowys, Maces, and þen
ceuere þin cofyn, and lat it bake tyl it be y-now.
1 ½ lb pork or veal
double 9" pie crust
⅜ c dates
⅜ c currants
½ t mace
¾ t ginger
¾ t pepper
5 threads saffron
¾ t salt
1 t verjuice
¾ c red wine
¼ t cloves
9 egg yolks
Cut the meat up fine (½" cubes or so).
Simmer it in 1 ½ c of water for about 20
minutes. Make pie crust, fill with meat,
chopped dates and currants. Mix spices, wine,
verjuice and egg yolks and pour over. Put on a
top crust. Bake in a 350° oven for 50 minutes,
then 400° for 20 minutes or until the crust
looks done.
For Tarts owte of Lente
Pepys 1047 p. 27
Take nesche chese and pare hit and grynd hit
yn a morter and breke egges and do therto and
then put yn butter and creme and mess all well to
gethur put not to moche buttr ther yn if the chese
be fatte make a coffyn of dowe and close ht above
with dowe and collor hit above with the yolkes of
eggs and bake hit well and sue hit furth.
7 ½ oz soft cheese
3 eggs
1 T butter
1 c cream
double 9" pie crust
1 egg yolk
Mix ingredients (we used havarti for the
cheese), put in a pie shell, cover, brush top
with egg yolk, bake 45 minutes at 375°; allow
to cool before serving.
Nourroys Pies (or Lorez Pies?)
Take meat well cooked and hashed fine, pine
nuts, currants and cottage cheese chopped fine,
and a little sugar and a little salt.
To make little Lorez pies, like great pies or
those above, and fry them, and don't let them be
too large, and whoever wishes to make “lettuces”
or “little ears,” must make rounds of pastry, the
one larger than the other, and fry in deep fat
until they are as hard as if cooked on the hearth;
and if you wish, gild them with gold leaf or silver
leaf or saffron.
3 c chopped cooked pork
2 T pine nuts
1 ½ c currants
4 oz farmer's cheese
2 T sugar
½ t salt
double 9" pastry
Make as a 2 crust pie, bake 45 minutes at
350°, 10 minutes at 400°. Or make small ones
and fry them (we haven’t tried that).
Malaches Whyte
Curye on Inglysch p. 133
(Form of Cury no. 160)
Take ayren and wryng hem thurgh a cloth.
Take powdour fort, brede igrated, & saffron, &
cast þerto a gode quantite of buttur with a litull
salt. Medle all yfere. Make a foyle in a trap &
bake it wel þerinne, and serue it forth.
8 threads saffron
1 c bread crumbs
¼ t salt
1 ½ t powder fort
(p. 4)
½ c butter
5 eggs
⅜ c whole wheat flour
¾ c white flour
another ¼ t salt
¼ c water
Grind the saffron with a few of the bread
crumbs in a mortar. Mix that with the rest of
the bread crumbs, ¼ t salt, powder fort and
melted butter. In another bowl, force eggs
through cheese cloth, then add them to the
bread crumb mix. Make a pie crust by mixing
flours and ¼ t salt, stirring in ¼ c water and
kneading smooth. Roll it out and put it in a 9"
pie shell, put in the filling, bake about 30
minutes at 350°.
(Forcing the eggs through the cheese cloth
produces something like very slightly beaten
eggs; the white and the yolk are not as well
mixed as if you applied an egg beater for
thirty seconds.)
Two Fifteenth Century p. 50
Take veal, and smite in little pieces into a pot,
and wash it fair; then take fair water, and let it
boil together with parsley, sage, savory, and
hyssop small enough and hew; and when it is on
boiling, take powder pepper, canel, cloves, maces,
saffron, and let them boil together, and a good
deal of wine therewith. When the flesh is y-boiled,
take it from the broth all clean, and let the broth
cool; and when it is cold, take eyroun, the white
and the yolks, and cast through a strainer, and
put them into the broth, so many that the broth
be stiff enough; then make fair coffins, and couch
3 pieces or 4 of the flesh in a coffin; then take
dates, and cut them, and cast thereto; then take
powder ginger, and a little verjuice, and put into
the broth and salt; and than put the broth on the
coffins, bake a little with the flesh ere thou put
thyne liquor thereon, and let all bake together till
it be enough; then take it out, and serve them
1 lb veal
½ T parsley
¼ t sage
¼ t savory
¼ t hyssop
¼ t pepper
½ T cinnamon
¼ t cloves
¼ t mace
a pinch of saffron
¼ c wine
2 eggs
9" pie crust
½ lb of dates
¼ t ginger
½ T verjuice
~ ¼ t salt
Boil veal and herbs and spices for 1 to 1 ½
hours. Boil spices with wine. Let the veal
broth cool; separate it from the meat. Add
beaten eggs to about ½ c of the broth to stiffen
it. Make a pie crust. Put in meat. Cut up dates
and put them in. Add ginger and verjuice to
broth, also salt. Bake until it hardens. Add
wine with spices and eggs. Bake about 30
minutes at 325°.
Another Crust with Tame Creatures
Platina pp. 90-91 (book 6)
If you want to put pigeons and any other
birds in a crust, first let them boil; when they are
almost cooked, take them out of the pot. Then cut
them into nice pieces and fry them in a pan with
a goodly amount of lard. Next put them in a deep
dish or an earthen pot that has been well greased,
and where a crust has been rolled out on the
bottom. To this dish you may add plums and
cherries or sour fruit without going wrong. Then
take verjuice and eight eggs, more or less
depending on the number of guests, if there are a
few, with a little juice, beaten with a spoon; to this
add parsley, marjoram, and finely cut mint,
which can be blended after being cut up, and put
all this near the fire, but far from the flame. It
must be a slow heat so that this does not boil over.
All the while, it should be stirred with a spoon
until it sticks to the spoon because of its thickness.
Finally pour this sauce into the pastry crust and
put it near the fire and when it seems to have
cooked enough, serve it to your guests.
3 chicken leg quarters
3 T lard
⅓ lb plums
or sour cherries
one 9" pie crust
4 T parsley
½ t marjoram
2 t mint
5 eggs
2 T verjuice
¼ c chicken broth
½ t salt
Boil chicken 20 minutes. Cut the meat off
the bones and fry in lard for 5 minutes. Cut
the plums up finely and put in the crust with
the meat. Wash and chop herbs, and mix eggs,
verjuice, broth, herbs and salt, and cook this at
a low heat for about 10 minutes (until thick)
and add to crust. (Platina comments elsewhere
that he doesn't always bother to mention salt,
so we have added it here.) When it is all
assembled, bake at 400° for 15 minutes, then
at 350° for 25 minutes.
Pork Doucetty
Two Fifteenth Century p. 55 (Good)
Take pork, and hack it small, and eyroun ymellyd together, and a little milk, and melle him
together with honey and pepper, and bake him in
a coffin, and serve forth.
½ to ⅔ lb of pork chops
6 eggs
3 T milk
2 t honey
pinch of pepper
1 9" pie crust
Cook pork in the oven or boil it about 20
minutes. Make a pie crust, prick it, and put it
in a 400° degree oven for about 10 minutes.
Mix remaining ingredients. Cut pork into
small pieces and add to mixture. Put it in the
pie crust and bake at 350° for about 40
Koken van Honer
Grewe 13th century
One should make a pastry shell of dough, and
cut up into it a chicken, and add bacon [speck],
cut as peas, pepper and cumin and egg yolks well
beaten with saffron, and take the shell and bake it
in an oven. It is called “koken van honer.”
1 ½ lb chicken
(or ¾ lb boneless)
9" pie shell
3 pieces of bacon
⅛ t pepper
¼ t cumin
6 egg yolks
4 threads saffron
Bone and cut up chicken, put in pie shell;
add bacon cut small; sprinkle on spices. Beat
egg yolks with saffron and pour over. Bake 45
minutes at 350°.
Flampoyntes Bake
Two Fifteenth Century p. 53
Take fayre Buttes of Porke, and seþe hem in
fayre Watere, and clene pyke a-way þe bonys and
þe Synewes, and hew hem and grynd hem in a
mortere, and temper with þe Whyte of Eyroun,
and Sugre, and pouder of Pepir, and Gyngere,
and Salt; þan take neyssche Cruddis [soft curds],
grynd hem, and draw þorw a straynoure; and
caste þer-to Aneys, Salt, pouder Gyngere, Sugre;
and þan take þe Stuffe of þe Porke, and putte it
on euelong cofyn of fayre past; and take a feþer,
and endore þe Stuffe in þe cofyn with þe cruddys;
and whan it is bake, take Pynes, and clowys, and
plante þe cofyn a-boue, a rew of on, and rew of another; and þan serue forth.
2 lbs pork chops
7 egg whites
4 t sugar
¼ t pepper
¾-1 t ginger
⅜ t salt
1 c cottage cheese
½ t anise seed
⅛ t salt
¼ t ginger
1 ½ t sugar
1 9" pie crust
1 T whole cloves
2 T pine nuts
Bring one quart water to a boil, add meat,
boil 15 minutes covered. Drain and let meat
cool. Cut the meat up, removing bones and
fat. Chop fine and grind in food processor.
Add egg whites, sugar, pepper, ginger, salt,
mix well. Blend cheese in food processor and
put into separate bowl; grind anise seed in
mortar and add anise, salt, ginger and sugar to
cheese. Put meat in unbaked pie crust, spread
cheese mixture above it. Decorate with cloves
and pine nuts. Bake at 350° 50 minutes to 1
hour. 1 t of ginger in the meat was liked by
some people and considered too much by
others; adjust to your taste.
Crustade Gentyle
Two Fifteenth Century p. 55
Take a Cofyn y-bake; þan grynd Porke or
Vele smal with harde yolkys of Eyroun; þan lye it
with Almaunde Milke, & make hem stondyng;
take Marow of bonys, & ley on þe cofynee, & fylle
hem fulle with þin comade, & serue f[orth].
1 c white flour
1 lb ground pork
½ c whole wheat flour c almonds
⅜ c water
c water
3 eggs
~2 ½ lb marrow bones
½ t salt
Knead flours and water to a smooth
dough, roll out, and use to line 9" pie pan.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Hard boil eggs
and add egg yolks and salt to the ground pork.
Make about ⅔ c almond milk (see p. 7), add
to pork mixture, and stir to a uniform
consistency. Force the marrow out of the
marrow bones—you should end up with about
4 oz of marrow—lay it in chunks about the
pie crust, and fill up with the pork mixture.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 54
Take Buttes of Porke, and smyte hem in
pecys, and sette it ouer the fyre; and sethe hem in
fayre Watere; and whan it is y-sothe y-now, ley it
on a fayre bord, and pyke owt alle the bonys, and
hew it smal, and put it in a fayre bolle; than take
ysope, Sawge, Percely a gode quantite, and hew it
smal, and putte it in a fayre vesselle; than take a
lytel of the brothe, that the porke was sothin in,
and draw thorw a straynoure, and caste to the
Erbys, and gif it a boyle; thenne take owt the
Erbys with a Skymoure fro the brothe, and caste
hem to the porke in the bolle; than mynce Datys
smal, and caste hem ther-to, and Roysonys of
Coraunce, and pynes, and drawe thorw a
straynoure yolkes of Eyroun ther-to, and Sugre,
and pouder Gyngere, and Salt, and coloure it a
lytel with Safroune; and toyle yt with thin hond
al thes to-gederys; than make fayre round cofyns,
and harde hem a lytel in the ovyn; than take hem
owt, and with a dysshe in thin hond, fylle hem
fulle of the Stuffe; than sette hem ther-in a-gen;
and lat hem bake y-now, and serue forth.
3 pork chops
3 c fresh parsley
1 t dried leaf sage
2 T hyssop
½ c chopped dates
½ c currants
⅓ c pine nuts
5 egg yolks
1 T sugar
½ t powdered ginger
½ t salt
9" pastry shell
Boil pork chops until cooked (about 20
minutes), take out, remove the bones and cut
up the meat. Chop parsley, boil herbs in the
pork broth. Mix pork, cooked herbs, and
remaining ingredients in bowl. Make pie crust
and bake 10 minutes to harden. Put filling in
the pie crust. Bake 30 minutes at 375°.
To Make Short Paest for Tarte
A Proper Newe Book p. 37
Take fyne floure and a curscy of fayre water
and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron,
and the yolkes of two egges and make it thynne
and as tender as ye maye.
1 c flour
5 t water
5-6 T very soft butter
6 threads saffron
2 egg yolks
Cut butter into flour, then crush saffron
into 1 t of water; mix that and the rest of the
water with the egg yolks and stir it into the
flour-butter mixture.
Desserts, Appetizers, Etc.
To Make a Tarte of Beans
A Proper Newe Book of Cookery p. 37
Take one pound of very fine flower, and one
pound of fine sugar, and eight egges, and two
spoonfuls of Rose water, and one ounce of
Carroway seeds, and beat it all to batter one
whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better
your bread is: then bake it in coffins, of white
plate, being basted with a little butter before you
put in your batter, and so keep it.
Take beanes and boyle them tender in fayre
water, then take theym oute and breake them in a
morter and strayne them with the yolckes of foure
egges, curde made of mylke, then ceason it up with
suger and halfe a dysche of butter and a lytle
synamon and bake it.
½ lb (1 ¼ c) dry fava beans
4 egg yolks
½ c curds (cottage cheese)
4 T sugar
6 T butter
4 t cinnamon
crust (from short paest for tarte, p. 45)
Put beans in 2 ½ c of water, bring to boil,
turn off and let sit, covered, 70 minutes. Add
another cup of water, boil about 50 minutes,
until soft. Drain beans and mush in food
processor. Cool bean paste so it won't cook
the yolks. Mix in yolks; add cottage cheese
(do not drain); add sugar, butter (soft or in
small bits) and cinnamon, then mush it all
together to a thick liquid.
Make crust according to the previous
recipe. Roll smooth and place in 9" pie plate.
Crimp edge. Pour into raw crust and bake at
350° for about 50 minutes (top cracks). Cool
before eating.
This would probably be good with fresh
fava beans, but we have not tried it that way.
Hugh Platt p. 14
4 c flour (1 lb)
2 c sugar (1 lb)
5 eggs
2 t rose water
4 t caraway seeds
Beat all ingredients together one whole
hour (or do a fourth of a recipe at a time in a
food processor, processing it for several
minutes or until the blades stall); there is a
visible change in texture at that point. Spoon
out onto a greased cookie sheet as 3" biscuits
and bake about 30 minutes at 325°. You end
up with biscuits which keep forever, but get
harder and harder over time.
Excellent Small Cakes
Digby p. 221
Take three pound of very fine flower well dried
by the fire, and put to it a pound and a half of
loaf sugar sifted in a very fine sieve and dried; 3
pounds of currants well washed, and dried in a
cloth and set by the fire; when your flour is well
mixed with the sugar and currants, you must put
in it a pound and a half of unmelted butter, ten
spoonfuls of cream, with the yolks of three newlaid
eggs beat with it, one nutmeg; and if you please,
three spoonfuls of sack. When you have wrought
your paste well, you must put it in a cloth, and
set it in a dish before the fire, till it be through
warm. Then make them up in little cakes, and
prick them full of holes; you must bake them in a
quick oven unclosed. Afterwards ice them over
with sugar. The cakes should be about the bigness
of a hand breadth and thin; of the size of the
sugar cakes sold at Barnet.
Scaled down version:
3 c flour
¾ c sugar
2 ½ c currants
⅜ lb butter
2 ½ T cream
1 egg yolk
¼ t nutmeg
2 t sack
(This assumes that “spoonful” = T)
Mix flour, sugar, and currants, then cut
butter into the mixture as one would for
piecrust. Add cream, egg yolk, nutmeg, and
sack (we used sherry). Knead together, warm
it. Bake cakes about 20 minutes at 350°.
Icing: about ⅓ c sugar and enough water
so you can spread it.
To Make an Excellent Cake
Digby p. 219 (Good)
To a peck of fine flour take six pounds of fresh
butter, which must be tenderly melted, ten pounds
of currants, of cloves and mace, ½ an ounce of
each, an ounce of cinnamon, ½ an ounce of
nutmegs, four ounces of sugar, one pint of sack
mixed with a quart at least of thick barm of ale
(as soon as it is settled to have the thick fall to the
bottom, which will be when it is about two days
old), half a pint of rosewater; ½ a quarter of an
ounce of saffron. Then make your paste, strewing
the spices, finely beaten, upon the flour: then put
the melted butter (but even just melted) to it; then
the barm, and other liquours: and put it into the
oven well heated presently. For the better baking
of it, put it in a hoop, and let it stand in the oven
one hour and a half. You ice the cake with the
whites of two eggs, a small quantity of rosewater,
and some sugar.
Scaled down to one sixteenth of the original
2 c flour
¼ c yeast residue from beer
¼ t cloves
(or 1 t yeast in 3 T water)
¼ t mace
8 threads saffron
½ t cinnamon
1 T rosewater
¼ t nutmeg
2 T sack (or sherry)
½ T sugar
2 c currants
⅜ lb butter
⅛ egg white (about 2 t)
¼ t rosewater
2 T sugar
Mix flour, spices, and sugar. Melt butter,
mix up yeast mixture, and crush the saffron in
the rosewater to extract the color. When the
butter is melted, stir it into the flour mixture,
then add sack, yeast mixture, and rosewatersaffron mixture. Stir this until smooth, then
stir in currants. Bake at 350° in a greased 10"
round pan or a 7"x11" rectangular pan for 40
minutes. Remove from pan and spread with a
thin layer of icing. We usually cut it up into
bar cookies.
Pastry Which They Call Canisiones
Platina p. 144 (book 8)
When you have rolled out your pastry made
of meal with sugar and rosewater and formed it
like a crust, put into it the same mixture as the
one I said in the section on marzapan [Take
almonds that have soaked in fresh water for a
day and night and when you have cleaned them
as carefully as can be, grind them up, sprinkling
them with fresh water so that they do not make
oil. And if you want the best, add as much finest
sugar as almonds. When all this has been well
ground and dissolved in rosewater...]; this time, it
should be formed like rolls and cooked in the oven
as I said before, with a gentle flame.
2 c flour
¼ c sugar
2 t rosewater
~10 T water
¾ c almonds, soaked
½ c sugar
1 t rosewater
2 t water
Mix pastry ingredients and knead to a dry
but not stiff dough. Divide in half, roll each
half out to about 12" across. Coarsely grind
the filling together. Spread thinly onto pastry,
leaving ½" margin around the edges, and roll
up like a jelly roll; seal seams tightly to avoid
leakage. Bake 40 minutes at 350°. Slice when
warm; crumbles when cool.
This makes two rolls about 12 inches long.
Best when fresh; they dry out by the next day.
Note the similarity between this recipe and the
Islamic pastry khushkananaj, p. 116.
To Make Iumbolls
Hugh Platt p. 12
Take ½ a pound of almonds being beaten to
paste with a short cake being grated, and two
eggs, two ounces of caraway seeds, being beaten,
and the juice of a lemon: and being brought into
paste, roll it into round strings: then cast it into
knots, and so bake it in an oven and when they
are baked, ice them with rose water and sugar,
and the white of an egg being beaten together,
then take a feather and gild them, then put them
again into the oven, and let them stand in a little
while, and they will be iced clean over with a
white ice: and so box them up and you may keep
them all the year.
¼ lb almonds
1 oz shortbread
1 oz caraway seeds
½ lemon, juiced
1 egg
1 t rose water
½ c sugar
½ egg white
Grind almond fine in food processor,
crush shortbread cookies with mortar and
pestle, grind caraway seeds briefly in spice
grinder and mix these three ingredients. Beat
lemon juice and egg together and add to dry
ingredients. Mix and roll into ¼" diameter
strings and lay on greased cookie sheet in
knots. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Mix up
icing and put onto cookies; put back in hot
oven with heat turned off for 5 minutes
Quinces in Pastry
Du Fait de Cuisine no. 70
Again, quinces in pastry: and to give
understanding to him who should prepare them
let him arrange that he has his fair and good
quinces and then let him clean them well and
properly and then make a narrow hole on top and
remove the seeds and what they are wrapped in,
and let him take care that he does not break
through on the bottom or anywhere else; and, this
being done, put them to boil in a fair and clean
cauldron or pot in fair water and, being thus
cooked, take them out onto fair and clean boards
to drain and put them upside down without
cutting them up. And then let him go to the
pastry-cooks and order from them the little crusts
of the said pastries to put into each of the said
little crusts three quinces or four or more. And
when the said little crusts are made fill the holes
in the said quinces with very good sugar, then
arrange them in the said little crusts and cover
and put to cook in the oven; and, being cooked
enough, let them be served.
3 quinces
pie crust:
1 ¼ c flour
⅝ c sugar
[⅛ t ginger]
3 ½ T water
6 ½ T butter
Core the quinces without cutting through
to the bottom. Simmer them in water about 15
minutes. Make pie crust, divide in half, roll
out bottom crust and put in 7" pie pan. Set
quinces upright on top of the bottom crust, fill
with sugar, put top crust over them. Bake at
450° for 15 minutes, then at 350° for 35
Note: there is a similar recipe in Two
Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, p. 51. The
differences are that the quinces are peeled,
they may be replaced by warden pears, there
is a little powdered ginger in with the sugar,
and the sugar may be replaced by honey with
pepper and ginger.
Tartys in Applis
Curye on Inglysch p. 78
(Diuersa Servicia no. 82)
For to make tartys in applis, tak gode applys
& gode spycis & figys & reysons & perys, & wan
þey arn wel ybrayed colour wyþ safroun wel & do
yt in a cofyn, & do yt forth to bake wel.
2 c flour
~⅔ c water
1 large apple
1 large pear
1 c figs
½ cup raisins
⅔ t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
¼ t ginger
5 threads saffron
Knead water into the flour until you have a
dough that can be rolled out; use it to line a 9"
pie pan. Peel, core and chop the apples and
pears; chop the figs. Put all of the fruit and
spices into a food processor and process to a
homogeneous but not liquid texture. Pour the
mixture into the pie crust and bake at 350° for
45 minutes.
A Tarte of Strawberries
A Proper Newe Book p. 39
Take and strain them with the yolks of four
eggs, and a little white bread grated, then season
it up with sugar and sweet butter and so bake it.
2 c strawberries
4 egg yolks
½ c bread crumbs
⅓ c sugar
4 T butter, melted
8" pie shell
Force strawberries through a strainer or
run through a blender, then mix with
everything else. Bake crust for 10 minutes,
then put filling into the crust and bake at 375°
for 20 minutes. You may make the crust using
the recipe for Short Paest (page 45), which is
from the same source.
A Tart with Plums, Which can be Dried or
Sabina Welserin no. 70
Let them cook beforehand in wine and strain
them and take eggs, cinnamon and sugar. Bake
the dough for the tart. That is made like so: take
two eggs and beat them. Afterwards stir flour
therein until it becomes a thick dough. Pour it on
the table and work it well, until it is ready. After
that take somewhat more than half the dough
and roll it into a flat cake as wide as you would
have your tart. Afterwards pour the plums on it
and roll out after that the other crust and cut it
up, however you would like it, and put it on top
over the tart and press it together well and let it
bake. So one makes the dough for a tart.
¾ lb prunes
1 ½ c red wine
4 eggs
in two slightly unequal portions. Roll out the
larger to fit a 9" pie pan. Roll the smaller not
quite as large, cut into strips. Pour the prune
goo onto the larger crust, cover with a lattice
made from the strips. Bake at 325° for about
40 minutes.
1 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 ¼ c flour
Simmer the prunes in the wine for about
40 minutes until they are quite soft. Remove
the pits, force them through a strainer. Add
two eggs, sugar, cinnamon.
Beat two more eggs well with a fork,
then beat and gradually stir in about 1 ¼ c
flour. Knead the dough smooth; you may need
to add a few drops of water at the end. Divide
An Apple Tart
Sabina Welserin no. 74
Peel the apples and take the cores cleanly out
and chop them small, put two or three egg yolks
with them and let butter melt in a pan and pour
it on the apples and put cinnamon, sugar and
ginger thereon and let it bake. Roast them first in
butter before you chop them.
2 lb apples
5 T butter
3 egg yolks
¼ c sugar
¼ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1 ¼ c flour
Peel, quarter and core apples; unless they
are small, cut each quarter in half lengthwise.
Melt 1 T butter in large frying pan and fry
apple pieces 10 minutes at medium to medium
high, stirring frequently. Make crust as in the
previous recipe. Chop apples (about ½" by ¼"
pieces.) Put apples in a bowl and mix with
egg yolks. Melt the remaining 4 T of butter
and stir it in along with sugar and spices. Take
⅔ of the dough, roll it and stretch it out until it
is large enough to line a 9" pie pan. Put filling
in, then roll and stretch out the rest of the
dough and cut for some kind of ornamental
top crust—I made a lattice crust. Bake at 325°
for 40-50 minutes, at which point the crust
should be browning.
A Flaune of Almayne
Ancient Cookery p. 452 (Good)
First take raisins of Courance, or else other
fresh raisins, and good ripe pears, or else good
apples, and pick out the cores of them, and pare
them, and grind them, and the raisins in a
mortar, and do then to them a little sweet cream
of milk, and strain them through a clean strainer,
and take ten eggs, or as many more as will suffice,
and beat them well together, both the white and
the yolk, and draw it through a strainer, and
grate fair white bread, and do thereto a good
quantity, and more sweet cream, and do thereto,
and all this together; and take saffron, and
powder of ginger, and canel, and do thereto, and a
little salt, and a quantity of fair, sweet butter,
and make a fair coffin or two, or as many as
needs, and bake them a little in an oven, and do
this batter in them, and bake them as you would
bake flaunes, or crustades, and when they are
baked enough, sprinkle with canel and white
sugar. This is a good manner of Crustade.
⅔ c raisins
3 pears or apples
½ c whipping cream
3 eggs, beaten
4 T breadcrumbs
pinch of saffron
¼ t ginger
½ t cinnamon
½ t salt
5 T butter
9" pie crust
1 T sugar + 1 t
A blender works well as a substitute for a
mortar to mash the apples and raisins; mix the
liquids in with the apples and raisins before
blending. Bake at 375° for about an hour.
Sprinkle on cinnamon sugar.
Torta of Herbs in the Month of May
Platina p. 136 (book 8) (Good)
Cut up and grind the same amount of cheese
as I said in the first and second tortae [“a pound
and a half of best fresh cheese”]. When you have
ground this up, add juice from bleta, a little
marjoram, a little more sage, a bit of mint, and a
good bit of parsley; when all this has been ground
in a mortar, add the beaten whites of 15 or 16
eggs and half a pound of liquamen or fresh
butter, and mix. There are those who put in some
leaves of parsley and marjoram that have been
cut up but not ground, and half a pound [surely
a typo for half an ounce, as in the previous recipes
in this cookbook] of white ginger and eight ounces
of sugar. When all of these have been mixed
together, put this in a pot or deep dish that has
been well greased on the coals at a distance from
the flame so that it does not absorb the smoke;
and stir it continually and let it boil until it
thickens. When it is nearly done transfer it into
another pot with the crust and cover it with your
lid until it is all cooked with a gentle flame. When
it is done and put on a plate, sprinkle it with best
sugar and rose water.
[Notes: earlier torta recipes refer to a
pastry crust rolled thin and both top and
bottom crusts. “Blette–Name given in some
parts of France to white beet or chard.”
Larousse Gastronomique.]
¾ lb Monterey Jack
⅜ c spinach or chard
¼ t marjoram
½ t sage
1 t fresh mint
½ c fresh parsley
5 egg whites
¼ lb butter
double 9" pie crust
[¼ c parsley]
[2 t marjoram]
[¼ oz ginger]
[½ c sugar]
1 T sugar
¼ t rosewater
Grate cheese. Spinach or chard (measured
unchopped) is chopped and ground in a
mortar with a T of water to provide spinach
juice. Mix the juice with the marjoram, sage,
mint, and ½ c parsley—all fresh if available,
and remove the stems from the parsley—and
grind in mortar or food processor; mix with
grated cheese. Beat egg whites lightly, melt
butter and add; put in pie crust and cover with
top crust. Adding additional chopped but not
ground parsley and marjoram is an option;
sugar and ginger, for a dessert pie, are another
option (ginger seems to mean fresh ginger
root, which should be finely chopped). Bake
at 400° for 10 minutes, then at 350° for about
another 40 minutes, then sprinkle with mixed
sugar and rosewater.
Torta from Gourds
Platina p. 136 (book 8)
Grind up gourds that have been well cleaned
as you are accustomed to do with cheese. Then let
them boil a little, either in rich juice or in milk.
When they are half-cooked and have been passed
through a strainer into a bowl, add as much
cheese as I said before [a pound and a half]. Take
half a pound of belly or fat udder boiled and cut
up or, instead of this, if you wish, take the same
amount of either butter or liquamen, add half a
pound of sugar, a little ginger, some cinnamon,
six eggs, two ladles of milk, a little saffron, and
blend thoroughly. Put this preparation in a
greased pan or in a pastry shell and cook it over a
slow fire. There are those who add strips of leaves,
which they call lagana, instead of the upper crust.
When it is cooked and set on a plate, sprinkle it
with sugar and rosewater.
½ lb gourd (see p. 143)
½ c milk
8 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz butter
¼ c sugar
1 egg
½ c milk
⅛ t ground ginger
½ t cinnamon
6 threads saffron
double 9" pastry shell
2 T sugar
1 T rosewater
Grind gourd finely with a grater and boil in
½ c milk for six minutes on low heat while
being stirred; drain in strainer and throw away
liquid, then force cooked gourd through
strainer. Grate or cut up cheese; mix with
gourd, butter, sugar, egg, another ½ c milk,
ginger, cinnamon, and saffron. Put in pie shell
and cover with top crust. Bake in 350° oven
for 65 minutes; at this point it is bubbly and
needs to set for a while. Sprinkle top with
sugar and rosewater. Makes one 9 inch pie.
Torta from Red Chickpeas
Platina p. 142 (book 8)
Grind up red chickpeas that have been well
cooked with their own juice and with a little
rosewater. When they have been ground, pass
them through a strainer into a bowl. Add a
pound of almonds so ground up that it is not a
chore to pass them through the strainer, two
ounces of raisins, three or four figs ground up at
the same time. And besides this, add an ounce of
pine kernels coarsely ground, and as much sugar
and rosewater as you need, and just so much
cinnamon and ginger; and blend. Put the
mixture into a well-greased pan with the pastry
crust on the bottom. There are those who add
starch or pike eggs, so that this torta is more firm;
when it is cooked, put it almost above the fire to
make it more colored. It should be thin and
sprinkled with sugar and rosewater.
1 lb almonds
1 oz pine nuts
15 oz can chickpeas
2 oz raisins
4 figs
½ c sugar
⅛ c rosewater
⅜ c water
1 t cinnamon
½ t ginger
pastry for 2 9" pie crusts
[starch or pike eggs]
2 t more sugar
1 t more rosewater
Grind almonds finely, but not to dust.
Chop pine nuts coarsely. Grind chickpeas in a
food processor with the liquid from the can,
then grind raisins and figs. Stir these and the
sugar, rosewater, extra water, cinnamon, and
ginger together. The pie crust can be rolled
out and put on a 10"x15" cookie sheet or it
can be made into two 9" pie shells. The filling
is spread on top; it will be thicker if made as
two pies. Mix extra sugar and rosewater
together and sprinkle on top. Bake 30 to 40
minutes for the cookie-sheet version, or 50-60
minutes for the pie version, in a 375° oven
until golden brown.
To Make a Custarde
Proper Newe Booke p. 23
A Custarde the coffyn must be fyrste
hardened in the oven, and then take a quart of
creame and fyve or syxe yolkes of egges, and beate
them well together, and put them into the creame,
and put in Suger and small Raysyns and Dates
sliced, and put into the coffyn butter or els
marrowe, but on the fyshe daies put in butter.
1 pie crust
¼ c dates
3 egg yolks
2 c cream
¼ c sugar
⅓ c raisins
3 t butter (or marrow)
Make pie crust and pre-bake for 10-15
minutes at 400°. Chop dates. Beat the egg
yolks, add cream, sugar, raisins and dates and
pour into pie crust. Dot pie with butter. Bake
at 350° for 1 hour 15 minutes.
To Make Cheesecakes
Digby p. 214
Take 12 quarts of milk warm from the cow,
turn it with a good spoonfull of runnet. Break it
well, and put it in a large strainer, in which rowl
it up and down, that all the whey may run out
into a little tub; when all that will is run out,
wring out more. Then break the curds well; then
wring it again, and more whey will come. Thus
break and wring till no more come. Then work the
curds exceedingly with your hand in a tray, till
they become a short uniform paste. Then put to it
the yolks of 8 new laid eggs, and two whites, and a
pound of butter. Work all this long together. In
the long working (at the several times) consisteth
the making them good. Then season them to your
taste with sugar finely beaten; and put in some
cloves and mace in subtle powder. Then lay them
thick in coffins of fine paste and bake them.
Judging by the cottage cheese recipe in Joy
of Cooking, 12 quarts of milk would yield
about 4.5 lbs of cottage cheese. It sounds as
though either creamed cottage cheese or fresh
cheese corresponds to what Digby is making.
The following quantities are for half of
Digby's quantity, with an adjustment for egg
2 lbs creamed cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
2 large eggs
½ lb of butter
½ c sugar
¼ t cloves
¼ t mace
2 9" pie crusts
Cook at 350° for 70 minutes. Let cool 1
hour before serving.
Custard Tart
Platina p. 147 (book 8)
Make a little crust as I said in the section on
rolls. Put in two egg yolks that have been well
beaten, milk, cinnamon and sugar, and stir it
near the hearth until it thickens.
½ t cinnamon
½ c sugar
2 c milk
4 egg yolks
9" pie crust
Mix cinnamon and sugar together, mix in
milk, add yolks and beat well, pour into prebaked tart shell. Bake at 375° 50-60 minutes.
To make little tarts, make half again the
amount of crust and make into about 15 little
tart shells by pressing the dough down into
muffin tins. Bake about 10-15 minutes in 400°
oven, then pour in filling and bake about 40
minutes at 375°.
Ancient Cookery p. 37
Take cream of almonds, or of cow milk, and
eggs, and beat them well together; and make small
coffins, and do it therein; and do thereto sugar
and good powders, or else take good fat cheese and
eggs, and make them of divers colors, green, red,
or yellow, and bake them and serve them forth.
pastry for 2 9" pie crusts
1 ⅓ c milk and cream
⅓ c sugar
2 eggs
t salt
6 threads saffron
2 T parsley
t saunders
Make pastry into tart shells in muffin tins
and bake about 10 minutes. Make filling,
divide in three and color one part with saffron,
extracting the color with 1 t of water, one with
saunders, and one with parsley juice—parsley
mashed and strained with 2 t water. Pour into
tart shells and bake. The recipe makes 15
Tart de Bry
Forme of Cury p. 74
Take a crust inch deep in a trap. Take yolks
of ayren raw and cheese ruayn and medle it and
the yolks together and do thereto powder ginger,
sugar, saffron, and salt. Do it in a trap, bake it
and serve it forth.
Note: according to the Oxford English
Dictionary, ruen cheese is a kind of soft
1 lb 3 oz Brie cheese
6 egg yolks
8 threads saffron
1 t water
3 T sugar
⅜ t ginger
t salt
9" pie crust
Mash cheese and egg yolks together.
Crush saffron into water to draw out the color,
then mix that and the sugar, ginger and salt
with the cheese. Put in crust and bake 50
minutes at 350°. Cool before eating.
White Torta
Platina p. 135 (book 8)
Prepare a pound and a half of best fresh
cheese, chopped especially fine. Add twelve or
fifteen egg whites, half a pound of sugar, half an
ounce of white ginger, half a pound of pork
liquamen and as much fresh butter. Blend in as
much milk as you need. When you have blended
this, put it into a pastry crust rolled thin and put
it all in a pan and set it to bake on the hearth
with a gentle flame. Then, to give it color, put
coals on the lid. When it is cooked and taken from
the pan, sprinkle ground sugar over it, with
1 lb fresh ricotta
8 egg whites
¼ lb butter
¼ lb lard
⅔ c sugar
⅓ oz fresh ginger
½ c milk
10" pastry shell
~2 t sugar
1 t rosewater
Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Soften
butter and lard together at room temperature.
Fold together cheese and egg whites, then add
sugar, minced ginger, lard and butter. Mix
until fairly uniform. Add milk, fill shell. Bake
at 325° for 40 minutes. When oil separates, it
is done. Put under broiler to brown top lightly.
Sprinkle sugar and rosewater, spread on with
spoon bottom. Cool until set.
This is a little less butter and lard than
Platina suggests, but we found it too fatty
using his quantities. Our interpretation of “add
egg whites” is pretty free—it would be worth
trying to follow the recipe more literally.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 73 (Good)
Take mylke, and yolkes of egges, and ale, and
drawe hem thorgh a straynour, with white sugur
or blak; And melt faire butter, and put thereto
salt, and make faire coffyns, and put hem into a
Nowne [oven] til thei be a litull hard; then take a
pile, and a dissh fastned there-on, and fill the
coffyns therewith of the seid stuffe and late hem
bake a while. And then take hem oute, and serue
hem forthe, and caste Sugur ynogh on hem.
9" pie shell
½ c milk
4 egg yolks
⅓ c ale
¼ c sugar
4 T butter
1 t salt
Bake a pie shell. Beat together milk, egg
yolks, ale, sugar. Melt butter, add salt, beat
into the liquid, trying to keep the butter from
separating out (the hard part). Pour into the
pie shell, bake at 350° about 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle on sugar (about 1 T) after the flathon
is reasonably solid.
Creme Boylede
Two Fifteenth Century p. 8
Take creme or mylke, and brede of
paynemayn, or ellys of tendre brede, and breke it
on the creme, or elles in the mylke, an set it on the
fyre tyl it be warme hot; and thorw a straynour
throwe it, and put it into a fayre potte, an sette it
on the fyre, an stere euermore: an whan it is
almost y-boylyd, take fayre yolkes of eyron, an
draw hem thorw a straynowr and caste hem therto, and let hem stonde ouer the fyre tyl it boyle
almost, an till it be skylfully thikke; than caste a
ladel-ful, or more or lasse, of boter ther-to, an a
good quantite of whyte sugre, and a litel salt, an
than dresse it on a dysshe in maner of mortrewys.
5-10 slices white bread
6 T melted butter
1 quart light cream
½ c sugar
8 lightly beaten egg yolks 1 t salt
Tear up bread and soak it in the cream.
Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling.
Pass through a coarse sieve or mash
thoroughly. Heat again, stirring constantly.
When almost boiling, stir in egg yolks. Keep
heating, stirring, not boiling, until it thickens.
Stir in butter, sugar, salt. Serve in bowls.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 106
Take faire mylke and floure, and draue hem
þorgh a streynour, and sette hem ouer the fire,
and lete hem boyle awhile; And then take hem
vppe, and lete hem kele awhile/ And þen take
rawe yolkes of eyren and drawe hem thorgh a
streynour, and caste thereto a litull salt, And set
it ouer the fire til hit be som-what thik, And lete
hit nogt fully boyle, and stere it right well
euermore. And put it in a dissh al abrode, And
serue it forth fore a gode potage in one maner;
And then take Sugur a good quantite, And caste
there-to, and serue it forth.
3 c milk
¾ c flour
4 egg yolks
¼ t salt
4 T sugar
Mix milk and flour thoroughly, trying to
remove lumps, and force through a strainer;
dissolve the lumps that didn’t go through in
some of the milk and repeat. Bring it to a low
simmer on medium to medium low heat
(about 10 minutes) and simmer about 5
minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Remove from heat, let cool ½ hour to 125°.
Beat egg yolks with salt, add to pot and stir in
thoroughly with a whisk. Heat about ten
minutes, bringing it to near a boil. Add sugar
and serve.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 9
Take fayre Mylke and Flowre, an drawe it
þorw a straynoure, an set it ouer þe fyre, an let it
boyle a-whyle; þan take it owt an let it kele; þan
take yolkys of eyroun y-draw þorwe a straynour,
an caste ther-to; þan take sugre a gode quantyte,
and caste þer-to, an a lytil salt, an sette it on þe
fyre tyl it be sum-what þikke, but let it nowt
boyle fullyche, an stere it wyl, an putte it on a
dysshe alle a-brode, and serue forth rennyng.
2 c milk
4 T flour
4 egg yolks
¾ c sugar
⅛ t salt
Beat together the milk and flour; keep it
over a very low flame about 5 minutes until it
will coat a clean spoon. Add egg yolks, sugar
and salt and put over a medium flame, stirring
constantly for about ½ hour (until it thickens).
Principal Dish (Manjar Principal)
De Nola no. 13
For a half dozen dishes, take a half azumbre
of strained milk and six egg yolks and four ounces
of grated aged cheese, and just as much of grated
hard bread; and thoroughly mix the cheese and
the grated bread with the egg yolks and beat it
very well, and thin it with a little milk; and then
take a half pound of sugar and remove two ounces
of that sugar to grind with the cinnamon to cast
on the dishes; and the other portion that remains
will be six ounces that you will cast into the milk;
and set it to heat on your coals away from the
fire; and when it is hot, remove it from the fire,
and cast the abovementioned beaten eggs into it,
stirring it constantly in one direction until it is
good and thick; and sample it for taste; and if it
is good, set it aside to rest while the meal is
prepared, and dish it out with your sugar and
cinnamon on top.
(azumbre: approximately two liters.)
4 oz Parmesan cheese
4 oz bread crumbs
6 egg yolks
4 c milk
1 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
Grate cheese into bowl, stir in bread
crumbs and egg yolks. Stir in ½ c milk, set
Put 3 ½ c milk and ¾ c sugar in sauce
pan and cook at just below boiling, stirring
frequently for about 15 minutes. Remove
from the heat, stir in the egg mixture stirring
in one direction only. If it doesn’t thicken, put
back on a low heat, stirring constantly until it
does. Remove from heat, let cool.
Serve with cinnamon sugar (¼ c sugar, 2
t cinnamon).
Slow Or Smooth Dish
(Manjar Lento o Suave)
De Nola no. 14
A Fritur þat Hatte Emeles
Curye on Inglysch p. 53
(Diuersa Ciberia no. 46)
For half a dozen dishes, take a half azumbre
of strained milk, and half a dozen egg yolks, and
beat them well, and thin them with a little milk;
and set the other milk to heat alone by itself on a
fire of coals away from the fire; and when it is
hot, remove it from the fire, and cast the beaten
egg yolks into it, and three or four ounces of
sugar, and return it to the coals; and if you wish
to give it color, cast in a little saffron, and then
return it to the coals, stirring it constantly in one
direction until it is thick so that it seems good to
you; and then sample it for taste; and if it is good,
set it aside from the fire to rest, and grind sugar
and cinnamon to cast upon the dishes.
[Azumbre: approximately two liters.]
Nym sucre, salt, & alemauns & bred, & grind
am togedre; & soþþen do of ayren. & soþþen nim
grece oþur botere oþur oyle, and soþþen nim a
dihs, & smeore heom; & soþþen nym bliue
[quickly, according to the editor of Curye on
Inglysch], & cose wiþ sucre drue: & þis beoþ þin
cyueles in leynten ase in oþur time.
4 c milk
6 egg yolks
⅜ c sugar
[6 threads saffron]
1 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
Beat egg yolks with 2 T of the milk. Heat
the rest of the milk for about 10 minutes over
medium heat then remove from heat. Stir egg
yolk mixture and sugar into the milk, crush
saffron (optional) into a little of the milk
mixture and add. Put back on medium heat
and cook about 45 minutes, stirring, until
thick. Remove from heat and let cool.
Sprinkle on additional sugar and cinnamon
and serve.
Goodman p. 286
Take the yolks of eggs and flour and salt and
a little wine and beat them well together and
cheese cut into strips and then roll the strips of
cheese in the paste and fry them in an iron pan
with fat therein. One does likewise with beef
8 egg yolks
2 T flour
½ t salt
~1 ½ T wine
½ pound cheese
oil to fry
Use enough wine to make a thick paste.
Works better with hard cheese such as
1 c bread crumbs
½ c sugar
⅛ t salt
1 c almonds
4 eggs
butter or oil
more sugar
Grind bread, sugar, salt and almonds
together. Mix eggs and add to dry mixture.
Put ½ inch of oil in skillet. Deep fry, turn
fritter over, remove, drain on paper towel. Put
on plate and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 36 1"
diameter fritters.
Frytour of Erbes
Curye on Inglysch p. 132
(Form of Cury no. 156)
Take gode erbys; grynde hem and medle hem
with flour and water, & a lytel yest, and salt, and
frye hem in oyle. And ete hem with clere hony.
¼ t yeast
2 ¼ c water
⅛ t salt
3 c flour
6 T parsley
1 T oregano
2 ½ t sage
1 ½ t thyme
oil to fry in
Dissolve yeast in ½ c water, add salt to
flour; when yeast is foamy, add yeast and the
rest of the flour to the water. Let sit while
herbs are chopped and ground; note that
quantities of herbs are after chopping. Divide
batter in 4, add one kind of herb to each; or
add four times as much of any one of the
herbs to the whole batter. Fry in ¼" deep oil
by half tablespoonfuls. Makes about 3 dozen
2.5" fritters. Serve with honey.
Lente Frytoures
Two Fifteenth Century p. 96 (Good)
Frictella from Apples
Platina p. 150 (book 9)
Take good flour, ale yeast, saffron and salt,
and beat all together as thick as other manner
fritters of flesh; and then take apples, and pare
them, and cut them in manner of fritters, and
wet them in the batter up and down, and fry
them in oil, and cast them in a dish, and cast
sugar thereon enough, and serve them forth hot.
Morsels of apple that have been cleaned and
cored, you fry in liquamen or a little oil, and
spread them on a board so that they dry. Then
roll them in a preparation such as we described
earlier and fry again.
Preparation described earlier: to grated cheese,
aged as well as fresh, add a little meal, some egg
whites, some milk, a bit more sugar, and grind all
this together in the same mortar.
5 apples
2 ⅓ c flour
1 ½ c water
2 T yeast
6 threads saffron
2 t salt
oil for frying
sugar sprinkled over
Pare apples and slice into sixteenths.
Beat together everything else, dip apple pieces
in the batter and fry them in a deep skillet
with about ¾" of oil.
Note: The ale yeast would presumably be
berme, skimmed from fermenting ale, and
would provide the necessary liquid for the
batter. I use water plus dried yeast instead;
you can also replace the water with ale.
Losenges Fryes
Two Fifteenth Century p. 97
Take flour, water, saffron, sugar and salt, and
make fine paste thereof, and fair thin cakes; and
cut them like losenges and fry them in fine oil,
and serve them forth hot in a dish in lenten time.
a pinch of saffron
½ c water
½ c sugar
½ t salt
oil for frying
2 ¼ c flour
Crush saffron in water to extract color and
flavor, put in a bowl and mix in sugar and
salt, add flour and mix lightly until moistened.
Heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan. Roll
out dough to about ¼ inch thick or a little
thinner. Cut in small diamonds, fry a few at a
time since they cook very quickly.
3 green cooking apples
oil to fry in
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup flour (or meal—p. 31)
2 egg whites
5 T milk
1 T sugar
Frytour Blaunched
Curye on Inglysch p. 132
(Form of Cury no. 153)
Take almaundes blaunched, and grynde hem
al to doust withouten eny lycour. Do þerto
poudour of gyngeuer, sugur, and salt; do þise in a
thynne foile. Close it þerinne fast, and frye it in
oile; clarifie hony with wyne, & bake it þerwith.
½ lb blanched almonds
½ t ginger
1 T sugar
¼ t salt
3 c flour
~ ¾ c water
⅔ c honey
¼ c Rhine wine
Grind almonds thoroughly: ½ lb = 1 ½ c
whole = 2 c ground. Stir together with ginger,
sugar and salt. Mix flour with enough water to
make a slightly sticky dough. Roll out dough
very thin and cut into 2 ¼" squares. Place a
teaspoon of ground almond mix on each
dough square. Fold corners to center and seal.
Fry in ½"-1" of oil in a frying pan until
brown, drain on paper towels, then place in
baking pan. Heat honey and wine together;
pour over fritters and bake at 350° for 10
minutes. Makes about 100.
Puffy Fricatellae
Platina p. 153 (book 9)
Flour with salt, water and sugar and spread
it into a dough that is not too hard, but thin.
Then cut them into shape with something for
that purpose or with the opening of a ladle. And
when you fry them, they puff up, but nothing is
inside them.
1 c flour
2 T sugar
¼ t salt
⅜-½ c water
oil (for frying)
Mix flour with sugar, salt, and water.
Knead smooth. Roll out dough to ~⅛"
thickness and cut into circles 1"-2" in
diameter—a small wine cup or similar object
can be used to cut them. Put frying pan to heat
on medium high with about ½" of oil; put in
pieces of dough until they puff up and turn
brown, and then flip over, frying about 2
minute on a side. Drain and serve.
Fritter of Milk
Form of Cury p. 68
Take of curds and press out the whey. Do
thereto sugar, white of eyroun. Fry them. Do
thereto and lay on sugur and mess forth.
1 c dry curd cottage cheese 4 egg whites
3 T sugar
more sugar
Mix together cottage cheese, sugar and egg
whites. Drop by tablespoonfuls into hot oil,
fry about 1 minute on each side (light to dark
brown). Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with
the additional sugar, serve. Should make
about 40 fritters.
Rice Fricatellae
Platina p. 151 (book 9)
Spread rice that has been well cooked on a flat
surface to rid it of excess moisture; mash it if you
wish. Add a sufficient quantity of ground
almonds and moisten with rosewater and the juice
from the cooked-down rice. Next, into these
things, blend flour and sugar. When they have
been mixed, fry them in oil, as you wish.
½ c rice
¾ c unblanched almonds
1 t rosewater
½ c flour
¼ c sugar
⅜ c olive oil
Simmer rice in 2 c water about 30 minutes.
Drain, keeping the water that comes out. Put
the lid back on, let it steam another five or ten
minutes. Spread it out, mash with a fork.
Grind almonds medium fine (not to flour but
to very small crunchies). Mix with rosewater
and ¼ c of the leftover rice juice. Add flour
and sugar. Mix it all together to a uniform
consistency. Form into patties 2"-3" across,
½" thick. Fry over medium high heat, starting
with ¼ c oil and adding more as necessary.
After frying one side, turn it over and press
down on it with the pancake turner, thus
making it a little thinner. Makes about 25
Longe Frutours
Two Fifteenth Century p. 73
Take Mylke And make faire croddes there-of
in maner of chese al tendur, and take oute þe way
clene; then put hit in a faire boll, And take yolkes
of egges, and white, and menge floure, and caste
thereto a good quantite, and drawe hit þorgh a
streynoure into a faire vessell; then put hit in a
faire pan, and fry hit a litull in faire grece, but
lete not boyle; then take it oute, and ley on a faire
borde, and kutte it in faire smale peces as thou
list, And putte hem ayen into the panne til thei
be browne; And then caste Sugur on hem, and
serue hem forth.
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 c flour
6-8 T butter or oil
2 T sugar
Mix cottage cheese, egg, and flour in a
bowl. Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over
medium-high heat, put half the mixture in the
skillet, pat to about ¼" thick. Cook about two
minutes until it will hold together, flip, cook
another two minutes, remove from pan to a
cutting board. Slice into pieces, return to pan
and fry until browned—about three minutes a
side. Remove from pan, sprinkle with sugar,
Golden Morsels
Platina p. 148 (book 8)
Toast white bread crumbs, soak them in
rosewater with beaten eggs and ground sugar.
Take them out, fry them in a pan with butter or
liquamen [chicken or pork fat], spread out so they
do not touch each other. When fried, put in dishes
and sprinkle with sugar, rosewater, and saffron.
The version of this recipe in Martino's
cookbook, on which Platina apparently based his
recipes, starts out: Have some slices of white bread
pared that does not have crust and make the
slices be four [or square], a little toasted so much
that every part be colored from the fire. ...
10 eggs
5 T sugar
2 t rosewater (or more)
1 lb white bread
16 threads saffron
1 t more rosewater
1 c more sugar
⅛ lb butter or lard
Beat eggs. Beat in sugar and rosewater.
Cut crust off the bread, slice thin, put into egg
mixture and let soak. Crush saffron into
remaining rosewater, mix with remaining
sugar and set aside. Melt butter or lard in
frying pan; when hot enough (test with small
piece of bread stuff) put chunks of bread stuff
into lard and fry until just browned on both
sides. Drain briefly on paper towels, put into
dish and sprinkle with sugar and rosewater
Mincebek [or, funnel cakes]
Anglo-Norman no. 4 p. 863
(Elizabeth's translation, guided by the Hieatt
and Jones translation)
And another dish, which has the name
mincebek. Take amydon [wheat starch] and grind
it in a mortar, and if you do not have this, take
fine white flour; and take almond milk or tepid
water, and put in it a little yeast or a little
sourdough; and then temper it; and take a bowl
and make a hole in the middle, and pour the
mincebek through the hole into oil or into grease;
and then take sugar and make a syrup to boil;
and dip[?] the mincebek in it, and put some on
top [or, put salt on it]; and then serve them.
¼ c sourdough
2 c water for dough
1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
oil for frying
½ c water for syrup
2 c sugar
Mix sourdough and water, stir into the
mixed flour, stirring until pretty smooth. Let
rise about 4 hours. Heat oil in frying pan. For
syrup, bring water to a boil, add sugar and
cover. When the sugar is dissolved and the
syrup again clear, it is ready. Pour some of the
batter into a funnel and dribble around into oil
at a medium heat, then fry until brown,
turning at least once. Each mincebek comes
out of the oil onto a paper towel to drain
briefly, then is dipped (tongs are useful) into
the syrup, then onto the plate to serve.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 44 (Good)
Take white of eyroun, milk, and flour, and a
little berme, and beat it together, and draw it
through a strainer, so that it be running, and not
too stiff, and cast suger thereto, and salt; then
take a chafer full of fresh grease boiling, and put
thine hand in the batter, and let thine batter run
down by thy fingers into the chafer; and when it
is run together on the chafer, and is enough, take
and nym a skimmer, and take it up, and let all
the grease run out, and put it on a fair dish, and
cast thereon sugar enough, and serve forth.
4 egg whites
⅔ c milk
1 c flour
1 T dried yeast
3 T sugar
½ t salt
Take egg white, milk, and flour and a little
yeast and beat it together, being careful not to
let the flour make lumps. Add sugar and salt.
Pour into a pan of hot oil, so that they puff up
and brown, turn them, drain them, sprinkle on
sugar and serve them.
To make it more like a funnel cake than a
pancake, which seems to fit the description
better, I use a slotted spoon; the batter runs
through the slots into the hot grease. Of
course, you could always let thine batter run
down by thine fingers instead–but make sure
no one is watching.
Ryschewys Closed and Fried
Two Fifteenth Century p. 45
Take figs, and grind them small in a mortar
with a little oil, and grind with them cloves and
maces; and then take it up into a vessel, and cast
thereto pines, saunders and raisons of corinth
and minced dates, powdered pepper, canel, salt,
saffron; then take fine paste of flour and water,
sugar, saffron and salt, and make fair cakes
thereof; then roll thine stuff in thine hand and
couch it in the cakes and cut it, and fold them in
ryshews, and fry them up in oil; and serve forth
25 figs
2 t oil
1 t cloves
1 t maces
¼ c pine nuts
¼ t saunders
⅓ c currants
5 ½ oz dates
⅛ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
¼ t salt
4 threads saffron
2 c flour
½ c water
1 T sugar
⅛ t salt
1 thread saffron
Curye on Inglysch p. 52
(Diuersa Cibaria no. 45)
Make a past tempred wiþ ayren, & soþþen
nim peoren & applen, figes & reysins, alemaundes
& dates; bet am togedere & do god poudre of gode
speces wiþinnen. & in leynten make þi past wiþ
milke of alemaundes. & rolle þi past on a bord, &
soþþen hew hit on moni perties, & vche an pertie
beo of þe leynþe of a paume & an half & of þreo
vyngres of brede. & smeor þy past al of one dole,
& soþþen do þi fassure wiþinnen. Vchan kake is
portiooun. & soþþen veld togedere oþe zeolue
manere, ase þeos fugurre is imad: & soþþe boille
in veir water, & soþþen rost on an greudil; &
soþþen adresse.
Modernized English: Make a paste
tempered with eggs, & so then take pears &
apples, figs & raisins, almonds & dates; beat
them together & do good powder of good
spices within. & in Lent make thy paste with
milk of almonds. & roll thy paste on a board,
& so then hew it in many parts, & each part
be of the length of a palm & a half & of three
fingers of breadth. & smear thy paste all on
one half, & so then do thy filling within. Each
cake is a portion. & so then fold together of
the same manner, as this figure is made: [see
below] & so then boil in fair water, & so then
roast on a griddle; & so then dress.
¾ c water
4 ½ c flour
3 beaten eggs
5 oz apple
5 oz pear
3 oz figs
4 oz raisins
3 oz unblanched almonds
3 oz pitted dates
1 ½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
⅔ t cloves
1 ½ t nutmeg
Stir cold water into the flour, then stir in
egg, stir and knead until smooth. Wash and
core the apple and pear. Put them, along with
the remaining ingredients, into a food
processor and process to a uniform mush. Roll
out dough as six 12"x15" sheets. Cut each
sheet into 10 6"x3" pieces. Either:
Version 1: Spread 1 T of filling on all of
one piece, put another piece over it
(sandwich—dough, filling, dough). Using the
back of a reasonably thick knife, press the
edges and the lines, to give the 3x5 pattern
Version 2: An earlier version of this
Collections) shows the figure as a
3x3 grid. That fits the text more
closely. You cut pieces about
3"x6", spread 1 ½ to 2 t of filling on
half of one piece, fold them to 3"x3" with the
filling inside, then press a tic-tac-toe pattern
with the back of your knife, giving a 3x3 grid
of miniature ravioli.
Either version should about use up the
filling, but I don’t promise it will come out
exactly even. If there is extra filling, make
more dough.
Boil about 4 minutes, then broil at
medium distance about 4 minutes a side,
watching to be sure they do not burn.
Lenten version of the dough
1 ¾ c almond milk to 4 c. flour. After
being worked together, knead the paste four
or five minutes until it is springy and elastic
and smooth.
Good Membrillate Which Is A Pottage Of
Buen Membrillate Que Es Potaje De
De Nola no. 106
You must take as many quinces as you wish
to make dishes, and quarter them, and remove the
core and the pips from them, and pare off the
skin; and when they are well-peeled, wash them
with tepid water; then remove them from that
water and set them to cook in cold water; and
when they begin to get mushy, then they are
cooked; and remove them from the kettle and
grind them well in a mortar; and blend them with
a little of that same water of theirs, and strain
them through a woolen cloth; and then take three
pounds of unpeeled almonds, but only wash them
in cold water, or tepid which would be better, and
grind them well in a mortar; and when they are
well-ground, strain them through a woolen cloth,
having been blended with tepid water (and if it is
a meat day, blend it with meat broth); and cast
the milk in with the quinces; and then cast into
the pot all manner of fine spices, which are: good
ginger, and good cinnamon, and saffron, and
grains of paradise, and nutmeg, and mace, and if
it is a meat day, you will cast in two egg yolks for
each dish; and if it is a fish day, it is not needful;
and when it is quite thick, prepare dishes, and
[cast] upon them sugar and cinnamon.
5 quinces
¼ c almonds
1 c lamb broth
1 t spice mixture*
3 egg yolks
1 T sugar
½ t cinnamon
Peel, quarter, core quinces, wash, put to
cook in cold water, bring to a boil, simmer,
total cooking time about 20 minutes. Mash,
adding 1 T of the water they cooked in, and
force through cheese cloth.
Grind almonds, use with ⅔ c lamb broth
to make ½ c almond milk (p. 7). Combine
with the quince mush. Add 1 t of the spice
mixture (see below) and egg yolks. Stir
together, cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle
sugar and cinnamon over at the end.
Spice mixture: 1 part ginger, 3 parts
cinnamon, 1 part grains of paradise (measured
before grinding), ½ part nutmeg, ½ part mace.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 29
Take Strawberys, and waysshe hem in tyme
of yere in gode red wyne; þan strayne þorwe a
cloþe, and do hem in a potte with gode Almaunde
mylke, a-lay it with Amyndoun oþer with þe
flowre of Rys, and make it chargeaunt and lat it
boyle, and do þer-in Roysonys of coraunce,
Safroun, Pepir, Sugre grete plente, pouder
Gyngere, Canel, Galyngale; poynte it with
Vynegre, and a lytil whyte grece put þer-to;
coloure it with Alkenade, and droppe it a-bowte,
plante it with graynys of Pomegarnad, and þan
serue it forth.
1 pint strawberries
¼ c red wine
1 ¾ c almond milk: (p. 7)
½ c almonds
1 ½ c water
4 T wheat starch
¾ c currants
8 threads saffron
⅛ t pepper
¼ c sugar
¼ t ginger
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t galingale
¼ t vinegar
¾ t lard
Wash strawberries in water, then mix with
wine and force through wire strainer using a
pestle. Mix with almond milk and wheat
starch, then boil about 10 minutes, until thick
enough to stick to the spoon. Add currants,
then remaining ingredients as it cooks. Make
sure the spices are ready when you start
boiling it. We used not very sweet
strawberries; one might use less sugar or more
vinegar if they were sweeter.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 22
Take almond milk and flour of rice, and do
thereto sugar or honey, and powdered ginger and
galingale; then take figs and carve them a-two or
raisins whole or hard wastel diced and color it
with saunders, and seethe it and dress it in.
almond milk (p. 7):
1 c ground almonds
1 c water
1 c rice flour
6 T honey
2 t ginger
1 t galingale
1 c halved figs
1 ½ c raisins
a pinch of saunders
Chare de Wardone
Two Fifteenth Century p. 88
Take peer Wardons, and seth hem in wine or
water; And then take hem vppe, and grinde hem
in a morter, and drawe hem thorgh a streynoure
with the licour; And put hem in a potte with
Sugur, or elles with clarefiede hony and canell
ynowe, And lete hem boile; And then take hit
from the fire, And lete kele, and caste there-to
rawe yolkes of eyren, til hit be thik, and caste
thereto powder of ginger ynowe; And serue hit
forth in maner of Ryse. And if hit be in lenton
tyme, leve the yolkes of eyren, And lete the
remnaunt boyle so longe, til it be so thikk as
though hit were y-tempered with yolkes of eyren,
in maner as A man setheþ charge de quyns; And
then serue hit forth in maner of Rys.
1 ½ lb pears
¾ c white wine
½ t cinnamon
1 ½ T honey
¼ t ginger
4 egg yolks
Peel and core pears and chop into ½"
pieces. We used Bartletts; we don’t know
what wardons are like. Simmer in the wine for
35 minutes. Remove from liquid, grind with a
mortar and pestle, force through a strainer.
Return to pan, add cinnamon and honey, bring
to boil, simmer for a bit and remove from
heat. Let cool somewhat and then stir in
ginger and egg yolks. Serve.
A Good Filling
Daz Buoch von Guoter Spise p. B-4 (#12)
This is how you want to make a food. Trim
fine pears and divide in four. And lay them in a
pot and cover the pot and coat it with dough, so
that the vapor can (not?) get out. Then cover the
pot with a broad cover and lay there about
glowing coals and let it slowly bake. So take then
the pears out [of the fire?] and add clean honey
therein, as much as the pear is, and boil it
together so that it becomes thick and give it out.
So you can make also from apples and from
quinces but one should add pepper enough
4 large apples
⅛ teaspoon pepper
½ cup flour
cup water
~2 ½ c honey
Peel and core the apples (or pears or
quinces), cut in quarters, put them in a baking
dish, sprinkle with pepper. Knead together
flour and water to make the dough, make it
into a strip, put it on the edge of the dish and
jam the lid down onto it to seal the lid on the
baking dish. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat, mix with honey (which
should be the same volume as the apples) in a
clean pot. Simmer it for ½ hour until it begins
to thicken a little.
It is not clear how this was meant to be
eaten; it is very good as a spread, sweet and
Two Fifteenth Century p. 94
Take almondes, and grynde hem raw in a
morter, and temper hit with wyne and a litul
water; And drawe hit þorgh a streynour into a
good stiff mylke into a potte; and caste thereto
reysons of coraunce, and grete reysons, myced
Dates, Clowes, Maces, Pouder of Peper, Canel,
saffron a good quantite, and salt; and sette hem
ouere the fire, And lete all boyle togidre awhile;
And alay hit up with floure of Ryse, or elles
grated brede, and caste there-on pouder ginger in
þe dissh.
⅓ c almonds
¾ c chardonnay
¾ c water
⅓ c each of currants,
raisins, and dates
~ t cloves
~ t mace
pinch black pepper
¼ t cinnamon
4 threads saffron
pinch salt
⅓ c bread crumbs
(or rice flour)
⅛ t powdered ginger
Make up almond milk with wine and water
(see p. 7). In a medium pot put dried fruit, all
spices but ginger, and the almond milk. Bring
to a boil over moderate high heat and cook 5
minutes, add bread crumbs, remove from heat
and stir. Sprinkle ginger on top. This has a
very thick pudding consistency.
To make Marmelade of Quinces or
Platt no. 31 p. 19
When you have boyled your Quinces or
Damsons sufficiently, straine them; then dry the
pulp in a pan on the fire; and when you see that
there is no water in it, but that it beginneth to be
stiffe, then mix two pound of sugar with three
pound of pulpe; this marmelade will bee white
marmelade; and if you desire to haue it looke with
an high colour: put your sugar and your pulp
together so soone as your pulp is drawne, and let
them both boile together, and so it will look of the
colour of ordinary marmeade, like vnto a stewed
warden; but if you dry your pulp first, it will look
white, and take lesse sugar: you shall know when
it is thick enough, by putting a little into a
sawcer, letting it coole before you box it.
2 ½ lbs quinces
c sugar
Peel, core and slice the quinces. Put in
pot with water to cover, bring to a boil and
simmer covered for 40 minutes. Drain off the
water and force the quinces through a strainer.
Combine quince pulp with sugar and heat on
high about 2 minutes until it starts to simmer.
Turn down to medium low and cook for 1 ½
hours stirring almost continually. Towards the
end the mixture will visibly hang together
more; test by putting a bit of it on a cold plate
to see if it gets stiff. Put in a container and let
cool; it will end up solid enough to be cut in
chunks. Refrigerate if you do not intend to eat
it in the next few days. This is a fairly basic
quince paste recipe and tastes rather bland.
(This is the “high color” version, not the
“white marmelade” version.)
Curye on Inglysch p. 119
(Form of Cury no. 96)
Take wyne and hony and found it togyder
and skym it clene, and seeþ it long. Do þerto
powdour of gynger, peper and salt. Tost brede
and lay the sewe þerto; kerue pecys of gynger and
flour it þerwith, and messe it forth.
½ c wine
½ c honey
¼ t ground ginger
⅛ t pepper
⅛ t salt
8 slices toast
⅓ oz candied ginger
Mix wine and honey, simmer over
moderate heat 20-25 minutes; remove from
heat and mix in powdered ginger, pepper, and
salt. Make toast, spread honey mixture on it
and put slivers of ginger on top.
Curye on Inglysch p. 154
(Goud Kokery no. 18) (Good)
To make gingerbrede. Take goode honey &
clarifie it on þe fere, & take fayre paynemayn or
wastel brede & grate it, & caste it into þe
boylenge hony, & stere it well togyder faste with a
sklyse þat it bren not to þe vessell. & þanne take
it doun and put þerin ginger, longe pepper &
saundres, & tempere it vp with þin handes; &
than put hem to a flatt boyste & strawe þeron
suger, & pick þerin clowes rounde aboute by þe
egge and in þe mydes, yf it plece you, &c.
1 c honey
1 ½-1 ¾ c breadcrumbs
1 t ginger
¼ t long pepper
¼ t saunders
1 T sugar
30-40 whole cloves
[or 5 t sugar, pinch
powdered cloves]
Bring honey to a boil, simmer two or three
minutes, stir in breadcrumbs with a spatula
until uniformly mixed. Remove from heat, stir
in ginger, pepper, and saunders. (If you can’t
get long pepper, substitute ordinary black
pepper.) When it is cool enough to handle,
knead it to get spices thoroughly mixed. Put it
in a box, cookie tin, or the like, squish it flat
and thin, sprinkle with sugar and stick cloves
ornamentally over the surface. Leave it to let
the clove flavor sink in; do not eat the cloves.
An alternative way of doing it is to roll
into small balls, roll in sugar mixed with a
pinch of cloves; we like to flatten them a little
to avoid confusion with hais (p. 124). This is
suitable if you are making them today and
eating them tomorrow.
Payn Ragoun
Curye on Inglysch p. 113
(Forme of Cury no. 68)
Take hony and sugur cipre and clarifie it
togydre, and boile it with esy fyre, and kepe it wel
fro brennyng. And whan it hath yboiled a while,
take vp a drope þerof wiþ þy fyngur and do it in
a litel water, and loke if it hong togydre; and take
it fro the fyre and do þerto pynes the triddendele
& powdour gyngeuer, and stere it togydre til it
bigynne to thik, and cast it on a wete table; lesh it
and serue it forth with fryed mete, on flessh dayes
or on fysshe dayes.
1 c honey
1 c sugar
1 c pine nuts
2-3 t ginger
Mix honey and sugar, cook over low heat,
stirring frequently, until temperature reaches
270°, stirring constantly once it is over 250°;
about ½ hour. Test by dropping small amount
of syrup into water to see if it holds shape.
Remove from heat, add pine nuts and ginger.
Spread onto wet marble slab. Let cool until it
can be cut into pieces, then serve. Result is
very stretchy, almost like taffy.
Curye on Inglysch p. 79
(Diuersa Servicia no. 91)
For to make a pynade, tak hony and rotys of
radich & grynd yt smal in a morter, & do to þat
hony a quantite of broun sugur. Tak powder of
peper & safroun & almandys, & do al togedere.
Boyl hem long & held yt on a wet bord & let yt
kele, & messe yt & do yt forth.
4 radishes = 2 ½ oz
½ c honey
1 c slivered almonds
½ c brown sugar
½ t pepper
10 threads saffron
Cut radish up small, put it in the spice
grinder or a mortar with ¼ c honey and grind
small. Slightly crush the almonds. Mix all
ingredients in a small pot. Simmer, stirring,
until candy thermometer reaches between
250° and 270°. Dump out in spoonfuls onto a
greased marble slab or a wet cutting board—
the latter works if you have gotten up to 270°
but sticks at 250°. Let it cool.
I got it to 270° without serious scorching
by stirring continuously near the end. When it
cools fully, the 250° is firm but chewable, the
270° between chewable and crunchy.
On Pine Kernels
Platina p. 42 (book 3)
They are often eaten with raisins and are
thought to arouse hidden passions; and they have
the same virtue when candied in sugar. Noble
and rich persons often have this as a first or last
course. Sugar is melted, and pine kernels, covered
with it, are put into a pan and moulded in the
shape of a roll. To make the confection even more
magnificent and delightful, it is often covered
with thin gold leaf.
½ c = 2 ¾ oz pine nuts
½ c sugar
Heat the sugar in a frying pan about 10
min, until it carmelizes to a light brown,
stirring as necessary. Stir in the pine nuts.
Shape roughly into long, thin shapes with a
spoon and/or spatula. When it is cool enough
to touch but still soft, roll them between your
wet hands to get cylinders. This is a guess at
what he means by "the shape of a roll" and
could easily be wrong—you could try to find
a pan that would provide the shape instead.
The Recipe for Sesame Candy
Mappae Clavicula p. 71
The recipe for sesame candy. Put white pure
honey near a moderate fire in a tinned pan and
stir it unceasingly with a spatula. Place it
alternately near the fire and away from the fire,
and while it is being stirred more extensively,
repeatedly put it near and away from the fire,
stirring it without interruption until it becomes
thick and viscous. When it is sufficiently
thickened, pour it out on a slab of marble and let
it cool for a little. Afterwards, hang it on an iron
bolt and pull it out very thinly and fold it back,
doing this frequently until it turns white as it
should. Then twist and shape it on the marble,
gather it up and serve it properly.
1 c honey
⅜ c sesame seeds
Cook the honey, using a candy
thermometer, removing it from the heat
whenever it starts boiling too hard. About an
hour gets it to 250°, about 20 minutes more to
270°. At either of those temperatures it works,
but ends up soft rather than crisp. At about
280° it becomes crisp—the problem is to keep
it from scorching.
When you reach the desired temperature,
pour it out on a buttered marble slab (or
equivalent). Sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds
if you like them (note that the original has
sesame seeds only in the title!). Let it cool
about 5 minutes, until you can handle it with
your bare hands and it is no longer liquid.
Then pull it with your hands like taffy (i.e.
pull, fold, pull, fold, etc.). You will find that
as you pull it it turns to a silky pale gold
Goodman p. 299
To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter
of very fine cinnamon selected by tasting it, and
half a quarter of fine flour of cinnamon, an ounce
of selected string ginger, fine and white, and an
ounce of grain of Paradise, a sixth of nutmegs
and galingale together, and bray them all
together. And when you would make your
hippocras, take a good half ounce of this powder
and two quarters of sugar and mix them with a
quart of wine, by Paris measure. And note that
the powder and the sugar mixed together is the
Duke's powder.
4 oz stick cinnamon 1 oz ginger
2 oz cinnamon
1 oz grains of paradise
“A sixth” (probably of a pound: 2 ⅔ oz)
of nutmegs and galingale together
Grind them all together. To make
hippocras add ½ ounce of the powder and ½
lb (1 cup) of sugar to 2 quarts of boiling wine
(the quart used to measure wine in Paris c.
1393 was about 2 modern U.S. quarts, the
pound and ounce about the same as ours).
Strain through a sleeve of Hippocrates (a tube
of cloth, closed at one end).
Weak Honey Drink (More commonly
called Small Mead)
Digby p. 107
Take nine pints of warm fountain water, and
dissolve in it one pint of pure White-honey, by
laving it therein, till it be dissolved. Then boil it
gently, skimming it all the while, till all the scum
be perfectly scummed off; and after that boil it a
little longer, peradventure a quarter of an hour.
In all it will require two or three hours boiling, so
that at last one third part may be consumed.
About a quarter of an hour before you cease
boiling, and take it from the fire, put to it a little
spoonful of cleansed and sliced Ginger; and almost
half as much of the thin yellow rind of Orange,
when you are even ready to take it from the fire,
so as the Orange boil only one walm in it. Then
pour it into a well-glased strong deep great Gallypot, and let it stand so, till it be almost cold, that
it be scarce Luke-warm. Then put to it a little
silver-spoonful of pure Ale-yest, and work it
together with a Ladle to make it ferment: as soon
as it beginneth to do so, cover it close with a fit
cover, and put a thick dubbled woollen cloth about
it. Cast all things so that this may be done when
you are going to bed. Next morning when you
rise, you will find the barm gathered all together
in the middle; scum it clean off with a silverspoon and a feather, and bottle up the Liquor,
stopping it very close. It will be ready to drink in
two or three days; but it will keep well a month or
two. It will be from the first very quick and
9 pints water
1 T fresh ginger
½ t yeast
1 pint honey = 1 ½ lb
½ T fresh orange peel
Dissolve the honey in the water in a large
pot and bring to a boil. Let it boil down to ⅔
the original volume (6 ⅔ pints), skimming
periodically. This will take about 2 ½ to 3
hours; by the end it should be clear. About 15
minutes before it is done, add the ginger,
sliced and peeled. Peel an orange to get only
the yellow part, not the white; a potato peeler
works well for this. At the end of the boiling,
add the orange peel, let it boil a minute or so,
and remove from the heat. Let the mead cool
to lukewarm, then add the yeast. The original
recipe appears to use a top fermenting ale
yeast, but dried bread yeast works. Cover and
let sit 24-36 hours. Bottle it, using sturdy
considerable pressure. Refrigerate after three
or four days. Beware of exploding bottles.
The mead will be drinkable in a week, but
better if you leave it longer.
This recipe is modified from the original
by lengthening the time of fermentation
before bottling. This change is intended to
reduce the incidence of broken bottles. 2 liter
plastic soda bottles are unaesthetic, but they
are safer than glass.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 96
Take faire tryed yolkes of eyren, and cast in a
potte; and take good ale, or elles good wyn, a
quantite, and sette it ouer þe fire. And whan hit
is at boyling, take it fro the fire, and caste þere-to
saffron, salt, Sugur; and ceson hit vppe, and serue
hit forth hote.
7 egg yolks
2 c ale or wine
6 threads saffron
2 pinches salt
1 T sugar
Put egg yolks and ale in a pot and heat to
boiling, stirring constantly; remove from heat,
add seasonings, and serve.
Savoury Tosted or Melted Cheese
Digby p. 228
Cut pieces of quick, fat, rich, well tasted cheese,
(as the best of Brye, Cheshire, &c. or sharp thick
Cream-Cheese) into a dish of thick beaten melted
Butter, that hath served for Sparages or the like,
or pease, or other boiled Sallet, or ragout of meat,
or gravy of Mutton: and, if you will, Chop some
of the Asparages among it, or slices of Gambon of
Bacon, or fresh-collops, or Onions, or Sibboulets
[green onions], or Anchovis, and set all this to
melt upon a Chafing-dish of Coals, and stir all
well together, to Incorporate them; and when all is
of an equal consistence, strew some gross WhitePepper on it, and eat it with tosts or crusts of
White-bread. You may scorch it at the top with a
hot Fire-Shovel.
½ lb butter
½ lb cream cheese
⅛ lb Brie
¼ t white pepper
Melt the butter. Cut up the cheese and stir
it into the butter over low heat. You will
probably want to use a whisk to blend the two
together and keep the sauce from separating
(which it is very much inclined to do). When
you have a uniform, creamy sauce you are
done. You may serve it over asparagus or
other vegetables, or over toast; if you want to
brown the top, put it under the broiling unit in
your stove for a minute or so. Experiment
with some of the variations suggested in the
Du Fait du Cuisine no. 46
Now it remains to be known with what sauce
one should eat the pilgrim capons: the pilgrim
capons should be eaten with the jance, and to
advise the sauce-maker who should make it take
good almonds and blanch and clean them very
well and bray them very well; and take the inside
of white bread according to the quantity which he
needs, and let him have the best white wine which
he can get in which he should put his bread to
soak, and with verjuice; and when his almonds are
well brayed put in a little garlic to bray with
them; and take white ginger and grains of
paradise according to the quantity of sauce which
he needs, and strain all this together and draw it
up with the said white wine and a little verjuice
and salt also, and put it to boil in a fair and
clean pot.
2 c white bread
1 c white wine
2 t verjuice
or 1 t vinegar
6 oz almonds
3 cloves garlic
½ t ginger
½ t grains of paradise
2 c white wine
½ t salt
Crumble bread, soak with 1 c wine and
verjuice; blanch and grind almonds (or start
with blanched almonds), then grind garlic
with them. Add ground spices, mix with
bread, force through a strainer, put into a pot
with additional wine and salt, bring to a boil
and cook over low heat about ten minutes.
Makes about 3 cups.
Note: the “pilgrim capons” mentioned are
roasted capons with lampreys, with which this
sauce was intended to be served.
Cameline Sauce
Goodman p. 286
Note that at Tourney to make cameline they
bray ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a
nutmeg moistened with wine, then take it out of
the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not
toasted but moistened in cold water and brayed
in the mortar, moisten them with wine and strain
them, then boil all together and put in brown
sugar last of all; and that is winter cameline. And
in summer they do the same but it is not boiled.
Spicy Sweet & spicy
10 threads 10 thrds
10 thrds
1 whole ½ whole
½ whole
bread crumbs 3 T
brown sugar 2 T
cold water
We tried several versions of the winter
cameline sauce and liked all of them. Grind
smoothly until well ground, add bread
crumbs, grind smooth, add water and wine,
bring it to a boil, simmer until thickened and
add the brown sugar.
Mirrauste de Manzanas — Mirrauste of
De Nola no. 243
You must take the sweetest apples and peel off
their skin, and quarter them. And remove the core
and the pips, and then set a pot to boil with as
much water as you know will be necessary. And
when the water boils, cast in the apples and then
take well toasted almonds and grind them well in
a mortar. Dissolve them with the broth from the
apples, and strain them through a woollen cloth
with crustless bread soaked in said apple broth.
And strain everything quite thick, and after
straining it cast in a good deal of ground
cinnamon and sugar. And then send it to the fire
to cook and when the sauce boils remove it from
the fire. And cast in the apples which remain, well
drained of the broth, but see that the apples
should not be scalded, so that you can prepare
dishes of them, and when they are made cast
sugar and cinnamon on top.
(This is a Lenten version of Mirrauste, a
sauce served with roast birds.)
1 ½ lb apples
2 ½ c water
½ c roasted almonds
3 slices white bread
¾ t cinnamon
2 T+2 t sugar
Peel apples, quarter, core. Bring water to
a boil, add apples, bring back to a boil and
cook about 10 minutes until soft to a fork but
not starting to fall apart. Grind almonds fine
in food processor, remove crusts from bread.
When apples are cooked, remove them from
broth and put aside. Soak bread in ¾ c apple
broth; regrind almonds with another ½ c apple
broth, mix with bread. Force it through metal
strainer. Mix ½ t cinnamon with 2 T sugar and
add them. Heat to a boil, stirring to keep it
from sticking. Remove from heat, add apples,
mix remaining cinnamon and sugar and
sprinkle over, serve.
A Garlic Sauce with Walnuts or Almonds
Platina p. 133 (book 8)
To almonds or walnuts that have been
coarsely ground add as much cleaned garlic as
you like and likewise, as need be, grind them up
well, sprinkling them all the while so they do not
make oil. When they are ground up put in white
breadcrumbs softened in juice of meat or fish, and
grind again. And if it seems too stiff it can be
softened easily in the same juice. [See next
A More Colored Garlic Sauce
Platina p. 133 (book 8)
Prepare this in the same way as above. But do
not moisten it in water or juice, but in must of
dark grapes, squeezed by hand and cooked down
for half an hour. The same can be done with juice
of cherries.
⅛ c walnuts
½ T garlic
¼ c bread crumbs
1 ½ c grape juice
4-6 t vinegar
¼ c water
Boil down the grape juice for must.
Another Pottage Of Coriander Called The
Otro Potaje De Culantro Llamado
De Nola no. 30
You must take green coriander, and cut it
finely, and grind it in a mortar together with dry
coriander, and then take toasted almonds and
toasted hazelnuts, and grind them separately in a
mortar; and when they are well-ground, mix
them with the almonds, and resume grinding
everything together; and when it is well-ground,
strain it through a woolen cloth, and set it to cook
in the pot; and cast in all fine spices with saffron,
and vinegar, and sugar; and set it to cook with
little fire just until it is a little thickened; and
remove it from the fire, and prepare dishes, and
upon them cast sugar and cinnamon.
½ c hazelnuts
4 threads saffron
4 oz cilantro
1 T sugar
½ c roasted almonds 2 T white wine vinegar
½ t ground coriander 2 T more sugar
½ c water
2 t cinnamon
½ t de Nola fine spices (p. 34)
Toast hazelnuts, dry-frying them in a
frying pan 5 minutes or so, and peel off skins.
Wash cilantro and remove the stems. Grind
almonds and hazlenuts separately in a food
processor or a mortar.
Chop cilantro finely and add ground
coriander. Put in nuts. Process in a food
processor to a thick paste. Add ½ c of water
and rub through a wire mesh strainer.
Add spices, sugar and vinegar, and cook
on low about 10 minutes until it thickens
enough to hold its shape when scooped up.
Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon and
sprinkle on top when you serve it.
(We don’t know if this would be served
by itself or possibly as a sauce; it might work
well as a side dish with red meat. Or it might
have been intended as a Lenten dish.)
Menagier p. M-36
If you wish to provide for keeping mustard a
long time do it at wine-harvest in sweet must.
And some say that the must should be boiled.
Item, if you want to make mustard hastily in a
village, grind some mustard-seed in a mortar and
soak in vinegar, and strain; and if you want to
make it ready the sooner, put it in a pot in front
of the fire. Item, and if you wish to make it
properly and at leisure, put the mustard-seed to
soak overnight in good vinegar, then have it
ground fine in a mill, and then little by little
moisten it with good vinegar: and if you have
some spices left over from making jelly, broth,
hippocras or sauces, they may be ground up with
it, and then leave it until it is ready.
4 t mustard seed
½ c vinegar
¼ t hippocras spices (p. 64)
Soak the mustard seed overnight in 5 T of
the vinegar, then grind with the rest.
Blank Desure
Curye on Inglysch p. 76
(Diuersa Servicia no. 78)
For to make blank desure, tak þe yolkes of
egges sodyn & temper it wiþ mylk of a kow. & do
þerto comyn & safroun & flowre of ris or wastel
bred myed, & grynd in a morter & temper it vp
wyþ þe milk; & mak it boyle & do þerto wit of
egges coruyn smal. & tak fat chese & kerf þerto
wan þe licour is boylyd, & serue it forth.
6 eggs
¼ c breadcrumbs
¼ t ground cumin
or 1 T rice flour
12 threads saffron
¾ c milk
½ lb fat cheese (Swiss or … )
Boil eggs until hard, about 12 minutes.
Run cold water over them to cool, then peel
and take egg yolks out. Mash yolks in a
mortar with some of the milk until smooth.
Add cumin and saffron threads and grind
some more, being careful to crush the saffron
in. Add breadcrumbs and the rest of the milk.
Chop egg whites small and grate cheese or cut
it into little bits. Put egg yolk mixture into a
pot and heat at medium, stirring constantly
until it just starts to boil; add egg whites and
cheese and heat, stirring, until cheese melts,
about 7 minutes total from starting to heat egg
Lemon Dish (Limonada)
De Nola no. 17
Take blanched almonds and peel them, and
grind them in a mortar, and blend them with
good hen's broth; and then take new raisins, and
clean them well of the seeds, and grind them by
themselves and strain them through a woolen
cloth; and after they are strained, mix them with
the almonds, and put everything in the pot where
it must cook; and put sugar and a little ginger in
that same way, and set it to cook, constantly
stirring it with a stick of wood. And when it is
cooked, put a little lemon juice, and then stir it a
little with the wooden stirrer so that the lemon
juice is well-mixed within it. And then dish it out
and cast fine sugar on the dishes.
½ lb blanched almonds
10 ½ oz chicken broth
¼ c raisins
3 T+ sugar
¾ t ginger
4 T lemon juice
Blanch the almonds, grind them to a
coarse meal and put them in a pan with
chicken broth. Grind the raisins and pass
through fine metal strainer, ending up with
~10 t pulp and juice combined. Mix that in.
Add sugar and ginger. Cook about 10 minutes
on a low heat, stirring constantly. Add lemon
juice. Cook briefly, turn off, serve with sugar
sprinkled on.
This could be used as a sauce over meat.
If the raisins are dry, put them in boiling
water for a while to plump them out before
grinding. Could try using grapes, on the
theory that new raisins mean raisins too new
to have been dried.
Pasta, Rice, etc.
Curye on Inglysch p. 108
(Forme of Cury no. 50)
Take good broth and do in an erthen pot.
Take flour of payndemayn and make þerof past
with water, and make þerof thynne foyles as
paper with a roller; drye it harde and seeþ it in
broth. Take chese ruayn grated and lay it in
disshes with poudre douce, and lay þeron loseyns
isode as hoole as þou myght, and above powdour
and chese; and so twyse or thryse, & serue it
½ to ¾ c water
2 c flour
1 lb mozzarella
1 T poudre douce (p. 4)
5 c beef broth
Stir the water into the flour; knead 5-10
minutes until smooth. Divide in four portions,
roll each out to about 12" diameter. Cut in
lozenges (diamonds), leave to dry. This
produces 9 ½ oz dried pasta, which will keep
at least three weeks.
Grate cheese and mix up poudre douce.
Bring broth to a boil, put in pasta, cook 10-12
minutes and drain. Put ⅓ of the cheese in a
dish, sprinkle about ⅓ of the poudre douce
over it, and layer ⅓ of the hot pasta on top;
repeat this twice, reserving a little poudre
douce to sprinkle on top. Let sit a couple of
minutes to melt cheese and serve.
To Make Gnochi
Due Libri di Cucina B: no. 69
He who wants to make nochi, take flour and
bread crumbs, and put in a little water, and take
the eggs and break them with it, and get a wet
slice and put it to boil, and when they are cooked,
draw them forth and throw on them enough
½ c whole wheat flour
½ c bread crumbs
3 T water
[¼ t salt]
2 eggs
½ oz Parmesan
Combine everything except the cheese,
roll out, cut into pieces about 1"x1"x1", boil
½ hour. Sprinkle on grated cheese and serve.
Potaje de Fideos (Pottage of Noodles)
De Nola no. 59
Clean the fideos of the dirt which they have
and when they are well cleaned put them on the
fire in a very clean pot with good fatty broth of
chicken or mutton which is well salted and when
the broth begins to boil, cast the fideos in the pot
with a piece of sugar, and when they are more
than half cooked, cast into the pot with the
chicken or mutton broth, milk of goats or sheep, or
in place of those, almond milk, for that can never
be lacking, and cook it all well together, and when
the fideos are cooked remove the pot from the fire
and let it rest a bit and prepare dishes, casting
sugar and cinnamon upon them; but as I have
said in the chapter on rice, there are many who
say concerning pottages of this kind which are
cooked with meat broth that one should cast in
neither sugar nor milk, but this is according to
each one's appetite, and in truth, with fideos or
rice cooked with meat broth, it is better to cast
grated cheese on the dishes, which is very good.
Translator’s notes: My modern Spanish
dictionary translate "fideos" as "vermicelli"; I
do not know what medieval fideos were like. I
suspect the phrase “clean the fideos of the dirt
which they have” is a scribal error. An almost
identical phrase is at the beginning of the
previous recipe, which is for baked rice. There
it makes sense; even today, packages of rice
have instructions to check it for small pebbles
and other impurities. I cannot see why pasta
would need cleaning.
2 ½ c chicken broth 1 c goat’s milk
8 oz spaghetti
(or sheep or almond)
½ t sugar
1 T sugar + 1 t cinnamon
or ½ c Parmesan
Bring broth to a boil and cook spaghetti in
boiling broth 8 minutes (or just over half the
maximum cooking time given on the
package), then add sugar and goat’s milk and
cook another 6 minutes. Let sit off the heat
about 15 minutes, during which time most of
the liquid gets absorbed. Mix in either the
cinnamon sugar or the (grated) cheese. For
larger quantities, reduce the proportionate
amount of broth: for three times this amount,
for example, use two and a half times the
amount of broth.
To Make Ravioli
Sabina Welserin no. 31
Take spinach and blanch it as if you were
making cooked spinach, and chop it small. Take
approximately one handful, when it is chopped,
cheese or meat from a chicken or capon that was
boiled or roasted. Then take twice as much cheese
as herb, or of chicken an equal amount, and beat
two or three eggs into it and make a good dough,
put salt and pepper into it and make a dough
with good flour, as if you would make a tart, and
when you have made little flat cakes of dough
then put a small ball of filling on the edge of the
flat cake and form it into a dumpling. And press
it together well along the edges and place it in
broth and let it cook about as long as for a softboiled egg. The meat should be finely chopped and
the cheese finely grated.
¼ lb spinach
¼ lb cheese
⅛ t pepper
1 egg
½ lb spinach
6 oz chicken
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
Cheese version
2 c flour
½-¾ c water
½ t salt (for dough)
Chicken version
1 egg
2 c flour
½-¾ c water
½ t salt (for dough)
Put spinach into boiling water for 1-2
minutes, take out, cool, drain, squeeze dry.
Boil chicken (if you are doing the chicken
version) about 15 minutes. Chop cheese (or
chicken) fine. Chop spinach fine. Combine
with salt (chicken version), pepper, egg.
Knead flour and water into a smooth
dough. Make about 1 ¼" ball of dough, roll
out to aprox 4" circle on floured board, put 1 t
filling in the middle, pinch the edges together
around the filling like a pirogi. Bring the
chicken stock plus spinach water to a boil,
boil the ravioli in it for 3-4 minutes.
Forme of Cury p. 46
Take and make a thin foil of dowh, and kerve
it on peces, and cast hem on boiling water and
seeth it wele. Take chese and grate it and butter
cast bynethen and above as losyns (p. 68). and
serve forth.
2 c flour
~⅔ c cold water
3 c grated cheese
4 T butter
Knead flour and cold water into a
smooth, elastic dough. Roll it out thin and cut
into broad strips (1"-2" wide). Boil it about 510 minutes (until tender). Put it in a dish,
layered with grated cheese—we used Swiss
and Parmesan—and butter. You may want to
heat it briefly in an oven (although the recipe
does not say to do so).
To Make Pot Torteli
Due Libri di Cucina B: no. 53
If you want to make torteli of meat of fresh
mixed pork, boil it so that it is cooked, and beat it
with a knife so that it is very good, and take the
pot and boil it and grind it in a mortar and put
in up to six eggs that are boiled and mix with the
meat and put in good spices and put in some good
dry, grated cheese, and you want to make this pie
in a pie-shell [skin—another possible translation
for the word] of lasagna and one should not boil it
in meat broth and it should be given for dish with
a long meat pottage of pepper, and it is good.
1 lb pork shoulder
4 hard boiled eggs.
1 ½ t pepper
2 t ginger
¼ t cloves
1 t cinnamon
2 ½ oz Parmesan
5 c flour
~2 c water.
Boil the pork shoulder, cut into several
pieces, for about half an hour. Cut it up and
beat it, using the back of a knife (or a mortar
and pestle). Combine with eggs, spices, and
grated cheese to make the filling for the
Knead together flour and water, roll it
out and cut it into about 60 pieces, each about
2"x3". Place a small amount of the filling in
each, fold the pasta around it, and boil in
water for about ten minutes.
To Make Lesagne
Due Libri di Cucina B: no. 67
He who wants to make lesagne, take good
white flour and boil it in capon broth. If it is not
so much, put in some other water, and put in
some salt to boil with it, and dump it in a broad,
flat bowl, and put in enough cheese, and throw
over it the cuttings of the fat of the capon.
2 ½ c flour
1 ½ c Parmesan cheese
1 c water
½ c rendered chicken fat
chicken broth sufficient to boil the pasta
Knead together flour and water, roll it
out as two approximate circles about 10" in
diameter, cut each into about five pieces. Boil
the pieces in chicken broth for about ten
minutes. Spread on each piece about 2 ½ T
grated Parmesan cheese and 1T rendered
chicken fat and serve it.
Curye on Inglysch p. 109
(Form of Cury no. 51)
Take pork ysode and grynde it small with
safroun; medle it with ayren, and raisouns of
coraunce, and powdour fort and salt, and make a
foile of dowhgh and close the fars þerinne. Cast þe
tartletes in a panne with faire water boillyng and
salt; take of the clene flessh with oute ayren &
boile it in gode broth. Cast þer powdour douce
and salt, and messe the tartletes in disshes &
helde the sewe þeronne.
½ lb pork
15 threads saffron
3 eggs
½ c currants
1 t powder fort (see p. 4)
1 t salt (¼ + ½ +¼)
3 c flour
1 ⅛ c water
¼ lb more pork
2 c chicken broth
1 t poudre douce
(see p. 4)
Cut two thirds of the pork into slices ½"
thick, boil about 10 minutes in 6 c water, take
out and cut the slices into about 1"x2" pieces.
Grind saffron in mortar. Combine pork and
saffron in food processor (or mortar) and
grind. Then add eggs, currants, powder fort
and ¼ t salt and combine. Knead flour with
about 1 ⅛ c water, and roll it out in 3 11"x14"
pieces. Make into ravioli about 2"x2", stuffed
with the pork mixture. Put 3 quarts water, ½ t
salt in a pot, bring to a boil. Put in tartlettes,
boil about 15 minutes and remove from water.
Meanwhile grind the rest of the pork fine and
cook in broth with another ¼ t salt and poudre
douce about 15 minutes. Pour this over the
tartelettes (including the broth) and serve.
minutes. Spread half the cheese on a plate,
take the cressee out of the water, drain it, put
it on the plate on top of the cheese, put the
rest of the cheese on top of the cressee, add
olive oil or butter, serve.
Using about 12 threads of saffron tastes
fine, but gives too pale a color from an
aesthetic point of view.
Using four times that much
saffron makes it look good,
but has too strong a saffron
taste unless you really like
Anglo-Norman p. 874
Ryse of Fische Daye
Curye on Inglysch p. 127
(Forme of Cury no. 129)
Take best white flour and eggs, and make
pasta dough; and in the pasta dough put fine
choice ginger and sugar. Take half of the pastry,
[which is or should be] colored with saffron, and
half [which is or should be] white, and roll it out
on a table to the thickness of your finger; then cut
into strips the size of a piece of lath; stretch it out
on a table as illustrated; then boil in water; then
take a slotted spoon and remove the cressees from
the water; then arrange them on, and cover them
with, grated cheese, add butter or oil, and serve.
2 eggs
1 ⅓ c flour
¾-1 t ginger
2 T sugar
~35 threads saffron
3 ½ oz Parmesan cheese
1 T butter or oil
Knead the eggs and the flour together,
along with the ginger and sugar until smooth;
a tiny amount of water may help. Divide the
dough in half. Grind the saffron in a mortar,
then add ½ t water to extract the color; add the
resulting liquid to half the dough and knead it
Roll out each half to about ⅜" thick. Cut in
¾" strips. Interlace the strips,with the yellow
going one way, the plain the other. Use a drop
of water at each point where the strips cross to
stick them together, then roll the whole thing
slightly with a rolling pin at the end. The
result is a criss-cross fabric of strips of dough.
Cook in boiling water for about ten
Blaunche almaundes & grynde hem, & drawe
hem vp wyt watur. Weshce þi ryse clene, & do
þerto sugur roche and salt: let hyt be stondyng.
Frye almaundes browne, & floriche hyt þerwyt,
or wyt sugur.
7 oz almonds
~4 ½ c of water
2 c rice
2 T sugar
1 t salt
3 oz slivered almonds
1 T sugar on top
Make 4 c of almond milk (see p. 7). Add
rice to almond milk, also sugar and salt, bring
to a boil and simmer covered 20 minutes; let
stand 25 minutes. Lightly grease frying pan
with oil and put in almonds, cook while
stirring for 5 minutes at low to moderate heat.
Sprinkle almonds and extra sugar on rice and
Curye on Inglysch p. 98
(Forme of Cury no. 1)
To make frumente. Tak clene whete & braye
yt wel in a morter tyl þe holes gon of; seþe it til it
breste in water. Nym it vp & lat it cole. Tak good
broþ & swete mylk of kyn or of almand &
tempere it þerwith. Nym yelkys of eyren rawe &
saffroun & cast þerto; salt it; lat it nought boyle
after þe eyren been cast þerinne. Messe it forth
with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.
2 c water
1 c cracked wheat
4 threads saffron
⅓ c chicken broth
⅓ c milk
(or almond milk p. 7)
2 egg yolks
½ t salt
Bring water to a boil. Add wheat and bring
back to a boil, cook about 10 min, then
remove lid and cool, with occasional stirring
to hasten the cooling and break up the pasty
lumps. Crush saffron into a little of the broth;
add saffron, broth and milk to the wheat and
heat. When heated through, stir in egg yolks
and salt. Frumenty was traditionally served
with venison; this recipe also suggests serving
with mutton.
Stuffed eggs
Platina book 9
cheese, slice thin the soft cheese, chop herbs
fine. Put the remaining 5 yolks in a bowl with
both cheeses and mix. Grind ⅛ c raisins in a
mortar. Add egg and cheese mix to the
mortar, grind all together. Add herbs to the
mixture and stir in. Fill eggs and put back
together with a toothpick. There may be some
leftover filling.
Grind remaining ¼ c raisins, mash into
them the egg yolks set aside at the beginning,
stir in grape juice, verjuice, and spices to
make the sauce. Heat oil in a frying pan and
have ready a small pot. Fry the eggs in the oil,
four at a time, rolling them around to get them
fried on all sides, for about a minute, then put
into the pot. When all are fried, pour the sauce
over them and heat that pot for about a
minute, stirring them around to heat through,
There is an Islamic version of stuffed
eggs on p. 125.
Cook fresh eggs for a long time so that they
are hard, then take the egg from the shell and
split it through the middle, so as not to lose any
of the white. After you have taken out the yolk,
grind up part of it with good cheese, aged as well
as fresh, and raisins; save the other part to color
the dish. Likewise add a little finely chopped
parsley, marjoram and mint. There are those who
also put in two or more egg whites, along with
some spices. With this mixture fill the whites of
the eggs and when they are stuffed, fry them over
a gentle flame, in oil. When they are fried, make a
sauce from the rest of the yolks and raisins
ground together, and when you have moistened
them in verjuice and must, add ginger, clove, and
cinnamon and pour over the eggs and let them
boil a little together.
½ c almonds
2 c water
6 threads saffron
8 eggs
1 oz Romano
1 oz fresh mozzerella
⅜ c raisins
1 ½ T parsley
1 T marjoram
1 T mint
~1 T oil
Make 1 ½ c almond milk. Bring to a
slow boil. Add saffron, salt and vinegar.
Simmer about 15 minutes (it ends up about as
thick as heavy cream). Pour it into a linen
cloth (over a bowl) and leave it to drain for an
hour. The result has about the texture of
butter. Yields 3-4 T. Use more saffron if you
like saffron and want it yellower.
[1 egg white]
[additional spices]
2 T verjuice
2 T grape juice
⅛ t ginger
⅛ t clove
¼ t cinnamon
Hard boil eggs, cool, cut in half as for
deviled eggs. Set aside 3 yolks. Grate the hard
How One Makes Almond Butter
Grewe: XIIIth c. p.35, recipe 3
One should take almond kernels and add
water to make milk thereof and place it in a pot
and heat it up over the embers and add saffron
well crushed, and salt and vinegar to taste, and
heat it until it thickens. When it has become
sufficiently thick, place it in a cloth sewn together
as a bag and hang it on a wall until the liquid
has drained off, and then take it out, and make
butter of it.
¼ t salt
2 t vinegar
To Make Quince Marmalade (Condoignac)
Le Menagier M-50
minutes. Remove excess grease; sprinkle
poudre douce on top.
Take quinces and peel them, then cut in
quarters and take out the eye and the seeds, then
cook them in good red wine and then strain
through a strainer: then take honey and boil it
for a long time and skim it, then put your
quinces in it and stir thoroughly, and keep
boiling until the honey is reduced by half; then
throw in powdered hippocras, and stir till cold,
then divide into portions and keep it.
Two Fifteenth Century p. 20
2 lb quince
2 c red wine
1 c honey
½ t Duke’s Powder (p. 64)
Peel, core and quarter your quinces. Put
them in a pot with the wine, and simmer until
the quinces are very soft—about an hour.
Strain off the liquid and force the quinces
through a strainer or a potato ricer or
something similar. Add the honey, simmer
gently, stirring if necessary to keep it from
burning (if sufficiently gentle it mostly isn’t)
until the mixture is substantially thicker,
which may take about an hour and a half. Add
Duke’s powder. Let it cool, stirring
occasionally, and put it in a jar.
Curye on Inglysch p. 135
(Forme of Cury no. 169)
Take sawge; grynde it and temper it vp with
ayren. Take a sausege & kerf hym to gobetes, and
cast it in a possynet, and do þerwiþ grece & frye
it. Whan it is fryed ynowgh, cast þerto sawge with
ayren; make it not to harde. Cast þerto powdour
douce & messe it forth. If it be in ymbre day, take
sauge, buttur, & ayren, and lat stonde wel by þe
sauge, & serue forth.
1 ½ T sage
4 large eggs
2 T oil
⅜ lb mild breakfast sausage
1 t poudre douce (see p. 4)
Mix ground sage into eggs. Heat oil on
high, fry sausage on high 5 minutes until
browned. Turn heat to low, give it a minute or
two to cool, add eggs, fry scrambling for 2
Take milk, butter and cheese and boil in fere;
then take eyroun and caste thereto; then take
parsley and sage and hack it small, and take
powdered ginger and galingale, and cast it
thereto, and then serve it forth.
¼ lb cheddar cheese
½ c milk
⅛ lb butter
5 eggs
¼ c parsley
2 T sage
1 t ginger
1 t galingale
Cut up cheese, heat milk, melt butter and
cheese in it, stir together, then add beaten
eggs. Chop parsley and sage fine, add along
with the spices, cook until the mixture
thickens, serve.
To Make Pescoddes
A Proper Newe Book of Cookery p. 33
Take marybones and pull the mary hole out
of them, and cutte it in two partes, then season it
with suger, synamon, ginger and a little salte and
make youre paeste as fyne as ye canne, and as
shorte and thyn as ye canne, then frye theym in
swete suette and caste upon them a lyttle
synamon and ginger and so serve them at the
pie crust (for 9" pie)
2 oz marrow
2 t sugar
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t ginger
pinch salt
2 T lard for frying
cinnamon (to cast on)
ginger (to cast on)
Mix up pie crust. Mix marrow (from
marrow bones), sugar, cinnamon, ginger and
salt to a uniform paste. Roll pie crust very
thin, cut into circles about water glass size (2
¾"). Spread thin layer of marrow mixture
across each round, fold it in half, seal the
edges. Brown it in hot lard. Sprinkle with
cinnamon and ginger and serve it forth.
White Pudding
Icelandic p. 216
One shall take sweet milk and well crushed
wheat bread and beaten egg and well ground
saffron and let it all boil until it grows thick.
Then pour it upon a dish and throw in butter.
This is called white pudding.
4 slices bread (4 oz)
2 eggs
1 c milk
6 threads saffron
3 T butter
Turn bread into crumbs. Beat eggs, mix
with milk and beat. Grind saffron and add,
then add crumbs. Heat for about 5 minutes,
put in dish and add butter.
Lord's Salt
Icelandic p. 215
One shall take cloves and mace, cardamom,
pepper, cinnamon, ginger an equal weight of each
except cinnamon, of which there shall be just as
much as of all the others, and as much baked
bread as all that has been said above. And he
shall cut it all together and grind it in strong
vinegar; and put it in a cask. That is their salt
and it is good for half a year.
How to Make Use of the Salt Spoken of
Icelandic p. 215
When a man wants to use of this salt, he shall
boil it in a pan over coals without flame. Then he
shall take venison of hart or roe and carefully
garnish with fat and roast it. And cut it up well
burned; and when the salt is cold than the meat
shall be cut up therein with a little salt. Then it
can lie for three weeks. So a man may long keep
geese, ducks, and other game if he cuts them thin.
This is the best salt the gentry have.
1 t cloves
1 & t mace
$ T cardamom
1 t pepper
5 t cinnamon
1 $ t ginger
1 t salt
8 t breadcrumbs
2 c strong vinegar
Grind cardamom and mix all spices
together. (This quantity is 2 g of all spices
except the cinnamon, of which there is 10 g; it
adds up to 3 $ T total.) To use, add 1 t of salt
to the spice mixture, the breadcrumbs and the
vinegar, simmer it briefly, cool it, then mix it
in with your meat and close up the container.
This quantity will preserve a 2 c container of
cooked, sliced meat or fowl (1 to 1 $ lb).
We tried this recipe in order to have a way
of storing meat without refrigeration for long
events, such as Pennsic. In our experience,
meat preserved this way keeps several weeks
without refrigeration; we have done so
repeatedly without health problems, but see
warning below. The meat tastes strongly of
the vinegar and spices when you rinse off the
preserving mixture; we generally use the meat
in recipes that call for vinegar and then leave
out the vinegar.
Ordinary vinegar is 5%, which is just
barely strong enough, so we normally mix it
with stronger vinegar (“75 grain” or 7.5%)
from a gourmet food store.
Preserving foods can be dangerous; if
you experiment with this recipe, be careful.
According to our researches, either using
vinegar of at least 5% acidity or boiling for
15 minutes before eating will protect you
from botulism; we strongly advise doing
both. We take no responsibility for the
result of trying this recipe; before doing so,
you may want to read up on methods and
hazards of preserving food.
Islamic Dishes: Middle East
and al-Andalus
Making Bread of Abu Hamza
al-Warraq p. 123
Use as much as needed of fine samidh flour
(high in starch and bran free). This bread is dry.
The dough is made similar to that of
barazidhaj, except that this bread is a little
thinner and smaller, it is pricked a lot with
feathers [before baking], and neither buraq
(bakers' borax) nor any sweetening ingredients
are used in making it. However, you need to
knead into it (olive oil from unripe olives), the
amount of which depends on how much oily you
want it to be. Moreover, after you stick them to
the inside wall of the tannur and they are fully
baked, take them out and stack them at the top of
the oven. Keep them there until they are
completely dry. Store them in wicker baskets and
use them as needed.
Barazidhaj: Take 1 makkūk [7½ pounds] good
quality, pure flour, and mix with it 2 uqiyas
yeast, and 20 dirhams salt and (bakers' borax).
Mix them into dough [by adding water] and
knead vigorously. Cover it and let it ferment.
Divide dough into small portions, the weight
of each should be 1 Levantine uqiya (1 ½ ounces),
brush each portion with 2 dirhams (olive oil from
unripe olives), and flatten it on a wooden board to
medium thinness. Prick the breads with feathers,
but not much, and cover them with a dry piece of
(One fifth of the recipe)
3 ⅓ c semolina
1 ½ c water
1 T sourdough
1 ½ t salt
3 T olive oil
additional 4 T olive oil
Knead all ingredients except the
additional oil together, let rise overnight,
divide into about 40 1 oz portions, flour them.
Press flat to a thickness of ⅛ to ¼", prick all
over with a feather (I used a wooden skewer).
Brush with olive oil—about 4 T for the whole
batch. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes—
longer the thicker they are. Take out. Turn off
the oven, open the door to let it cool a little,
then put the loaves back in on the oven rack,
dry for at least half an hour at about 150-200°.
A Recipe for Ka'k Made for Abu 'Ata Sahl
bin Salim al-Katib
al-Warraq pp. 123-4
Take 1 kerylaja (2 ½ pounds) or 1 makkūk (7
½ pounds) fine samith flour. Make it into dough
using 100 dirham ground sesame seeds that have
not been extracted of their oil (i.e. tahini), 1
uqiyya almond oil, and 2 dirhams salt. For each
makkūk add 2 uqiyyas white sugar and 3
dirhams saffron. Knead the mixture with 10
dirhams yeast [and some water].
When dough is fully fermented, rub it with a
little fat and rose water beaten together. Roll it
out on a board into a square and cut it out into
small squares. Bake them in the tannur by
sticking them [into the inner wall]. When done,
take them out and leave them at the top of the
tannur for a short while to dry out, God willing.
(One fifth of the recipe)
3 ⅓ c semolina
.3 g saffron= (150 threads)
2 ounces tahini
1 t sourdough
1 t+ almond oil
1 ½ c water
t salt
1 T olive oil
scant T sugar
1 T rose water
Combine all ingredients except oil and
rose water and knead it smooth. Leave
overnight to rise. Knead in oil (or animal fat)
and rose water. Roll out about ¼" thick, cut
into squares 1.5"-2" on a side, put on a baking
stone in a 400° oven, bake about 20-25
minutes, cool oven to 200°-250°, dry about
30-60 minutes. They taste very strongly of
saffron, which some like and some do not.
Loaf Kneaded with Butter
Andalusian p. A-23
Take three ratls of white flour and knead it
with a ratl of butter and when the mixing is
complete, leave it to rise and make bread from it;
send it to the oven in a dish and when it has
cooked, turn it on the other side in another dish
and return it to the oven. When it is thoroughly
cooked, take it out of the oven, then cover it a
while and present it.
½ lb butter
5 c flour
1 t salt
1 c water
¾ lb =~1 ¼ c sourdough
Note: we assume that “make bread from it”
requires water and leavening.
Soften butter and mix into flour; add salt.
Mix lukewarm water with sourdough starter
and stir into flour mixture; knead until
smooth. Transfer to a greased ceramic or
pyrex baking dish, cover with a damp cloth,
let rise 3-4 hours. Heat oven to 350°. Bake
bread about 55 minutes, remove from dish,
invert and bake another 20 minutes. Remove
from oven, cover with cloth for 10 minutes,
then serve.
Recipe for Folded Bread from Ifriqiyya
Andalusian p. A-57
Take coarsely ground good semolina and
divide it into three parts. Leave one third aside
and knead the other two well and it is made from
it. Roll out thin bread and grease it. Sprinkle
some of the remaining semolina on top and fold
over it and roll it up. Then roll it out a second
time and grease it, sprinkle some semolina on top
and fold it over like muwarraqa [p. 121]. Do this
several times until you use up the remaining
third of the semolina. Then put it in the oven and
leave it until it sets. Remove it when tender but
not excessively so. If you want, cook the flatbreads
at home in the tajine. Then crumble it and with
the crumbs make a tharid like fatir, either with
milk like tharid laban, which is eaten with butter
and sugar, or with chicken or other meat broth,
upon which you put fried meat and a lot of fat.
Dust it with cinnamon and serve it.
3 c semolina
⅔ c water
~ ¼ c olive oil
Knead 2 c of semolina with the water for
about 10 minutes, until smooth. Roll out to
about 12"x12". Spread with about 2 t oil,
sprinkle on 2-3 T semolina. Fold in half, roll
up, mash together. Repeat about five more
times, until all the last cup of semolina is used
Roll out to about 12"x10". Bake in 300°
oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for about
50 minutes, until baked but not crisp (except
thin parts).
For a recipe for the “tharid like fatir” that
is to be made with this, see page 102.
Meat with Sauce or Stew
Palace Chicken with Mustard
Andalusian p. A-35
Cut up the chicken and place in a pot with
salt and onion pounded with cilantro, oil,
coriander seed, pepper and caraway; put it on the
fire until it boils, and when it has boiled gently,
add cilantro juice, vinegar, and murri, and let the
vinegar be more than the murri; when it has
cooked, pound peeled almonds fine and stir with
egg and some pepper, green and dried ground
coriander and a spoon of prepared mustard; pour
all this into the pan and add three cracked eggs
and take it to the hearthstone to rest for a while,
and serve, God willing.
2 ½ lb chicken
1 ⅜ lb onion
¼ c cilantro
3 T cilantro juice
(from ¼ c cilantro)
1 t salt
2 t coriander
¾ t pepper
2 t caraway
2 T olive oil
2 T murri (see p. 5)
3 T vinegar
¼ lb blanched almonds
1 egg
¼ t more pepper
2 T more cilantro
4 t mustard powder
3 more eggs
Cut up chicken into separate joints; chop
onion. Make cilantro juice (p. 8). Cook the
chicken, etc. in oil over medium high heat 1015 minutes. Add murri, vinegar, and cilantro
juice, reduce heat to medium and cook 20
minutes. Grind almonds in food processor
almost to flour. Mix in a bowl ground
almonds, egg, and the rest of the spices. Stir
into the pot, mixing well, and turn heat to low;
crack eggs on top of sauce, cover, and let sit
until eggs are poached (about 10-15 minutes).
Chicken Covered with Walnuts and
Andalusian p. A-43
Cut chicken in two, put in the pot, throw in
onion pounded with cilantro, salt, spices, a spoon
of vinegar and half a spoon of murri; fry until it
smells good; then cover with water and cook till
almost done: make meatballs from the chicken
breast, and throw in the pot; dot with egg yolks
and cover with the whites and pounded walnuts
and saffron; ladle out and sprinkle with pepper
and cinnamon and serve, God willing.
5 lbs chicken
½ lb onion
1 c cilantro
2 T vinegar
2 t olive oil
½ t cinnamon
¼ t cumin
¼ t coriander
½ t salt
1 T murri (see p. 5)
for meatballs:
2 cloves garlic
3 T flour
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 T vinegar
topping: 4 eggs
1 c walnuts
16 threads saffron
⅛ t cinnamon
⅛ t pepper
Remove the breast meat from the chicken,
cut chicken in half. Chop onion and cilantro
and pound together in a mortar. Heat the
frying pan to medium high, add oil. Put in the
chicken, onion and cilantro, vinegar, spices,
and murri; fry at medium high. (This soon
becomes something more like a simmer as the
chicken and onion produce liquid.)
While the chicken is cooking, take the
breast (about 15 ounces), process it in a food
processor or pound in a mortar until it is
sufficiently mashed to make meat balls out of.
Crush garlic, add it and remaining meatball
ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form
meatballs about 1" to 1.5" in diameter.
After 15 minutes of frying, add 4 c water
to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes, without a lid,
then add the meatballs to the pot.
Pound the saffron to powder, add it to the
walnuts, and pound the walnuts until you have
something like walnut flour with pieces of
walnut in it (walnuts tend to disintegrate when
pounded or chopped); a food processor would
also work for this.
When the pot has simmered for another 40
minutes, separate the eggs, putting the white
with the pounded walnut and dropping the
yolks into the pot. Stir the walnuts and the egg
white together into a uniform paste and use it
to cover the top of the pot. Cover the pot with
a lid, simmer for about another 10 minutes,
until the topping is hard. Sprinkle with the
pepper and cinnamon and serve.
There is a fair amount of liquid, which is
good over rice. One could try it with about
half as much water, although this will make it
somewhat harder to get the chicken cooked,
since it will not be entirely covered.
Another Dish [Andalusian Chicken]
al-Andalusi p. C-4
Get a fat hen, cut off the head, clean it and
cut it into small pieces; the legs in two, the breast
in two and the same the wings. Put in a pot with
salt, oil, murri, pepper, dried coriander, and
oregano; fry it without water until it is gilded.
Meanwhile, get onions and green cilantro and
squeeze out their water into the pot, in a quantity
sufficient to cover the meat, leaving it to bubble
one hour. After get a little grated bread crumbs,
beat them with two or three eggs, with pepper and
saffron, and embellish with it the pot; leave it on
the embers that the grease comes out and eat it.
1 T oil
1 t salt
2 t murri (see p. 5)
1 chicken, 3 ½ lb
½ t pepper
1 t coriander
¼ t more pepper
2 t fresh oregano
or 1 t dried
¼ c onion juice
1 c cilantro
3 eggs
12 threads saffron
½ c bread crumbs
Heat oil with salt, murri, etc. in large pot
and fry cut-up chicken for 10 minutes over
medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Make
onion juice (p. 8). Make about ½ c of cilantro
juice (p. 8). Add onion and cilantro juice and
cover; simmer 40 minutes on low heat,
stirring occasionally; be careful or it will
stick. Beat eggs, crush saffron with a little of
the egg and add, add bread crumbs and
pepper; stir into the meat; cook about 5
minutes on low and remove from heat. The
dish as we make it is a little spicy; if you are
serving it for people with conservative tastes
you might want to reduce the amount of
Muthallath with Heads of Lettuce
Andalusian p. A-47
Take meat from a young, fat sheep and cut it
in small pieces and put it in a pot with salt, a
piece of onion, pepper, coriander seed, clove,
saffron and oil. Put it on a moderate fire and
when it is almost done, take heads of lettuce and
their shoots without leaves, peel and cut up and
add to the meat in the pot, and when the lettuce
is done, add good vinegar and finish cooking it.
Cover it with beaten egg, saffron and spikenard
and take it to the hearthstone.
1 lb lamb (or mutton)
¼ medium onion
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
½ t coriander
¼ t cloves
8 threads saffron
⅓ c olive oil
1 bunch leaf lettuce
¼ c vinegar
5 eggs
8 threads more saffron
¼ t spikenard
Cut up meat and chop onion, and put in a
pot with salt, spices and oil. Cook on medium
20 minutes, until the meat is almost done.
Wash lettuce and slice in ½" strips, add to
meat and mix; when the lettuce is wilted (5-10
minutes), add vinegar and cook another 5
minutes. Beat eggs, add saffron and spikenard
and spread on top of meat mixture, with heat
turned all the way down. Let sit half an hour,
until the eggs set.
Preparing Asparagus with Meat Stuffing
Andalusian p. A-41
Take asparagus, the largest you have, clean
and boil, after taking tender meat and pounding
fine; throw in pepper, caraway, coriander seed,
cilantro juice, some oil and egg white; take the
boiled asparagus, one after another, and dress
with this ground meat, and do so carefully. Put
an earthenware pot on the fire, after putting in it
water, salt, a spoon of murri and another of oil,
cilantro juice, pepper, caraway and coriander
seed; little by little while the pot boils, throw in it
the asparagus wrapped in meat. Boil in the pot
and throw in it meatballs of this ground meat,
and when it is all evenly cooked, cover with egg,
breadcrumbs and some of the stuffed meat
already mentioned and decorate with egg, God
1 lb asparagus
½ lb ground lamb
⅛ t pepper
¼ t caraway
⅛ t coriander
⅔ c cilantro
½ T oil
1 egg white
¼ t salt
½ T murri (see p. 5)
1 T oil
⅛ t pepper
¼ t caraway
⅛ t more coriander
3 eggs
1 c breadcrumbs
Make cilantro juice (p. 8); use half for the
first batch and half for the second. See A
Baqliyya of Ziryab's (p. 79) for another dish
with egg/meat/bread topping.
Dish of Eggplant
Andalusian p. A-49
Cut up mutton and put in the pot with salt,
pepper, coriander, cumin, thyme, two spoons of
murri naqî' and three of oil; take to the fire and
cook and when the meat is done, add eggplants
cut in quarters and boiled separately. When it
has boiled, grind up white bread crumbs beaten
with the right quantity of eggs in coriander juice;
cover the pot with this and then take it to the
1 ½ lb eggplant
¾ lb lamb
2 t murri (see p. 5)
¾ t salt
1 t pepper
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
½ t ground thyme
1 T oil
2 T bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 T cilantro juice (p. 8)
Quarter eggplant, simmer in water for
about 20 minutes. Cut lamb in bite sized
pieces (1" to ½" on a side). Mix lamb with
murri and spices and saute in oil 5-10
minutes. Drain eggplant, skin, add to meat,
mashing a little, simmer together about 5-10
minutes. Mix the cilantro juice with eggs and
bread crumbs, stir it into the pot, simmer
briefly (about 5 minutes) to get the eggs
cooked, serve.
Dish Prepared With Fried Eggplant
Andalusian p. A-40
Take meat and cut it up small, then put it in
the pot and throw in half a spoon of vinegar, one
of murri and another of fresh oil, and pepper,
coriander and cilantro, both pounded fine, and
salt. Bring the pot to a full boil until the meat
and the spices are cooked, and don't throw in
water. When the meat has browned and is done,
remove it, stir it and throw in enough water, but
do not let it cover the meat, and boil again. Then
boil the eggplant separately, after salting it and
removing its water, and then cut in thirds and
quarters and remove the peel. Dust with good
white flour and fry in the pan with some fresh oil,
then throw it in the pot and cover the contents of
the pot with two eggs and crumbs of leavened
bread and draw off the grease to the oven. Boil
moderately, take off the fire for a while and serve.
Translator’s note: When I translate
“removing its water,” I'm reading the
incomprehensible “dhâ'uhâ” as “mâ'uhâ,”
“its water.” “Draw off the grease to the
oven” is a strange instruction, not found
elsewhere. The instruction to boil and take off
the fire indicates that the pot itself does not go
to the oven. (Charles Perry)
½ lb lamb
1 T oil
½ T vinegar
1 T murri
½ t pepper
½ t ground coriander
4 T cilantro
1 t salt
1 medium eggplant
½ c flour
⅓ c more oil
½ c water
2 eggs
⅓ c breadcrumbs
Cut the lamb up small, fry it in the oil with
vinegar, murri, and seasonings about 10-15
minutes (until the meat is cooked). Add the
water and simmer about another 20 minutes,
until most of the water is gone.
Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and boil it
10 minutes in salted water, take it out and
slice it. Lay it on paper towels or something
similar for ten or fifteen minutes to let some
of the juice come out. Pat it dry, smother in
flour, fry in oil in a second frying pan for
about 5-10 minutes. Then add it to the first
pan. Stir in the beaten eggs, mix in the
breadcrumbs, remove from the heat and serve.
A Baqliyya of Ziryab's
Andalusian p. A-48
Take the flesh of a young fat lamb, put in the
pot with salt, onion, coriander seed, pepper,
caraway, two spoons of oil and one of murri naqî';
put on a moderate fire and then take cabbage, its
tender “eyes”; take off the leaves and chop small
with the heads, wash, and when the meat is
almost done, add the cabbage. Then pound red
meat from its tender parts and beat in the bowl
with eggs and the crumb [that is, everything but
the crust] of bread, almonds, pepper, coriander
and caraway; cover the pot with this little by
little and leave on the coals until the sauce dries
and the grease comes to the top and serve.
2 lb cabbage
1 lb lamb for stew
⅜ lb onion
1 t salt
½ t coriander
¼ t pepper
½ t caraway
2 T oil
1 T murri (p. 5)
5 oz ground lamb
2 eggs
½ c breadcrumbs
¼ c blanched almonds
⅛ t pepper
¼ t more coriander
⅛ t more caraway
Wash and chop cabbage. Put cut-up lamb,
onion, salt, first set of spices above, oil, and
murri in a pot and cook over middling high
heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Stir
in cabbage and cook covered for 20 minutes;
the cabbage will yield a lot of liquid.
Meanwhile, grind remaining lamb and mix
with remaining ingredients. Add this mixture
to pot by spoonfuls until the top is mostly
covered. Cook covered until the topping is
cooked through, then uncovered until most of
the liquid is gone, about an hour in all on low
Note: Ziryab was the famous arbiter of
elegance during the caliphate of 'Abd alRahman II, in Cordoba; 'Abd al-Rahman II
became Caliph in 822.
Preparing a Dish of Cardoons with Meat
Andalusian A-41
Take meat and cut it up, put in the pot with
water, salt, two spoons of murri, one of vinegar
and another of oil, pepper, caraway and coriander
seed. Put on the fire, and when it is cooked, wash
the cardoons, boil, cut up small and throw over
the meat. Boil a little, and cover the contents of
the pot with two eggs and bread crumbs, and
sprinkle pepper on it in the platter, God willing.
10 oz cardoons
4 ½ t murri (see p. 5)
1 T salt
½ t coriander
1 t vinegar
½ t caraway
10 oz lamb
¼ t pepper
1 c water
1 T vinegar
½ t salt
2 eggs
1 T olive oil
½ c bread crumbs
additional pepper to sprinkle on at the end
Use a vegetable peeler to strip out the
fibers from the cardoon stalks. Cut each stalk
into 2 long pieces. Bring a gallon of water
with 3 t salt, 1 t vinegar to a boil, add
cardoons. Cook for 35 minutes. Drain and
chop each piece in half.
Trim off the lamb fat and cut the meat in
half inch cubes. Combine with water, salt, oil,
murri, spices and vinegar, bring to a simmer,
simmer 25 minutes with lid on. Add cardoons.
Simmer with lamb 15 minutes uncovered.
Mix eggs and bread crumbs, use to cover
the liquid in the pot, simmer 7-8 minutes with
lid on. Serve, with pepper sprinkled on to
Anjudhâniyyah of Yahya b. Khalid alBarmaki
Translated by Charles Perry from al-Warraq
Cut meat in strips, chop onion and fresh
spices, and throw in a pot. Put in best quality oil,
and when the pot boils and the meat browns, add
pepper, cumin, caraway and a little murri, and
throw in as much milled asafoetida [anjudhân] as
you need. Break eggs over it and let it cool as
needed, God willing.
Note: asafoetida is called Hing in Indian
grocery stores. It comes in different mixtures;
what we used is called L.G. Compounded
Asafoetida Powder.
1 ½ lb lamb or beef
1 large onion (12 oz)
1 ½ t cinnamon
¾ t coriander
¼ c olive oil
1 t pepper
1 t cumin
½ t caraway seeds
4 t murri (see p.5)
¼ t asafoetida
5 eggs
Put sliced meat, onion, cinnamon,
coriander, and oil into pot, cook over
moderately high heat about 5 minutes. Add
remaining ingredients except for eggs, cook
covered over low heat about 20 minutes.
Break eggs on top and simmer until eggs are
poached, about 5-10 minutes.
Another possible interpretation is to stir
the eggs into the hot liquid, in which case the
final cooking takes only a minute or two.
A Sicilian Dish
Andalusian p. A-46
Take fat meat from the chest, the shoulder,
the ribs, and the other parts, in the amount of a
ratl and a half. Put it in a pot with a little water
and salt and some three ratls of onions. Then put
it on a moderate fire, and when the onion is done
and the meat has “returned,” throw in four
spoonfuls of oil, pepper, cinnamon, Chinese
cinnamon, spikenard, and meatballs. Finish
cooking it and when the meat is done, cover it
with eggs beaten with saffron, or you might leave
it without a covering, as you wish, [and cook it
either] in the oven or at home.
3 lbs onions
1 ½ lbs lamb
½ c water
½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ t cinnamon
+meatballs from ½
(see p. 8)
½ t true cinnamon (p. 4)
¼ t spikenard
4 T oil
4 eggs
12 threads saffron
pound to a pound of meat
Slice onions, cut up meat into bite sized
pieces. Put meat, onions, water and salt in a
pot and cook covered 20 minutes, until onions
are limp and meat is brown on outside. Add
spices, oil, and meatballs, and simmer,
covered, 40 minutes. Beat eggs, crush saffron
into some of the egg and mix with the eggs.
Pour this over meat mixture and simmer 15
The Dish Mukhallal
Andalusian p. A-2
Take the meat of a plump cow or sheep, cut it
small, and put it in a new pot with salt, pepper,
coriander, cumin, plenty of saffron, garlic peeled
and diced, almonds peeled and split, and plenty of
oil; cover it with strong, very pure vinegar,
without the slightest bit of water; put it on a
moderate charcoal fire and stir it, then boil it.
When it cooks and the meat softens and it
reduces, then put it on the hearthstone and coat
it with much egg, cinnamon and lavender; color it
with plenty of saffron, as desired, and put in it
whole egg yolks and leave it on the hearthstone
until it thickens and the broth evaporates and the
fat appears. This dish lasts many days without
changing or spoiling; it is called “wedding food” in
the West [or the Algarve], and it is one of the
seven dishes cited as used among us at banquets
in Cordoba and Seville.
1 lb beef or mutton
⅓ c olive oil
6 cloves garlic
¾ c strong vinegar
¼ t salt
6 eggs
¼ t pepper
¾ t cinnamon
½ t coriander
¼ t lavender
½ t cumin
8 threads more saffron
8 threads saffron
2 whole egg yolks
½ c blanched slivered almonds
Cut up meat, chop garlic. Mix them with
salt and the first set of spices, almonds, and
oil in a pot, add vinegar, cook over medium
high 11 minutes, turn way down. Mix eggs,
lavender, cinnamon, remaining saffron, pour
evenly over what is in the pot to form a layer
on top. Put egg yolks on top and cook half an
hour without stirring until yolks are cooked.
Preparing Tuffâhiyya (Apple Stew) with
Andalusian p. A-49
Take three ratls of lamb, cut up and put in
the pot with onion, salt, coriander, pepper, ginger,
cinnamon and four ûqiyas of oil, let it evaporate
in the pot on the fire, until it gives up its water;
then cover with juice pressed from apples and
cook; when the meat is done, put in eggplants
peeled and boiled separately and whole peeled
apples without cutting them up and prepared
meatballs; then add some of the meat, pounded
and “dissolved,” and some eggs and cover it
[masculine verb; this may mean that only the
added meat is covered] with them, or leave
[feminine verb, meaning leave the pot] without
covering [khamira, the word meaning “dough”],
and leave it to rest on the hearthstone.
(This is for ¼ the recipe given in the original.)
1 to 2 lb eggplants
12 oz lamb
1 onion (4 oz)
1 t salt
¾ t coriander
¾ t pepper
¾ t ginger
½ lb ground lamb
1 egg
1 t murri (see p. 5)
1 t onion juice
1 ½ t cinnamon
1 oz olive oil
2 c apple juice
1 ½ lb apples
6 oz ground lamb
3 eggs
½ t pepper
½ t coriander
½ t cinnamon
2 t olive oil
Peel the eggplants and put in a saucepan
with about 5 c water and ½ t salt; boil 15
minutes and remove. Let stand ½ hour or
more, and drain off the liquid that comes from
them. Meanwhile, mix and knead together all
meatball ingredients except the oil. Make into
25-30 meatballs. Fry them in the oil and their
own fat for about 20 minutes over medium
heat. In a large pot, put lamb, cut into bite
sized pieces, onion, salt, spices, and oil; cook
over medium heat about 5-10 minutes. Add
apple juice and cook about 5 minutes more.
Add whole eggplants, peeled whole apples,
meatballs. Cook about 5 minutes. Meanwhile,
mix the rest of the ground lamb with the eggs,
stir into the liquid in the pot as a thickener.
Cook with cover on over a low heat until
apples are done (about another 40 minutes).
Note: The meatball recipe is loosely based
on several other recipes in the same
cookbook. Alternative ingredients include
minced garlic instead of onion juice, white
flour or egg white as a binder instead of eggs,
vinegar, saffron, cumin, lavender, cloves, oil,
salt, and meat fat.
al-Baghdadi p. 37
Take fat meat and cut into small strips:
throw into the saucepan with a little salt and dry
coriander, and boil until almost cooked. Remove
and throw away the scum. Cut up onions small
and throw in, with cinnamon-bark, pepper,
mastic and ginger ground fine, and a few sprigs
of mint. Take sour apples, remove the pips, and
pound in a stone mortar, squeezing out the juice:
put in on top of the meat. Peel almonds and soak
in water, then throw in. Kindle the fire under it,
until the whole is done: then leave over the fire to
settle. If desired, add a chicken, cutting it into
quarters, and letting it cook with the meat. Then
" c blanched almonds
1 $ lb lamb
1 t salt
1 t coriander
6 oz onion
t mastic
$ t cinnamon
$ t pepper
$ t ginger
2 sprigs fresh mint
1 lb cooking apples
Put almonds to soak. Cut meat into strips
&"-"" thick. Combine meat, salt, and
coriander and cook about 15 minutes covered,
until the meat is browned. Chop onions and
grind mastic; add onions, cinnamon, pepper,
mastic, ginger and mint to pot, and simmer
another 10 minutes. Peel and core apples,
chop very small (looks almost like apple
sauce) in food processor. Dump apples and
almonds on top. Cook another 10 minutes and
Green Isfidhbaja by Ibrahim bin al-Mahdi
al-Warraq p. 283
Take 4 ratls meat of a sheep in its third year,
and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Put the meat
in a pot with a piece of cassia, 1 ratl chopped
onion, # ratl olive oil, salt as needed, and water
enough to cover the meat.
Place the pot on nafikh nafshi or kanun ajlan
%two kinds of slow burning stoves'. When meat is
half done, add to the pot, 4 pieces of cheese, each
weighing 5 dirhams %15 g'. When meat is almost
done, add to the stew . ratl juice of cilantro and
parsley. Add as well, a handful of ground
coriander seeds, 1 dirham %3 grams' black pepper,
and . dirham %1.5 g' cassia.
Let the pot simmer in the remaining heat
then take it away from the stove and serve it, God
(" recipe)
$ c parsley
$ c cilantro
1 lb mutton or lamb
" lb onion
2 ! T olive oil
1 stick cinnamon
1 t salt
1 c water
$ ounce Parmesan
1 t coriander
"-$ t pepper
" t ground cinnamon
(“Cassia” is what is normally sold as
cinnamon in the U.S.)
Combine parsley, cilantro, and 1 T of
water in the food processor, squeeze through
cheesecloth to give ~" c juice.
Combine meat, onion, olive oil, 1 stick of
cinnamon, salt and water, bring to a boil,
simmer slowly for about 35 minutes, then add
the cheese. In another 20 minutes add the
juice and spices. Leave another 15 minutes on
very low heat, then serve.
We have not tried doing it with mutton
from as old an animal as the recipe specifies;
that might require longer cooking.
Preparing Tabâhaja of Burâniyya
Andalusian p. A-42
Take of small eggplants fifteen, and boil
gently with the skin on, whole, without peeling or
splitting; then take them out of the pot and put in
another pot; throw in as much salt and oil as are
needed and boil on a slow fire until it is entirely
done; take a ratl of mutton and slice it up, as told
earlier; put in the pot with one quarter ratl of oil
and some water, boil until the water disappears
and then fry in the oil until the meat is browned
and is done, and put in this the fried eggplants
and throw in one quarter ratl of good vinegar
and fry, until the vinegar is done; then throw
over it a third of a ratl of murri and improve it
with three dirhams weight of caraway, the same
amount of coriander seed and a dirham and a
half of pepper; then fry until done and leave it
rest for a while, dish up and serve.
7 ½ lbs small eggplants
1 lb lamb
½ c oil
1 t salt
2 T oil
½ c vinegar
⅔ c murri (p. 5)
3 ½ t caraway seeds
2 T ground coriander
2 ¼ t pepper
Wash eggplants, cut off stem end, put into
boiling water, cook 10 minutes and drain; let
cool. Bone meat and cut into bite-sized
pieces; put in pot with ½ c oil and 1 c water
and cook uncovered 30 minutes. Peel and
slice eggplants, put with salt and 2 T oil and 2
c water and simmer 25 minutes. Drain
eggplants, combine them with meat, add
vinegar and cook 15 minutes. Add murri and
spices, cook 5 minutes, stirring, remove from
heat, let sit 10 minutes and serve.
al-Baghdadi p. 191
Cut up fat meat small: melt tail and throw
out sediment, then place the meat in it together
with a little salt and ground dry coriander, and
fry lightly until browned and fragrant. Then
cover with water, adding green coriander leaves
and cinnamon-bark; when boiling, skim off the
scum. When little liquor is left, throw in a few
halved onions, a dirham of salt, and two dirhams
of dry coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and
mastic, all ground fine. Mince red meat as
described above and make into light cabobs, then
add to the pot. Take eggplant, cut off the stalks,
and prick with a knife: then fry in fresh sesame
oil, or melted tail, together with whole onions.
When the meat is cooked, a little murri may be
added if desired. Color with a pinch of saffron.
Put the fried eggplant in layers on top of the
meat in the pan, sprinkle fine ground dry
coriander and cinnamon, and spray with a little
rose water. Wipe the sides of the saucepan and
leave over the fire an hour to settle, then remove.
1 lb fat meat
¼ t pepper
lamb fat for “tail” (p. 4) ¼ t mastic
½ t salt
1 lb ground red meat
½ t coriander
1 medium eggplant
½ t cilantro
sesame oil for frying
2 sticks cinnamon
3 more small onions
2 small onions
[1 T murri (p. 5)]
½ to 1 t salt
1 pinch saffron
½ t more coriander
¼ t more coriander
¼ t cumin
¼ t more cinnamon
¼ t cinnamon
1 T rose water
Cut up the meat, render the fat and fry the
meat in it along with salt and ½ t ground
coriander. When it is browned, add enough
water to cover along with cilantro and the
stick cinnamon. When most of the water is
boiled away, add two halved onions, salt, ½ t
coriander, cumin, ¼ t cinnamon, pepper and
mastic. Form the ground meat into small meat
balls and add them. Slice the eggplant, fry it
in sesame oil or more rendered fat, along with
the remaining three onions. Add murri if you
like, and saffron. Layer the eggplant on the
meat, mix the final ¼ t of coriander and
cinnamon, sprinkle on, along with the rose
water. Remove from heat, let sit a while, and
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 18
Meat is boiled with a little water. Carrots,
garlic cloves and peeled onions are put with it,
then crushed garlic is put with it. Some people put
spinach with it also; some make it without
spinach. Walnuts and parsley are put in.
2 lb lamb
[1 t cinnamon]
[½ t pepper]
[¾ t coriander]
[¾ t salt]
1 lb carrots
6 cloves garlic
5 oz onions
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 c spinach = 5 oz
¼ c walnuts
¼ c parsley
Cut the lamb up small and put it in 1 ½ c
water with cinnamon, pepper, coriander and
salt. Simmer 10 minutes. Add carrots cut up,
whole garlic cloves, and small onions.
Simmer 10 minutes. Add crushed garlic.
Simmer 20 minutes. Add spinach. Simmer 10
minutes. Garnish with walnuts and parsley.
The spices are based on similar recipes in alBagdadi.
uncovered 15 minutes. Drain quinces and add
to meat, bring back to a boil and boil about 5
minutes uncovered over medium to medium
high heat. Stir in beaten egg, remove from
heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Grind pepper (at
least ⅛ t–more if you like pepper) and saffron
together, sprinkle on, and serve. Good over
Note: These spice quantities assume that it
means a dirhem and a half of each of pepper,
caraway, and coriander. If you interpret it as a
total of a dirhem and a half, the recipe comes
out much less strongly spiced; we prefer it
this way. One could read “a dirhem and a
half” as applying to the ground onion as well,
which would imply much less than we use.
Safarjaliyya, a Quince Dish
Andalusian p. A-34
Safarjaliyya, a Dish Made With Quinces
Andalusian p. A-48
Take meat and cut it in pieces which then
throw in the pot and throw on it two spoons of
vinegar and oil, a dirham and a half of pepper,
caraway, coriander seed and pounded onion; cover
it with water and put it on the fire, clean three or
four quinces or five and chop them up with a
knife, as small as you can; cook them in water
and when they are cooked, take them out of the
water and when the meat is done throw in it this
boiled quince and bring it to the boil two or three
times; then cover the contents of the pot with two
or three eggs and take it off the fire, leave it for a
little while, and when you put it on the platter,
sprinkle it with some pepper, throw on a little
saffron and serve it.
This is a good food for the feverish, it excites
the appetite, strengthens the stomach and
prevents stomach vapors from rising to the head.
Take the flesh of a young fat lamb or calf; cut in
small pieces and put in the pot with salt, pepper,
coriander seed, saffron, oil and a little water; put
on a low fire until the meat is done; then take as
much as you need of cleaned peeled quince, cut in
fourths, and sharp vinegar, juice of unripe grapes
[verjuice] or of pressed quince, cook for a while
and use. If you wish, cover with eggs and it comes
out like muthallath.
2 ½ lb lamb
1 ¼ lb quinces
1 T vinegar
1 T oil
1 ¼ t pepper
1 ¼ t caraway
1 ¼ t coriander
¾ lb onions
[1 t salt]
1 egg
⅛ t+ more pepper
12 threads saffron
Bone meat and chop it into bite sized
pieces. Core quinces and chop them finely in
a food processor. Bring the quince to a boil in
1 ½ c water and cook about 25 minutes
covered. Meanwhile, combine meat with
vinegar, oil, spices, onion (ground in food
processor), salt and 1 c water and cook
1 lb lamb
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 t coriander
~4 threads saffron
2 t oil
1 T water
1 quince = ¾ lb
1 T wine vinegar
¼ c verjuice
[2 or 3 eggs]
Cut up meat into bite-sized pieces, put in a
pot with salt, spices, oil, and water, and cook
over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring
periodically. Meanwhile, peel and core quince
and cut into eighths. Add quince, vinegar, and
verjuice to pot and cook covered about 30-40
minutes, until quince is tender when poked
with a fork. If adding eggs, stir them in and
cook, stirring continuously for about 3
We have also done it using quince juice
instead of verjuice. To make ½ c quince juice
from 1 quince, put quince through food
processor with c water, squeeze through
Fresh Beans With Meat, Called Fustuqiyya
Andalusian p. A-45
Take the flesh of a young sheep or lamb,
preferably from the forelegs, the durra, the jaus
and the 'anqara and after washing put in the pot
with two spoons of fresh oil and water to cover the
meat; put on the fire and then take a handful of
fresh beans which have been shelled from their
pods and throw over the meat; when it is done,
take out the meat and knead the beans vigorously
with a spoon until none of them is left whole; then
pour in the pot a spoon of vinegar, another of fish
murri and some salt, however much is enough;
then throw the meat in the pot and fry a little;
then take it to the embers until its face appears,
dish up and use.
1 ⅓ c fresh fava beans
1 ⅓ lb lamb stew meat
2 T oil
1 ½ c water
1 T vinegar
1 T murri (p. 5)
Shell beans; it will take about 19 oz of
beans in pod. Put meat, oil, and water in pot
and bring to a boil, then add beans. Simmer
uncovered 40 minutes, then remove meat.
Mash beans with a spoon, add vinegar and
murri, put meat back in and cook over low
heat about 5 minutes, making sure it does not
stick on the bottom.
Charles Perry, the translator, notes that
Fustuqiyya (pistachio dish) is a poetical or
fantasy name: the green fava beans are
compared to pistachios.
Himmasiyya (a Garbanzo Dish)
Andalusian p. A-44 (Good)
Cut the meat in proportionate pieces and put
in the pot, with water to cover and enough oil; do
not throw in salt at first, for that would spoil it;
put in all the spices. And let the amount of water
in this dish be small as you will substitute
vinegar; then put the pot on the fire, then grind
the garbanzos, sieve them, clean them and throw
them on the meat, and when it is all done, grind
up a head of garlic and beat with good vinegar
and put in the pot; then put in the salt and stir
so that all parts are mixed together, and when the
pot is done, take it off the fire and leave it to cool
and clarify; then sprinkle with fine spices and
serve. It is best, when preparing the garbanzos for
this dish, to begin by soaking them in fresh water
overnight; then peel and throw in the pot, and
when they have cooked, take them out of the pot
and grind them in the mortar, then return them
to the pot and finish cooking, God willing.
1 ¼ lb lamb
15 oz can garbanzos
½ c water
¼ t pepper
½ t coriander
½ t cinnamon
¼ c olive oil
1 oz garlic (6 cloves)
5 T vinegar
¼ t salt
fine spices
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t pepper
½ t cumin
Cut meat into ¼ inch bits. Peel the
garbanzos. Put meat, water, spices, oil and
garbanzos in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce
heat and simmer. After ten minutes, remove
the garbanzos, mash them in a mortar, and
return them to the dish. Continue simmering,
uncovered. Mash the garlic in the mortar, mix
it with the vinegar, add it when the dish has
been cooking for about 20 minutes. Stir. Add
the salt, cook an additional 5 minutes, remove
from the heat, sprinkle on the fine spices, and
This corresponds to the “best” version of
dealing with the garbanzos suggested in the
original recipe. Peeling chickpeas is a pain,
but seems to have been considered important
in period Islamic cooking. An alternative
approach is to simply mash the chickpeas in a
mortar or food processor, try to sieve out the
skins as best you can, and add the chickpeas
at some point during the cooking. If you are
not picky and are making large quantities, you
could just forget about dealing with the
skins—but don’t tell anyone I suggested it.
al-Bagdadi p. 40
Cut fat meat in middling pieces and leave in
the saucepan, covered with water, to boil: when
boiling, remove the scum. Add salt to taste. Cut
up onions and leeks, washing in salt and water:
scrape carrots, cut into strips four fingers long,
and throw into the pot. Add cummin, dry
coriander, cinnamon-bark, pepper, ginger and
mastic, ground fine, with a few sprigs of mint.
Mince red meat well with seasonings, and make
into middle-sized cabobs. Take oranges, peel,
remove the white pulp, and squeeze: let one person
peel, and another do the squeezing. Strain
through a sieve, and pour into the saucepan.
Take cardamom-seeds that have been steeped in
hot water an hour: wash, and grind fine in a
stone mortar, or a copper one if stone is not
procurable. Extract the juice by hand, strain,
and throw into the pot. Rub over the pan a
quantity of dry mint. Wipe the sides with a clean
rag, and leave over the fire to settle: then remove.
5 seeds cardamom
t mastic
1 lb lamb
1 large sprig fresh mint
2 c water
3 oranges (¾ c juice)
½ t salt
1 lb lamb for meatballs
⅝ lb onion
seasonings for meatballs:
⅝ lb leeks
1 clove garlic ( oz)
¾ lb carrots
¼ t pepper
¼ t cumin
¼ t coriander
½ t coriander
¼ t cumin
½ t cinnamon
1 t murri (see p. 5)
⅛ t pepper
½ t salt
¼ t ginger
½ T dry mint
Put cardamom seeds to soak in hot water.
Cut up meat and bring to a boil in water with
salt; turn down and simmer, covered. Cut up
onions and leeks and add; cut carrots into 2.5"
pieces and cut lengthwise into strips and add,
by which time the meat has been going about
20 minutes. Add spices and mint. Juice
oranges, add juice to pot; simmer uncovered.
Make meatballs by buzzing lamb in food
processor with seasonings and squeezing into
balls; add to pot. Take cardamom seeds out of
water, grind in mortar, and add juice to pot.
Let simmer a while more, about 1 hour 15
minutes from the beginning, sprinkle dry mint
over the dish, and serve.
The oranges should be sour oranges, but
you may not be able to find any.
al-Bagdadi p. 40
Cut fat meat small, put into the saucepan
with a little salt, and cover with water. Boil, and
remove the scum. Cut up onions, wash, and throw
in on top of the meat. Add seasonings, coriander,
cummin, mastic, cinnamon, pepper and ginger,
well-ground. Take dry apricots, soak in hot water,
then wash and put in a separate saucepan, and
boil lightly: take out, wipe in the hands, and
strain through a sieve. Take the juice, and add it
to the saucepan to form a broth. Take sweet
almonds, grind fine, moisten with a little apricot
juice, and throw in. Some colour with a trifle of
saffron. Spray the saucepan with a little rosewater, wipe its sides with a clean rag, and leave to
settle over the fire: then remove.
30 fresh or dried apricots
(2 lb pitted or 7 oz dried)
2 lb lamb
1 ⅓ c water
1 t salt
14 oz onions
1 t coriander
½ t cumin
t mastic
1 t cinnamon
¼ t pepper
½ t ginger
⅔ c almonds
[10 threads saffron]
½ t rosewater
If using dried apricots, put to soak for
about 3 hours. Cut up meat to small bite-sized
pieces, boil in water with salt; when it comes
to a boil (~10 minutes) skim, add onions, and
turn down to a simmer, covered. Add
seasonings. Drain soaked dried apricots or
wash fresh apricots, boil either in about 2 c
water about 5 minutes, drain, and force
through a strainer until nothing is left but the
peel (or convert to mush in a food processor).
Grind almonds very fine. After simmering
meat 40 minutes, add ~¾ of the apricot mush
to pot; mix rest of it with ground almonds and
add that to the pot. Crush saffron into a little
water and add it to pot. Sprinkle a little
rosewater over the surface; let sit for a few
minutes over very low heat, then serve.
al-Baghdadi p. 192
Simple White Tafâyâ, Called Isfîdhbâja
Andalusian p. A-21 (Good)
Cut red meat into thin slices, brown in melted
tail, cover with water. When boiling skim, add a
little salt, ground coriander, cummin, pepper,
mastic, cinnamon. Mince red meat with
seasoning and make into light cabobs, add. Take
two bundles of spinach, cut off the roots, chop
small, and grind in a mortar. Then throw into
the pot. When cooked and dry add peeled ground
garlic with a little salt and cummin. Stir, let
settle over the fire an hour. Sprinkle with dry
coriander and cinnamon, remove.
This is a dish of moderate nutrition, suitable
for weak stomachs, much praised for increasing
the blood, good for the healthy and the scrawny;
it is material and substance for all kinds of
Its Recipe: Take the meat of a young, plump
lamb. Cut it in little pieces and put it in a clean
pot with salt, pepper, coriander, a little juice of
pounded onion, a spoonful of fresh oil and a
sufficient amount of water. Put it over a gentle
fire and be careful to stir it; put in meatballs and
some peeled, split almonds. When the meat is done
and has finished cooking, set the pot on the ashes
until it is cooled. He who wants this tafaya green
can give it this color with cilantro juice alone or
with a little mint juice.
1-2 oz lamb fat
½ lb lamb
1 ½ c water
t mastic
¼ t cumin
¼ t coriander
¼ t pepper
½ t cinnamon
½ lb ground lamb
3 c spinach packed
2 cloves garlic
¼ t more salt
¼ t more cumin
⅛ t salt
½ t more coriander
¾ t more cinnamon
cabob seasonings (not given in recipe):
¼ t coriander
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t pepper
½ large clove garlic
¼ t salt
2 T onion
Put the lamb fat, substituting for “tail” (p.
4) in a pot over medium heat, fry until there is
1-2 T or so of oil melted out. Remove the
solid, keep the rendered-out fat. Brown the
sliced meat in it for about 5-10 minutes. Add
water, mastic, ¼ t each of cumin, coriander,
and pepper, ½ t cinnamon. Simmer 40
minutes. Make the ground lamb and cabob
seasonings into about 30 cabobs, crushing the
garlic and finely chopping the onion, add to
the pot. Meanwhile, wash the spinach,
removing stems. Mash in a mortar or
pulverise in a food processor. When the
cabobs have simmered for about 25 minutes,
add the spinach. Simmer 30 minutes, add
crushed garlic, salt, and another ¼ t cumin
and ⅛ t salt. Simmer on the lowest available
heat another 20 minutes, sprinkle on the final
½ t of coriander and ¾ t cinnamon, serve over
2 lb lamb
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 t coriander
2 t onion juice
1 lb ground lamb
1 egg
1 t onion juice
2 T flour
1 t vinegar
½ T oil
2 ½ c water
[4 T cilantro or mint juice]
¼ c blanched almonds
¾ t murri (p. 5)
3 cloves garlic
¼ t pepper
½ t coriander
¼ t cumin
¼ t cinnamon
Cut lamb into bite-sized pieces and put in
pot with salt, pepper, coriander, onion juice,
oil, and water, simmer uncovered about 40
minutes. Mix all ingredients for meatballs,
chopping the garlic fine. (Note that this is one
possible guess for meatballs; see p. 8 for
sources and another interpretation.) If you
want to do the green version, make a couple
of tablespoons of cilantro juice (p. 8). When
meat has cooked, take lumps of meatball
mixture, squeeze together, and drop into pot.
Add almonds. Simmer about another 10
minutes, add cilantro or mint juice if desired,
and serve.
Making Baqliyya with Eggplants
Andalusian p. A-41
Take the breast of a sheep and its ribs, cut
small, to the size of three fingers, cut onion in
round slices and then take cilantro and pound
coriander seed, caraway, and Chinese cinnamon;
cut up the eggplants in round pieces and the same
with the gourds; then take a pot and put a little
oil in its bottom then arrange a layer of meat
and eggplant and a layer of gourd and put some
spices between each layer and the next; then put
the pot on the fire, after putting in it an adequate
quantity of meat, and do not add water; cook
until done God willing.
2 t caraway seed
2 T oil
2 t coriander seed
1 lb lamb breast
2 t cinnamon
1 lb lamb chops
½ c cilantro
8 oz onion
1 ¼ lb opo gourd (p. 143)
[1 t salt]
1 lb eggplant
Grind or pound the caraway seed, combine
with other ground spices and chopped
cilantro. Peel the gourds. Arrange ingredients
as described, including the onion slices in
with the gourd layer, in a gallon or larger pot.
Cover tightly and bake 1 hr 20 min at 350°.
A Recipe for a Tasty Maghmuma by Ishaq
bin Ibrahim al-Mawsili
al-Warraq p. 311
Take some fatty meat and cut it into thin
slices, the thinnest you can get them. Take some
round onions (basal mudawwar) and slice them
thinly crosswise into discs like dirhams [coins].
Now prepare a clean pot of soapstone
(burma). Spread its bottom with a layer of the
[prepared] meat; sprinkle it with black pepper,
coriander, and caraway; and spread a layer of the
onion slices. Put another layer of the [sliced] meat
and fat, sprinkle it with spices and salt then
another layer of onion.
Cover [the layered meat and vegetables] with a
round of bread (raghif). Cook the pot on a slowburning fire until meat is cooked. Invert the pot
onto a wide and big bowl (ghadara) and serve it,
God willing.
1 lb lamb
½ lb onions
½ t pepper
2 t coriander
1 T caraway
1 8" pita
Slice meat and onion thin, layer it as
described, sprinkling on the spices and top
with the pita. Cook at low to medium low for
about an hour, then invert the pot into a
suitable bowl.
A Recipe for Soused Poultry
al-Warraq, p. 194
Scald good quality chickens and clean and
wash them thoroughly. Next, disjoint them and
boil them lightly in water to which you have
added salt, olive oil, a piece of galangal, and a
piece of cassia.
Choose whichever you like of the chicken pieces
and press them and dry them very well. Layer
them in a barniyya (a wide-mouthed jar) and
sprinkle each layer with the herbs [and spices]
mentioned in the soused fish recipe above. Make
sure to use salt.
Pour vinegar all over the chicken and set it
aside [for future use].
You may add seeds of sesame and nigella, and
mahrut (asafedtida root); but this is optional.
(Herbs and spices mentioned in the
recipe above: parsley, cilantro, rue, bruised
coriander seed, galangal, cassia.)
4 ½ lb chicken, cut up
6 c water
½ t salt
1 T olive oil
1 oz fresh galangal
3" stick cinnamon
2 T parsley
2 T cilantro
1 T rue
½ t coriander
2 T more salt
3 c wine vinegar
Put the chicken in a pot with the water
(enough to cover), salt, oil, galangal, and stick
cinnamon; simmer covered 18 minutes. While
it cooks, chop herbs and beat the coriander
seed a little in a mortar—herbs are measured
chopped and packed down. Remove chicken
from broth, spread out on paper towels and
press dry with more paper towels, let cool a
little. Slice the galangal root from the broth
and break up the stick cinnamon. Put a layer
of chicken in a ceramic crock, top with some
of the herbs, pieces of galangal and cinnamon,
and salt, repeat until all is layered, packing the
chicken in as tightly as possible. Pour the
vinegar over it and refrigerate.
When you want to use it, fry the pieces
for a few minutes each. Tasty, but you need to
like vinegar.
Preparing Covered Tabâhajiyya
[Tabahajiyya Maghmuma]
Andalusian p. A-43
Take a ratl and a half of meat and cut in
slices as told earlier; pound a ratl of onion and
take for this three dirhams' weight of caraway
and one of pepper; put in the pot a layer of meat
and another of onion until it is all used up and
sprinkle flavorings between all the layers; then
pour on a third of a ratl of vinegar and a quarter
ratl of oil; put a lid on the pot and seal its top
with paste [dough] and fry over a slow fire until
done; then take from the fire and leave for a
while, skim off the fat and serve.
1 ½ lb lamb
1 lb onion
1 t pepper
1 ½ t caraway
makes one mass and when its broth has dried up,
pour on fresh milk and leave it until its foam is
dispersed. Then return the meat that was
removed and when it has formed a mass, take it
off the fire, leave it a little and use it.
10 oz onion
1 ⅜ lb mutton or lamb
½ t pepper
1 ¼ t coriander
1 T oil
Slice onions. Cut meat in large chunks. Put
meat with onions, pepper, coriander, and oil
into a heavy pot, cover and bring to a boil.
Simmer 2 hours (if you are using lamb reduce
time to 45 minutes). Strain out meat and
onions. Bring broth back to a boil, add
breadcrumbs, simmer while stirring 2
minutes. Add cheese, simmer another 5
minutes while stirring constantly. Add milk
and bring back to a simmer; add meat and
onions and heat, stirring, about 2-3 minutes.
⅔ c vinegar
½ c oil
flour and water (for dough)
Slice meat, mince onion. In a pot put a
layer of sliced meat, cover with onion, and
sprinkle over some of the pepper and
caraway; repeat until it is all used up. Pour
over vinegar and oil. Mix flour and water to
make a long ribbon of dough and put around
the edge of the pot; jam the lid onto this,
sealing it. Cook over low heat about an hour,
uncover, skim off excess oil, and serve.
Recipe for Mu'allak
Andalusian p. A-57
Take fat young mutton, clean it and cut the
meat into big pieces. Put it in the earthenware
pot and add pepper, onion, oil and coriander.
Cook until the meat is done, then remove it and
set it aside. Strain the bones from the broth and
return it to a quiet fire. When it has boiled, put
in crumbs made from thin bread which was made
from wheat dough and add soft, rubbed cheese, as
much as the crumbs. Blend with a spoon until it
1 ½ c water
1 c breadcrumbs
½ c = 4 oz ricotta
½ c milk
al-Bagdadi p. 42
Cut up the meat and throw it into the
saucepan with a little salt and water to cover, and
boil until almost done. When the meat has fried
in its own oil, and most of the juice has dried,
throw in chopped onions and leeks, after washing
them: split egg-plant well, half-boil in a separate
saucepan, and then add to the rest, with dry
coriander, powdered cummin, mastic, cinnamonbark, and some sprigs of mint. Boil in what
remains of the juices until completely cooked. Add
Persian milk to which ground garlic has been
added. Rub over the pan a few sprigs of dry mint:
wipe the sides with a clean rag. Leave over the fire
for an hour to settle: then remove.
1 lb eggplant
1 lb lamb
½ t salt
¾ c water
10 oz leek
10 oz onion
1 t coriander
½ t cumin
t mastic
~ 1 t stick cinnamon
1 T chopped fresh mint
2 c yogurt
5 cloves garlic = ¾ oz
1 t dried mint
Bring 3 c of water to a boil; peel eggplant
and slice to ½" slices, put in the water, and
boil 10 minutes. Remove, let drain. Cut up
meat to bite-sized pieces, aprox ½" cubes, put
in pot with salt and water, bring to a boil and
boil over moderate heat uncovered until the
liquid is mostly gone, about 35 minutes. Wash
leek thoroughly to get the dirt out from under
the leaves, then chop leek and onion. When
the meat has been cooking for 35 minutes, add
onion, leek, seasonings and eggplant; cover,
cook over low heat another 25 minutes. Add
yogurt and crushed garlic (from a garlic
press). Stir together. Sprinkle dried mint over
the pot; turn heat down low, leave covered
another half hour or so (we are told that the
phrase translated "an hour" actually means "a
al-Baghdadi p. 41
Cut fat meat into middling pieces with the
tail; if chickens are used, quarter them. Put in the
saucepan with a little salt, and cover with water:
boil, removing the scum. When almost cooked take
large onions and leeks, peel, cut off the tails, wash
in salt and water, dry and put into the pot. Add
dry coriander, cummin, mastic and cinnamon,
ground fine. When cooked and the juices are dried
up, so that only the oil remains, ladle out into a
large bowl. Take Persian milk, put in the
saucepan, add salted lemon and fresh mint. Leave
to boil: then take off the fire, stirring. When the
boiling has subsided, put back the meat and
herbs. Cover the saucepan, wipe its sides, and
leave to settle over the fire [i.e. at a low heat], then
3 ½ lb chicken or
2 ½ lb boneless lamb
1 T salt
2 leeks
4 medium onions
1 t ground coriander
1 t cumin
⅛- t mastic
½ T cinnamon
4 c yogurt
½ lemon
1 T salt
½ c fresh mint
Chicken version: Put chicken in a pot with
1 T salt and enough water to cover and cook
about 30 minutes. If you want to serve it
boned (not specified in the recipe, but it
makes it easier to cook and to eat–we have
done it both ways), remove it from the water,
let cool enough to handle, bone, and put the
meat back in the pot. Add leeks, onions and
spices. Cook away the rest of the water,
remove meat and vegetables, and add yogurt,
lemon, another T salt and mint; mint is
chopped and lemon is quartered and each
quarter sliced into two or three times with a
knife. Let come to a simmer and put back the
meat and vegetables. Heat through, not letting
it boil, and serve. Use proportionately less
water if you expand the recipe substantially.
We have a recipe for salted lemon in a
modern North African cookbook and plan to
try using that next time.
al-Baghdadi p. 191 (Good)
Take eggplant, and boil lightly in water and
salt, then take out and dry for an hour. Fry this
in fresh sesame-oil until cooked: peel, put into a
dish or a large cup, and beat well with a ladle,
until it becomes like kabis. Add a little salt and
dry coriander. Take some Persian milk, mix in
garlic, pour over the eggplant, and mix together
well. Take red meat, mince fine, make into small
cabobs, and melting fresh tail, throw the meat
into it, stirring until browned. Then cover with
water, and stew until the water has evaporated
and only the oils remain. Pour on top of this the
eggplant, sprinkle with fine-ground cumin and
cinnamon, and serve.
1 lb eggplant
1 lb ground lamb
3 T sesame oil
½ t salt
¼ t coriander
2 cloves garlic
1 c yogurt
½ t cumin
1 t cinnamon
(approximately 1 ½"), put in boiling salted
water (6 c water + 6 T salt) for 7 minutes.
Remove, let stand 1 hour. Make lamb into 3040 small meatballs (add cinnamon etc. if you
wish). Fry in melted lamb fat (“tail,” p. 4).
When browned, cover with water and simmer
until only the oil is left. Then fry eggplant in
sesame oil until cooked, peel, mash, add salt
and coriander. Crush garlic, add to yogurt,
mix with eggplant. Put the meatballs on top,
sprinkle with cumin and cinnamon, and serve.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 21
Meat is boiled, then you take off most of its
broth and put with the remainder vegetables such
as onion, gourd and aubergine. You dissolve
yoghurt in what you took off and you put it with
it. Then you garnish with walnut and parsley.
¾ lb lamb
2 c water
[1 stick cinnamon]
[¼ t cumin]
[½ t coriander]
[½ t+ salt]
½ c yogurt
2 c chopped onion
3 lbs gourd
1 lb eggplant
½ c chopped walnuts
2 T chopped parsley
Cut up the lamb small, removing most of
the fat. Simmer it in water for about ½ hour
with the spices. Remove ½ of the broth, mix
with yogurt. Put the vegetables (cut up in
small pieces) and the yogurt-broth mixture
back in the pot with the lamb. Simmer for 1
hour. Garnish with walnuts and parsley.
Note: the spicing is based on similar
dishes in al-Baghdadi. The cookbook this
recipe is from is very terse; cinnamon is never
mentioned, nor, I think, salt, and dry coriander
only once. I assume they are simply omitted
in the recipe and left to the cook's judgement.
See p. Error! Bookmark not defined. for a
discussion of gourd, squash, and similar
Recipe for White Karanbiyya, a Cabbage
Andalusian p. A-47
Take young, fat meat; cut it into a pot with
salt, onion, pepper, coriander seed, caraway and
oil. Put it on a moderate fire and when it is
nearly done, take a coarse cabbage, throw away
the outside and take the heart and surrounding
parts, and clean it of its leaves. Stick a knife
between the “eyes” and throw away the rest of the
leaves until it remains white like the turnip. Peel
it and cut it in regular pieces and throw them
into the pot, after boiling them, as has been
indicated. When it is done, put it on the
hearthstone and squeeze over it some coriander
juice. He who wants this dish as a muthallath, let
him add vinegar and saffron.
1 lb cabbage
1 lb lamb
½ t salt
1 medium onion
½ t pepper
½ t coriander
½ t caraway seed
⅓ c olive oil
~ 3 T cilantro, packed
Cut off outer leaves, parboil cabbage heart
10 minutes and drain. Mix all ingredients and
bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes covered and 5
minutes uncovered. Make cilantro juice (p. 8),
add to dish and let simmer a couple of
al-Baghdadi p. 195
Cut red meat into small, long, thin, slices: melt
fresh tail, and throw out the sediment, then put
the meat into the oil, adding half a dirham of salt
and the same quantity of fine-brayed dry
coriander. Stir until browned. Then cover with
lukewarm water, and when boiling, skim. Put in a
handful of almonds and pistachios peeled and
ground coarsely, and color with a little saffron.
Throw in fine-ground cumin, coriander,
cinnamon and mastic, about 2.5 dirhams in all.
Take red meat as required, mince fine, and make
into long cabobs placing inside each a peeled sweet
almond: put into the saucepan. Take dates:
extract the stone from the bottom with a needle,
and put in its place a peeled sweet almond. When
the meat is cooked and the liquor all evaporated,
so that only the oils remain, garnish with these
dates. Sprinkle with about ten dirhams of scented
sugar and a danaq of camphor; spray with a
little rose water. Wipe the sides of the saucepan
with a clean rag, and leave to settle over the fire
for an hour: then remove.
1 lb lean lamb
“tail” (lamb fat: p. 4)
½ t salt
¼ t coriander
⅓ c ground almonds
⅓ c pistachios
⅛ t saffron
¼ t cumin
½ t cilantro
¼ t cinnamon
⅛ t mastic
1 lb ground lamb
25 whole almonds
15 dates
1 T “scented sugar”?
⅔ g camphor
2 T rosewater
(Judging from the Khushkananaj recipes,
“scented sugar” could have rose water, edible
camphor, and (now unobtainable) musk.)
Jannâniyya (the Gardener's Dish)
Andalusian p. A-52
It was the custom among us to make this in
the flower and vegetable gardens. If you make it
in summer or fall, take saltwort, Swiss chard,
gourd, small eggplants, “eyes” of fennel, foxgrapes, the best parts of tender gourd and flesh of
ribbed cucumber and smooth cucumber; chop all
this very small, as vegetables are chopped, and
cook with water and salt; then drain off the water.
Take a clean pot and in it pour a little water and
a lot of oil, pounded onion, garlic, pepper,
coriander seed and caraway; put on a moderate
fire and when it has boiled, put in the boiled
vegetables. When it has finished cooking, add
grated or pounded bread and dissolved [sour]
dough, and break over it as many eggs as you are
able, and squeeze in the juice of tender coriander
and of mint, and leave on the hearthstone until
the eggs set. If you make it in spring, then [use]
lettuce, fennel, peeled fresh fava beans, spinach,
Swiss chard, carrots, fresh cilantro and so on, cook
it all and add the spices already indicated, plenty
of oil, cheese, dissolved [sour] dough and eggs.
Spring version
¼ lb lettuce
1 oz fennel leaves
3 oz spinach
¼ lb chard
or beet leaves
4 T cilantro
2 carrots, sliced
½ c fresh fava beans
4 c water + ¼ t salt
½ lb onions
2 large cloves garlic
1 c water
½ c oil
¼-½ t pepper
½ t ground coriander
¼ t caraway seeds
½ c bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 t more cilantro
1 t more mint
3 oz grated cheese
Chop greens, slice carrots, put with beans
into boiling salted water for about 5 minutes,
and drain. Slice onion and pound in a mortar,
or buzz in a food processor, and crush garlic.
Mix water, oil, onion, garlic, and seasonings
in clean pot, boil about 10 minutes and add
greens. Mash 1 t each of cilantro and mint to
juice. Cook about 3 minutes and add bread
crumbs, eggs, cilantro and mint juice, and
cheese. Cook over low heat until egg sets and
cheese melts. Use a lower proportion of water
for the second cooking if you are making this
in a much larger quantity.
Preparation of Plain Liftiyya Also
Andalusian p. A-47
Take tender, fat meat and cut it. Put it in a
pot with salt, onion, pepper, coriander seed and a
little cumin. Cook it and when it is almost done,
take the turnip and peel it in big pieces. If you
boil it by itself, it will be better and the same for
the vegetables. Add them to the meat and leave
them until they finish cooking. Then put it on
the hearthstone and if you squeeze over it cilantro
juice, it will be much better.
1 ⅜ lb lamb
10 oz onion
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
¾ t coriander
¼ t cumin
1 ⅜ lb turnips
2 T cilantro juice (p. 8)
Cut meat to bite-sized pieces, put in pot
with onion and seasoning, and simmer
covered 45 minutes. Meanwhile peel and cut
turnips to ½" cubes and set turnips to boil in
separate pot for 25 minutes. Drain turnips and
add to pot with meat. Cook another 5 minutes
or so, add cilantro juice, and serve.
Andalusian p. A-6
Take a young, cleaned hen and put it in a pot
with a little salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon,
saffron and sufficient of vinegar and sweet oil,
and when the meat is cooked, take peeled, crushed
almonds and good white sugar, four ounces of
each; dissolve them in rosewater, pour in the pot
and let it boil; then leave it on the embers until
the fat rises. It is very nutritious and good for all
temperaments; this dish is made with hens or
pigeons or doves, or with the meat of a young
1 chicken, 3 ½ lb or
2 ¼ lb boned lamb
1 t salt
⅝ t pepper
1 ¼ t coriander
2 t cinnamon
20 threads saffron
2 T wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
4 oz = ⅔ c almonds
½ c sugar
4 T rosewater
Put cut-up chicken or lamb, salt, spices,
vinegar, and oil into pot. Bring to boil, cook
covered over moderate to low heat 30
minutes, stirring periodically to keep the meat
from sticking. Blanch and grind almonds, mix
with sugar and rosewater to make a paste. Stir
this in with the meat, bring back to a boil and
cook about 8 minutes until sauce thickens.
al-Baghdadi p. 34
Cut fat meat into middling pieces, place in the
saucepan, and cover with water, fresh coriander,
cinnamon bark, and salt to taste. When boiling,
remove the froth and cream with a ladle, and
throw away. Remove the fresh coriander, and add
dry coriander. Take white onions, Syrian leeks,
and carrots if in season, or else eggplant. Skin,
splitting the eggplant thoroughly, and half stew
in water in a separate saucepan: then strain, and
leave in the saucepan on top of the meat. Add
seasonings and salt to taste. When almost cooked,
take wine vinegar and date juice, or honey if
preferred–date juice is the more suitable–and mix
together so that the mixture is midway between
sharp and sweet, then pour into the saucepan and
boil for a while. When ready to take off the fire,
remove a little of the broth, bray into it saffron as
required, and pour back into the saucepan. Then
take sweet almonds, peel, split, and place on top of
the pan, together with a few raisins, currants,
and dried figs. Cover for a while, to settle over the
heat of the fire. Wipe the sides with a clean rag,
and sprinkle rosewater on top. When settled,
2 lb lamb
3 c water
¼ oz cilantro
1 stick cinnamon
½ t salt
¾ lb leeks
¾ lb carrots
⅝ lb white onions
1 t coriander
½ t pepper
1 t cumin
1 t salt
⅓ c wine vinegar
⅓ c honey or
date juice (dibs, p. 4)
about 10 threads saffron
~2 T split almonds
2 T raisins
1 T currants
2 T figs
½ t cinnamon
1 t rose water
Cut lamb in about ½" cubes. Bring to a
boil with water, etc, and skim. Meanwhile
chop leeks and carrots, cut onions in halves or
quarters, put in boiling water, boil 10 minutes
and strain. Remove cilantro from meat (it
should have been simmering about 20 minutes
by then), add powdered coriander, vegetables,
pepper, cinnamon and cumin and simmer for
half an hour. Mix vinegar and honey, add and
simmer another 10 minutes. Grind saffron into
½ t of the broth, put into the pot. Sprinkle on
almonds, raisins, etc., cover and let sit 15
minutes on low heat, turn off heat, sprinkle on
rosewater and serve.
Fried Dishes
Recipe of Eggplant Pancakes
al-Andalusi p. C-5
Get sweet eggplant and boil it with water and
salt until it becomes well cooked and is dissolved
or falling apart. You should drain the water,
crush and stir it on a dish with crumbs of grated
bread, eggs beaten with oil, dried coriander and
cinnamon; beat it until all becomes equal.
Afterwards fry cakes made with this batter in a
frying pan with oil until they are gilded. Make a
sauce of vinegar, oil, almori, and mashed garlic;
give all this a shaking and pour it over the top.
1 ¼ lb eggplant
2 qts water + 2 t salt
½ c bread crumbs
2-3 eggs
1 T oil
1 ¼ t coriander
1 ½ t cinnamon
2 large cloves garlic
2 T vinegar
2 T oil
2 t murri (see p. 5)
about 6 T oil for frying
Peel and quarter eggplant, boil 30 minutes
in salted water. Drain, mash and mix with
bread crumbs, eggs, oil, coriander and
cinnamon. Crush garlic in a garlic press and
mix with vinegar, oil and murri for the sauce.
Fry in oil at medium high, about 1-2 minutes
a side. Pour the sauce over pancakes before
Eggplant Isfîriyâ
Andalusian A-51
Cook the peeled eggplants with water and salt
until done, take out of the water and rub them to
bits in a dish with grated bread crumbs, eggs,
pepper, coriander, cinnamon, some murri naqî'
and oil; beat all until combined, then fry thin
breads, following the instructions for making
3 lbs eggplants
12 c water
½ t salt
1 ½ c bread crumbs
2 large eggs
¼ t pepper
¾ t coriander
¼ t cinnamon
½ t murri
2 t oil
oil for frying
Trim and peel eggplants and cut them
into ¾" slices. Put in boiling water with salt
and cook about 15 minutes until soft, then
drain well. Put them in a bowl, mash
thoroughly, and add bread crumbs, eggs,
spices, murri, and oil.
Heat 3 T oil to medium, make about 9
patties, each with about 2 ½ T of the mashed
eggplant mixture. Fry several at a time for
about 8 minutes each side, pressing down
with spatula to " thick, adding more oil for
each batch.
Recipe for Dusted Eggplants
Andalusian p. A-51
Take sweet ones and split in strips crosswise or
lengthwise and boil gently. Then take out of the
water and leave to drain and dry a little. Then
take white flour and beat with egg, pepper,
coriander, saffron and a little murri naqî'; when
it is like thick soup, put those eggplants in it and
fry with oil in the hot pan; then brown them, then
immerse them and do a second time and a third.
2 lb eggplants
½ c flour
4 eggs
½ t pepper
½ t coriander
6 threads saffron
2 T murri (p. 5)
oil to fry in
Slice eggplants ½" thick and cut into
pieces between quarter and dollar size.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. Mix
together other ingredients for the batter. Soak
the saffron in a teaspoon of water to extract
color and flavor. Dip eggplant pieces in the
batter, fry in shallow oil until brown, drain,
dip in the batter again, fry again.
Recipe for the Fried Version of the Same
[Dusted Eggplant]
Andalusian p. A-51
Take sweet ones and cut, however you wish,
lengthwise or crosswise, as mentioned before; boil
with water and salt, then take out of the water
and leave till dry and the water drains off; then
dust in white flour and fry in the pan with fresh
oil until brown and add to them a cooked sauce of
vinegar, oil, some murri naqî' and some garlic.
You might fry in the same way boiled gourd,
following this recipe.
2 lb eggplant or gourd
6 c water
1 T salt
1 c flour
1 oz garlic
4 T vinegar
4 T olive oil for sauce
2 T murri (see p. 5)
8 T oil for frying
Slice eggplant or gourd (see p. 143)
crossways to about ¼"-½" thick. Boil about 4
minutes in salted water. Drain in strainer.
Flour each slice on both sides. Mash garlic,
simmer in vinegar, oil and murri 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in frying pan at medium
high and fry slices about 3 minutes on one
side, a little less on the other, until lightly
browned on both sides. Drain briefly on paper
towels then put on a serving plate, pour sauce
over and serve.
Counterfeit (Vegetarian) Isfîriyâ of
Andalusian p. A-1
Pound some garbanzos, take out the skins and
grind them into flour. And take some of the flour
and put into a bowl with a bit of sourdough and
some egg, and beat with spices until it's all mixed.
Fry it as before in thin cakes, and make a sauce
for them.
1 c chickpea flour
½ c sourdough
4 eggs
2 t pepper
2 t coriander
16 threads saffron
2 t cumin
4 t cinnamon
¼ c cilantro, chopped
½ t salt
garlic sauce:
3 cloves garlic
2 T oil
2 T vinegar
Chickpea flour can be made in a mortar
and pestle or a spice grinder (a food processor
would probably work too). To make it, pound
or process until the dried chickpeas are
broken, then remove the loose skins and
reduce what is left to a powder. An easier
approach is to buy the flour in a health food
store or a Middle Eastern grocery. Crush the
garlic in a garlic press, combine with vinegar
and oil, beat together to make sauce. Combine
the flour, sourdough, eggs and spices and beat
with a fork to a uniform batter. Fry in about ¼
c oil in a 9" frying pan at medium high
temperature until brown on both sides, turning
once. Add more oil as necessary. Drain on a
paper towel. Serve with sauce.
Note: The ingredients for the sauce are
from “A Type of Ahrash [Isfîriyâ]” (p. 96)
which is from the same cookbook. What is
done with them is pure conjecture.
Maqluba al Tirrikh
al-Baghdadi p. 204 (Good)
Take tirrikh and fry in sesame-oil: then take
out, and place in a dish to cool. When cold, cut off
the heads and tails, remove the spine, bone, and
scale with the greatest care. Crumble and break
up the flesh, and sprinkle with dry coriander,
cumin, caraway and cinnamon. Break eggs,
throw on, and mix well. Then fry in sesame-oil in
a frying pan as maqluba is fried, until both sides
are browned: and remove.
½ lb perch or catfish
1 T sesame oil
½ t coriander
½ t cumin
1 t caraway
1 ½ t cinnamon
1 egg
2 T sesame oil
Fry fish in 1 T sesame oil; let it cool. Bone
and crumble it. Add spices and eggs. Fry like
pancakes in more sesame oil. Tirrikh is a kind
of Middle Eastern freshwater fish; we do not
know what other fish it is similar to.
al-Baghdadi p. 201
Take and slice red meat, then chop with a
large knife. Put into the mortar, and pound as
small as possible. Take fresh sumach, boil in
water, wring out, and strain. Into this place the
minced meat, and boil until cooked, so that it has
absorbed all the sumach-water, though covered to
twice its depth: then remove from the saucepan
and spray with a little lemon-juice. Lay out to
dry. Then sprinkle with fine-ground seasonings,
dry coriander, cumin, pepper and cinnamon, and
rub over it a few sprigs of dry mint. Take
walnuts, grind coarse, and add: break eggs and
throw in, mixing well. Make into cakes, and fry
in fresh sesame-oil, in a fine iron or copper
frying-pan. When one side is cooked, turn over on
to the other side: then remove.
10 oz lamb
2 T dried sumac
½ c water
1 T lemon juice
½ t ground coriander
½ t cumin
½ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
½ t dry mint
1 ¼ c walnuts
5 eggs
2 T sesame oil
Either use ground lamb or take lamb meat,
chop it with a knife, then pound in a mortar.
Both ways work but give different textures.
Boil sumac in water about 2 minutes, let stand
5 minutes, then add it to the meat and simmer
about 15 minutes. Drain the meat, sprinkle it
with lemon juice, let dry about one hour. Mix
meat with spices and mint. Grind walnuts
coarsely (something between chopped fine
and ground coarse). Add walnuts and eggs,
fry as patties in sesame oil on a medium
griddle. Best eaten hot with a little salt. This
produces about 20 patties roughly 3 inches in
The instructions call for using fresh sumac,
straining it, and using only the water it is
boiled in. I cannot get fresh sumac, and when
I used dried sumac (which you get in Iranian
grocery stores) and followed the instructions
it came out rather bland, so I use both the
sumac and the water the sumac was boiled in.
A Type of Ahrash [Isfîriyâ]
Andalusian p. A-1
This is the recipe used by Sayyid Abu alHasan and others in Morocco, and they called it
isfîriyâ. Take red lamb, pound it vigorously and
season it with some murri naqî', vinegar, oil,
pounded garlic, pepper, saffron, cumin, coriander,
lavender, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, chopped lard,
and meat with all the gristle removed and
pounded and divided, and enough egg to envelop
the whole. Make small round flatbreads (qursas)
out of them about the size of a palm or smaller,
and fry them in a pan with a lot of oil until they
are browned. Then make for them a sauce of
vinegar, oil, and garlic, and leave some of it
without any sauce: it is very good.
¼ lb lamb
1 t murri (see p. 5)
2 t vinegar
1 t oil
2 cloves garlic
½ t pepper
4 threads saffron
¾ t cumin
1 t coriander
½ t lavender
½ T cinnamon
¼ t ginger
¼ t cloves
1 oz lard (lamb fat)
2 oz meat (beef)
1 egg
½ c oil for frying
3 cloves garlic
2 t oil
1 ½ t vinegar
Cut up lamb and mash in a mortar. Then
add murri etc., garlic pounded in a mortar,
finely chopped lamb fat, and beef cut up and
pounded in a mortar. Mix, add an egg and
mush together. Fry in a pan on medium to
medium high heat until brown on both sides,
turning once. To make the sauce, mash the
garlic in a garlic press, combine it with the
additional oil and vinegar.
To Make Isfîriyâ
Andalusian p. A-39
Pound the flesh of a leg until it is like brains.
Remove the sinews and throw in pepper, half a
spoon of honey, a little oil, as much as is needed,
and a little water. Mix all smoothly with flour
and do not neglect to pound it, and do not slacken
in this, because it will cool and be ruined. Grease
the pan with oil or fat, make the pounded meat
into flatbreads and fry in the pan; if there be
with the meat almonds or walnuts or apples, it
will be superb, God willing.
12 oz lamb leg meat
½ t pepper
1 t honey
2 T oil
2 T water
1 T flour
[3 T chopped apple]
2 T oil for frying
Either pound the meat in a mortar for a
long time (20-30 minutes) until it gets
mooshy, almost like clay, or run it through a
food processor to the same stage. Remove any
sinew, membrane, etc. you can. Add
remaining ingredients, including optional
walnuts, almonds, or apples. Fry on medium
to medum high in a frying pan. To get them
thin (¼" to ½"), put a patty down, flatten it on
the pan, turn it, flatten it more with the
pancake turner. Fry a minute or two on each
Serve with the garlic, vinegar, and oil
sauce from the recipe for “A Type of Ahrash
[Isfîriyâ]” (p. 96).
Simple Isfîriyâ
Andalusian p. A-1
Break however many eggs you like into a big
plate and add some sourdough, dissolved with a
commensurate number of eggs, and also pepper,
coriander, saffron, cumin, and cinnamon. Beat it
all together, then put it in a frying pan with oil
over a moderate fire and make thin cakes out of
it, as before.
2 eggs
½ c sourdough
2 more eggs
½ t pepper
½ t coriander
7 threads saffron
½ t cumin
1 t cinnamon
about 4 T oil for frying
sauce: 1 T vinegar
4 t olive oil
6 cloves garlic
Mix two of the eggs with the sourdough
and beat smooth, then add to the other two
eggs and the spices. Beat all together—a fork
is adequate for this scale. Put 2 T oil in a
medium frying pan over a medium heat, fry
the batter like pancakes, about a minute on the
first side and half a minute on the second,
adding additional oil as needed. The sauce is
from a different Isfiriya recipe (see p. 94);
mix vinegar with olive oil, then crush garlic
and add.
Preparing the Dish Dictated by Abu Ishaq
Andalusian p. A-41
Take meat and pound smooth until it is like
marrow; put in the pot and pour over it oil and
salt, clean onions and chop them, then boil and
stir and throw in the pot with this some coriander
seed and pepper in the amount needed, soaked
garbanzos and a handful of peeled almonds
pounded like salt; pour in white of egg and leave
until the grease runs out, God willing.
1 lb pureed meat
¼ c oil
1 t salt
1 onion
½ t+ coriander
½ t pepper
7 ½ oz canned chickpeas
½ c almonds
2 egg whites
Another Tabâhajiyya
Andalusian p. A-37 (Good)
Cut the meat up small and fry in oil and salt;
throw in some pepper, cumin, salt and a little
vinegar and leave for a while and fry with fresh
oil until browned. Take an egg and throw over it
a spoon of vinegar and another of murri and the
same of cilantro; stir it all and throw over the
meat in the pan, leave and stir until it is good
and serve it sprinkled with pepper, rue and
½ lb lamb
1 T oil
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
¼ t cumin
1 T salt
1 T vinegar
1 T more oil
1 egg
1 T vinegar
1 T murri (p. 5)
1 T cilantro
¼ t pepper
½ t dried rue
¼ t cinnamon
Fry 5 minutes with ¼ t of salt. After
adding pepper, etc., fry another 10 minutes.
Add egg mixture and fry over lower heat 2-4
minutes, stirring. Sprinkle spices over and
Tabâhajah from the Manuscript of Yahya
b. Khalid
Tr. Charles Perry from al-Warraq (Good)
Take an earthenware pot and pour in one
quarter ratl of Nabataean murri, and of good
honey an ûquiyah, and beat them. When they are
mixed, strain with a sieve, then put with them a
dirhem of coriander, one and a half dirhams of
cinnamon and two dâniqs of ground pepper.
Then take two ratls of tender meat and slice fine
in wide strips and put them in this condiment for
a while. Then put the pot on the fire and pour in
four ûquiyahs of good oil. And when the oil begins
to boil, throw the strips in the pot with the
condiment and two dâniqs of milled salt. Then
cook the meat until it is done and the condiment
is dried. Then take it off the fire and cut up on it
some cilantro, and rue, and some green mustard,
and serve. And it [can be] a Tabâhajah with
asafoetida, if you wish. [for units see p. 6.]
¼ c murri (see p. 5)
4 t honey
scant ½ t coriander
⅝ t cinnamon
⅛ t pepper
1 lb trimmed lamb
2 ½ T cilantro
1 T rue
3 T mustard greens
⅓ c olive oil
⅛ t salt
Beat murri and honey in a bowl, add spices
and stir well. Cut meat into thin strips,
removing most fat, mix into the marinade and
let sit for an hour and a half. Chop herbs,
removing stems. Heat oil in frying pan on
high heat until a few bubbles start to come up,
put in meat and marinade, and add salt. Let
come to a boil and turn down to
medium/medium high heat. Cook, stirring,
about 15 minutes, until sauce is mostly
cooked down. Remove from heat and serve
with herbs on top.
Note: The quantity above is half the
original recipe; all quantities are specified in
the original except for the herbs at the end.
The Islamic measures could be either weight
or volume measures; I have assumed volumes
in calculating amounts.
Recipe for Fried Tafâyâ, Which Was
Known in Morocco as Tâhashast
Andalusian p. A-21 (Good and simple)
Get young, fat meat and cut it in little pieces.
Fry it in a clean pot with salt, pepper, coriander,
a little onion, a spoonful of oil and a little water.
Stir it until the water is gone, the oil hot, the
meat done and browned. This is similar to the
1 lb meat (lamb)
⅛ t salt
½ t pepper
1 ½ t coriander
¼ c chopped onion
2 T oil (olive)
1 T water
Cut meat into ½" cubes. Put in pot and
heat medium low 10 minutes, then on high 5
minutes to cook off juice while stirring, cook
another 3 minutes and remove from heat.
A Roast of Meat
Andalusian p. A-38 (Good)
Roast salted, well-marbled meat [cut up] like
fingertips, and put in a pot spices, onion, salt, oil
and soaked garbanzos. Cook until done and add
the roast meat; cover the contents of the pot with
cilantro and sprinkle with pepper and cinnamon;
and if you add whole pine nuts or walnuts in
place of garbanzos, it will be good.
1 ½ lb lamb or beef
¾ lb onion
2 15 oz cans chickpeas
¼ t black pepper
½ t cinnamon
½ t coriander
¼ t cumin
1 t salt
3 T olive oil
¼ c cilantro
⅛ t more pepper
¼ t more cinnamon
Note: an earlier recipe in the same book
calls for spices and then specifies which ones:
“all the spices, pepper, cinnamon, dried
coriander and cumin.”
Roast meat and cut into ¼" by ½" pieces.
Slice onions. Put chickpeas, onion, spices, salt
and oil in a pot and cook over moderate heat,
stirring, for 10 minutes, turning down the heat
toward the end as it gets dry; add meat and
cook one minute, add cilantro and cook
another minute, and turn off heat. Sprinkle
with pepper and cinnamon and serve.
Cooked Fried Chicken
Andalusian p. A-3
Cut up the chicken, making two pieces from
each limb; fry it with plenty of fresh oil; then take
a pot and throw in four spoonfuls of vinegar and
two of murri naqî' and the same amount of oil,
pepper, cilantro, cumin, a little garlic and saffron.
Put the pot on the fire and when it has boiled,
put in the fried chicken spoken of before, and
when it is done, then empty it out and present it.
1 chicken, 2 ½ lb
¼ c oil
¼ c vinegar
2 T murri (see p. 5)
2 T oil
1 t pepper
4 sprigs cilantro ~
3 threads saffron
¼ t crushed garlic
¼ t cumin
Cut up chicken and brown it in ¼ c olive
oil over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Set
chicken aside. Add to a large pot vinegar,
murri, 2 T oil, pepper, cilantro, saffron,
crushed garlic, cumin, and heat the pot on
medium for 3 minutes. Add chicken and
simmer on low for 25 minutes with the lid on,
stirring often. Baste with the liquid five
minutes before it is done.
al-Baghdadi p. 201
Take chickens' livers and crops, wash, and boil
in water with a little salt: then take out, and cut
up small. Mix with yolks of eggs, adding the
usual seasonings as required: then fry in a
frying-pan in sesame-oil, stirring all the time. If
desired sour, sprinkle with a little pure lemonjuice. If desired plain, use neither lemon nor egg.
¼ t salt
14 oz chicken gizzards
14 oz chicken livers
8 egg yolks
1 ½ t coriander
1 ½ t cumin
1 ½ t cinnamon
¾ t pepper
2 T sesame oil
¼ c lemon juice
Bring 3 c water to a boil with ⅛ t salt, add
gizzards and simmer 50 minutes. Near the end
of this time, bring another 3 c of water and ⅛ t
salt to a boil and cook livers in it 3 minutes.
Drain both, cut up small (½"x½" pieces), put
in a bowl and mix with egg yolks and spices.
Heat oil and fry mixture about 4 minutes,
sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve. The spices
chosen are the combination al-Baghdadi most
commonly uses.
Dishes with Legumes
Cooked Dish of Lentils
al-Andalusi no. 377 (Good)
Wash lentils and put them to cook in a pot
with sweet water, oil, pepper, coriander and cut
onion. When they are cooked throw in salt, a little
saffron and vinegar; break three eggs, leave for a
while on the flame and later retire the pot. Other
times cook without onion. If you wish cook it with
Egyptian beans pricked into which have been
given a boil. Or better with dissolved yeast over a
gentle fire. When the lentils begin to thicken add
good butter or sweet oil, bit by bit, alike until it
gets absorbed, until they are sufficiently cooked
and have enough oil. Then retire it from the
flame and sprinkle with pepper.
½ lb onions
1 ½ c dried lentils
2 ¼ c water
1 ½ T oil
⅜ t pepper
1 ½ t coriander
4 T butter (or oil)
¾ t salt
12 threads saffron
2 T vinegar
4 eggs
more pepper
Slice onions. Put lentils, water, oil, pepper,
coriander and onion in a pot, bring to a boil,
and turn down to a bare simmer. Cook
covered 50 minutes, stirring periodically. Add
butter or oil and cook while stirring for about
5 minutes. Add salt, saffron (crushed into 1 t
water) and vinegar, and bring back to a boil.
Put eggs on top, cover pot and keep lentils at a
simmer; stir cautiously every few minutes in
order to scrape the bottom of the pot without
stirring in the eggs. Adjusting the heat is a
little tricky—too low and the eggs don’t cook,
too high and the lentils stick. With a larger
quantity, the pot stays hot enough to cook the
eggs without being on the flame.
When the eggs are cooked, sprinkle with a
little more pepper and serve.
A Muzawwara (Vegetarian Dish) Beneficial
for Tertian Fevers and Acute Fevers
Andalusian p. A-52
Take boiled peeled lentils and wash in hot
water several times; put in the pot and add water
without covering them; cook and then throw in
pieces of gourd, or the stems [ribs] of Swiss chard,
or of lettuce and its tender sprigs, or the flesh of
cucumber or melon, and vinegar, coriander seed, a
little cumin, Chinese cinnamon, saffron and two
ûqiyas of fresh oil; balance with a little salt and
cook. Taste, and if its flavor is pleasingly
balanced between sweet and sour, [good;] and if
not, reinforce until it is equalized, according to
taste, and leave it to lose its heat until it is cold
and then serve.
2 c lentils
5 c water
¾ t coriander
¾ t cumin
1 ½ t cinnamon
6 threads saffron
¼ c vinegar
¼ c oil
1 t salt
one of:
1 ½ lb gourd (see p. 143)
1 lb chard or beet leaves
1 lb lettuce
2 8" cucumbers
melon (?)
Boil lentils about 40 minutes until they
start to get mushy. Add spices, vinegar, oil
and salt. Add one of the vegetables; leafy
vegetables should be torn up, gourd or
cucumbers are cut into bite-sized pieces and
cooked about 10-15 minutes before being
added to lentils. Cook lettuce or chard version
for about 10 minutes, until leaves are soft.
Cook gourd or cucumber version about 20
minutes. Be careful not to burn during the
final cooking.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 21
The best way of cooking lentils is to crush
them and then cook them and put with them
chard and taro. When it is done, sumac, fried
onion, parsley, vinegar and oil are put with it.
1 c lentils
2 lb taro
½ lb chard
½ lb onion
1 T oil
2 T parsley (chopped)
1 T vinegar
1 T oil
¾ t salt
2 t dried sumac
Grind the lentils in a mortar or a
spice/coffee grinder (a gadget like a miniature
food processor), then simmer them in 4 ½ c
water about 1 hour. Simmer the taro about 15
minutes, drain, peel, and slice. Rinse and chop
the chard. At the end of the hour add the taro
and chard. Simmer together about another ½
hour. Chop and fry the onion in a little oil. At
the end of the half hour, add onion, parsley,
vinegar, oil, salt and sumac. Stir together and
serve. Taro is sometimes available in Chinese
or Indian grocery stores.
al-Bagdadi p. 45
Cut up the meat, and dissolve the tail as
usual. Put the meat into the oil, and fry lightly
until browned: then throw in a little salt,
cummin, and brayed dry coriander, and cover
with water. When nearly cooked, add beet washed
and cut into pieces four fingers long. When
thoroughly boiling, add as required lentils,
cleaned and washed, and keep a steady fire going
until the lentils are cooked. When set smooth and
definitely cooked, add as required fine-bruised
garlic, stirring with a ladle. Then leave over a
slow fire: and remove. When serving, squeeze over
it lemon juice.
1 ½ lb lamb
½ lb beet greens
"tail": 1 oz lamb fat (p. 4)
¼ t salt
½ t cumin
1 t coriander
2 ½ c water
1 ¼ c lentils
6 cloves garlic
2 T lemon juice
Cut up meat into ½" cubes. Wash beet
greens and cut into 2" pieces, including stems.
Render out fat to get ~2 T melted fat for “tail”
(p. 4) and fry meat for 5 minutes on medium
high until brown. Add salt and spices, cover
with water. Bring to a boil, cooking 8
minutes, add greens and cook 3 minutes, add
lentils. Turn down to low and cook 45
minutes. Crush garlic with a garlic press and
add, cook another 15 minutes. Squeeze lemon
juice over the dish and serve.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 21
Meat is boiled and fava beans are fried in fat,
then you put them with the meat and broth.
Then you put pounded thyme, coriander and
garlic with it. Then you break an egg on it and
sprinkle pepper and coriander seed on it. It is
covered until it thickens and taken off.
1 c dry fava beans
4-6 T fat
¾ lb lamb
2 c water
2 t fresh thyme
or 1 t dry
1 ½ T cilantro
1 large clove garlic
2 eggs
½ t black pepper
½ t coriander
Soak the beans overnight; they should
make about 2 ½ c soaked. I expect 2 ½ c of
fresh favas would work too. Render the fat
from about 6 oz of lamb fat, giving 4-6 T of
liquid fat; it would probably also work using
olive oil. Fry beans for about 10-15 minutes in
the fat (just enough time for beans to absorb
most of the fat), then add to the meat, which
has been boiling the same length of time in 2
c water. Put thyme, cilantro, and peeled garlic
in a mortar and mash. Add to pot. Simmer for
about another 45 minutes. Stir frequently,
scraping the bottom, after adding the beans
(medium heat at most), since otherwise it can
easily scorch. Beat two eggs together and stir
into the bubbling pot. Add pepper and
coriander, then let sit on low flame a few
minutes while the egg sets. Serve. This is
good but rather spicy; those who do not like
spicy dishes might try using half the quantity
of pepper and garlic.
An alternative interpretation is that you are
poaching an egg on top of the Fuliyyah. If you
do it that way, start with only 1 ¾ c of water
so that the Fuliyyah will come out thicker.
Dishes with Grains, Bread, or
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 18
Meat is boiled and bread is moistened with
the broth. Yoghurt, garlic and mint are put with
it and the meat is put with it. Likewise there is a
tharid without meat.
1 ½ lb meat
3 ½ c water
4 slices bread
4 large cloves
8 sprigs mint (leaves only)
½ c yogurt
Cut meat into bite-sized pieces and boil in
water about 30-40 minutes, by which time the
broth is down to about one cup. Crush bread
into broth, chop garlic and mint, and add them
and the yogurt to the bread mixture and serve
the meat over it.
Tharda of Zabarbada
Andalusian p. A-42
Take a clean pot and put in it water, two
spoons of oil, pepper, cilantro and a pounded
onion; put it on the fire and when the spices have
boiled, take bread and crumble it, throw it in the
pot and stir smoothly while doing so; pour out of
the pot onto a platter and knead this into a
tharda and pour clarified butter over it, and if
you do not have this, use oil.
2 T cilantro
4 oz onion
2 c water
2 T oil
¼ t pepper
1 c breadcrumbs
2 T ghee or oil
Wash and chop cilantro. Slice onion and
pound in a mortar (or run through the food
processor). Put water, oil, pepper, cilantro,
and onion in pot and bring to a boil. Add
breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, and heat for
5 minutes, then pour onto platter. Top with oil
or ghee; most people preferred ghee.
This is a fairly plain dish, rather like bread
stuffing. If you particularly like cilantro, you
may want to double it. For more elaborate
thardas or tharids with meat, see nearby
White Tharîdah of al Rashid
Tr. Charles Perry from al-Warraq
Take a chicken and joint it, or meat of a kid
or lamb, and clean it and throw it in a pot, and
throw on it soaked chickpeas, clean oil, galingale,
cinnamon sticks, and a little salt. And when it
boils, skim it. Take fresh milk and strain it over
the pot and throw in onion slices and boiled
carrots. And when it boils well, take peeled
almonds and pound them fine. Break over them
five eggs and mix with wine vinegar. Then throw
in the pot and add coriander, a little pepper and
a bit of cumin and arrange it and leave on the
fire, and serve, God willing.
2 ¾ lb lamb
or 2 ½ lb chicken
2 15 oz cans chickpeas
2 T olive oil
¾ t galingale
1 oz stick cinnamon
1 T salt
~5 c water or less
1 ¼ lbs carrots
1 c milk
1 ¼ lbs onion
5 oz almonds
5 eggs
1 ½ T wine vinegar
1 t coriander
1 ¾ t pepper
1 ¼ t cumin
Cut up lamb or chicken, put it, chickpeas
(with liquid), oil, galingale, cinnamon sticks
and salt in a large pot with as little water as
will cover, boil 15 minutes. Meanwhile boil
carrots separately; drain them. Add milk,
sliced onion and carrots to the pot, boil
another 15 minutes. Grind almonds, combine
with eggs and vinegar; add this mixture and
spices to the pot. Cook another five minutes,
An alternative interpretation of the recipe
omits the water, so that the meat is cooked in
the oil until partially cooked, then the milk,
onions, and carrots are added.
Tharids are normally made with bread or
breadcrumbs, and there is a Tradition that
tharid was the Prophet’s favorite dish. Bread
may have been good enough for the Prophet,
but not for Haroun al Rashid; this version uses
ground almonds instead.
Al-Ghassani's Tharda
Andalusian A-42
Take fat meat and cut it up, arrange in a large
pot and throw in coriander seed, chopped onion,
cilantro, caraway, pepper, soaked garbanzos, three
whole eggs and enough water to cover the meat
and salt; when the meat is done, reduce the fire
below it and throw in two dirhams of saffron;
when you see that it is colored, remove part of the
sauce, leaving enough to cover the meat; boil the
meat with the saffron and then take off the fire,
strain the sauce and leave in the pot, take one kail
of sauce and three of honey, then take the pot to
the fire and bring it to the boil three times with
the honey and the sauce. Then take best white
bread, crumble it and sieve the crumbs, cover the
pot with them and put in it fat and pepper; pour
into the platter over bread soaked in the broth
and serve, God willing.
18 oz lamb
1 lb onion
½ t coriander
2 T cilantro
½ t caraway
½ t pepper
2 15 oz cans chickpeas
3 eggs
1 ⅝ c water
½ t salt
⅛ t saffron
6 T honey
¼ lb bread
3 T melted lamb fat
½ t+ pepper
11 slices bread
Cut lamb in 1" cubes; combine lamb,
onion, etc, in pot, breaking the eggs in whole
to poach in the pot. Simmer about 30 minutes
(until the lamb is cooked), mostly uncovered,
stirring occasionally. Lower heat, add saffron,
simmer 10 minutes, stir a little to spread the
saffron. Turn off the heat, remove 2 T of
sauce, mix it with honey and return the
mixture to the pot. Bring back to a boil, then
convert ¼ lb of bread to crumbs—you may
find a food processor useful—run them
through a strainer and stir them in. Add fat
and pepper. Arrange sliced bread, toasted if
you like, on a large platter (10-12"). Spoon
liquid part of the broth onto the bread, then
ladle everything on top.
Tharid that the People of Ifriqiyya
(Tunisia) Call Fatîr
Andalusian p. A-55
It is one of the best of their dishes. Among
them this fatir is made with fat chicken, while
others make it with the meat of a fat lamb. Take
whatever of the two you have on hand, clean and
cut up. Put it in the pot with salt, onion, pepper,
coriander seed and oil, and cook it until it is done;
then take out the meat from the pot and let the
broth remain, and add to it both clarified and
fresh butter, and fry [or boil] it. Then fabricate
crumbs of a fatîr that have been prepared from
well-made layered thin flatbread cooked in the
tajine with sourdough, and repeatedly moisten
the dish [evidently, the dish in which the crumbs
are] until it's right. Then spread on it the meat of
that chicken, after frying it in the pan with fresh
oil or butter and dot it with egg yolks, olives and
chopped almonds; sprinkle it with cinnamon and
serve it.
2 ¼ lbs chicken
or lamb
1 c water
½ t salt
½ lb onion
½ t pepper
1 t coriander
2 T oil
4 eggs
¼ c almonds
2 T ghee
2 T butter
½ recipe “folded bread”
(p. 76)
or ½ lb pita
3 T more oil or butter
½ t cinnamon
Combine meat, water, salt, sliced onion,
pepper, coriander, and oil in a pot, simmer
about an hour. Hard boil eggs and remove the
yolks, chop almonds coarsely. Take the meat
out, add 2 T each ghee and butter to the broth,
boil about 5 minutes. Crumble the flatbread,
line the bottom of a pot with it, gradually add
about 1 ½ - 2 c of the broth mixture—as much
as the crumbs will absorb.
The chicken at this point is falling off the
bones; let it. Put the meat in a frying pan over
a medium heat and fry in butter, using a total
of about 3 T. Put the meat on top of the
crumbled flatbread, dot it with yolks from
hard boiled eggs and olives, sprinkle on
chopped almonds, sprinkle with cinnamon,
Tharîda in the Style of the People of Bijaya
(Bougie, a city in Algeria) Which They Call
the Shâshiyya of Ibn al-Wadi'.
Andalusian p. A-55
Take the meat of fat spring lamb, from its
flanks, its chest and its fat part; cut it up and put
it in a pot with salt, onion, pepper and coriander
seed; put it on a moderate fire and when it is
almost done, add to it lettuce, spinach, fennel
“eyes” and tender turnips. When all is ready, add
peeled green fava beans and fresh cilantro; when
it is finished cooking, moisten with it the tharid
and arrange on it that meat, the vegetables and
the beans; put on top of the tharid, on the highest
part, a small amount of butter that will pour
down the sides among the vegetables. For that
reason it has been likened to the shashiyya of Ibn
al-Wadi, as if that white butter were the cotton
[tassel] of the shashiyya,[a fez with a white tassel,
characteristic of southern Morocco in our times
(CP)] that falls all over.
Comments from other recipes in this book
on how to make the tharid itself: “and moisten
with it a tharid crumbled from white bread
crumbs and leavened semolina well kneaded
and baked.” “A tharid of the crumb of
leavened bread…” “Then crumble enough
clean white bread and moisten it with the
sauce until it soaks it up.”
1 ¼ lb lamb
¼ lb onion
2 ½ c water
1 ½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 ½ t coriander
6 oz turnips
¼ c spinach
¼ c lettuce
1 t fennel
¼ c green fava beans
1 ½ t cilantro
8 slices bread = ~7 oz
2 T butter
Cut meat into 1" to 1 ½" cubes, chop
onion. Boil meat, onion, salt and spices
together over moderate heat until meat is
tender. Peel and chop turnips, add to meat and
cook until about three quarters done. Tear or
chop spinach and lettuce, chop fennel finely,
add to meat, cook. Shell beans, chop cilantro
and add. Tear up bread, mix with the broth
from the meat, put on platter and serve meat
and vegetables over it, and put butter on top.
Total cooking time 1 hour 45 minutes, more
or less.
Tharda of Isfunj with Milk
Andalusian p. A-27
Make isfunj from white flour and make it
well, and fry it. Add to it while kneading as
many eggs as it will bear. When you are finished
making it and frying it, cook as much fresh milk
as is needed and beat in it eggwhites and fine
white flour, and stir carefully until cooked. Then
cut the isfunj into small pieces with scissors and
moisten with the milk until saturated. Then melt
butter and throw on the tharid, and sprinkle with
sugar and use, God willing. [see quotes from
isfunj recipe p. 119]
⅛ c sourdough
⅜ c water
2 c flour
1 ½ eggs
oil for frying
2 c milk
3 T more flour
3 egg whites
¼ lb butter
2 T sugar
Dissolve sourdough in water and stir it into
the flour, then add eggs, stir and knead to a
reasonably uniform dough. Let it rise four
hours in a warm place. Make into thick patties
about 3" in diameter and ½" thick; fry in
about ½" of hot oil. Cut patties up into small
pieces with shears.
Put the milk on a medium heat, stir in flour
and beaten egg white with a whisk. Beat
frequently as you bring it slowly to a simmer,
simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cut up
isfunj, add melted butter, sprinkle on sugar,
and serve.
Tharda of Lamb with Garbanzos
Andalusian p. A-31
Cut up lamb in large pieces and put with it
spices, soaked garbanzos, oil and salt. When it has
fried, pour in enough water to cover. And when it
is about done, throw in orach [a leafy vegetable
related to spinach]. When it is done, throw in
fresh cheese cut up in pieces like fingertips, and
break eggs into it and crumble bread in it, and
sprinkle it with pepper and cinnamon, God
⅞ lb lamb
¼ t pepper
½ t cinnamon
¼ t cumin
15 oz can chickpeas
¼ t salt
2 T oil
1 c water
orach: 1 lb spinach
14 oz fresh cheese
3 eggs
1 c bread crumbs
⅛ t pepper
¼ t cinnamon
Note: the cheese we used for this was a
“sweet cheese” (i.e. not salty) fron an Iranian
Saute the lamb, spices, drained chickpeas
and salt in the olive oil about 10 minutes, until
the meat is browned. Add water and cook
about 20 minutes. Rinse spinach and cut in
half. Add the spinach, cook about 5 minutes,
stirring enough to get spinach down into water
so that it wilts. Cut the cheese into small
rectangles (about ¾"x¼"), add cheese, eggs
and bread crumbs. Cook a few minutes, long
enough to melt cheese, sprinkle pepper and
cinnamon on top, and serve.
Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach, Moist
Cheese and Butter
Andalusian p. A-55
This used to be made in Cordoba in the spring
by the doctor Abu al-Hasan al-Bunani, God have
mercy on him and pardon us and him. Take the
meat of a fat lamb, cut it and put it in the pot
with salt, onion juice, pepper, coriander seed,
caraway and oil; put it to the fire and when it
has finished, put in it chopped and washed
spinach in sufficient quantity, rubbed moist
cheese and butter. When it has finished, take the
pot off the fire and moisten with butter. Let there
be crumbs of bread moderately leavened, and put
your meat on them, and if he (God have mercy on
him) lacked lamb meat, he would make a tharida
of spinach, moist cheese, butter and the previously
mentioned spices and eggs instead of meat.
1 lb lamb
¼ t salt
2 t onion juice
¼ t pepper
1 t coriander
½ t caraway
1 T olive oil
10 oz spinach
½ lb fresh cheese
1 T butter
3 7" pita breads (6 oz)
1 T more butter
Cut lamb to bite sized pieces. Put it in the
pot with salt, onion juice, spices, and oil, heat
through, turn down to a simmer, and cook for
15 minutes covered. Turn up heat and cook
another 5 minutes uncovered, stirring
periodically to cook off most of the liquid.
While the lamb is cooking, wash and chop
spinach, crumble cheese. Add spinach,
cheese, and 1 T butter to the lamb and cook
10 minutes. Tear up bread and put on a
serving platter. Add remaining butter to lamb,
pour it over the bread, and serve.
We used fresh cheese from an Iranian
grocery; other fresh crumbly cheeses, such as
queso fresco or some kinds of farmer’s cheese
should also work, although how salty the
cheese is will affect how much salt you want
to put in.
White Tharîda with Onion, called
Kâfûriyya (Camphor-White)
Andalusian p. A-55
This tharid is made with mutton or with
chicken and much clarified butter. Take young
fat meat, cut it up and put it in the pot with salt,
pepper, coriander seed, oil, mild clarified or fresh
butter. When it has fried in its fat and its spices,
throw into it some juice of pounded, squeezed
onions, about a ratl or more, so that the meat is
covered abundantly and finishes cooking; when it
is done, break the necessary amount of whole eggs
and soak with them a tharid of crumbs of white
leavened bread or leavened semolina, and with
clarified butter kneaded in it like ka'k (p. 75)
dough, and don't beat it much. When the tharida
absorbs and is level, put its meat on top of it and
serve it. There are those who make it with
pounded cut large onions.
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
1 t salt
⅜ t pepper
⅜ t coriander
2 T oil
1 T butter
1 lb onion
⅜ lb bread
2 eggs
5 T ghee
Cut up chicken in pieces an inch or two
across, combine with salt, pepper, coriander,
oil and butter, cook at medium high for 5-10
minutes until chicken appears cooked. Chop
onion and process to mush in a food
processor, strain out the juice and add juice to
the pot, simmer for about 25 minutes. Use a
pot small enough so that the onion covers the
meat—for this quantity a 1 quart pot works.
Tear up the bread then process it in a
food processor, stir in the beaten eggs, knead
in melted ghee, spread out in the serving dish.
Dump on it the solids (and broth?) from the
pot, serve.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 22
Meat is boiled, then wheat is put on it until it
gives up its starch. Then the meat is plucked off
the bones and pounded [and returned to the
porridge]. Some add milk.
½ lb lamb
2 c water
[½ stick cinnamon]
[¾ t salt]
5 oz of cracked wheat
1 c milk
[1 ½ T lamb fat]
[¼ t cumin]
[½ t cinnamon]
[½ T lemon]
Cut lamb into a few large pieces, put it and
the water in a pot, add stick cinnamon and
salt. Bring to a boil. Add the cracked wheat.
Cook about ½ hour. Remove the lamb (that is
why it is in only a few pieces). Cut the lamb
up, pound in a mortar almost to a paste, then
put it back in. Add milk. Cook another hour at
a low temperature.
Render out lamb fat (“tail” in the original;
see p. 4), sprinkle it, cumin, cinnamon, and
lemon over the harisa when you serve it (this
is an addition from the al-Baghdadi version of
the dish; Ibn al-Mabrad gives very little
information on spicing).
al-Baghdadi p.45 (Good)
Cut fat meat into middling pieces and put
into the saucepan, with a covering of water. Add
cinnamon-bark, a little salt, a handful of peeled
chickpeas, and half a handful of lentils. Boil until
cooked: then add more water, and bring
thoroughly to the boil. Now add spaghetti (which
is made by kneading flour and water well, then
rolling out fine and cutting into thin threads
four fingers long). Put over the fire and cook until
set to a smooth consistency. When it has settled
over a gentle fire for an hour, remove.
1 lb lamb
4 c water
½ stick cinnamon
1 t salt
6 T canned chickpeas
3 T lentils
2 c flour
⅜-½ c water
Cut up meat, combine it with water,
cinnamon, salt, chickpeas, and lentils, simmer
about half an hour. Mix flour with about ½ c
cold water (just enough to make an unsticky
dough). Knead thoroughly, roll out, cut into
thin strips. Add to pot, simmer another ½ hour
being careful not to let it stick to the bottom
and scorch, serve. A favorite of ours.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 20
Dough is taken and twisted and cut in small
pieces and struck like a coin with a finger, and it
is cooked in water until done. Then yoghurt is
put with it and meat is fried with onion for it
and mint and garlic are put with it.
1 c flour
½ c plain yogurt
about ¼ c water
1 T mint
¼ lb onion
2-4 cloves crushed garlic
5 oz lamb
[½ t salt]
½ oz lamb fat (“tail” p. 4)
Knead flour and water to a smooth dough.
Divide it in about 8 equal portions. Roll each
portion between your palms into a string
about ½ inch in diameter, twist it a little, then
cut it in about ¼" slices. Dump slices in a
little flour to keep them from sticking.
Squeeze each between your fingers into a flat,
roughly round, coin shaped piece. Boil in 1
quart slightly salted water about 10 minutes.
About the same time you put the pasta on
to boil, fry the onions and lamb, both cut
small, in the tail (i.e. lamb fat—p. 4) or other
oil. Drain the pasta, combine all ingredients,
and serve.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 20
You take minced meat and stuff it in dough
rolled out like cut tutmaj. It is cooked in water
until done. Then take it off the fire and put
yoghurt, garlic and mint with it.
about 1 lb meat (lamb) 4 oz yogurt
2 c flour
1 clove garlic
¼ c water
1 sprig mint
3 eggs
We tried both ground and minced meat;
both worked. Knead together flour, water and
eggs for the dough, roll it out thin and make
the shushbarak like ravioli, stuffing them with
the meat, then boil 5-10 minutes. For sauce,
blend together the yogurt, garlic, and mint in a
food processor; a mortar and pestle would
also work. As an experiment, we tried mixing
⅓ c of minced lamb with ¼ t cinnamon, ⅛ t
ginger, and ⅛ t coriander as filling; that also
came out well.
al-Baghdadi p. 44
Cut fat meat into middling pieces. Dissolve
fresh tail, and throw away the sediment. Put the
meat into the oil, and stir until browned. Cover
with lukewarm water, and add a little salt, a
handful of peeled chickpeas, small pieces of
cinnamon-bark, and some sprigs of dry dill.
When the meat is cooked, throw in dry coriander,
ginger and pepper, brayed fine. Add more
lukewarm water, and put over a hot fire until
thoroughly boiling: then remove the dill from the
saucepan. Take cleaned rice, wash several times,
and put into the saucepan as required, leaving it
over the fire until the rice is cooked. Then remove
from the fire. Do not leave so long that the rice
becomes hard set. If desired, add some cabobs of
minced meat.
2 T lamb fat
2 lb boneless lamb
3 c water
2 t dry dill
2 t salt
15 oz can chickpeas
3 3" sticks cinnamon
2 t dry coriander
½ t ginger
1 t pepper
9 c more water
4 ½ c rice
meatballs (optional):
¾ lb ground lamb
1 t cinnamon
¼ t ginger
½ t coriander
If you want to make it with meatballs, mix
the ground lamb and spices and make small
meatballs. Put fat (the “tail” of the original
recipe—p. 4) in pot and render out about 2 T.
Cut up meat and brown it (and the meatballs)
in fat about 5 minutes, then cover with 3 c
water. Tie the dill up in a little piece of
cheesecloth; put salt, chickpeas, cinnamon,
and dill in with the meat and simmer 10
minutes. Add coriander, ginger, pepper, and
remaining water and bring to a boil. Remove
dill. Add rice, bring back to a boil, turn down
to a simmer and cook covered 20 minutes,
stirring occasionally.
Ibn al-Mabrad p. 22
Meat is boiled, then leeks are put in and
yoghurt is dissolved and rice is put with it. Some
people put the yoghurt first, then the meat then
the rice.
¾ lb boned lamb
1 ¾ cup of water
2 leeks = 2 c sliced
1 ¼ c yogurt
½ t salt
1 ¼ c rice
[2 t cumin]
[2 t coriander]
[1 t cinnamon]
Cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Boil meat
for 15 minutes in water at low heat, covered.
Add leeks, yogurt and salt. Add rice and
spices. Simmer (again covered) until rice is
done (about an hour). The spices are based on
similar recipes in al-Bagdadi.
Rizz Hulw
Ibn al-Mabrad p.19
Rice is put in boiling water until it swells and
is nearly done. Then a sweet ingredient is put
with it until it thickens, and it is sprinkled with
ginger and taken off the fire.
¾ c rice
1 ¼ c water
3 T honey
¼ t ginger
Cook rice in water about 15 minutes then
add honey, cook another 15 minutes. Add
A Recipe for Rice Porridge (Harisat alAruzz)
al-Warraq p. 256
Wash fat meat and put it in a pot. Pour
water on it and then add some salt. Let it cook
until meat disintegrates and falls off the bones.
Put the pot off the heat. Take meat out of the pot
and pound it in a mortar and pestle if it is still
Next, pick over white rice and wash it three
times. Pour strained milk on the meat broth and
bring it to a boil. Add the rice and continue
cooking until it is done. Return the pounded meat
and keep on stirring until rice grains are crushed.
Pour into it butter, clarified butter, a mixture of
equal parts of rendered fat and sesame oil, or
Beat the mixture continuously until it is
completely crushed. Keep on stirring until it looks
like natif (p. 122) and meat looks like threads
integrated into the rice.
Serve the porridge with a bowlful of murri,
God willing.
1 lb lamb
5 ½ c water
1 t+ salt
2 ½ c rice
1 c milk
6 T butter
Wash meat in lukewarm water, put it to
simmer in 5 ½ c of water with a pinch of salt,
simmer 2 hrs 25 minutes, cut up, then simmer
another five minutes. Remove meat from
broth, mush it in a mortar for about 5-10
Cook the rice for half an hour in 4 c of
the broth from the meat plus 1 c of milk,
adding the meat after about 15 minutes, then
later the butter and salt. Stir forcibly to mush
the rice and meat together. Serve with murri
for your guests to add. We have not tried the
other versions.
(There is a harisah recipe on p. 105.)
Preparation of Rice Cooked Over Water [a
double boiler method]
Andalusian A-56
Take rice washed with hot water and put it in
the pot and throw to it fresh, pure milk fresh from
milking; put this pot in a copper kettle that has
water up to the halfway point or a little more;
arrange the copper kettle on the fire and the pot
with the rice and milk well-settled in it so that it
doesn't tip and is kept from the fire. Leave it to
cook without stirring, and when the milk has
dried up, add more of the same kind of milk so
that the rice dissolves and is ready; add to it fresh
butter and cook the rice with it; when the rice is
done and dissolved, take off the pot and rub it
with a spoon until it breaks up; then throw it on
the platter and level it, dust it with ground sugar,
cinnamon and butter and use. With this same
recipe one cooks itriyya, fidaush and tharîd allaban [milk tharid].
1 c rice
3 ½ c milk
2 T butter
2 T more butter
½ t cinnamon
1 ½ T sugar
Bring water in the bottom of double
boiler to a boil. Wash rice in hot water.
Combine rice with 1 c milk in the top of the
double boiler. Cook for about two to two and
a half hours, gradually adding more milk as
the milk in it is absorbed. When the last
addition has been absorbed and the rice is
soft, add 2 T butter, stir it in, and continue
cooking for another ten minutes. Remove
from heat, and stir vigorously to reduce the
rice to something close to a uniform mush.
Melt remaining butter; mix cinnamon and
sugar. Spread the rice flat on a plate, pour the
melted butter over it and sprinkle with
cinnamon sugar.
Oven Dishes and Roasting
The making of Badî'i, the Remarkable Dish
Andalusian p. A-9
Take the meat of a very plump lamb and cut
it in small pieces and put them in a pot with a
little salt, a piece of onion, coriander, lavender,
saffron and oil, and cook it halfway. Then take
fresh cheese, not too soft in order that it will not
fall apart, cut it with a knife into sheets
approximately the size of the palm, place them in
a dish, color them with saffron, sprinkle them
with lavender and turn them until they are
colored on all sides. Place them with the cooked
meat in the pot or in a tajine and add eggs beaten
with saffron, lavender and cinnamon, as
necessary, and bury in it whole egg yolks and
cover with plenty of oil and with the fat of the
cooked meat. Place it in the oven and leave it
until the sauce is dry and the meat is completely
cooked and the upper part turns red [the
translator suggests the alternative “browns” but it
turns red in our experience]. Take it out, leave it a
while until its heat passes and it is cool, and then
use it.
1 lb lamb
½ t dried lavender
4 threads saffron
¼ t salt
½ small onion (2 oz)
½ t ground coriander
2 T olive oil
6 more threads saffron
6 oz cheese
½ t lavender
3 threads saffron
½ t more lavender
2 beaten eggs
½ t cinnamon
4 whole egg yolks
2 T olive oil
Cut lamb into ½" cubes. Grind ½ t
lavender and 4 threads saffron in a mortar.
Combine lamb, salt, onion, coriander,
lavender, saffron and oil and simmer in 1 c
water for 10 minutes. Grind the second lot of
saffron (6 threads) in a mortar, adding 1 T
water. Cut cheese—we used mozzarella—in
slices, paint them with the saffron water,
sprinkle with ½ t more lavender. Drain meat
and separate the fat from the broth. Put meat
in the pot, cover with cheese slices. Grind 3
threads saffron and ½ t lavender in a mortar,
beat with eggs and cinnamon. Pour eggs over
meat and cheese. Place whole egg yolks on
top, pour over everything the fat (I had about
3 T) plus the second 2 T of oil. Bake at 350°
for 45 minutes, by which time the top should
have turned reddish brown. Let cool, then
Recipe for Thûmiyya, a Garlicky Dish
Andalusian p. A-8
Take a plump hen and take out what is inside
it, clean that and leave aside. Then take four
ûqiyas of peeled garlic and pound them until they
are like brains, and mix with what comes out of
the interior of the chicken. Fry it in enough oil to
cover, until the smell of garlic comes out. Mix this
with the chicken in a clean pot with salt, pepper,
cinnamon, lavender, ginger, cloves, saffron, peeled
whole almonds, both pounded and whole, and a
little murri naqî'. Seal the pot with dough, place
it in the oven and leave it until it is done. Then
take it out and open the pot, pour its contents in
a clean dish and an aromatic scent will come
forth from it and perfume the area. This chicken
was made for the Sayyid Abu al-Hasan and
much appreciated.
5 oz garlic
1 hen
6 T oil
½ t salt
½ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
2 t lavender
1 t ginger
¼ t cloves
15 threads saffron
½ c whole almonds
⅞ c crushed almonds
¼ c murri (p. 5)
~1 c flour + water
Crush garlic. Fry garlic and giblets from
chicken in oil on medium heat for about 15
minutes. Put all ingredients except dough in
the pot, crushing the saffron into a few T of
water to extract flavor and color. Mix flour
and water to make the dough, roll it into a
strip, put it on the edge of the dish and jam the
lid onto it to seal the lid on the pot. Bake at
350° for 1 hour.
Charles Perry, who translated this, notes
that four ûqiyas of garlic (⅓ of a pound)
works out pretty close to the 40 cloves called
for in a famous Provençal dish. “Leave out the
spices and the almonds, and you’d about have
poulet à 40 gousses d’ail.”
Mahshi, a Stuffed Dish
Andalusian p. A-9
The Recipe of ibn al-Mahdi's Maghmûm
Andalusian p. A-8
It is made with a roast hen, or with young
pigeons or doves, or small birds, or with the meat
of a young lamb. Take what you have of this,
clean it, cut it up and put it in a pot with salt, a
piece of onion, pepper, coriander, cinnamon,
saffron, some murri naqî' and plenty of oil. Put
this on the fire and when it is done and the broth
has formed, take out the meat from the pot and
leave it aside. Take as much as necessary of
grated white breadcrumbs and stir them in a
tajine with the remaining chicken fat and sauce.
Tint it with plenty of saffron and add lavender,
pepper and cinnamon. When the breadcrumbs
have come apart, break over it enough eggs to
cover [“flood”] it all and sprinkle it with peeled,
split almonds. Beat all this until it is mixed, then
bury the pieces of chicken in this so that the
chicken is hidden in the stuffing and whole
eggyolks, and cover this with plenty of oil. Then
place in the oven and leave it until it is dry,
thickened and browned and the top of the tajine is
bound. Then take it out and leave it until its heat
passes and it cools, and use it.
Take a plump hen, dismember it and put it in
a pot, and add coriander of one dirham's weight,
half a dirham of pepper and the same of
cinnamon, and of ginger, galingale, lavender and
cloves a quarter dirham each, three ûqiyas of
vinegar, two ûqiyas of pressed onion juice, an
ûqiya of cilantro juice, an ûqiya of murri naqî',
and four ûqiyas of fresh oil. Mix all this in a pot
with some rosewater, cover it with a flatbread and
put a carefully made lid over the mouth of the
pot. Place this in the oven over a moderate fire
and leave it until it is cooked. Then take it out
and leave it a little. Let it cool and invert it onto
a clean dish and present it; it is remarkable.
4 ¼ lb chicken
½ t salt
2 oz onion
½ t pepper
½ t coriander
1 t cinnamon
20 threads saffron
2 T murri (see p. 5)
¼ c oil
⅔ c bread crumbs
20 threads more saffron
1 t lavender
½ t more pepper
1 t more cinnamon
6 eggs
¾ c slivered almonds
½ c more oil
[hard boiled egg yolks]
Wash the hen, roast it to an internal
temperature of 160° (about 1-1 ½ hrs at 350°),
separate the drippings into fat and broth, cut
up the hen. Put the hen and broth in a pot with
the first bunch of ingredients. Cook, covered,
over a low to medium heat about 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken, add bread crumbs,
chicken fat, second batch of saffron, lavender,
pepper and cinnamon.
Cook another five minutes or so, then
break in the eggs, sprinkle over the almonds
and stir it all together. Put the chicken back in
and cover it as best you can with the
egg/almond etc mixture. If you wish add egg
yolks. Add the additional oil, bake at 350° for
30 minutes.
1 chicken (2-3 lb)
1 T coriander
1 t pepper
1 ½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
½ t galingale
1 T lavender
½ t cloves
⅜ c vinegar
¼ c onion juice
2 T cilantro juice (p. 8)
2 T murri (p. 5)
½ c olive oil
2 t rosewater
2 medium pita breads
Mix everything in a pot, put in the chicken.
Put two medium pita on top, put on lid, bake
at 350° about 1 hour, let settle about 15
minutes, invert into a bowl, and serve. Would
be good over rice or additional bread.
A Hen Roasted in the Oven
Andalusian p. A-14
Clean a plump, young, tender hen, salt it with
salt and thyme, peel four or five cloves of garlic
and place them between the thighs and in the
interior. Pound pepper and coriander, sprinkle
them over the hen, rub with murri and oil and a
little water, and send it to the oven, God willing.
4 lb whole chicken
¼ t salt
¼ t thyme
5 cloves garlic
⅛ t pepper
½ t coriander
1 T murri
1 T oil
~ 1 t water
Rub chicken with salt and thyme and put
in garlic as described above. Sprinkle with
pepper and coriander. Mix murri, oil and
water and rub over chicken. Put in baking dish
and bake in preheated oven at 375° for about
1 ½ hours (until meat thermometer shows
Hen Roasted in a Pot at Home
Andalusian p. A-3
Take a young, plump, cleaned hen; slice it on
all sides and then make for it a sauce of oil, murri
naqî', a little vinegar, crushed garlic, pepper and
a little thyme. Grease all parts of the hen with
this, inside and out; then put it in the pot and
pour over it whatever remains of the sauce, and
cook it; then remove the fire from beneath it and
return the cover to it and leave it until it smells
good and is fried. Then take it out and use it.
¾ oz garlic (~5 cloves)
1 T fresh thyme
½ c oil
¼ c vinegar
2 T murri (p. 5)
½ t pepper
5 ½ lb hen
Peel the garlic and put it through a garlic
press, or chop it very fine. Strip thyme leaves
from stem, chop. Combine garlic, thyme, oil,
vinegar, murri, and pepper in a bowl, stir.
Wash the hen in cold water and drain well.
With a sharp knife, cut about fifty shallow
slits all over it, top and bottom. Smear
mixture over chicken, inside and outside. Put
chicken in a heavy pot, pour on the remaining
mixture. Cover the pot and cook on medium
low until the internal temperature of the
chicken gets to 190°; it should take about an
hour and a half. Remove from heat, leave
covered for another ten minutes, then serve.
Another Kind of Lamb Breast
Andalusian A-5
Get the breast of a plump lamb, pierce it
between the meat and the ribs, so that the hand
and fingers can fit in; then get a large handful
each of peeled almonds and hazelnuts, and a
dirham each of Chinese cinnamon, lavender,
cloves, saffron and pepper, and a little salt; pound
all this and mix it with breadcrumbs and knead
it with oil, and knead until it thickens and can be
used as a stuffing. When it is stuffed, sew up the
breast with clean gut and hang it in a tannur,
and set under it an earthen pot into which what
melts from the breast can drip, and when it is
done take it out.
2 lb lamb breast
¼ c blanched almonds
¼ c hazelnuts
½ t stick cinnamon
1 gram fresh lavender
½ t cloves
½ t saffron
1 t pepper
¼ t salt
½ c breadcrumbs
¾ c olive oil
Slice between the meat and the bone of
the ribs so as to make a pocket for the
stuffing. Pound nuts in the mortar. Add the
spices, breadcrumbs and oil. Stir all together.
Stuff the pocket, sew it up with cotton thread,
put it in a pot supported by pieces of wood.
Bake at 350° until the meat thermometer in
the stuffing shows 180°, about 55 minutes.
Meat Roasted Over Coals
Andalusian p. A-42 (Good)
Cut the meat however you wish and throw on
a spoon of oil and another of murri, salt,
coriander seed, pepper and thyme; leave for a
while until it has absorbed the spices, prepare
without smoke and roast on a spit and watch it.
meat: 2 lb lamb
¼ c oil
¼ c murri (p. 5)
½ t salt
1 t coriander
½ t pepper
½ t thyme
Mix all ingredients except meat to make a
marinade. Cut meat into 2 ½ ounce pieces
(about 2"-3" across) and stir into marinade.
Let sit 2 ½ hours. Put on a spit or skewer and
roast over coals or in a baking pan under the
broiler at high for 15 minutes or so, basting
two or three times with the marinade.
Recipe for the Barmakiyya
Andalusian p. A-9 (Good)
It is made with a hen, pigeons, doves, small
birds or lamb. Take what you have of them, after
cleaning, and cut up and put in a pot with salt,
an onion, pepper, coriander and lavender or
cinnamon, some murri naqî', and oil. Put it on a
gentle fire until it is nearly done and the sauce is
dried. Take it out and fry it in fresh oil without
overdoing it, and leave it aside. Then take fine
flour and semolina, make a well-made dough with
leaven, and if it has some oil it will be more
flavorful. Then roll out from it a flatbread and
put inside it the fried and cooked meat of these
birds, cover it with another flatbread and stick
the ends together. Put it in the oven, and when
the bread is done, take it out. It is very good on
journeys. You might make it with fish and that
can be used for journeying too.
Note: The Barmecides were a family of
Persian viziers who served some of the early
Abbasid Caliphs, in particular Haroun alRashid, and were famed for their generosity.
1 lb boned chicken
or lamb
10 oz onion
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 t coriander
1 ½ t lavender
or cinnamon
1 T murri (see p. 5)
3 T olive oil
3 T more olive oil
1 ½ c white flour
1 ½ c semolina
[1 t salt in dough]
3 T more olive oil
¾ c water
½ c sourdough
Cut the meat fairly finely (approximately
¼" slices, then cut them up), combine in a 3
quart pot with chopped onion, 1 t salt, spices,
murri, and 3 T oil. Cook over a medium low
to medium heat about an hour. Cover it at the
beginning so it all gets hot, at which point the
onion and meat release their juices; remove
the cover and cook until the liquid is gone,
about 30 minutes. Then heat 3 T more oil in a
large frying pan on a medium high burner,
add the contents of the pot, fry over medium
high heat about five minutes.
Stir together flour, semolina, 1 t salt.
Gradually stir in 3 T oil. Combine ¾ c water,
½ c sourdough. Stir this into the flour mixture
and knead to a smooth dough (which should
only take a few minutes). If you do not have
sourdough, omit it; since the recipes does not
give the dough much time to rise, the
sourdough probably does not have a large
effect on the consistency of the dough.
Divide the dough in four equal parts. Take
two parts, turn them out on a floured board,
squeeze and stretch each (or use a rolling pin)
until it is at least 12" by 5". Put half the filling
on one, put the other on top, squeeze the
edges together to seal. Repeat with the other
two parts of the dough and the rest of the
filling. Bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet at
350° for 40 minutes.
For the fish version, start with 1 ¼ lb of
fish (we used salmon). If it is boneless,
proceed as above, shortening the cooking time
to about 35 minutes; it is not necessary to cut
up the fish fine, since it will crumble easily
once it is cooked. If your fish has bones, put it
on top of the oil, onions, spices etc., in the
largest pieces that will fit in the pot, cover the
pot, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until
the fish is almost ready to fall apart; in effect,
it is being steamed by the liquid produced
from the onions and by its own liquid. Take
out the fish, bone it, return to the pot, and
cook uncovered about 30 minutes until the
liquid is mostly gone. Continue as above.
Relishes & Dips
Badinjan Muhassa
Ibn al-Mahdi’s cookbook in al-Warraq
translated by Perry. (9th-10th c.) (Good)
Cook eggplants until soft by baking, boiling or
grilling over the fire, leaving them whole. When
they are cool, remove the loose skin, drain the
bitter liquor and chop the flesh fine. It should be
coarser than a true purée. Grind walnuts fine
and make into a dough with vinegar and salt.
Form into a patty and fry on both sides until the
taste of raw walnut is gone; the vinegar is to
delay scorching of the nuts. Mix the cooked
walnuts into the chopped eggplant and season to
taste with vinegar and ground caraway seed, salt
and pepper. Serve with a topping of chopped raw
or fried onion.
¾ lb eggplant
1 c walnuts
2 T vinegar
½ t salt
⅛ t pepper
⅛ t salt
1 t caraway seed
1 ½ T vinegar (at the end)
¼ c chopped raw onion
Simmer the eggplant 20 to 30 minutes in
salted water (½ t salt in a pint of water). Let it
cool. Peel it. Slice it and let the slices sit on a
colander or a cloth for an hour or so, to let out
the bitter juice.
Grind the walnuts, add vinegar and salt to
make a dough. Make patties about ½" thick
and put them on a frying pan at medium to
medium high heat, without oil. In about half a
minute, when the bottom side has browned a
little, turn the patty over and use your pancake
turner to squash it down to about ¼" (the
cooked side is less likely to stick to your
implement than the uncooked side). Continue
cooking, turning whenever the patty seems
about to scorch. When you are done, the
surface of the patty will be crisp, brown to
black–and since it is thin, the patty is mostly
surface. If the patties start giving up lots of
walnut oil (it is obvious–they will quickly be
swimming in the stuff) the pan is too hot;
throw them out, turn down the heat and make
some more.
Chop up the eggplant, mix in the nut
patties (they will break up in the process), add
pepper, salt, caraway (ground in a spice
grinder or mortar), and vinegar. Top with
onion. Eat by itself or on bread.
Zabarbada of Fresh Cheese
Andalusian p. A-42
Take fresh cheese, clean it, cut it up and
crumble it; take cilantro and onion, chop and
throw over the cheese, stir and add spices and
pepper, stir the pot with two spoons of oil and an
equal quantity of water and salt, then throw this
mixture in the pot and put on the fire and cook;
when it is cooked, take the pot from the fire and
cover with egg and some flour and serve.
8 oz farmer's cheese
1 c chopped cilantro
6 oz onion
1 t ground coriander
1 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
½ t pepper
2 T oil
1 T water
½ t salt
1 egg
2-3 T flour
Mix together cheese, cilantro, onion, and
spices. Put oil, water and salt in a large frying
pan or a dutch oven; shake to cover the
bottom. Put in the cheese mixture and cook on
medium-high to high about 3 minutes, stirring
almost constantly, until the mixture becomes a
uniform goo. Remove from heat, stir in egg,
sprinkle on flour and stir in, serve forth. It
ends up as a sort of thick dip, good over
bread. It is still good when cold.
We have also used cheddar, feta,
mozzarella and ricotta; all came out well,
although with the feta it was a little salty,
even with the salt in the recipe omitted. Some
cheeses will require more flour to thicken it;
the most we used was ½ cup.
Baid Masus
al-Baghdadi p. 202
Take fresh sesame-oil, place in the saucepan,
and boil: then put in celery. Add a little finebrayed coriander, cummin and cinnamon, and
some mastic; then pour in vinegar as required,
and colour with a little saffron. When thoroughly
boiling, break eggs, and drop in whole: when set,
½ lb celery
2 T sesame oil
½ T coriander
1 t cumin
½ t cinnamon
t mastic
1 ½ T vinegar
12 threads saffron
6 eggs
Trim celery and cut into ¼" bits. Heat oil.
Saute celery in oil over moderate heat for 7
minutes, adding spices just after putting in the
celery. Stir vigorously. Crush saffron into
vinegar; pour vinegar into pan with celery.
Immediately crack in whole eggs and let
cook, covered, until egg white is set.
Some people like this; others do not like
anything that has enough mastic to taste.
Isfanakh Mutajjan
al-Baghdadi p. 206
Take spinach, cut off the lower roots, and
wash: then boil lightly in salt and water, and dry.
Refine sesame-oil, drop in the spinach, and stir
until fragrant. Chop up a little garlic, and add.
Sprinkle with fine-ground cumin, dry coriander,
and cinnamon: then remove.
1 lb spinach
1 clove garlic
1 T sesame oil
¼ t cumin
⅛ t coriander
½ t cinnamon
Boil spinach in salted water about 2
minutes. Chop garlic. Fry spinach in oil
briefly; add garlic and fry a bit more. Add
spices and serve.
Another Recipe for Dressed Eggplant by
Him (ibn al-Mahdi) Too
al-Warraq p. 227
Boil eggplant and chop it into fine pieces.
Take a platter, and pour on it a little vinegar,
white sugar, ground almonds, saffron, caraway
seeds, cassia, [and mix]. Spread the [chopped]
eggplant and fried onion all over the sauce.
Drizzle some olive oil on the dish and serve it, God
1 ¾ lb eggplant
½ lb onion
2 T olive oil
¼ c vinegar
2 T sugar
½ c ground almonds
8 threads saffron
2 t caraway seeds
2 t cinnamon
3 T olive oil
Boil eggplants for about half an hour,
remove, skin, chop. Chop onion, fry in 2 T
olive oil until limp and beginning to brown,
about 10 minutes. Combine all other
ingredients except oil, stir together to a paste,
spread thinly on the plate, dump on chopped
eggplant and chopped onion, drizzle over 3 T
olive oil.
A Recipe for Soused Eggplants
al-Warraq p. 228
At the end of their season [i.e. late summer],
cut the calyxes of the eggplants and cook them in
vinegar until done. Take them out, drain them
well, and set them aside.
Finely chop some round onion, along with
cilantro, rue, and parsley. Fry them in olive oil
until browned. Pour vinegar on them and add
some spices (abzar).
Arrange the eggplants in wide mouthed jars
and pour on them the vinegar which has been
seasoned with the herbs and spices. Let it cover
the eggplants.
Store away the jars. The eggplant will stay
good for a whole year. Whenever you wish to eat
it, take some out and put them in a bowl, garnish
them with chopped rue, and serve them, God
2 lb eggplant
4 c vinegar
3 oz onion
¼ c more vinegar
1 T cilantro
1 t rue
1 T parsley
1 T olive oil
¾ c more vinegar
1 t pepper
1 t coriander
1 T caraway seeds
1 t cinnamon
Simmer eggplants in 4 c of vinegar for
about half an hour, drain. Fry the onion etc. in
olive oil about ten minutes. Add ¼ c vinegar
plus spices. Put eggplants in a jar, pour onion
etc. over them, add ¾ c vinegar to cover.
Keeps for months. Very vinegary. I like
it on bread.
A recipe for Judhaba of Bananas by Ibn al
al-Warraq p. 375
Peel the bananas and set them aside. Spread a
ruqaqa [thin round of bread] in the pan and
spread a layer of bananas over it. Sprinkle the
banana layer with pure sugar, and spread
another ruqaqa all over it. Repeat the layering of
banana, sugar, and ruqaqa until the pan is full.
Pour enough rose water to drench the layered
ingredients, [put the pan in a hot tannur,]
suspend a fine chicken over it, [and let it roast]
God willing.
10 oz Iranian lavash
3 ¼ lb bananas
½ c sugar
1-4 T rose water
4-5 lb chicken
Oil the bottom of your pot. Line the pot
with lavash—an Iranian thin bread that is the
closest equivalent to ruqaqa we know of.
Cover that with sliced (or mashed) bananas.
Sprinkle over them 2 T of sugar. Cover with
another layer of lavash. Repeat until you run
out of banana, then put on a final covering of
lavash. Sprinkle the rose water over that—4 T
will leave a very strong taste of rose water,
which some may not like.
Arrange your chicken so it is suspended
above the layers. I did it by running a
hardwood skewer lengthwise through the
chicken and laying it across the top edge of
my pot.
Bake the chicken until done—roughly 20
minutes a pound at 350°, to an internal
temperature of about 190°—letting the
drippings fall on and soak into the layered
bread and bananas.
Could try doing it with whole bananas.
Preparation of Qursas
Andalusian p. A-70
Take very white flour and knead it with milk,
salt and yeast. And when you have kneaded it
considerably, leave it until it rises. Then take one
egg or several, according to the quantity of the
dough. Break them in a bowl and beat them.
Moisten the dough with them little by little and
knead it until it slackens. Take a new frying pan
and shower it with clarified butter or fresh oil.
Take a handful of the dough and spread it in the
pan. Put over it a layer of almonds and
pistachios, or whichever one you have. When the
almonds cover the dough, put another dough on
the almonds, and so on, layer on layer. In this
way you fill the frying pan up to two fingers
[from its rim]. Put it in the oven with the bread
and when it is done, prick it with a knife and take
it out as it is. Heat honey and clarified butter
and pour over, and when it has soaked them up,
throw it on a platter and sprinkle over it Chinese
cinnamon and cinnamon and serve it, if God
Yeast version (Different from the sourdough
version in other ways as well)
2 t yeast
more flour
¼ c warm water
1 egg
1 ¼ c milk
1 t olive oil
4 c flour
10 T honey
½ t salt
10 T ghee
½ to 1 c more flour
¼ t cinnamon
2 c chopped almonds and/or pistachios
Combine yeast and warm water and let sit
until it gets bubbly, then mix with the milk.
Mix 4 c flour and salt, then stir the liquid
ingredients into the dry ingredients and knead
smooth. Knead in up to another cup of flour,
continuing until you have a dough that doesn’t
tend to stick to you. Cover with a damp cloth
and leave about an hour to rise.
When it has risen, chop the nuts and grease
an 8 ½" diameter frying pan with the olive oil.
Get a small bowl with flour in it. You do these
things before the next step, because after the
next step your hands will be covered with
sticky dough.
Beat one egg and gradually knead it into
the dough. Take about one eighth of the
dough. Flour it so that it isn't too sticky to
handle. Press it between your hands to a disk
about 6" across. Put it in the middle of the
frying pan. Spread about ¼ c+ of chopped
nuts on it, as evenly as you can. Take another,
similar handful of dough. Flour it. Repeat.
You may want to press each sheet of dough
down a bit on the one before, which will
spread the whole thing a little, so that by the
time you are finished it will just about fill the
frying pan. You may also find, if you are
having a hard time getting the handfuls into
wide enough disks, that it helps to stick one
edge of a not quite large enough disk to the
layer below and then stretch it so that you can
fasten the rest of its edge to the rest of the
edge of the layer below.
Sourdough version
1 c milk
1 ¼ c sourdough
1 t salt
4 c white flour
⅔ c pistachios
⅔ c almonds
2 eggs
2 T ghee
¾ c honey
½ c ghee
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t true cinnamon (p. 4)
Mix milk, sourdough and salt. Stir into flour,
knead smooth, leave to rise 2 ½ hours. Chop
the nuts coarsely. Beat the eggs briefly and
gradually knead into the dough. Grease an 8
½" frying pan with 2 T ghee. Take about one
sixth of the dough, spread it over the bottom
of the frying pan, sprinkle over it about a fifth
of the nuts. Repeat until you have five layers
of dough and nuts, with a sixth layer of dough
above—you may end up with a layer or two
more or less, which is fine.
(Both Versions) Bake for 50 minutes at
350°. Remove from oven. Cut lots of slits
with the point of a sharp knife—in ornamental
patterns if you are feeling ambitious. Heat the
honey and ghee (use butter if you can't find
ghee), mix them, pour them over the loaf,
letting them soak in through the top and the
bottom. Let stand a little so it can absorb the
honey and butter. Remove from the pan,
sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve.
Stuffed Qanânît, Fried Cannoli
Andalusian p. A-70
Pound almond and walnut, pine nuts and
pistachio very small. Knead fine white flour with
oil and make thin breads with it and fry them in
oil. Pound [sugar] fine and mix with the almond,
the walnut and the rest. Add to the paste pepper,
cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon and spikenard.
Knead with the necessary amount of skimmed
honey and put in the dough whole pine nuts, cut
pistachio and almond. Mix it all and then stuff
the qananit that you have made of clean wheat
Its Preparation: Knead the dough well
with oil and a little saffron and roll it into thin
flatbreads. Stretch them over the tubes (qananit)
of cane, and you cut them [the cane sections] how
you want them, little or big. And throw them
[into a frying pan full of oil], after decorating
them in the reed. Take them out from the reed
and stuff them with the stuffing and put in their
ends whole pistachios and pine nuts, one at each
end, and lay it aside. He who wants his stuffing
with sugar or chopped almond, it will be better, if
God wishes.
Translator’s note: The general discussion
in the beginning, which is the only place
where the stuffing is described, must have
dropped the word sugar, as the recipe section
omitted the instruction to fry the tubes.
“Qanânît” is the plural of “qanut”—canes or
cylinders. (Charles Perry)
½ c almonds
½ c walnuts
½ c pine nuts
½ c pistachios
1 t pepper
1 T cinnamon
1 T true cinnamon (p. 4)
1 t spikenard
¼ c sugar
¾ c honey
¼ c whole pine nut
¼ c pistachios
¼ c almonds
3 c flour
½ c oil
½ c water
oil for frying
one per cylinder of:
whole pistachios
whole pine nuts
Grind fine ½ c each of almonds, walnuts,
pine nuts and pistachios. Combine with
spices, sugar, and honey and knead together.
Chop the additional ¼ c each of almonds and
pistachios and add them along with ¼ c of
whole pine nuts. Knead flour, oil and water
together and refrigerate 20 minutes. Form
dough into cylinders ~2" long on ¾" wooden
dowels and deep-fry them in hot oil while on
the dowel. (They had to be fried on the
dowels, since they would not remain as
cylinders otherwise.) Remove each cylinder
from its dowel, stuff it with filling, stop one
end with a whole pistachio and the other with
a whole pine nut.
The Making of Dafâir, Braids
Andalusian p. A-25
Take what you will of white flour or of
semolina, which is better in these things. Moisten
it with hot water after sifting, and knead well,
after adding some fine flour, leavening, and salt.
Moisten it again and again until it has middling
consistency. Then break into it, for each ratl of
semolina, five eggs and a dirham of saffron, and
beat all this very well, and put the dough in a
dish, cover it and leave it to rise, and the way to
tell when this is done is what was mentioned
before [it holds an indentation]. When it has
risen, clean a frying pan and fill it with fresh oil,
then put it on the fire. When it starts to boil,
make braids of the leavened dough like hairbraids, of a handspan or less in size. Coat them
with oil and throw them in the oil and fry them
until they brown. When their cooking is done,
arrange them on an earthenware plate and pour
over them skimmed honey spiced with pepper,
cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, and lavender.
Sprinkle it with ground sugar and present it, God
willing. This same way you make isfunj, except
that the dough for the isfunj will be rather light.
Leave out the saffron, make it into balls and fry
them in that shape, God willing. And if you wish
stuffed dafâir or isfunj, stuff them with a filling
of almonds and sugar, as indicated for making
Note: the recipe calls for a dirham of
saffron = 3.8 grams, which is a lot of saffron.
If this is a scribal error for a danaq it would be
.6 grams, which is how we do it. Feel free to
substitute 3.8 grams if you really like saffron.
1 c water
1 lb semolina = 2 ⅜ c
1 c sourdough
¾ c flour
1 t salt
.6 gram saffron
3 eggs
¾ c more flour
1 T lavender
1 c honey
½ t pepper
1 t cinnamon
~1 T oil to brush on
oil for frying
1 ½ t sugar
Add water to semolina ⅛ c at a time,
mixing, until all the semolina is barely
moistened. Add sourdough, ¾ c flour, and
salt, and knead until it is a smooth elastic
dough. Crush saffron into 2 t water; add it and
eggs to dough and knead in. The dough being
too soppy for braiding, add another ¾ c flour.
Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled,
about an hour and a half. While the dough
rises make the sauce: grind the lavender and
add to the honey with pepper and cinnamon;
boil honey and spices about 10 minutes on
medium heat. Flour a cutting board, take
small lumps of dough (about 2 tablespoons),
roll into 6" strings, and braid three together
into braids 6" long. Let rise half an hour.
Brush with oil. Heat about ½" of oil in a
frying pan at medium high heat (275°) and fry
the braids a few at a time, so that there is
room to turn them over as they fry, until
puffed up and light brown on both sides:
about 2-3 minutes total. Drain braids on paper
towels, put on a plate, drizzle with the sauce
and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 15 braids.
al-Baghdadi p. 212 (Good)
Take fine white flour, and with every ratl mix
three uqiya of sesame-oil [one part oil to four of
flour], kneading into a firm paste. Leave to rise;
then make into long loaves. Put into the middle of
each loaf a suitable quantity of ground almonds
and scented sugar mixed with rose water, using
half as much almonds as sugar. Press together as
usual, bake in the oven, remove.
2 c white flour
1 c almonds
1 c whole wheat flour
1 ½ c sugar
½ c sesame oil
1 T rose water
¾ to ⅞ c cold water or
more flour
½ c water, ½ c sourdough
We originally developed the recipe
without leavening, but currently use
sourdough, which is our best guess at what the
original intended (and also seems to work a
little better). The two versions are:
Without leavening: Mix the flour, stir in
the oil. Sprinkle the water onto the dough, stir
in. Knead briefly together.
Sourdough: Mix the flour, stir in the oil.
Mix the water and the sour dough starter
together. Add gradually to the flour/oil
mixture, and knead briefly together. Cover
with a damp cloth and let rise about 8 hours in
a warm place, then knead a little more.
We also have two interpretations of how
the loaves are made; they are:
Almost Baklava: Divide in four parts. Roll
each one out to about 8"x16" on a floured
board. Grind almonds, combine with sugar
and rose water. Spread the mixture over the
rolled out dough and roll up like a jelly roll,
sealing the ends and edges (use a wet finger if
necessary). You may want to roll out the
dough in one place and roll it up in another, so
as not to have bits of nuts on the board you
are trying to roll it out on. You can vary how
thin you roll the dough and how much filling
you use over a considerable range, to your
own taste.
Long thin loaves: Divide the dough into
six or eight parts, roll each out to a long loaf
(about 16"), flatten down the middle so that
you can fill it with the sugar and almond
mixture, then seal it together over the filling.
You end up with a tube of dough with filling
in the middle.
Bake on a lightly oiled pan at 350° about
45-50 minutes.
Notes: At least some of the almonds
should be only coarsely ground, for texture.
Be sure to use middle Eastern (or health food)
sesame oil, from untoasted sesame seeds (see
p. 4). The following recipe gives us some idea
of what scented sugar contained, but for this
one we just add rose water.
A Recipe for Khushkananaj Shaped Like
al-Warraq p. 419
Take 4 ratls fresh almonds, taste them for
bitterness, shell them then dry them in a big
copper pot set on the fire. Grind them finely.
Pound 8 ratls refined tabarzad sugar (white cane
sugar), and mix it with the almonds.
Take 2 ratl pith (brick-oven thick bread), dry
it in the tannur, and as soon as you take it out,
sprinkle it with ½ ratl rose water. Crumble the
pith on a plate and dry it. Finely crush it with
some camphor and musk then mix them well. Add
the breadcrumbs to the almond-sugar mixture
and sift them in a sieve so that they all mix well.
Take 15 ratl excellent-quality fine samidh
flour (high in starch and bran free). Knead it
with ¼ ratl fresh yeast dissolved in water, and 2
½ ratls fresh sesame oil. Mix them all together
then knead and press and rub the dough
vigorously. Keep on doing this while gradually
feeding it with water, 5 dirhams at a time until it
is thoroughly kneaded. The [final] dough should
be on the stiff side.
Divide the dough into portions, whether small
or big is up to you. Take a portion of the dough,
roll it out on a (wooden low table) with a rolling
pin. Let it look like a tongue, wide in the middle
and tapered towards both ends. Spoon some of the
filling and spread it on part of the dough, leaving
the borders free of the filling. Fold the dough on
the filling [lengthwise]. Press out air so that the
dough and the filling become like one solid mass.
If any air remains inside, the cookie will tear and
crack while baking in the tannur. Bend the two
ends of the piece to make it look like a crescent.
Arrange the finished ones on a tray and cover
them with a piece of cloth.
Light fire in the tannur and wait until the
coals look white. Wipe the inside walls of the
tannur with a wet piece of cloth after you brush
it with a broom. Gather all the embers in the
middle, and shape them like a dome. Now,
transfer the tray closer to the tannur and put a
bowl of water next to the top opening of the oven.
When ready to bake, take the filled pastries
from the tray one by one, wipe their backs with
water, enough to make them sticky, and stick
them all to the inner wall of the tannur, taking
care not to let them fall down. When you see that
all the pieces are sealed well at the seams, cover
the [top opening of the] tannur, and close the
(bottom vent hole) for a short while to create
moisture in the oven.
When the cookies start to take on color, open
the bottom vent hole, remove the oven's top lid,
and start scraping off the browned ones as they
are done with a spatula held in one hand and a
huge iron scoop [held in the other hand to receive
the scraped cookies].
You should have prepared a bowl of gum
khushkananaj tops with the gum solution [to give
them a nice gloss], and stow the cookies away in a
wicker basket, God willing.
(One tenth of the original recipe)
3 c semolina
⅞ c bread crumbs
½ c sesame oil
1 ½ T rose water
1 T sourdough
1.6 c sugar
¾ c water
1 t gum arabic
1 ¼ c almonds
in ½ c water
⅓ gram edible camphor
Combine semolina and sesame oil, stir in
sourdough dissolved in water. Leave about 5
hours to rise. Grind almonds. Grind camphor
in mortar, combine with bread crumbs and
rose water, spread out to dry for fifteen
minutes or so. Add sugar and bread crumbs to
almonds, mix. Take a ball of dough about 1 ¼
inches in diameter, press and roll out to an
oval about 5"x4", put T+ of filling in the
middle, fold along the long axis as a crescent,
press out the air.
Put a baking stone in the oven and a pie
pan or something similar on another shelf,
heat oven to 350°. Brush each crescent with
water, put wet side down on baking stone,
pour a cup of hot water into the pie pan to
make the oven steamy. Bake about 25-30
minutes until they start to brown. Remove,
brush with gum arabic solution, let dry.
We have not yet found an adequate
substitute for musk.
Ka'k Stuffed with Sugar
Andalusian p. A-70
Knead the amount that you want of fine flour
and knead a long time. Leave it until it rises and
then pound almonds very fine until they are like
brains. Grind with an equal amount of white
sugar and knead the two parts with some
rosewater and perfume it with fine spices. Roll the
dough out long and put on the stuffing and cover
with dough. Make it round and make ka'ks with
it. Send it to the oven and, if you want, fry it in
the frying pan with oil and scatter sugar on top.
He who wants it simple, let him omit the spices.
2 ½ c flour
½ c water
½ c sourdough
1 ¼ c blanched almonds
1 ½ c sugar
½ t cinnamon
3 T rosewater
Mix the water and sourdough and stir the
mixed liquid into the flour; we used a mix of
white and whole wheat, which works, but
there is no particular reason to do it that way.
Knead it for 10-15 minutes, adding up to an
additional ¼ c flour if necessary to keep it
from being sticky. Cover with a damp cloth
and leave to rise 3 hours in a warm place.
Grind the almonds about 40 seconds in a
food processor (or longer in a mortar) until
very finely ground. Combine with sugar and
cinnamon, stir in rose water, and knead
Take 1 T of dough, flour it, roll between
your hands to a 4" long cylinder. Flatten with
your finger, making the middle lower than the
edges (i.e. a depression almost 4" long down
the middle of the dough). Fill with about 1 ½ t
of the sugar/almond mixture. Fold the dough
up over the filling, making a tube of dough
filled with filling about 4" long, sealed at both
ends. Bend it into a ring (small bracelet). Put
on an oiled cookie sheet, bake at 300° 40
This guess at the size and shape of the
individual pieces is based on a description of
something with the same name (but different
structure) in a modern cookbook (by Claudia
Rodin). You can flatten the ring either by
pressing it down against the cookie sheet or
by making it like a napkin ring.
A recipe from an earlier period cookbook
(p. 75) describes them as squares, so that may
be a better guess. Experiment.
Recipe for Oven Cheese Pie, Which We
Call Toledan
Andalusian p. A-62
Make dough as for musammana and make a
small leafy round loaf of it. Then roll it out and
put sufficient pounded cheese in the middle. Fold
over the ends of the loaf and join them over the
cheese on all sides; leave a small hole the size of a
dinar on top, so the cheese can be seen, and
sprinkle it with some anise. Then place it in the
oven on a slab, and leave it until it is done, take it
out and use it, as you wish.
2 c semolina flour
~ ⅝-¾ c water
¼ c = ⅛ lb butter
6 oz feta or other cheese
⅛ t anise, ground
Make dough as in Musammana recipe (p.
121) and divide into 4 pieces. Flatten each to
about 6"x 8". Put 1 ½ oz cheese in the middle
of each. Sprinkle with anise. Fold the edges in
and join, leaving a small space open in the
center. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes
Recipe for Mujabbana (Fried Cheese Pie)
Andalusian p. A-61
Know that mujabbana isn't prepared with
only one cheese, but of two; that is, of cow's and
sheep's milk cheese. Because if you make it with
only sheep cheese, it falls apart and the cheese
leaves it and it runs. And if you make it with
cow's cheese, it binds, and lets the water run and
becomes one sole mass and the parts don't
separate. The principle in making it is that the
two cheeses bind together. Use one-fourth part
cow's milk and three-quarters of sheep's. Knead
all until some binds with its parts another [Huici
Miranda observes that this passage is faintly
written and only a few letters can be made out]
and becomes equal and holds together and doesn't
run in the frying pan, but without hardening or
congealing. If you need to soften it, soften it with
fresh milk, recently milked from the cow. And let
the cheese not be very fresh, but strong
without...[words missing]...that the moisture has
gone out of. Thus do the people of our land make
it in the west of al-Andalus, as in Cordoba and
Seville and Jerez, and elsewhere in the land of the
Manner of Making it: Knead wheat or
semolina flour with some yeast into a well-made
dough and moisten it with water little by little
until it loosens. If you moisten it with fresh milk
instead of water it is better, and easy, inasmuch
as you make it with your palm. Roll it out and
let it not have the consistency of mushahhada,
but firmer than that, and lighter than
musammana dough. When the leaven begins to
enter it, put the frying pan on the fire with a lot
of oil, so that it is drenched with what you fry it
with. Then wet your hand in water and cut off a
piece of the dough. Bury inside it the same
amount of rubbed cheese. Squeeze it with your
hand, and whatever leaves and drains from the
hand, gather it up [? the meaning of this verb
eludes me] carefully. Put it in the frying pan
while the oil boils. When it has browned, remove it
with an iron hook prepared for it and put it in a
dipper [“iron hand”] similar to a sieve held above
the frying pan, until its oil drips out. Then put it
on a big platter and dust it with a lot of sugar
and ground cinnamon. There are those who eat it
with honey or rose syrup and it is the best you
can eat.
1 ½ c flour
¼ c sourdough
½ c milk
oz ricotta
4 oz feta
2 c olive oil for frying
1 t cinnamon
1 T sugar or honey
Mix flour, sourdough and milk; knead for
a few minutes into a smooth dough. Roll out
to about a 12" circle, making sure the board
(or marble slab) is well floured so it will not
stick when you later take it off. Let rise about
3 hours in a warm place. Mash together the
cheeses—we used ricotta and feta, but you
could try different cow’s and sheep’s
cheeses—and knead them to a smooth
consistency. Cut a piece of the dough, put
cheese filling on top, fold dough up on all
sides around it and over the cheese; squeeze
to a circular, flattened patty, using a wet hand
so that the dough will seal. At this point you
have cheese entirely surrounded by dough.
Pour the oil in a 8 ½" frying pan or dutch
oven (about ½" deep), heat to about 340°. Put
patties into the oil, cook until the bottom is
brown (about 40-60 seconds), turn over, cook
until that side is brown (about another 40
seconds), remove, drain. Eat with either
cinnamon sugar or honey.
The cut pieces of rolled dough used to
make the fritters ranged from about a
1.5"x1.5" square to a 2.5"x2.5". The former
requires about ½ t of filling, the latter about 1
t or a little more. The former ends up, before
frying, as a roughly circular patty about 1.5"
in diameter and ½" thick; the latter ends as a
circular patty about 2.5" in diameter and ½" or
a little thicker. The recipe makes about 20-30
patties. You could probably cook them faster
by using enough more oil so that the patties
were entirely covered.
Recipe for Murakkaba, a Dish which is
Made in the Region of Constantine and is
Called Kutâmiyya
Andalusian p. A-62 (Good)
Knead a well-made dough from semolina like
the “sponge” dough with yeast, and break in it as
many eggs as you can, and knead the dough with
them until it is slack. Then set up a frying pan of
clay [hantam] on a hot fire, and when it has
heated, grease it with clarified butter or oil. Put
in a thin flat loaf of the dough and when the
bread is done, turn over. Take some of the dough
in the hand and smear the surface of the bread
with it. Then turn the smeared surface to the
pan, changing the lower part with the upper, and
smear this side with dough too. Then turn it over
in the pan and smear it, and keep smearing it
with dough and turning it over in the tajine, and
pile it up and raise it until it becomes a great, tall
loaf. Then turn it by the edges a few times in the
tajine until it is done on the sides, and when it is
done, as it is desired, put it in a serving dish and
make large holes with a stick, and pour into them
melted butter and plenty of honey, so that it
covers the bread, and present it.
(“Sponge”),” Andalusian: You take clear and
clean semolina and knead it with lukewarm water
and yeast and knead again. When it has risen,
turn the dough, knead fine and moisten with
water, little by little, so that it becomes like tar
after the second kneading, until it becomes
leavened or is nearly risen. ...]
2 ¼ c semolina flour
½ c water
½ c sourdough
¼ c more water
2 eggs
1-2 T oil for frying
⅜ c honey
½ c butter
Combine flour, ½ c water, and sourdough
and knead smooth. Cover with a damp cloth
and leave overnight to rise. In the morning
knead in an additional ¼ c water, making it
into a sticky mess, and leave another few
hours in a warm place to rise. Add the eggs
and stir until they are absorbed into the dough.
Heat a frying pan over medium to high
heat and grease it with oil or ghee. Pour on
enough batter to make a thick pancake about
7" in diameter. When one side is cooked
(about 2 minutes) turn it over. Put onto the
cooked side about ¼ c more batter, spreading
it out to cover. When the second side is done
(1-2 minutes more), turn it over, so that the
side smeared with batter is now down. Cook
another 1-2 minutes. Repeat. Continue until
the batter is all used up, giving you about 8-10
layers—like a stack of pancakes about 3"
thick, all stuck together. Turn the loaf on its
side and roll it around the frying pan like a
wheel, in order to be sure the edges are
Punch lots of holes in the top with the
handle of a wooden spoon, being careful not
to get through the bottom layer. Pour in honey
and melted butter, letting it soak into the loaf.
Note: Scale the recipe up as desired to suit
your ambition and frying pan. If you don’t
have sourdough you could use yeast instead,
with shorter rising times.
Recipe for Murakkaba Layered with Dates
Andalusian p. A-62
Take the dough described under murakkaba
kutamiyya [see preceeding recipe] and make of it
a thin flatbread in a heated tajine, and when it is
done, turn it over, and top it with dates that have
been cleaned, pounded, kneaded in the hands and
moistened with oil. Smooth them with the palm,
then put on another flatbread and turn it over,
and then another bread, and repeat this until it
is as high as desired. When it is done on all sides,
put it in a dish and pour over it hot oil and
honey cleaned of its scum; this is how the people of
Ifriqiyya make it.
2 ¼ c semolina flour
½ c water
½ c sourdough
¼ c more water
4 eggs
12 oz dates
2 T oil
1-2 T oil or ghee
1 c honey
¼ c almond oil
Combine flour, ½ c water, and sourdough
and knead smooth. Cover with a damp cloth
and leave overnight to rise. In the morning
knead in an additional ¼ c water, making it
into a sticky mess, and leave another few
hours in a warm place to rise. Add the eggs,
and stir until they are absorbed into the dough.
Pound dates in the mortar, knead in 2 T of oil.
Heat a frying pan over a medium to high
heat and grease it with oil or ghee. Pour on
about ½ c batter to make a thick pancake
about 7" in diameter. When one side is cooked
(about 2 minutes) turn it over. Put on about ¼
c of the date paste, smearing it on so that most
of the pancake is covered. Cover that with
about ½ c more batter. When the second side
is done (1-2 minutes more), turn it over, so
that the side smeared with batter is now down.
Put on another layer of dates. Continue until
the batter and dates are all used up. Turn the
loaf on its side and roll it around the frying
pan like a wheel, in order to be sure the edges
are cooked.
Briefly boil honey, removing scum as it
rises. Heat ¼ c oil. Punch lots of holes with
the handle of a wooden spoon (this is based
on the other Murakkaba recipe, which gives
more detail). Pour on honey and hot oil,
letting it soak into the loaf. Serve.
Cheese and Flour Cake
al-Andalusi no. 79 (Good)
Knead the necessary quantity of flour, one
time with water, another with oil, and to it add
yeast and milk until it has the same consistency
as the dough of fritters, and leave it until it has
next risen. Next grease with oil a large earthen
pot, stretch in it a piece of dough, and over it a
bit of cheese, and over the cheese a bit of dough,
and so a little of one, and a bit of the other until
the last of the dough and cheese. Next cover it
with dough as you did in the previous recipe and
cook it in the same way in the oven. Afterwards,
drizzle it with honey, sprinkle it with sugar and
pepper and eat it.
c white flour
⅔ c whole wheat flour
½-¾ c water
3 T milk
1 ½ t yeast
3 T oil
12 oz cheese
6 T honey
1 T sugar
¼ t pepper
Knead flours and water to a very dry
dough, mix warm milk and yeast, let sit five
minutes, add oil to dough, knead in. Knead
milk and yeast into the dough for about 5-10
minutes, until fairly uniform. Leave 45
minutes to rise in a warm place. Divide dough
in about 8 equal portions, flour and pat,
stretch, or roll out to size of pan (about
4"x7"); if you roll it out you can use 12 equal
portions. Layer with sliced cheese. Bake 45
minutes at 350°. Drizzle the honey over it.
Serve with mixed sugar and pepper for the
guests to sprinkle over to taste. This should
probably be done with sourdough instead of
yeast, but we have not tried it that way yet.
Preparation of Musammana [Buttered]
Which Is Muwarraqa [Leafy]
Andalusian p. A-60 (Good)
Take pure semolina or wheat flour and knead
a stiff dough without yeast. Moisten it little by
little and don't stop kneading it until it relaxes
and is ready and is softened so that you can
stretch a piece without severing it. Then put it in
a new frying pan on a moderate fire. When the
pan has heated, take a piece of the dough and roll
it out thin on marble or a board. Smear it with
melted clarified butter or fresh butter liquified
over water. Then roll it up like a cloth until it
becomes like a reed. Then twist it and beat it with
your palm until it becomes like a round thin
bread, and if you want, fold it over also. Then roll
it out and beat it with your palm a second time
until it becomes round and thin. Then put it in a
heated frying pan after you have greased the
frying pan with clarified butter, and whenever
the clarified butter dries out, moisten [with
butter] little by little, and turn it around until it
binds, and then take it away and make more
until you finish the amount you need. Then
pound them between your palms and toss on
butter and boiling honey. When it has cooled,
dust it with ground sugar and serve it.
~ ⅝-¾ c water
2 c semolina flour
⅛ lb butter, melted
¼ c ghee for frying
¼ c butter at the end
¼ c honey at the end
1 T+ sugar
Stir most of the water into the flour, knead
together, then gradually knead in the rest of
the water. Knead for about 5-10 minutes until
you have a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky
dough that stretches instead of breaking when
you pull it a little. Divide in four equal parts.
Roll out on a floured board, or better on
floured marble, to at least 13"x15". Smear it
with about 4 t melted butter. Roll it up. Twist
it. Squeeze it together, flatten with your hands
to about a 5-6" diameter circle. If you wish,
fold that in quarters and flatten again to about
a 5-6" circle. Melt about 1 T of ghee in a
frying pan and fry the dough about 8 minutes,
turning about every 1 ½ to 2 minutes (shorter
times towards the end). Repeat with the other
three parts, adding more ghee as needed. Melt
¼ c butter, heat ¼ c honey. Beat the cooked
circles between your hands to loosen the
layers, put in a bowl, pour the honey and
butter over them, dust with sugar, and serve.
If you are going to give it time to really soak,
you might use more butter and honey.
For regular flour, everything is the same
except that you may need slightly more water.
You can substitute cooking oil for the ghee
(which withstands heat better than plain
butter) if necessary.
Cakes with Honey
[no title in the original]
Andalusian p. A-23
Sift white flour three times, take the choicest
part, mingle it with butter and knead it with egg
yolk and put into the dough some saffron and
salt. Put clarified butter into an earthenware
frying pan, boil it and take one kail of honey and
one of dough and throw them into the melted
butter until it is cooked. Before it is thickened,
put in blanched almonds and pine-nuts, sprinkle
it with pepper and present it.
4 T butter
1 c white flour
2 egg yolks
4 threads saffron
¼ t salt
¼ c blanched almonds
¼ c pine nuts
~ ¼ c ghee
¾ c honey
¼ t pepper
Cut butter into the flour, then knead in the
egg yolks with saffron (extracted in water)
and salt. Chop the almonds, mix with the pine
nuts. For each cake, put 1 T ghee in a small
frying pan on low heat, put 3 T of dough in
the form of a patty about ⅛" thick into the
ghee along with 3 T of honey. Cook for 5-10
minutes, spooning honey over the patty and
flipping the patty at least once. Pour 1 T of the
nut mixture into it. Remove onto a plate,
pouring the honey and butter mixture over
top, add a pinch of pepper. This should work
fine with larger batches but we haven’t tried
that yet.
Ibn al-Mabrad p.19
Its varieties are many. Among them are the
sweets made of natif. You put dibs [fruit syrup],
honey, sugar or rubb [thick fruit syrup] in the
pot, then you put it on a gentle fire and stir until
it takes consistency. Then you beat eggwhite and
put it with it and stir until it thickens and
becomes natif. After that, if you want almond
candy you put in toasted almonds and 'allaftahu;
that is, you bind them. walnuts, pistachios,
hazelnuts, toasted chickpeas, toasted sesame, flour.
[apparently alternative versions]. You beat in the
natif until it thickens. For duhniyyah you put in
flour toasted with fat. As for ... [other versions.]
Sugar version
¼ c water
1 ¼ c sugar
1 egg white
1 ½ - 2 c nuts
Honey version
1 c honey
1 egg white
2 ½-3 c or more nuts
[ground nuts
or sesame seeds]
This makes 25-40 hulwa.
Sugar version: Bring the water to a boil,
stir in the sugar, continuing to heat. When it is
dissolved and reasonably clear, turn it down
to a simmer and put the top on the pot for two
or three minutes (this is to let the steam wash
down any sugar on the sides of the pot). Take
the top off, boil gently until the temperature
reaches the hard ball stage (250° -260° F).
Beat the egg white until it is just stiff enough
to hold its shape. Pour the sugar syrup into the
egg white, beating continuously. You now
have a thick white mixture; this is the natif.
Mix it with chopped nuts (we have used
almonds and walnuts) or toasted sesame
seeds, or some mixture thereof. Squeeze the
mixture into balls and set them aside to cool.
As the natif cools it gets harder and less
sticky, so you have to work quickly; the hotter
you get the syrup before combining it with the
egg white (and hence the less water ended up
in it), the faster this happens and the dryer the
hulwa ends up. If you get past 260°, the syrup
may crystallize on you as or before you pour
it; if so, give up and start over.
Honey version: Simmer the honey gently
until it reaches a temperature of 280° -290° F.
From that point on, the recipe is the same as
for sugar, using the boiled honey instead of
the sugar syrup. Note that honey requires a
higher temperature than sugar to get the same
effect. Also note that natif made from honey
will be stickier than natif made from sugar
(maybe you can solve this by getting the
honey up to 310° without burning it; I
couldn't). So use a higher ratio of nuts to natif
and have the nuts chopped more finely; this
helps reduce the stickiness. You may want to
roll the honey hulwa in sesame seeds or
ground nuts, also to reduce stickiness.
Dibs version (still experimental). Stir the
dibs while simmering at medium heat about ½
hour+, until it gets to about 250°. If you do
not stir, it may separate out. By 250° there is
some problem with scorching.
Note: Dibs is date syrup, available from
some Middle Eastern grocery stores.
To toast sesame seeds, put them in a heavy
iron pot over a medium to high flame. When
the ones on the bottom begin to tan, start
stirring. When they are all tan to brown, take
them off the heat or they will burn.
al-Baghdadi p. 211
Take equal parts of sugar, almonds (or
pistachios), honey, and sesame-oil. Grind the
sugar and almonds, and mix together. Add
saffron to color, mixed with rose-water. Put the
sesame oil into a basin and boil until fragrant:
then drop in the honey, and stir until the scum
appears. Add the sugar and almonds, stirring all
the time over a slow fire until almost set: then
1 c+ almonds
¾ c sugar
10 threads saffron
3 T rosewater
¾ c sesame oil
½ c+ honey
Grind the almonds coarsely in a food
processor, then add the sugar and grind briefly
together to mix (I assume the original is using
a block of sugar, which is why it has to be
ground). Grind the saffron into the rose water,
add, and run the food processor long enough
to mix it in smoothly. Heat the oil to about
350° over a medium heat, add the honey and
cook about 3 minutes on low. Foam (not very
thick–like the bubbles of bubble bath, or a
little thinner) will cover the top. Add the
almonds and sugar. At this point it may foam
up and boil over, so be careful, use a
reasonably large pot, and be ready to remove
it from the heat temporarily if necessary.
Cook on medium to medium high, with a
candy thermometer in the pot; be careful to
keep the thermometer from touching the
At a temperature of about 230° the mixture
becomes smooth. After cooking about 10
minutes (from the time the sugar went in) it
reaches about 270°. If you stop at that point,
your Makshufa will be light colored and
chewy. Another 6 minutes or so gets the syrup
up to about 290°, giving a darker candy,
crunchier, with a slightly caramelized taste.
Remove from heat, spoon onto a buttered
cookie sheet (to make lots of little candies) or
else pour it on (to make a sheet of candy like
peanut brittle) and let cool. Chill, remove
from the cooky sheet and keep the candy
refrigerated or frozen to make it less likely to
stick together. It is crunchier if you serve it
chilled. The recipe makes about 40-45 pieces
1 ¾" in diameter with a total weight of about
21 ounces.
Sukkariyya, a Sugar Dish from the
Dictation of Abu 'Ali al-Bagdadi
Andalusian p. A-23
Take a ratl of sugar and put in two ûqiyas of
rosewater and boil it in a ceramic pot until it is
on the point of thickening and sticks between the
fingers. Then take a third of a ratl of split
almonds, fried, not burnt, and pound well and
throw the sugar on them and stir it on the fire
until thickened. Then spread it out on a dish and
sprinkle it with ground sugar.
2 c sugar
5 T rosewater
5 oz = ⅞ c slivered almonds
1-2 T more sugar
Toast the almonds in a hot (400°) frying
pan for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Then crush them with mortar and pestle to
something between ground and chopped.
Cook sugar and rosewater mixture on medium
high until it comes to a boil, reduce to
medium and continue cooking to a
temperature of 275°, about ten minutes.
Combine syrup and nuts in a frying pan, cook
at medium to medium high, stirring
constantly, for another nine minutes, turn out
on a plate and sprinkle with sugar. An
alternative interpretation of the original recipe
is that you cook the syrup and nuts together
only long enough to get them well mixed; the
binder is then sugar syrup rather than
carmelized sugar. Both ways work.
al-Baghdadi p. 211
Take best white flour, made into a dough, and
leave to rise. Put a basin on the fire, with some
sesame-oil. When boiling, take in a reticulated
ladle some of the dough, and shake it into the oil,
so that as each drop of the dough falls in, it sets.
As each piece is cooked, remove with another ladle
to drain off the oil. Take honey as required, mix
with rose water, and put over the fire to boil to a
consistency: then take off, and while still in the
basin, whip until white. Throw in the barad, and
place out on a soft-oiled surface, pressing in the
shape of the mould. Then cut into pieces, and
½ c white flour
½ c water
½ t dried yeast
or ¼ c sourdough
1 ¼ c sesame oil
1 T rose water
½ c honey
Make the flour and water into a smooth
batter. If using yeast mix it with 2 t water,
wait about 10 minutes, then add it (or the
sourdough) to the flour-water mixture. Let
stand 2-3 hours. Heat 1 c of the sesame oil to
about 300° in a large frying pan. Pour the
batter through a ladle or skimmer with small
holes in it, so as to form small balls in the hot
oil. Cook to a pale brown (1-3 minutes), take
out, drain on paper towel. Add more sesame
oil when it gets low.
Mix rose water and honey, cook to 250°.
Pay close attention–you want it almost but not
quite boiling over. As it cools, whip it; it
eventually takes a sort of whipped butter
consistency, with a light color. Mix it with the
fried dough, press down on an oiled plate,
press down from above with another plate or a
spatula. Chill before serving.
It has some tendency to come out a bit
oily; you may want to use paper towels during
the pressing to absorb as much of the surplus
oil as possible.
al-Baghdadi p. 214 (Good)
Take fine dry bread, or biscuit, and grind up
well. Take a ratl of this, and three quarters of a
ratl of fresh or preserved dates with the stones
removed, together with three uqiya of ground
almonds and pistachios. Knead all together very
well with the hands. Refine two uqiya of sesameoil, and pour over, working with the hand until it
is mixed in. Make into cabobs, and dust with
fine-ground sugar. If desired, instead of sesameoil use butter. This is excellent for travellers.
⅓ c almonds
⅓ c pistachios
2 c (1 lb) pitted dates
2 ⅔ c bread crumbs
7 T melted butter
or sesame oil
enough sugar
We usually grind the nuts separately in a
food processor, then mix dates, bread crumbs,
and nuts in the food processor, then stir in
melted butter or oil. Dates vary in hardness—
fresher is better (softer, moister). If it does not
hold together, add a few tablespoons of water,
one at a time. For “cabobs,” roll and squeeze
into one inch balls. Good as caravan food (or
for taking to wars). They last forever if you do
not eat them, but you do so they don't.
Nuhud al-Adhra [Virgin's Breasts]
The Description of Familiar Foods p. 422
Knead sugar, almonds, samid and clarified
butter, equal parts, and make them like breasts,
and arrange them in a brass tray. Put it into the
bread oven until done, and take it out. It comes
out excellently.
½ lb blanched almonds
½ lb sugar
½ lb semolina
½ lb ghee
Process almonds in food processor until
quite fine. Stir together dry ingredients, melt
ghee, add, stir until blended. Mold into the
shape of breasts, using a small Chinese teacup
or something similar, total volume of each
from 1 T (small) to 4 T (large). Put on a
baking sheet, bake at 350° for about 13
minutes (small) to 18 minutes (large).
Khabîsa with Pomegranate
Andalusian p. A-24
Take half a ratl of sugar and put it in a
metal or earthenware pot and pour in three ratls
of juice of sweet table pomegranates [rummân
sufri; probably tart pomegranates were more
common in cooking] and half an ûqiya of
rosewater, with a penetrating smell. Boil it gently
and after two boilings, add half a mudd of
semolina and boil it until the semolina is cooked.
Throw in the weight of a quarter dirham of
ground and sifted saffron, and three ûqiyas of
almonds. Put it in a dish and sprinkle over it the
like of pounded sugar, and make balls [literally,
hazelnuts] of this.
This is about ½ the original (this assumes
the small Mudd is what is meant for the
semolina; the alternative is four times as much
½ c sugar
1 t saffron, ground
3 c pomegranate juice 2 oz blanched almonds
4 t rosewater
¼ c sugar
1.1 c semolina
Dissolve sugar in juice and rosewater,
bring to a boil, simmer for about 5-10
minutes. Stir in semolina, keep stirring and
cooking about ten minutes more, stir in
saffron and almonds, stir together. Pour out on
a plate, sprinkle with the additional 2 oz of
sugar, form into balls, let cool. If you want,
sprinkle some of the sugar on after the balls
are formed.
Modern Recipe: Dissolve 4 cups of sugar
in 2 ½ cups of water; when it comes to a boil
add 1 cup wine vinegar. Simmer ½ hour. Add
a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool.
Makes 5 c of syrup, which stores without
refrigeration. Dilute to taste with ice water (5
to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup).
Note: This is the only recipe in the
Miscelleny that is based on a modern source:
A Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia
Roden. Sekanjabin is a period drink; it is
mentioned in the Fihrist of al-Nadim, which
was written in the tenth century. The only
period recipe I have found for it (in the
Andalusian cookbook) is called “Simple
Sekanjabin” (see below) and omits the mint. It
is one of a large variety of similar drinks
described in that cookbook–flavored syrups
intended to be diluted in either hot or cold
water before drinking.
Syrup of Simple Sikanjabîn (Oxymel)
Andalusian p. A-74
Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix it with
two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes
the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya of this with
three of hot water when fasting: it is beneficial for
fevers of jaundice, and calms jaundice and cuts
the thirst, since sikanjabîn syrup is beneficial in
phlegmatic fevers: make it with six ûqiyas of sour
vinegar for a ratl of honey and it is admirable.
This seems to be two different recipes, for
two different medical uses. The first, at least,
is intended to be drunk hot. In modern Iranian
restaurants, sekanjabin is usually served cold,
often with grated cucumber.
Syrup of Lemon
Andalusian p. A-74
Take lemon, after peeling its outer skin, press
it and take a ratl of juice, and add as much of
sugar. Cook it until it takes the form of a syrup.
Its advantages are for the heat of bile; it cuts the
thirst and binds the bowels.
This we also serve as a strong, hot drink.
Alternatively, dilute it in cold water and you
have thirteenth century lemonade. All three of
the Andalusian syrup recipes include
comments on medical uses.
Syrup of Pomegranates
Andalusian p. A-74
Take a ratl of sour pomegranates and another
of sweet pomegranates, and add their juice to two
ratls of sugar, cook all this until it takes the
consistency of syrup, and keep until needed. Its
benefits: it is useful for fevers, and cuts the thirst,
it benefits bilious fevers and lightens the body
Use equal volumes of sugar and
pomegranate juice (found in some health food
stores). Cook them down to a thick syrup,
which will keep, without refrigeration, for a
very long time. To serve, dilute one part of
syrup in 3 to 6 parts of hot water (to taste).
Odds and Ends
The Making of Stuffed Eggs
Andalusian A-24
Take as many eggs as you like, and boil them
whole in hot water; put them in cold water and
split them in half with a thread. Take the yolks
aside and pound cilantro and put in onion juice,
pepper and coriander, and beat all this together
with murri, oil and salt and knead the yolks with
this until it forms a dough. Then stuff the whites
with this and fasten it together, insert a small
stick into each egg, and sprinkle them with
pepper, God willing.
12 large eggs
3 t crushed cilantro
5 t onion juice
¼ t ground pepper
1 ½ t ground coriander
5 t murri (p. 5)
3 T olive oil
½ t salt
additional pepper
Bring enough water to cover the eggs to a
boil. Boil eggs 15 minutes. Drain, put in cold
water, and peel under running cold water.
Divide them in half lengthways with a thread
(it really works).
Remove yolks, put in a bowl and crush
with a fork. Add remaining ingredients, stir to
a coarse paste. Fill the half egg whites and
rejoin them with a toothpick. Sprinkle with
pepper and serve.
A Recipe for Conserving Quince
al-Warraq p. 486
Quarter and core quince, put it in a pot with
honey, and pour water on it. Let the pot come to a
boil then drain the quince, return it to the pot
and add honey to it. Do not use water this time.
Cook the qunce again until it is well done.
1 lb quince
½ c honey
1 ½ c honey
Core and quarter the quince(s). Dissolve
½ c honey in 1 ½ c of water. Put the quince in
the liquid, bring it to a boil, then drain off the
liquid, return the quince to the pot along with
1 ½ c honey. Bring the honey to a boil and
cook for about an hour. Put the quince and
boiled honey in a jar, seal it.
Mint Paste
Andalusian A-76
Take a ratl of green mint leaves and crush
them gently; add three ratls of honey, cleaned of
its foam, and blend it until it takes the form of a
paste. Then season it with an ûqiya of flower of
cloves per ratl. Its benefits: it eases and aids
against heaviness of the body and mind, aids in
eardrum [? tabli: from the word for drum] dropsy,
dissolves phlegm in the various parts of the body,
strengthens the urine, and cuts vomit; it is good
with sweet grains of anise, eaten with them or
after them. It is beneficial, God willing.
2 oz mint leaves
½ c honey
2 ⅔ t cloves
Strip the leaves from the stalks, wash
them, crush them in a mortar. Add honey,
mush all together for a while. Add cloves. Put
in a container. Good for what ails you.
Indian Dishes
Ain I Akbari no. 17
Harisa: 10 s. meat; 5 s. crushed wheat; 2 s.
ghee; ½ s. salt; 2 d. cinnamon: this gives five
Note: For units, see p. 6. These Ain I
Akbari “recipes” give quantities but no
instructions; for another harisa recipe, with
instructions on how to make it, see p.105.
1 lb meat (leg of lamb) ½ t cinnamon
3 c water
½ lb cracked wheat
1 T+ salt
3 oz ghee
Cut lamb in strips, then boil about 20
minutes in water, take out, cool, and shred.
Put it back in the pot with the salt, cinnamon
and cracked wheat, and simmer, stirring often
so that it will not scorch on the bottom. When
the cracked wheat is done, add ghee and serve
This is quite salty, as is consistant with the
other dishes from this source.
Another Recipe, For The Method Of
Nimatnama p. 15
Put three parts of mung dal and one part of
rice into sweet-smelling ghee which has been
flavored with fenugreek, and fry it well. Add
water and salt, cook it well and serve it.
1 c dry mung beans
2 c water
½ c ghee
¼ t fenugreek
⅔ c rice
1 c water
½ t salt
Combine the beans with 2 c water, bring
to a boil, turn off the heat, leave several hours
(or soak in cold water overnight).
Melt ghee, add fenugreek, fry ten
minutes until fenugreek seeds are dark. Add
beans and rice, fry for ten minutes. Add water
and salt, cook 25 minutes, let stand 5 minutes.
Ain i Akbari no. 3
Khichri: Rice, mung dal, and ghee 5 s. of each;
⅓ s. salt; this gives seven dishes. [see p. 6 for units]
¾ c dried mung beans
¾ c rice = 5 oz
3 oz ghee (6 T)
1 ⅓ t salt
2-4 T ghee
Note: This source gives ingredients by
weight, but no instructions; we are going by a
khichri recipe in a modern Indian cookbook.
Put the beans and rice in to soak
separately, using about 1 c of water each.
After 45 minutes, drain the beans. Melt 3 oz
of ghee in a sauce pan, add the drained beans,
cook about 5 minutes. Add 2 ¼ c water.
Simmer about ½ hour. Drain the rice, add it,
salt, and another 1 c water. Simmer about ½
hour. Melt the remaining ghee, stir in, serve.
Note: The use of the remaining ghee is
entirely conjectural, based on the fact that a
modern Khichri recipe serves melted ghee on
the side (with onion fried in it). The result
would not be very different if all the ghee
were used initially.
(Presumably a different version of the
same dish as the previous recipe.)
Qaliya Rice
Nimatnama p. 15
Put ghee into a cooking pot and when it has
become hot, flavour it with asafoetida and garlic.
When it has become well flavored, put the meat,
mixed with chopped potherbs, into the ghee. When
it has become marinated [mistranslation?], add
water and add, to an equal amount, one sir of
cow's milk. When it has come to the boil, add the
washed rice. When it is well cooked, take it off.
Cook other rice by the same recipe and, likewise,
do not make it with cow's milk but put in four
sirs of garlic and whole peppers, and serve it.
3 cloves garlic
⅓ c ghee
⅛ t asafoetida
1 ¼ lb lamb
10 oz spinach
1 ¼ c whole milk
1 ¼ c water
1 ½ c rice
[½ t salt]
Slice garlic, melt ghee, add asafoetida,
fry garlic in ghee about 20 minutes. Add meat
and spinach, fry about ten minutes. Add milk
and water, bring to a boil (about 8 minutes).
Add washed rice, salt, cook about 25 minutes,
let sit five minutes, serve.
Ain i Akbari chapter 25
There is a large kind, baked in an oven, made
of 10 s. flour; 5 s. milk; 1 ½ s. ghi; ¼ s. salt. They
make also smaller ones. The thin kind is baked on
an iron plate. One ser will give fifteen, or even
more. There are various ways of making it; one
kind is called chapati, which is sometimes made of
khushka; it tastes very well when served hot.
[see p. 6 for units]
⅜-½ c ghee
3 ½ c flour
1 c milk
½ T salt
Melt the ghee, stir it into the flour with a
fork until there are only very small lumps. Stir
in the milk until thoroughly mixed, knead
briefly. Put the ball of dough in a bowl
covered by a damp cloth and leave for at least
an hour. Then knead the dough until it is
smooth and elastic, adding a little extra flour
if necessary. Either:
Take a ball of dough about 2" in diameter,
roll it out to about a 5" diameter circle. Cook
it in a hot frying pan without grease. After
about 2 minutes it should start to puff up a
little in places. Turn it. Cook another 2
minutes. Turn it. Cook another 2 minutes. It
should be done. The recipe should make about
11 of these.
Or ...
Take a ball of dough about 3" in diameter.
Roll it down to a circle about 7" in diameter
and ¼" thick. Heat a baking sheet in a 450°
oven. Put the circle of dough on it in the oven.
Bake about 6 minutes; it should be puffing up.
Turn it over. Bake about 4 minutes more.
Take it out. The recipe should make about 5
of these.
Qima Shurba
Ain I Akbari no. 16
Qima [Kheema] Shurba: 10 s. meat; 1 s. rice; 1
s. ghee; ½ s. gram, and the rest as in the Shulla:
this gives ten full dishes.
Shulla: 10 s. meat, 3 ½ s. rice; 2 s. ghee; 1 s.
gram; 2 s. onions; ½ s. salt; ¼ s. fresh ginger; 2 d.
garlic, and round pepper, cinnamon, cardamons,
cloves, 1 d. of each: this gives six dishes.
Note: For units, see p. 6. For a shurba
recipe with instructions, see page 106.
¼ c ghee
1 lb lamb
3 oz onions
½ clove garlic
1 T salt
2 T canned chickpeas
¼ stick cinnamon
1 T fresh ginger
½ t pepper
½ t cardamon
½ t cloves
3-4 T rice
Melt the ghee, put it in a pot. Brown the
meat, onions, and garlic in it for about 5
minutes on a medium heat. Add 1 ¼ c of
lukewarm water, salt, chickpeas, cinnamon.
Simmer about another 10 minutes, then add
peeled chopped ginger, pepper, cardamom
and cloves. Add the rice and another ½ c of
water. Simmer another ½ hour. Serve.
Somewhat salty, which seems to be typical of
recipes from this source.
Ain I Akbari no. 18
10s. meat; 5 s. crushed wheat; 3 s. ghee; 1 s.
gram; ¼ s. salt; 1 ½ s. onions; ½ s. ginger; 1 d.
cinnamon; saffron, cloves, cardamons, cumin seed,
2 m. of each: this gives five dishes.
Note: Since the source gives ingredients
with quantities but without instructions, the
recipe below is a guess based on modern
Indian cooking. For units see p. 6. The recipe
given below is for one twentieth of the
5 oz ghee
2 T fresh ginger
⅜ t cinnamon
½ g saffron:
(1 t loosely packed)
⅛ t cloves
3 cardamom seeds
⅓ t cumin
2 ½ oz onions
1 lb lamb
¼ c canned chickpeas
1 ⅓ t salt
1 ½ c cracked wheat
Melt ghee, put in spices, cook for 5
minutes. Add onions, cook 10 minutes, add
meat, cook 20 minutes. Add chickpeas, salt
and wheat, cook 15 minutes, add 1 c water,
cook another 20 minutes. Serve.
Qutab or Sanbusa
Ain I Akbari no. 20
Qutab, which the people of Hind call sanbusa:
This is made in several ways. 10 s. meat; 4 s. fine
flour; 2 s. ghee; 1 s. onions; ¼ s. fresh ginger; ½ s.
salt; 2 d. pepper and coriander seed; cardamons,
cumin seed, cloves, 1 d. of each; ¼ s. of summaq.
This can be cooked in twenty different ways, and
gives four full dishes.
Andalusian version of Preparation of
Take meat of the innards or any meat you
wish and pound fine, and pick out its tendons,
and put cut-up fat with it, about a third the
amount of the meat, and throw upon all many
spices, and increase the pepper, onion juice,
cilantro, rue and salt, and mix well, and throw in
oil and a little water until wrinkled. Take
semolina and knead well with clarified butter and
a little pepper, and take an amount of the dough
the size of a walnut, and roll it out as large as
half a hand-span, and take a piece of stuffing as
large as a walnut and put it in the middle of the
dough, and wrap up the edges over it, and fry it
in fresh oil, and dispose of it as you wish, God
½ c white flour
½ c whole wheat flour
4 T ghee
10 oz meat
1 oz onion
½ t coriander
¼ oz sumac
½ t pepper
¼ t cloves
¼ oz fresh ginger
¼ t cardamon
¼ t cumin
2 t salt
(Compare to modern samosa.)
Mix the flours, cut in the ghee. Sprinkle
on about 4 T water and knead to a smooth
Cut up meat, combine it and all
remaining ingredients in a food processor.
Process a minute or two, until it is all cut
finely together. Roll out the dough to about
12"x14", and cut into 2"x2" pieces. Put a little
more than a teaspoon of the filling in each,
using up all the filling. Wrap the filling in the
dough. Alternatively, press thin a little less
than a teaspoon of dough, put a little more
than a teaspoon of filling in the middle, and
stretch the dough to completely cover the
Put about 3 c of cooking oil in a pot, heat
to between 350° and 390°, fry the Sanbusa
about 2-3 minutes each, drain, serve.
(People who do not like salt should
probably cut it in half. Almost all of the
dishes from this source come out quite salty).
Ain I Akbari no. 9
Sag: It is made of spinach, and other greens,
and is one of the most pleasant dishes. 10 s.
spinach, fennel, etc., 1 ½ s. ghee; 1 s. onions; ½ s.
fresh ginger; 5 ½ m. of pepper; ½ m. of cardamons
and cloves; this gives six dishes. [for units see p. 6]
⅔ oz fresh ginger
10 oz spinach
3 oz fennel
1 ⅓ oz onions
t cloves
½ t pepper
t cardamon
4 T ghee
Peel and chop ginger. Wash and chop the
greens and onion, put them in a pot with
everything else except the ghee, plus ¼ c
water. Cook about 35 minutes on medium
heat, stirring occasionally. Add ghee. Cook
another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
We have no cooking instructions for this
dish, only ingredients and quantities, so are
going by a recipe for Saag in a modern Indian
cookbook. An alternative interpretation is that
the greens etc. are fried in the ghee. The
recipe refers to “other greens”: cabbage,
sorrel, and mint are mentioned in the Ain I
Chinese Dishes
Carp Another Way
Ni Tsan no. 28
Cut into chunks. Boil some fragrant oil. In
another pan use the oil to cook fresh ginger and
chinese pepper. Let them fry a little while.
Remove them and save in a container. Add the
fish in while the oil is still hot. When the fish is
fried till it colors [begins to brown], add the
ginger and pepper mixture and let them cook a
while. Turn off the fire before adding soy sauce.
Then proceed as with the previous method.
1 ¾ lbs boned carp
½ t whole peppercorns
3 T fresh ginger
¼-⅜ c dark soy sauce
⅜ c Chinese sesame oil
Bone the carp and cut into pieces about 1"
cubed or smaller. Peel and chop the ginger.
Heat the oil to medium high, cook ginger and
pepper in it for about 3 minutes, remove them,
and set aside. Add fish and cook for about 5
minutes, then put ginger and pepper back in,
cook another 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce,
turn off the heat and cover the pan, let sit
about another ten minutes and serve over rice.
Barbecued Pork
Ni Tsan no. 47
Wash the meat. Rub spring onion, chinese
pepper, honey, a little salt, and wine on it. Hang
the meat on bamboo sticks in the saucepan. In the
pan put a cup of water and a cup of wine. Cover.
Use moist paper to seal up the pan. If the paper
dries out, moisten it. Heat the pan with grass
bunches; when one is burned up, light another.
Then stop the fire and leave for the time it takes
to eat a meal. Touch the cover of the pan; if it is
cold, remove the cover and turn the meat over.
Cover it again and seal again with the moist
paper. Heat again with one bunch of grass. It will
be cooked when the pan cools again.
1 T spring onion
½ t Chinese pepper
1 T honey
½ t salt
1 T wine
15 oz pork tenderloin
1 c rice wine
1 c water
Mix chopped onion, pepper, honey, salt
and 1 T wine. Rub them on the pork. Let
stand one hour. Put 1 c rice wine and 1 c
water in a pot. Arrange skewers so the pork
tenderloin can lie on them and you can still
put the lid on; I did it by putting a lower pan
inside the pot with the skewers lying across it.
Put on the lid, sealing with wet paper towels.
Simmer about 1 hour 25 minutes. Take off
heat, let cool about an hour. Turn over the
pork. Reseal. Bring back to a boil, simmer
five minutes, remove from the heat, let sit
another half hour or so. Slice.
Mastajhi [Mastic] Soup
A Soup for the Qan p. 275
Mutton (leg; bone and cut up), tsaoko
cardamoms (five), cinnamon (2 ch'ien), chickpeas
(one-half sheng; pulverize and remove the skins).
Boil ingredients together to make a soup.
Strain broth. [Cut up meat and put aside.] Add 2
ho of cooked chickpeas, 1 sheng of aromatic nonglutinous rice, 1 ch'ien of mastajhi. Evenly adjust
flavors with a little salt. Add [the] cut-up meat
and [garnish with] coriander leaves.
[These quantites are for about 40% of the
amount in the original recipe]
7 T canned chickpeas
1 lb 2 oz lamb
2 cardamoms
t cinnamon
3 ½ T canned chickpeas
.8 c jasmine rice
t mastic
1 t salt
1 T cilantro
Peel 7 T chickpeas and mash. Put the lamb
in a pot with 6 c water, cardamom, cinnamon
and mashed chickpeas. Boil for 1 hour 10
minutes. Boil remaining chickpeas for about
15 minutes.
Remove meat and strain everything else,
forcing the chickpea mush through the
strainer. Return the liquid to the pot, add rice,
mastic, and cooked chickpeas, and boil for
another 20 minutes. Cut meat up in pieces.
Return it to the pot, add salt, sprinkle chopped
cilantro on top, and serve.
[This is from a Chinese cookbook/health
manual written for a Mongol emperor of
China; some of the recipes show Mongol or
Middle Eastern influence, this being one of
the latter.]
Index of Recipes
A Food of Hens ..................................................................... 28 A Good Filling ....................................................................... 61 A Pottage of Quinces .......................................................... 60 A Recipe for Rice Porridge ............................................ 107 A Tart with Plums ............................................................... 49 Adas ........................................................................................ 100 Adasiya .................................................................................. 100 Ahrash [Isfîriyâ] .................................................................. 96 Almond Butter ..................................................................... 72 Almond Fricatellae ............................................................. 31 Almond Milk ............................................................................. 7 Alows de Beef or de Motoun .......................................... 39 An Apple Tart ....................................................................... 49 Andalusian Chicken ........................................................... 77 Anjudhâniyyah of Yahya b. Khalid ............................... 80 Another Crust with Tame Creatures .......................... 44 Another Kind of Lamb Breast ...................................... 110 Another Pottage of Coriander ....................................... 67 Arbolettys .............................................................................. 73 Armored Turnips ................................................................ 11 Asparagus with Meat Stuffing ....................................... 78 Autre Vele en Bokenade ................................................... 35 Badî'i, the Remarkable Dish ......................................... 108 Badinjan Muhassa ............................................................ 111 Baid Masus ........................................................................... 112 Baqliyya of Ziryab's ........................................................... 79 Baqliyya with Eggplants .................................................. 88 Barad ...................................................................................... 123 Barbecued Pork ................................................................. 129 Barmakiyya ......................................................................... 110 Beef Hash ................................................................................ 38 Beef y-­‐Stewed ....................................................................... 32 Benes Yfryed ......................................................................... 18 Berenjenas a la Morisca ................................................... 15 Blamaunger in Lenten ...................................................... 21 Blank Desure ......................................................................... 67 Boiled Meats Ordinary ...................................................... 31 Bourbelier of Wild Pig ...................................................... 38 Brawn en Peuerade ............................................................ 35 Brawune Fryez ..................................................................... 39 Brazzatelle of Milk and Sugar ........................................... 9 Bread Ain-­‐i-­‐Akbari ................................................................... 127 Folded, from Ifriquiyya ............................................... 76 Loaf Kneaded with Butter .......................................... 75 of Abu Hamza .................................................................. 75 Platina ................................................................................. 11 Qursas .............................................................................. 114 Bruet of Savoy ....................................................................... 33 Bruette Saake ....................................................................... 29 Buen Membrillate ............................................................... 60 Buran ........................................................................................ 90 Buraniya ................................................................................. 83 Byzantine Murri ..................................................................... 5 Caboges ................................................................................... 13 Cakes with Honey ............................................................ 121 Cameline Sauce .................................................................... 66 Canisiones .............................................................................. 47 Capons Stwed ....................................................................... 26 Cardoons with Meat ........................................................... 80 Carp Another Way ........................................................... 129 Caudell ..................................................................................... 65 Cazuela de Carne ................................................................. 34 Cazuela de Salmon—Salmon Casserole .................... 19 Chare de Wardone .............................................................. 61 Chawettys ............................................................................... 42 Chebolace ............................................................................... 12 Cheese and Flour Cake ................................................... 120 Cheesecakes .......................................................................... 52 Chicken Covered with Walnuts and Saffron ............ 77 Chicken Tart .......................................................................... 42 Chicones in Mose ................................................................. 30 Chisan ....................................................................................... 20 Chopped Liver ...................................................................... 40 Chykens in Hocchee ........................................................... 25 Cinnamon Bruet .................................................................. 27 Cold Sage Chicken ............................................................... 29 Condoignac ............................................................................ 73 Conserving Quince ........................................................... 126 Conyng, Hen, or Mallard ................................................... 30 Cooked Dish of Lentils ...................................................... 99 Cooked Fried Chicken ....................................................... 98 Corat ......................................................................................... 40 Cormarye ................................................................................ 33 Counterfeit (Vegetarian) Isfîriyâ .................................. 95 Covered Tabâhajiyya ......................................................... 89 Cow's Meat ............................................................................. 34 Creme Boylede ..................................................................... 53 Cress in Lent with Milk of Almonds ............................ 13 Cressee .................................................................................... 71 Creteyney ............................................................................... 26 Cretonnée of New Peas ..................................................... 24 Crustade .................................................................................. 43 Crustade Gentyle ................................................................. 45 Cryspes .................................................................................... 58 Cuskynoles ............................................................................. 59 Custard Tart .......................................................................... 52 Custarde .................................................................................. 51 Dafâir, Braids ..................................................................... 115 Darioles ................................................................................... 52 Dish Dictated by Abu Ishaq ............................................ 97 Dish Prepared with Fried Eggplant ............................. 79 Douce Ame ............................................................................. 29 Dressed Eggplant ............................................................. 113 Eggplant Isfîriyâ .................................................................. 94 Eggplant Pancakes .............................................................. 93 Eggplant, Dish of .................................................................. 78 Egredouncye ......................................................................... 37 132
Excellent Boiled Salad ....................................................... 18 Excellent Cake ...................................................................... 47 Excellent Small Cakes ....................................................... 46 Fine Powder of Spices ....................................................... 41 Flampoyntes Bake .............................................................. 44 Flathonys ................................................................................ 53 Flaune of Almayne .............................................................. 50 Flesh of Veal .......................................................................... 39 Fricassee of Whatever Meat You Wish ...................... 37 Frictella from Apples ......................................................... 56 Fried Broad Beans .............................................................. 17 Fried Gourd ........................................................................... 14 Fried Tafâyâ .......................................................................... 98 Fried Version of the Same (Dusted Eggplant) ........ 94 Fritter of Milk ....................................................................... 57 Fritur þat Hatte Emeles .................................................... 55 Froys ......................................................................................... 36 Froyse out of Lentyn ......................................................... 37 Frumente ................................................................................ 71 Frytour Blaunched ............................................................. 56 Frytour of Erbes .................................................................. 55 Fuliyyah ................................................................................ 100 Funges ..................................................................................... 17 Fustuqiyya ............................................................................. 85 Fylettes en Galentyne ........................................................ 35 Galantine for Carp .............................................................. 21 Garbage ................................................................................... 30 Garlic Sauce with Walnuts or Almonds ..................... 66 Garlic Sauce, a More Colored ......................................... 67 Gaylede .................................................................................... 60 Gharibah ................................................................................. 91 Gingerbrede .......................................................................... 62 Gnochi ...................................................................................... 68 Golden Morsels .................................................................... 58 Gourd in Juice ....................................................................... 14 Gourdes in potage ............................................................... 38 Green Broth of Eggs and Cheese .................................. 24 Green Isfidhbaja by Ibrahim bin al-­‐Mahdi ............... 82 Green Pesen Royal .............................................................. 16 Hais ......................................................................................... 124 Harisa ..................................................................................... 126 Harisah .................................................................................. 105 Hen Roasted in a Pot at Home ..................................... 110 Hen Roasted in the Oven ............................................... 109 Herbelade ............................................................................... 45 Himmasiyya (a Garbanzo Dish) .................................... 85 Hippocras ............................................................................... 64 Hulwa ..................................................................................... 122 Ibn al-­‐Mahdi's Maghmûm ............................................. 109 Icelandic Chicken ................................................................ 25 Isfanakh Mutajjan ............................................................. 112 Isfîriyâ ...................................................................................... 96 Isfîriyâ, Simple ..................................................................... 96 Iumbolls .................................................................................. 48 Jance ......................................................................................... 65 Jannâniyya ............................................................................. 92 Jazariyyah ............................................................................... 83 Judhaba of Bananas ......................................................... 113 Ka'k made for Abu 'Ata Sahl bin Salim ...................... 75 Ka'k Stuffed with Sugar .................................................. 117 Kashk ..................................................................................... 128 Kedgeree .............................................................................. 126 Khabîsa with Pomegranate .......................................... 124 Khichri .................................................................................. 127 Khushkananaj .................................................................... 116 Khushkananaj Shaped like Crescents ...................... 116 Koken van Honer ................................................................ 44 Labaniya .................................................................................. 89 Labaniyyah ......................................................................... 106 Lange Wortys de Chare .................................................... 16 Leek Pottage .......................................................................... 19 Lemon Dish ............................................................................ 68 Lente Frytoures ................................................................... 56 Lenten Foyles ........................................................................ 13 Lesagne .................................................................................... 70 Limonada ................................................................................ 68 Longe Frutours .................................................................... 57 Longe Wortes de Pesone ................................................. 15 Lord's Salt ............................................................................... 74 Losenges Fryes ..................................................................... 56 Losyns ...................................................................................... 68 Macrows .................................................................................. 70 Madira ...................................................................................... 90 Mahshi, a Stuffed Dish .................................................... 109 Makke ....................................................................................... 17 Makshufa ............................................................................. 122 Malaches of Pork ................................................................. 41 Malaches Whyte .................................................................. 43 Manjar Lento o Suave ........................................................ 55 Manjar Principal .................................................................. 54 Maqluba .................................................................................. 95 Maqluba al Tirrikh .............................................................. 95 Marmelade of Quinces or Damsons ............................ 62 Mastajhi [Mastic] Soup .................................................. 130 Maumenye Ryalle ................................................................ 27 Meat Casserole ..................................................................... 34 Meat Roasted over Coals ............................................... 110 Meatballs ................................................................................... 8 Mete of Cypree ..................................................................... 36 Milkemete ............................................................................... 54 Mincebek [or, Funnel Cakes] .......................................... 58 Mint Paste ............................................................................ 126 Mirause of Catelonia .......................................................... 28 Mirrauste de Manzanas .................................................... 66 Mirrauste of Apples ............................................................ 66 Mishmishiya .......................................................................... 86 Moorish Chicken .................................................................. 28 Moorish Eggplant ................................................................ 15 More Colored Garlic Sauce .............................................. 67 Mortrewys of Flesh ............................................................ 38 Mu'allak ................................................................................... 89 Mufarraka ............................................................................... 98 Mujabbana (Fried Cheese Pie) ................................... 118 Mukhallal ................................................................................ 81 Murakkaba .......................................................................... 119 Murakkaba Layered with Dates ................................. 120 Murri ............................................................................................ 5 Musammana [Buttered] ................................................ 121 Mushroom Pastries ............................................................ 41 Mustard ................................................................................... 67 133
Mustard Greens ................................................................... 11 Muthallath with Heads of Lettuce ............................... 78 Muzawwara (Vegetarian Dish) ..................................... 99 Naranjiya ................................................................................ 86 Nourroys Pies ....................................................................... 43 Nuhud al-­‐Adhra (Virgin's Breasts) ........................... 124 On Preparing Lettuce ........................................................ 14 Onion Juice ................................................................................ 8 Otro Potaje de Culantro Llamado Tercio .................. 67 Oven Cheese Pie, Which We Call Toledan .............. 118 Oysters in Bruette .............................................................. 21 Palace Chicken with Mustard ........................................ 76 Papyns ..................................................................................... 54 Para Hazer Tortillon Relleno ......................................... 10 Payn Ragoun ......................................................................... 63 Perre ......................................................................................... 16 Pescoddes .............................................................................. 73 Picadinho de Carne de Vaca ........................................... 38 Pie Crust ..................................................................................... 7 Pine Kernels .......................................................................... 63 Pipefarces ............................................................................... 55 Plain Liftiyya ......................................................................... 92 Pork Doucetty ....................................................................... 44 Pot Torteli .............................................................................. 70 Potage from Meat ............................................................... 22 Potage of Beans Boiled ..................................................... 24 Potage of Onions ................................................................. 18 Potage with Turnips .......................................................... 22 Potaje de Fideos .................................................................. 69 Potaje de Porrada ............................................................... 19 Pottage of Noodles ............................................................. 69 Pottage with Whole Herbs .............................................. 32 Preparing Carrots and Parsnips ................................... 11 Prince-­‐Bisket ........................................................................ 46 Principal Dish ....................................................................... 54 Puffy Fricatellae .................................................................. 57 Puree with Leeks ................................................................ 19 Pynade ..................................................................................... 63 Qaliya Rice ........................................................................... 127 Qima Shurba ....................................................................... 128 Quince Marmalade ............................................................. 73 Quinces in Pastry ................................................................ 48 Qursas .................................................................................... 114 Qutab or Sanbusa .............................................................. 128 Raihaniya ................................................................................ 87 Rapes in Potage ................................................................... 22 Rastons ....................................................................................... 9 Ravioli ...................................................................................... 69 Rice Cooked over Water ................................................ 107 Rice Fricatellae .................................................................... 57 Rishta ..................................................................................... 105 Rizz Hulw ............................................................................. 106 Roast Chicken ....................................................................... 25 Roast of Meat ........................................................................ 98 Russian Cabbage and Greens ......................................... 12 Rutabiya .................................................................................. 91 Ryschewys Closed and Fried ......................................... 59 Ryse of Fische Daye ........................................................... 71 Safarjaliyya, a Dish Made with Quinces .................... 84 Safarjaliyya, a Quince Dish .............................................. 84 Saffron Broth ........................................................................ 23 Sag .......................................................................................... 129 Salma ..................................................................................... 105 Salmon Roste in Sauce ...................................................... 20 Savoury Tosted or Melted Cheese ............................... 65 Sawgeat ................................................................................... 73 Sekanjabin ........................................................................... 125 Sesame Candy ....................................................................... 63 Short Paest for Tarte ......................................................... 45 Shurba ................................................................................... 106 Shushbarak ......................................................................... 106 Sicilian Dish ........................................................................... 80 Sikanjabîn, Syrup of Simple ......................................... 125 Sikbaj ........................................................................................ 93 Simple White Tafâyâ, Called Isfîdhbâja ..................... 87 Slow or Smooth Dish ......................................................... 55 Small Mead ............................................................................. 64 Soup Called Menjoire ........................................................ 23 Sourdough ................................................................................. 7 Soused Eggplants ............................................................. 113 Soused Poultry ..................................................................... 88 Spinach Tart .......................................................................... 41 Strawberye ............................................................................ 60 Stuffed Eggs ................................................................. 72, 125 Stuffed Qanânît, Fried Cannoli ................................... 115 Stuffed Tortillon .................................................................. 10 Sturgeon pour Porpeys ..................................................... 20 Stwed Mutton ....................................................................... 32 Sukkariyya, a Sugar Dish .............................................. 123 Syrup of Lemon ................................................................. 125 Syrup of Pomegranates ................................................. 125 Tabâhaja of Burâniyya ...................................................... 83 Tabâhajah from the Manuscript of Yahya ................ 97 Tabâhajiyya, Another ........................................................ 97 Tart de Bry ............................................................................. 52 Tart on Ember Day ............................................................. 40 Tarte of Beans ...................................................................... 46 Tarte of Spinage ................................................................... 17 Tarte of Strawberries ........................................................ 49 Tartlettes ................................................................................ 70 Tarts owte of Lente ............................................................ 42 Tartys in Applis .................................................................... 48 Tasty Maghmuma by Ishaq al-Mawsili ...................... 88 Taylours .................................................................................. 61 Tharda of Isfunj with Milk ............................................ 103 Tharda of Lamb with Garbanzos ............................... 103 Tharda of Zabarbada ...................................................... 101 Tharda, Al-­‐Ghassani's .................................................... 102 Tharid .................................................................................... 101 Tharid that the People of Ifriqiyya (Tunisia) Call Fatîr .................................................................................. 102 Tharîda in the Style of the People of Bijaya .......... 103 Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach ............................... 104 Tharîdah, White of al Rashid ....................................... 101 Thûmiyya, a Garlicky Dish ........................................... 108 Torta from Gourds .............................................................. 51 Torta from Red Chickpeas ............................................... 51 Torta of Herbs in the Month of May ............................ 50 Tostee ....................................................................................... 62 Tuffahiya ................................................................................. 82 134
Tuffâhiyya (Apple Stew) with Eggplants .................. 81 Variants on Platina Soups ............................................... 23 Veal, Kid, or Hen in Bokenade ....................................... 27 Virgin's Breasts .................................................................. 124 Vyaunde de Cyprys in Lent ............................................. 21 Weak Honey Drink ............................................................. 64 White Karanbiyya, a Cabbage Dish ............................. 91 White Pudding ...................................................................... 74 White Tharîda with Onion ........................................... 104 White Torta ........................................................................... 53 Zabarbada of Fresh Cheese .......................................... 112 Zanzarella ............................................................................... 23 Zirbaya ..................................................................................... 93 135
Additional Material on Period Cooking
Cooking from Primary Sources: Some General Comments
One definition of what the Society is
about is studying the past by selective
recreation. Period cooking is one of the few
activities that lets us do this in a sense of
“study” that goes substantially beyond
merely learning things that other people
already know. There are thousands of pages
of period source material available, and I
would guess that most of the dishes have not
been made by anyone in the past three
hundred years. As with many things, the best
way to learn is to do it; the following
comments are intended to make the process a
little easier.
When working with early English
recipes, remember that the spelling has
changed much more than the language and is
often wildly inconsistent; one fifteenth
century recipe contains the word “Chickens”
four times with four different spellings, of
which the first is “Schyconys.” It often helps
to try sounding out strange words, in the
hope that they will be more familiar to the
ear than to the eye.
Recipes rarely include quantities,
temperatures, or times. Working out a recipe
consists mostly of discovering that
information by trial and error. You may find
a modern cookbook useful in doing so. The
idea is not to adapt a modern recipe but to
use the modern recipe for information on
how long a chicken has to be boiled before it
is done or how much salt is added to a given
volume of stew. That gives you a first guess,
to be used the first time you try the dish and
modified accordingly.
It is sometimes asserted that real
medieval food would be too highly flavored
for modern palates. Thomas Austin, the 19thcentury editor of Two Fifteenth Century
Cookery Books, mentions a Cinnamon Soup
as evidence that medieval people preferred
strongly seasoned food. But since his
reference is not to a recipe but only an item
in a menu, the fact that he took it as evidence
may tell us more about 19th c. English
cooking than medieval English cooking.
Our experience with recipes that do
contain information on quantities suggests
that the assertion is not true. For many years
we made Hippocras from the recipe in Le
Menagier de Paris (p. 64), using about half
the ratio of sugar and spices to wine specified
in the original, because otherwise it came out
too sweet for our tastes. Eventually Jeremy
de Merstone (George J. Perkins) pointed out
to us that, while the pound and ounce used in
Paris in 1391 were approximately the same
as the modern pound and ounce, the quart
was equal to almost two modern U.S. quarts–
which implied that, by modifying the recipe
to taste, we had gotten back to almost exactly
the proportions of the original. The same
conclusion–that medieval food, although
hardly bland, was not extraordinarily spicy–
is suggested by our experience with other
recipes. One exception is a collection of
dishes from 16th century India for which we
have ingredient lists with quantities but
without instructions; many of them turn out
too salty for modern tastes. I am told that the
same is true of modern Indian cooking in
Along with the idea that medieval food
was overspiced one finds the claim that the
reason it was overspiced was to hide the taste
of rotten meat, due to the lack of modern
refrigeration. We have found no evidence to
support that claim and quite a lot to oppose
it. Chiquart's description of how to put on a
large feast, for example, makes it clear that
he expects to slaughter animals on site. Other
sources show medieval cooks concerned with
the risk of spoiled meat and taking
reasonable precautions to deal with it.
Finally, there is the observation that hiding
the taste of spoiled meat does not prevent the
effects; a cook who routinely poisoned his
employer and his guests would be unlikely to
keep his position for long.
Two reference books that we have found
helpful are the Larousse Gastronomique and
the Oxford English Dictionary. The former is
a dictionary of cooking, available in both
English and French editions. The latter,
which is also useful for many other sorts of
SCA research, is the standard English
scholar's dictionary; it contains a much more
extensive range of obsolete words and
meanings than an ordinary dictionary. Also,
Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks and Curye
on Inglysch contain glossaries.
An approach to developing recipes that
we have found both productive and
entertaining is to hold cooking workshops.
We select recipes that we would like to try or
retry and invite anyone interested to come
help us cook them. The workshop starts in
the afternoon. As each person arrives, he
chooses a recipe to do. We suggest that
people who have not cooked from period
recipes before do new recipes so that they
can have the experience of working directly
from an untouched original. The details of
how the recipe is being prepared–quantities,
temperatures, times and techniques–are
written down as the dish is prepared. The
afternoon and early evening are spent
cooking, eating, and discussing how to
modify the recipes next time; we offer
anyone who wishes copies of the recipes to
experiment with further at home. Many of
the recipes in this book were developed at
such sessions. We have never yet had to send
out for pizza.
Tourney and War Food
Suppose you are going to a tournament
and want to bring period food to eat and
share during the day. Suppose you are going
to a camping event, such as the Pennsic war,
and expect to be encamped for something
between a weekend and two weeks. What
period foods are likely to prove useful?
For both one day events and wars, we
have accumulated a small collection of
period foods and drinks that can be made in
advance and kept without refrigeration for an
almost unlimited period of time. They
include Hulwa (p. 122), Hais (p. 124),
Prince-Bisket (p. 46), Gingerbrede (p. 62),
Excellent Cake (p. 47; this is actually slightly
out of period), Khushkananaj (p. 116),
Sekanjabin (p. 125) and Syrup of
Pomegranate (p. 125). The last two are
drinks that are prepared as syrups and diluted
(with cold water for sekanjabin and hot water
for granatus) just before being served. The
syrups are sufficiently concentrated so that,
like honey or molasses, they keep
For a one day event we will often also
bring a cold meat or cheese pie; Spinach Tart
(p. 41) is one of our favorites. In addition,
one can bring bread, cheese, sausage, nuts,
dried fruit–all things which were eaten in
period and can keep for a reasonable length
of time.
A camping event, especially one more
than two days long, raises a new set of
challenges and opportunities–period cooking
with period equipment. One of the associated
problems is how to keep perishable
ingredients long enough so that you can bring
them at the beginning of the event and use
them at the end. One could keep things in a
cooler with lots of ice–especially at Pennsic,
where ice is available to be bought. This is,
however, a considerable nuisance–and
besides, it is unlikely that either coolers or
ice were available at a real medieval war.
Better solutions are to choose dishes that
do not require perishable ingredients or to
find period ways of preserving such
ingredients. One of our future projects along
these lines is to work out some good recipes
for salted or dried fish, which was an
important food in the Middle Ages and one
that keeps indefinitely. Our most successful
preserving technique so far is to pickle meat
or fowl using Lord's Salt (p. 74). The pickled
meat is strongly flavored with vinegar and
spices, so we pick a recipe to use it in that
contains vinegar or verjuice in its list of
ingredients. We wash most of the pickling
solution off the meat and make up the recipe
omitting the sour ingredient (and any spices
that are already in the pickled meat). Two
recipes that work well with pickled chicken
are Veal, Kid, or Hen in Bokenade (p. 27)
and Conyng, Hen, or Mallard (p. 30).
There is an Indian bread (p. 127) and
two Islamic pastries, Murakkaba (p. 119) and
Musammana (p. 121) which are made in a
frying pan rather than an oven, and are
therefore easy to make on site. There are also
recipes for fritters and funnel cakes (pp 5558), many of which are suitable for camping
There are many other possibilities for
non-perishable period dishes. They include
recipes using lentils and other dried beans
(pp. 17-18, 99-100). They also include one
very familiar dish–macaroni and cheese,
known in the Middle Ages as Macrows (p.
70) or Losyns (p. 68).
If you have fresh meat available, there
are many possible recipes; Meat Roasted
Over Coals (p. 110) is good and very
straightforward. If you roast a large amount
of meat for one evening’s dinner, A Roast of
Meat (p. 98) is a good way of using up
leftover roast meat for the next meal.
Creative Medieval Cooking
It is sometimes claimed that the dishes
served at an SCA feast are medieval even
though they do not come from any period
cookbook. The idea is that the cook is
producing original creations in a medieval
style. After all, there is no reason to assume
that all, or even very many, medieval cooks
used cookbooks.
In principle, this is a legitimate
argument–if it is made by an experienced
medieval cook. Since we do not have the
option of living in the Middle Ages, the only
practical way to become an experienced
medieval cook is by cooking from medieval
cookbooks. In my experience, however, the
people who make this argument have rarely
done much, if any, cooking from period
sources; their “original medieval creations”
are usually either modern ethnic dishes or
modified versions of standard modern
Even if “creative medieval cookery” is
done by taking period recipes and modifying
them, it is a risky business. Unless the cook
has extensive experience cooking medieval
recipes in their original form, he is likely to
modify them in the direction of modern
tastes–in order to make them fit better his
ideas of what they should be like. But one of
the attractions of medieval cooking is that it
lets us discover things we do not expect–
combinations of spices, or ways of preparing
dishes, that seem strange to modern tastes yet
turn out to be surprisingly good.
I would therefore advise anyone
interested in medieval cooking to try to keep
as closely as possible to the original recipe.
There may, of course, be practical difficulties
that prevent you from following the recipe
exactly–ingredients you cannot obtain,
cooking methods you cannot use (“hang it in
a chimney where a fire is kept all the year”),
or the like. But I do not think it is ever
desirable, when first cooking a dish, to
change it merely because you suspect that if
you follow the recipe you will not like the
result. The people who wrote the recipes
down knew a great deal more about period
cookery than we do; it is our job to be their
students, not their teachers.
Period, Ethnic, and Traditional
There is some tendency for people in the
Society to assume that all ethnic food is
period. Thus, for example, “oriental” feasts
often consist of dishes that one would find in
a modern Chinese or Japanese restaurant and
traditional or “peasant” cooking is sometimes
included in feasts, even when there is no
evidence that the particular dishes were made
in period.
The assumption is a dangerous one;
America is not the only place where things
change over time. The fact that a dish was
made by your grandmother, or even that she
says she got it from her grandmother, may be
evidence that the dish is a hundred years old;
it is not evidence that it dates from before
1600. While traditional societies may appear
very old-fashioned to us, there is ample
evidence that such societies in general, and
their cooking in particular, change over time.
Potatoes are an important part of traditional
cooking in Ireland, and tomatoes in Italy. Yet
both are New World vegetables; they could
not have been used before 1492 and were not
in common use in Europe until a good deal
later than that.
If we had no sources for medieval
recipes, foreign or traditional dishes would
be more suited to our feasts than hamburgers
and french fries or Coke and pizza; even if
they are not actually medieval, they at least
help create the feeling that we are no longer
in our normal Twentieth Century world.
Similarly, if we had no sources for period
dance, modern folk dances would fit into an
event better than disco dancing. Since we do
have sources for both period recipes and
period dances, there seems no good reason to
use out-of-period substitutes.
Late Period and Out of Period Foodstuffs
To do period cooking, it is desirable to
avoid ingredients that were not available to
period cooks. “Period,” for the purposes of
the SCA, is defined as pre-seventeenth
century. Since most of the ingredients that
are available now and were not available
during the Middle Ages came into use
between 1500 and 1700, it is not always easy
to know which of them were available by the
year 1600.
One solution is to avoid all of the new
ingredients, thus, in effect, moving the cutoff
date back to about 1492. This makes a good
deal of sense as a way of learning what early
cooking was like. We already know what a
cuisine that includes the new foodstuffs is
like–it is all around us. If we restrict
ourselves to ingredients that were available
throughout the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance, we are likely to learn a good
deal more about how period cooking differed
from modern cooking than if we include in
our cooking anything that might possibly
have been in use somewhere in Europe by
late December of 1600.
While there is much to be said for such a
voluntary restriction, nothing in the rules or
customs of the Society requires it of all
cooks. Those who are willing to use late
foodstuffs, providing they were in use by
1600, are left with the problem of
determining which ones meet that
requirement. This article is an attempt to do
Corn, potatoes, cocoa, vanilla, peppers–
essentially the whole list of New World
foods–were used in the New World long
before Columbus. Since almost all Society
personae are from the Old World, it seems
reasonable to limit ourselves to foods that
came into use in the Old World before 1600.
A further argument in favor of doing so is
that we have–so far as I know–no Aztec
cookbooks, although there are descriptions
by early travellers of what the natives of the
New World ate and how they prepared it;
references can be found in Finan and Coe.
Although potatoes were eaten in South
America during the fifteenth century, they
were not eaten in the dishes for which we
have fifteenth century recipes.
Most of our period feasts are based on
the cooking of a very limited part of the Old
World. Almost all period cookbooks used in
the Society are either Western European or
Islamic. For the purposes of this article I will
therefore be mainly concerned with the
availability of foods in Western Europe prior
to the year 1600–more precisely, with the
question of what foods were sufficiently well
known so that they might plausibly have
been served at a feast.
In trying to determine which foods were
available in Western Europe before 1600, I
have relied on a variety of sources. They
include the Oxford English Dictionary (used
primarily to determine when and in what
context the English name of a food was first
used–hereafter OED), cookbooks, and
secondary sources including the Larousse
Gastronomique (LG) and the Encyclopedia
Britannica, 11th edition (EB).
Most of the new foodstuffs of the
sixteenth and seventeenth century came from
the New World, but there were some
important exceptions. I will start with them.
Old World Foods
The coffee plant is apparently native to
Abyssinia. The use of coffee in Abyssinia
was recorded in the fifteenth century and
regarded at that time as an ancient practice
(EB). I believe that there is a reference in one
of the Greek historians to what sounds like
coffee being drunk in what might well be
Abyssinia, but I have not yet succeeded in
tracking it down.
Coffee was apparently introduced into
Yemen from Abyssinia in the middle of the
15th century. It reached Mecca in the last
decade of the century and Cairo in the first
decade of the 16th century (Hattox).
The use of coffee in Egypt is mentioned
by a European resident near the end of the
sixteenth century. It was brought to Italy in
1615 and to Paris in 1647 (LG). The first
coffee house in England was opened in
Oxford in 1650 (Wilson), and the first one in
London in 1652 (EB). The earliest use of the
word in English is in 1592, in a passage
describing its use in Turkey (OED).
It appears that coffee is out of period for
European feasts and late period for Islamic
The use of tea in China and Ceylon goes
back to prehistoric times. According to the
Larousse, it was brought to Europe by the
Dutch in 1610 and to England in 1644.
According to the OED, it was first imported
into Europe in the 17th century and first
mentioned in a European language
(Portuguese) in 1559. The first use of the
word in English (in the form “Cha”) is given
as 1598; the passage seems to describe its use
in China.
It appears that tea is out of period for
European feasts and (since it was being
brought from China by sea rather than
overland) even further out of period for
Islamic feasts. It is, of course, in period for
Chinese and Japanese feasts. So far as I
know, iced tea is a modern invention.
The Four Seasons of the House of
Cerruti, an Italian manuscript of the
fourteenth century (based on an Arab work of
the eleventh century) mentions bananas as
something which “we know of .. only from
texts or tales from merchants from Cyprus or
pilgrims from the Holy Land. Sicilians ...
know them well.” It is clear from the
accompanying picture that the artist had
never seen a banana. The first bunch of
bananas is said to have reached England in
1633 (Wilson).
Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruit are native to southern Asia
and the Malay Archipelago, and cultivated
citrus occur very early in China. In the West,
the citron was known to classical antiquity.
By the 10th c. the Arabs had sour oranges,
and by the 12th century lemon, sour orange,
citron, and pummelo had all made it as far as
Spain and North Africa. By the 13th century
lemon, sour orange, citron, and what is
probably lime are described from northern
Italy. The sweet orange is mentioned in a few
documents from the second half of the 15th
century as growing in Italy and southern
France, and seems to have been fairly widely
grown by the early 16th century. In 1520 or
thereabouts the Portuguese brought a new
and superior sweet orange variety from
China, which then spread around the citrusgrowing areas of Europe in the 16th and 17th
centuries. Mandarin oranges do not seem to
have made it to Europe until the early 19th
century. The grapefruit seems to have
developed out of the pummelo in the West
Indies in the 18th c. (Batchelor and Webber).
Sour oranges are still grown for use in
marmalade; the usual variety is the Seville
Artichokes and Cardoons
According to some sources, including
McGee, the globe artichoke was known in
classical antiquity; others describe it as bred
out of the cardoon sometime in the later
middle ages, probably in Muslim Spain. The
latin word is "cynara;" our word "artichoke"
comes from the Arabic “al kharshûf.” Some
modern sources describe the cardoon as a
kind of artichoke, while others regard it as a
different vegetable ancestral to the artichoke.
My guess is that the classical "cynara" was
the cardoon, making the globe artichoke
familiar to us late period.
Molasses is a residue from the process
of refining sugar. Treacle was originally the
name of a medical mixture one of whose
ingredients was honey. It originated in
classical antiquity and survived into the
Middle Ages; at some point molasses or
sugar syrup began to be used instead of
honey for the base. “When the production of
molasses in Britain's refineries out-stripped
the needs of both apothecaries and distillers,
it was sold off in its natural unmedicated
state as a cheap sweetener. Its name of
molasses was taken by the early settlers to
America. But in Britain in the later
seventeenth century the alternative term
'common treacle' came into circulation, and
thereafter it was known simply as treacle.”
Since, according to Wilson, England had
its own sugar refineries by 1540, molasses
might have been used as a sweetener in
England before 1600. The word first appears
in English in 1582 and all of the pre-1600
references are to its existence abroad.
Molasses is, however, mentioned by Hugh
Platt in the 1609 edition of Delights for
Ladies; I have not been able to find a copy of
an earlier edition. Presumably molasses
would have been used earlier in areas where
sugar was grown, such as Spain, Sicily and
the Middle East.
Chemical Leavenings
So far as we can discover, both baking
soda and baking powder are far out of period.
According to the 1992 Old Farmer’s
Almanac, Saleratus (Potassium Bicarbonate)
was patented as a chemical leavening in
1840. Hartshorn (Ammonium Carbonate)
was used for stiffening jellies by about the
end of the sixteenth century (Wilson) but we
have found no reference to its use as a
leavening agent prior to the late 18th century.
New World Foods
Sweet potatoes are described in 1555 as
growing in the West Indies. By 1587 they are
said to be “brought out of” Spain and
Portugal, and described as venerous
(aphrodisiacal). In 1599 Ben Johnson
describes something as “above all your
potatoes or oyster pies.”
Ordinary potatoes, according to the
OED, were described in 1553 and introduced
into Spain shortly after 1580. They reached
Italy about 1585 and were being grown in
England by 1596. By 1678 the potato is
described as “common in English gardens.”
The Larousse gives somewhat earlier
dates–1539 or 40 for the original importation
into Spain, 1563 for the introduction into
England (“but its cultivation was neglected
there”) and 1586 for the reintroduction by Sir
Francis Drake. In 1593 several farmers were
engaged to grow it in France, but in 1630
“the Parliament of Besançon, from fear of
leprosy, forbade the cultivation of the
potato.” In 1619 “Potato figures among the
foods to be served at the Royal table in
Both sorts of potatoes were being grown
in parts of Europe before 1600, but it is not
clear whether either was common enough to
have been served at a feast. If served,
potatoes would almost certainly have been
regarded as a novelty. I know of no period
recipes using potatoes. According to Crosby,
the sweet potato arrived in China “at least as
early as the 1560's.”
"Corn," in British usage, refers to grains
in general, most commonly wheat. The
earliest reference in the OED to maize, the
British name for the grain that Americans
call corn, is from 1555. All of the pre-1600
references are to maize as a plant grown in
the New World. Knowledge of maize seems
to have spread rapidly; a picture of the plant
appears in a Chinese book on botany from
1562. Pictures appear in European herbals
from 1539 on. Finan concludes that they
represent at least two distinct types of maize,
one similar to Northern Flints, the other
similar to some modern Caribbean varieties.
Grains are variously described as red, black,
brown, blue, white, yellow and purple.
How soon did maize become something
more than a curiosity? Leonhard Fuchs,
writing in Germany in 1542, described it as
“now growing in all gardens” [De historia
stirpium–cited in Finan]. That suggests that
in at least one European country it was
common enough before 1600 so that it could
have been served at a feast–although I know
of no evidence that it in fact was, and no
period recipes for it. On the other hand, John
Gerard wrote, in 1597: “We have as yet no
certaine proofe or experience concerning the
vertues of this kinde of Corne, although the
barbarous Indians which know no better are
constrained to make a vertue of necessitie,
and think it a good food: whereas we may
easily judge that it nourisheth but little, and is
of a hard and euill digestion, a more
convenient food for swine than for man”
(Crosby). Gerard’s conclusion is still widely
accepted in Europe. In West Africa, however,
maize was under cultivation “at least as early
as the second half of the sixteenth century...”
and in China in the sixteenth century
(Crosby). There is also a reference to its
being grown in the Middle East in the 1570's
Before leaving the subject of maize, I
should mention that there have been
occasional attempts to argue that it either had
an Old World origin or spread to the Old
World prior to Columbus. Mangelsdorf
discusses the arguments at some length and
concludes that they are mistaken.
I know of no evidence that either corn
starch or corn syrup was used in period.
The first European reference to the
tomato is apparently one in a book published
in Venice in 1544; it describes the tomato as
having been brought to Italy “in our time”
and eaten in Italy “fried in oil and with salt
and pepper.” It appears from later references
that tomatoes were used as food in both
Spain and Italy from the 1500's on. The first
printed recipes using tomatoes appear in
Italian at the end of the 17th century and are
described as “alla Spagnuola.” The first use
of “Tomato” in English occurs in 1604 in a
description of the West Indies (OED). As late
as 1753, an English writer describes tomatoes
as “a fruit...eaten either stewed or raw by the
Spaniards and Italians and by the Jew
families in England.” But another writer, at
about the same time, asserts that the tomato
is “now much used in England,” especially
for soups and sauces. (Most of this is from
It appears tomatoes are out of period for
northern Europe and late period for southern
Europe, but that no period recipes more
elaborate than “fried in oil and with salt and
pepper” are known.
Capsicum Peppers
The term “pepper” refers to two entirely
different groups of plants. The spice pepper,
both black and white, is the fruit of any of a
group of related Old World trees and is
routinely mentioned in period cookbooks.
The capsicum peppers, which include both
hot peppers (chili, cayenne, paprika, etc.) and
sweet or bell peppers, are New World.
According to the OED, the first English use
of the word “chili” is in 1662. According to
Dewitt and Gerlach, there is a Spanish
reference to hot peppers from the New World
in 1493; apparently the seeds had been
brought back by Columbus. They assert that
peppers are mentioned in Italy in 1526 and in
Hungary (in a list of foreign seeds planted in
a noblewoman’s garden–as “Turkish Red
Pepper”) in 1569. They also say that
“according to Leonhard Fuchs, an early
German professor of medicine, chiles were
cultivated in Germany by 1542, in England
by 1548, and in the Balkans by 1569.”
Assuming that both the dates they give and
those they attribute to Fuchs are correct, it
sounds as though chile peppers, at least, had
spread through much of Europe by 1600.
This does not, however, imply that they were
in common use. We have not found any
period recipes using capsicum peppers, nor
period references to their being served at
Some beans are New World, some Old
World. Crosby lists “lima, sieva, Rangoon,
Madagascar, butter, Burma, pole, curry,
kidney, French, navy, haricot, snap, string,
common, and frijole bean” as American and
mentions that soybeans are Old World. Broad
beans, aka fava beans, are also Old World, as
are lentils, chickpeas and the black-eyed
bean (Vigna unguiculata). According to
Crosby, the haricot bean “was in Europe by
at least 1542, for in that year the botanists
Tragus and Leonard Fuchs described and
sketched it. It was probably grown in
appreciable quantities in France by the end of
the century; otherwise, why would the
Englishman, Barnaby Googe, write of it as
the 'French bean' in 1572?” There is also one
reference to kidney beans and French beans
being grown in the Middle East in the 1570's
(Crosby). Some Old World beans were
known in Asia but not, as far as we know, in
Europe or the Middle East; these include soy
beans in China and mung beans in India.
With peanuts as with corn, there has
been some controversy over origin. The OED
describes them as native to the New World
and West Africa. Higgins discusses the
evidence at some length and concludes that
the peanut is a New World plant introduced
into West Africa early in the sixteenth
century, probably by the Portuguese, and into
the East Indies at about the same time,
probably by both the Portuguese and the
Spanish. European explorers in Africa a
century later observed peanuts, maize,
cassava, and tobacco, and concluded that
they all were native. He cites Chevalier,
Auguste, “Histoire de L'Arachide.,” Rev. Bot.
Appl. & d'Agr. Trop. 13 (146 & 147): 722752. According to Cosby, peanuts were
grown in China in the sixteenth century.
There is some archeological evidence
for peanuts in China at a much earlier date,
briefly discussed by Simoon; my conclusion
from his discussion is that the evidence is
probably wrong.
The OED reports no uses of “peanut”
(or “groundnut” as a synonym for “peanut”)
prior to the eighteenth century.
Pumpkin, Squash, Gourd
It seems to be well established that at
least three of the four cultivated species of
Cucurbita (C. pepo, C. moschata and C.
maxima) existed in the New World long
before Columbus; the fourth (C. ficifolia) is
“ordinarily not thought of as a cultivated
plant” (Whittaker), but apparently has been
cultivated in the past. Whitaker argues, on
the evidence of the absence of these species
in the fifteenth century European herbals and
their presence in the sixteenth century ones,
that they were introduced into Europe from
the New World. A variety of C. pepo similar
to the squash now known as “Small Sugar” is
illustrated in an herbal of 1542. What appears
to be a field pumpkin is illustrated in 1560,
with other varieties appearing in later herbals
during the century. Whitaker concludes that
“none of the cultivated species of Cucurbita
were known to the botanists of the Western
world before 1492.” If so, all varieties of
pumpkins, squash, and vegetable marrows
are inappropriate before 1492; some were
known in the sixteenth century, but may or
may not have been sufficiently common to be
used in feasts.
There is, however, a plant translated as
“gourd” in both Italian and Islamic
cookbooks before 1492. The Four Seasons of
the House of Cerruti, which is 14th century,
shows a “Cucurbite” that looks exactly like a
green butternut squash–a fact of which
Whitaker seems unaware when asserting the
absence of all varieties of Cucurbita from
pre-sixteenth century sources. It seems likely,
however, that his conclusion was correct, and
that what is shown in the picture and used in
the recipes is not C. pepo but Lagenaria
sicereia. For details see Paris et. al.
“The white-flowered gourd, Lagenaria
sicereia,” seems to “have been common to
both Old and New Worlds” (Whitaker). I am
told that the Italian Edible Gourd is a species
of Lagenaria and available from J. L.
Hudson, Seedman (www.jlhudsonseeds.net/).
Simoons describes a Lagenaria used in
modern Chinese cooking. We have obtained
what we think is the right gourd from a
Chinese grocery store and used it in period
recipes with satisfactory results. The taste
and texture are similar to zucchini but less
bitter. The Chinese, or perhaps Vietnamese,
name for one variety, which the grower
assured us had white flowers, is "opo."
Pineapple and Guava
These are New World fruits that were
being grown in India in the 16th Century
Blueberry and Cranberry
It appears from comments by Simmons
that the term “blueberry” describes a number
of different New World species of the genus
Vaccinium; the bilberry, which is a member
of the same genus, is Old World. The
blueberry produces “larger and better
flavored berries than the European bilberry.”
According to McGee, “The cultivated
blueberry, a native of the American east,
north, and northwest, has been purposely
bred only since about 1910 ... .”
According to McGee, cranberries are
also species of Vaccinium. According to
several earlier sources, there is disagreement
as to whether they are members of Vaccinium
or belong in a separate genus, Oxycoccus.
There are both old world and new world
cranberries, but “the commercial cranberry ...
is an American native.” (McGee) The word
“cranberry” seems to have come into use
with the new world variant of the berry.
It sounds, in both cases, as though a
jelly made from modern berries would
correspond pretty closely to something that
might have been eaten in Europe in period,
but individual berries would look noticably
different from their old world relatives. We
do not know of any period recipes using
either berry.
According to the OED, the word
“allspice” is first used in 1621 and “vanilla”
in 1662. Both are from the New World. They
might have been used earlier in Spain or
Italy, since South American foods seem to
have reached those countries earlier than
A drink made from cocoa was drunk by
the Aztecs; according to the Larousse, it was
unsweetened, flavored with vanilla, and
drunk cold. Cocoa was brought back by the
Spaniards in the sixteenth century; they
flavored it “with chillies and other hot
spices” and made it “into a soup-like
concoction.” The first recorded use of
chocolate in England was in 1650;
Wadsworth published a recipe, apparently
translated from Spanish, in 1652.
Black cites chocolate almonds being
produced by 1670 and the use of chocolate
“to flavour little light cakes called ‘puffs’”
and as a dinner dessert, with one recipe
dating from 1681. Clotilde Vesco gives
several recipes using chocolate which she
dates to the fifteenth century (!) and
attributes to documents in Florentine
archives, if I correctly interpret the passage,
but she gives little information about the
originals and I suspect has either misdated or
mistranslated them. Perhaps some reader
whose Italian is better than mine can pursue
the matter further.
The OED gives the first use of
“Chocolate” in English as 1604, in a history
of the Indies. References to drinking it start
in the 1660's. The word “Cocoa” appears
much later.
My conclusion is that a drink made from
cocoa beans is in period, at least for Spanish
personae, although the drink would be very
different from modern cocoa, but that the use
of chocolate as a food or an ingredient in
foods is probably out of period.
There seems to have been some
confusion initially with the guinea fowl, an
Old World bird also called a turkey, making
it unclear which early mentions refer to what
we now call turkeys. There are, however,
artistic representations of Turkeys from the
16th century as well as recipes and other
references, making it reasonably certain that
turkeys were being eaten in Europe before
Batchelor, Leon D. and Webber, Herbert
John, The Citrus Industry, 1946.
Black, Maggie, “Seventeenth Century
Chocolate,” in Petits Propos Culinaires, 14,
June 1983.
Coe, Sophie, articles on Aztec and Inca food
in Petits Propos Culinaires, 19, 20, 21, and
Crosby, Alfred W. Jr., The Columbian
Publishing, Westport CT, 1972.
Dewitt, Dave and Gerlach, Nancy, The
Whole Chile Pepper Book, Little, Brown Co.,
Boston 1990.
Finan, John J., Maize in the Great Herbals.
Chronica Botanica Company, Waltham,
Mass. 1950.
Hattox, Ralph S., Coffee and Coffeehouses,
The Origins of a Social Beverage in the
Medieval Near East, University of
Washington Press, Seattle, 1985.
Higgins, B. B., “Origin and Early History of
Unpredictable Legume, A Symposium, The
National Fertilizer Association, Washington,
D.C. 1951.
Longone, Jan, From the Kitchen, The
American Magazine and Historical Chronicle
Vol. 3 No. 2 1987-88. My principal source
on tomatoes.
Mangelsdorf, Paul C., Corn: Its Origin,
Evolution and Improvement. Harvard
University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1974.
McGee, Harold, On Food and Cooking: The
Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Consumer's
Union, Mt. Vernon, N.Y. 1984.
Paris, Harry S. et al., “The Cucurbitaceae
and Solanaceae illustrated in medieval
manuscripts known as the Tacuinum
Sanitatis,” Annals of Botany Vol.103:8
(2009), webbed at: http://www.hort.purdue
Simmons, Alan E., Growing Unusual Fruit,
Walker and Company, N.Y. 1972.
Simoons, Frederick J., Food in China, CRC
Press, Boca Raton 1991.
Spencer, Judith tr., The Four Seasons of the
House of Cerruti (late fourteenth century
Vesco, Clotilde, Cucina Fiorentina fra
Medioevo e Rinascimento, 1984.
Wadsworth, Capt. John, Chocolate: or, An
Indian Drinke. London, 1652. Apparently
translated from a book by Melchor de Lara,
"Physitian General for the Kingdome of
Spaine", 1631.
Whitaker, Thomas W., “American Origin of
the Cultivated Cucurbits,” Annals of the
Missouri Botanical Garden, 1947.
Wilson, C. Anne, Food and Drink in Britain:
From the Stone Age to recent times, Harper
and Row 1974. This is an extraordinarily
careful and detailed book.
This essay is still growing; if you come
across relevant information, please write.
Scottish Oat Cakes: A Conjectural Reconstruction
"the only things they take with them [when
riding to war] are a large flat stone placed
between the saddle and the saddle-cloth and a
bag of oatmeal strapped behind. When they have
lived so long on half-cooked meat that their
stomachs feel weak and hollow, they lay these
stones on a fire and, mixing a little of their
oatmeal with water, they sprinkle the thin paste
on the hot stone and make a small cake, rather
like a wafer, which they eat to help their
digestion." (Froissart’s Chronicles, Penguin
Books translation.)
So far as I know, there are no surviving
period recipes for oat cakes. This article is an
attempt to reconstruct them, mainly on the basis
of Froissart’s brief comment.
Rolled oats—what we today call
“oatmeal”—are a modern invention. I assume
that "oat meal" in the middle ages meant the
same thing as "meal" in other contexts—a
coarse flour. The only other ingredient
mentioned is water, but salt is frequently
omitted in medieval recipes—Platina, for
instance, explicitly says that he doesn’t bother to
mention it—so I have felt free to include it. The
oat cakes Froissart describes are field rations, so
unlikely to contain any perishable ingredients
such as butter or lard, although they may
possibly have been used in other contexts.
Consistent with these comments, the
following is my conjectural recipe for oatcakes
as they might have been made by Scottish
troopers c. 1400:
½ c steel-cut oats
¼ t salt
¼ c water
Combine all ingredients and let the mixture
stand for at least fifteen minutes. Make flat
cakes ¼" to ⅜" in thickness, cook on a medium
hot griddle, without oil, about 3-5 minutes. The
result is a reasonably tasty flat bread, though
inclined to be crumbly.
(An earlier version of this article was
published in Serve it Forth: A Periodical Forum
for SCA Cooks, Volume I, Number 2 (April
1996). Information on that publication, which
unfortunately is no longer coming out, is at
Hildegard von Bingen’s Small Cakes
Some time ago I found on the web a
fictitious—I am tempted to say fraudulent—
recipe entitled “St. Hildegard's Cookies of
Joy.” I gather that versions can be found
offline as well. It is a modern spice cookie
recipe, including baking powder, sugar,
butter and egg.
The original on which the recipe claims
to be based, from a 12th century book on
healing, consists of two sentences from the
entry on “nutmeg.” They read as follows:
"Take some nutmeg and an equal weight
of cinnamon and a bit of cloves, and
pulverise them. Then make small cakes with
this and fine whole wheat flour and water.
Eat them often. ..."
As you can see, this not only does not
contain baking powder, which had not yet
been invented, it does not contain sugar,
butter, or egg either.
The following is an attempt to
reconstruct what Hildegard actually intended.
The only addition is salt—my justification
for that being Platina’s comment in his
cookbook to the effect that he doesn’t
mention salt because everyone knows to add
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
½ t cloves
1 c whole wheat flour
¼ c water
¼ t salt
Mix the spices with the flour, stir in the
water and knead until it is smooth. Divide
into four equal portions, roll each into a ball,
flatten it a little. Bake on a greased cookie
sheet at 300° for 30 minutes, turning them
over after the first fifteen.
It is clear from context that the cakes are
intended mainly for medicinal purposes; as
Hildegard writes:
“It will calm all bitterness of the heart
and mind, open your heart and impaired
senses, and make your mind cheerful. It
purifies your senses and diminishes all
harmful humors.”
It doesn’t taste bad, either.
Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica,
Priscilla Throop tr., Healing Arts Press,
Rochester, VT 1998.
To Prepare a Most Honorable Feast
by Maistre Chiquart
translated by Elizabeth of Dendermonde
And first, God permitting to be held a
most honorable feast at which are kings,
queens, dukes, duchesses, counts, countesses,
princes, princesses, marquis, marquises,
barons, baronesses and lords of lower estate,
and nobles also a great number, there are
needed, for the ordinary cookery2 and to
make the feast honorably, to the honor of the
lord who is giving the said feast, the things
which follow.
And first: one hundred well-fattened
cattle, one hundred and thirty sheep, also
well fattened, one hundred and twenty pigs;
and for each day during the feast, one
hundred little piglets, both for roasting and
for other needs, and sixty salted large well
fattened pigs for larding and making soups.
And for this the butcher will be wise and
well-advised if he is well supplied so that if it
happens that the feast lasts longer than
expected, one has promptly what is
necessary; and also, if there are extras, do not
butcher them so that nothing is wasted.
And there should be for each day of the
feast two hundred kids and also lambs, one
hundred calves, and two thousand head of
And you should have your poulterers,
subtle, diligent, and wise, who have forty
horses for going to various places to get
venison, hares, conies, partridges, pheasants,
small birds (those which they can get without
number), river birds (those which one can
obtain), pigeons, cranes, herons, and all wild
birds – what one can find of whatever wild
birds. And they should turn their attention to
this two months or six weeks before the feast,
and they should all have come or sent what
they could obtain by three or four days
before the said feast so that the said meat can
be hung and each dealt with as it ought to be.
And they should provide for each day of
The phrase I translate “ordinary cookery”
probably means the food prepared for the servants
and the rest of the household as opposed to that
prepared for the lords.
the said feast six thousand eggs.
Again, for the said feast there should be
provided two charges [about 320 pounds] of
the major spices, that is white ginger, Mecca
ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, and
The minor spices: of nutmeg six pounds,
of cloves six pounds, of mace six pounds,
and of galingale six pounds; again, 30 loaves
of sugar, 25 pounds of saffron, 6 charges of
almonds, one charge of rice, 30 pounds of
amydon, 12 baskets of candied raisins, 12
baskets of good candied figs, 8 baskets of
candied prunes, a quintal [about 110 pounds]
of dates, 40 pounds of pine nuts, 18 pounds
of turnsole, 18 pounds of alkanet, 18 pounds
of gold leaf [!?], one pound of camphor, one
hundred ells of good and fine tissue for
straining; and these things are for nothing but
the use of the kitchen. And again, there
should be for the said feast two hundred
boxes of sugar-spice pellets of all sorts and
colors to put on potages. And if the feast lasts
longer one will thus be provided with extra.
And for the profit of the lord who gives
the feast, and in order to satisfy the need
more promptly and quickly, one should grind
to powder the aforesaid spices which are
necessary for the said feast, and put each
separately into large and good leather bags.
And in order to better prepare the said
feast without reprehension or fault, the
house-stewards, the kitchen masters, and the
master cook should assemble and come
together three or four months before the feast
to put in order, visit, and find good and
sufficient space to do the cooking, and this
space should be so large and fine that large
working sideboards can be set up in such
fashion that between the serving sideboards
and the others the kitchen masters can go
with ease to pass out and receive the dishes.
And for this there should be provided
large, fair, and proper cauldrons for cooking
large meats, and other medium ones in great
abundance for making potages and doing
other things necessary for cookery, and great
hanging pans for cooking fish and other
necessary things, and large common pots in
great abundance for making soups and other
things, and a dozen fair large mortars; and
check the space for making sauces; and there
should be twenty large frying pans, a dozen
large casks, fifty small casks, sixty cornues
[bowls with handles], one hundred wooden
bowls, a dozen grills, six large graters, one
hundred wooden spoons, twenty-five slotted
spoons both large and small, six hooks,
twenty iron shovels, twenty rotisseries, with
turning mechanisms and irons for holding the
spits. And one should definitely not trust
wooden spits, because they will rot and you
could lose all your meat, but you should have
one hundred and twenty iron spits which are
strong and are thirteen feet in length; and
there should be other spits, three dozen
which are of the aforesaid length but not so
thick, to roast poultry, little piglets, and river
fowl. And also, four dozen little spits to do
endoring and act as skewers.
And there should be two casks of
vinegar, one of white and one of claret, each
of eight sommes [110 gallons], a good cask
of fine verjuice of twenty sommes [275
gallons], and a cask of oil of ten sommes
[137 ½ gallons].
And there should be one thousand
cartloads of good dry firewood and a great
storehouse full of coal, and you should
always be sure of having more in case of
there not being enough.
And so that the workers are not idle, and
so that they do not lack for anything, there
should be delivered funds in great abundance
to the said kitchen masters to get salt, potvegetables and other necessary things which
might be needed, which do not occur to me at
And in order to do things properly and
cleanly, and in order to serve and accomplish
it more quickly, there should be provided
such a large quantity of vessels of gold, of
silver, of pewter, and of wood, that is four
thousand or more, that when one has served
the first course one should have enough for
serving the second and still have some left
over, and in the mean time one can wash and
clean the vessels used during the said first
And as at such a feast there could be
some very high, puissant, noble, venerable
and honorable lords and ladies who do not
eat meat, for these there must be fish, marine
and fresh-water, fresh and salt, in such
manner as one can get them.
And as the sea-bream is king of the
other sea fish, listed first is the sea-bream,
conger-eel, grey mullet, hake, sole, red
mullet, dorade, plaice, turbot, sea-crayfish,
tuna, sturgeon, salmon, herrings, sardines,
sea-urchin, mussels, eels, boops, ray, cuttlefish, arany marine, anchovies, eels, both
fresh and salted.
Concerning fresh-water fish: big trout,
big eels, lampreys, filleted char, fillets of big
pike, fillets of big carp, big perch, ferrés,
pallés, graylings, burbot, crayfish, and all
other fish.
And because at this feast there are some
lords or ladies as was said above who have
their own master cooks whom they command
to prepare and make ready certain things, for
such there should be given and made
available to the said master cook quickly,
amply, in great abundance and promptly
everything for which he asks and which he
needs for the said lord or lady or both so that
he can serve them to his taste.
And also there should be 120 quintals of
best cheese; of good and fine white cloth six
hundred ells to cover the sideboards, fish,
meats, and roasts; and sixty ells of linen cloth
to make the colors of the jellies; and of white
broadcloth to make the colors like the color
of hyppocras, to make a dozen colors.
And there should be two large twohanded knives for dismembering cattle, and a
dozen dressing knives for dressing; and also,
two dozen knives to chop for potages and
stuffings, and to prepare poultry and fish;
also, half a dozen scrubbers to clean the
sideboards and the cutting boards, and a
hundred baskets for carrying meat to the
casks, both raw and cooked, which one
brings to and from the sideboards, and also
for bringing coal, for roasts and wherever it
is needed and also for carrying and collecting
serving vessels.
And if it happens that the feast is held in
winter you will need for the kitchen for each
night sixty torches, twenty pounds of wax
candles, sixty pounds of tallow candles for
visiting the butchers' place, the pastry-cooks'
place, the place for the fish, and all the
doings of the kitchen.
And for the making of pastry there
should be a large and fair building close to
the kitchen which can be made for two large
and fair ovens for making meat and fish
pastries, tarts, flans and talmoses,3 ratons,4
and all other things which are necessary for
doing cooking.
And for this the said workers should be
provided with 30 sommes [about 412 gallons]
of best wheat flour for the aforesaid needs,
and should be sure of getting more if the
feast lasts longer.
And because, by the pleasure of the
blessed and holy Trinity, the which without
fail gives us amply of all good things, we
have good and fair and great provisions for
making our feast grandly, it is necessary for
us to have master cooks and workers to make
dishes and subtleties for the said feast; and if
it happens that one is not provided with the
said cooks and workers, one should send a
summons to places where one can find them
so that the said feast can be handled grandly
and honorably.
Notes: Master Chiquart was chief cook
to the Duke of Savoy and in 1420 composed
Du Fait de Cuisine, from which the above is
taken. He goes on to give both meat-day and
fish-day menus for his feast, which is to last
two days and consists of dinner and supper
on both days, and he includes recipes for
most of the dishes. These range from the
simple to the extremely elaborate; his
entremet consisting of a castle would take
another article to describe.
It is often said that medieval food was
highly spiced; since most medieval recipes
do not give any quantities at all it is hard to
tell if this is true or not. Chiquart, however,
lists amount of meat for his whole feast by
number of animals and amount of spices by
weight. My lord, Cariadoc, has calculated the
approximate amount of meat (on the
A kind of cheese and egg pie.
A sort of cake: see recipe for Rastons, p. 9.
assumption that Chiquart's animals were
smaller than ours) to get a total of about
70,000 pounds of boneless meat, plus
whatever amount of meat Chiquart got from
game; this gives a ratio of spices to meat of
about 1:100 by weight. This is not far from
what he and I use for medieval dishes when
we prepare them to our own taste, suggesting
that the “heavily overspiced” theory is
Terence Scully. Du Fait de Cuisine par
Maistre Chiquart, 1420. (Ms. S 103 de la
bibliotheque Supersaxo, a la Bibliotheque
cantonale du Valais, a Sion.). Vallesia v. 40,
pp. 101-231, 1985.
(Published in Tournaments Illuminated #84)
To Make a Feast
The first step in planning a feast, even
before choosing recipes, is to make a rough
estimate of the available resources. How
many people are willing to spend most of the
event helping you cook? How many more are
willing to spend a few hours chopping onions
or rolling meatballs? How many ovens and
burners does the kitchen have? Is your
group–or the kitchen you are using–well
provided with ten gallon pots and twelve inch
frying pans? How much money will be
available to spend on the feast and how many
people should you expect to feed? The
answers to questions like these will
determine what sort of a feast it is practical to
put on. If you are feeding a hundred people
by yourself using one stove, you had better
plan on something simple–perhaps a thick
soup, bread, cheese, and fruit. With eight
assistant cooks, four stoves and a fair number
of helpers, you can plan something a good
deal more elaborate.
Once you have a rough estimate of
resources, the next step is to work out a
tentative menu. To do that you require a
source of period recipes. There are two
places to find them: primary sources
(cookbooks written in period) and secondary
sources, modern cookbooks giving workedout versions of recipes from primary sources.
The problem with primary sources is
that they rarely give information on details
such as quantities, temperatures or times.
That makes working out the recipes fun but
time consuming; you will want to cook each
dish several times, noting details of how you
did it and modifying your instructions
according to how it turns out, before serving
it to a hall full of guests.
The problem with secondary sources is
that they cannot always be trusted. If all you
have is the modern version of the recipe, it is
hard to tell if it is a careful and competent
interpretation of the original, a careless and
incompetent interpretation, or a modern
recipe distantly inspired by something
period. This applies to secondary sources
produced within the SCA as well as to those
produced elsewhere. It is not safe to assume
that just because a cookbook has the name of
a kingdom or barony on it, the recipes inside
are from the Middle Ages; in our experience,
the odds are that they are not. The same is
true for recipes printed in T.I. or C.A.
Sometimes they are period, sometimes they
are not–and sometimes they say they are
period and are not, which is the worst case.
We therefore suggest that if you use
secondary sources you restrict yourself to
ones which include the original recipes as
well as the worked out versions. Always
remember that what the author has added to
the original is simply his guess; you are free
to substitute your own.
Suppose you have obtained a suitable
number of recipes, directly from a primary or
secondary source or indirectly through the
local cooking guild or someone in your group
who got them from such a source. Before
definitely deciding to use one, cook it and try
it. That will give you an idea both of how it
tastes and of how much trouble it is to make.
In drawing up your menu, there are
three points to consider. The first is the
balance of flavors and textures. It is unlikely
that you will want to cook a feast made up
mainly of roast meats, or mainly of stews, or
containing only spicy dishes or only bland
dishes. Imagine eating the feast; if you think
you would be bored half way through, you
have the wrong menu. Avoid having any one
ingredient in every dish; if there are eggs in
everything, anyone allergic to eggs cannot
eat. Try to include one or two substantial
meatless dishes so that vegetarians will have
something to eat. Also, remember that
different people have different tastes. You
will probably want some exotic dishes; there
is little point in doing a genuine medieval
feast and having it taste like something from
Denny's. On the other hand, some of your
guests will have plain tastes; there should be
something for them too. My own policy is to
put the more exotic dishes early in the feast,
so that those who do not like them can fill up
with the plainer dishes later. Besides, people
are more likely to try something strange
when they are hungry–and they might like it.
The second consideration is whether the
feast you are planning is one you can cook.
Do you have enough oven space for the
number of pies you are planning? Are you
doing more labor-intensive dishes than you
have labor? How expensive are the
ingredients? Once you have the menu worked
out you will do detailed calculations to
answer these questions, but it is useful to
keep them in the back of your mind while
designing the menu.
The third consideration is quantity. If
you are serving eight main dishes, your guest
does not have to make a full meal out of each
of them. Our rule of thumb is to allow a total
of half a pound of meat per person. That
means that for every dish you estimate the
total amount of meat, including fish and fowl
and not counting fat, bones, or skin, add it up
for all the dishes and divide by the number of
people. If you have a lot of bulky non-meat
dishes–soups or pies thickened with egg and
cheese, for example–you might want to
reduce the total to a third of a pound. If you
are not certain how many guests will show
up, you may want to make contingency
plans—ways of expanding or contracting
your feast at the last minute.
You now have a tentative menu. Next
you will want to work out a set of detailed
plans showing what is done when and how
much it all costs. One convenient way of
doing this is to use time lines. Make a list of
all the fixed resources that you are afraid you
may not have enough of–ovens, burners,
large pots, electric frying pans. List them
down the left side of a sheet of graph paper.
Across the top of the sheet mark the time,
starting whenever you plan to start cooking
and ending when the last dish is served.
Draw a horizontal line for each item. Mark
on that line what the item is being used for at
each time. The result (for a few items and a
few dishes) will look something like the
figure below.
To make sense of the diagram, start with
the meat pottage (recipe on p. 22). It occupies
a 10 gallon pot from 2:00 until 6:30, when it
will be served. The first stage in cooking it is
to boil the meat; this is done on burner 1
from 2:00 to 3:00. The pottage is then taken
off the burner, which is then free to be used
for something else. The meat is taken out of
the broth, cut up, and put back in along with
beef broth, bread crumbs, and spices. At 5:30
the pot goes back on the stove, this time on
burner 2 (burner 1 is by that time being used
for something else) and is brought to a boil;
the rest of the ingredients (chopped parsley,
grated cheese, and eggs) are stirred in.
Starting at 2:20, the second 10 gallon
pot is used on burner 2 to boil the eggplant
Meat Pottage
Burner 1
Meat Pottage
Burner 2
Spinach-Cheese Pies
Oven 1
Meat Pottage
10 gallon pot
10 gallon pot
5 gallon pot
Lge Frying pan
which is one of the ingredients of buran, a
medieval Islamic dish (p. 90). After that is
finished, a 5 gallon pot of rice goes onto the
burner. The rice is being cooked early
because all the burners are needed for the last
hour before the feast; a five gallon pot full of
food should stay warm for a long time after it
comes off the stove.
Starting about 4:15, the eggplant that
was earlier boiled is fried in sesame oil, using
the large frying pan on burner 1. When that is
done the frying pan is rinsed out and used to
fry the meatballs that are the other main
ingredient in buran.
Obviously, lots of things are happening
that are not shown on the chart. Meatballs
and pie crusts must be made, pie filling
mixed, and so forth. The chart was drawn on
the assumption that none of those processes
used scarce resources; there are plenty of
plates to pile the meat balls on and rolling
pins for rolling out pie crusts. Equally
obviously, unless this is a very small and
very oddly balanced feast, what is shown is
only part of the chart; other resources are
being used for other dishes.
The purpose of drawing up such a chart
is not to figure out exactly what everything
will be used for at every instant. That is not
possible; something is certain to go wrong,
and your plans will have to be revised on the
spot. What the chart does is to show you
whether or not it is possible to cook the feast
you have planned in the kitchen you are
using and where problems are likely to occur.
If, after juggling alternative schedules, you
discover that there is no way to produce the
feast without using two more burners than
you have, you can change your plans
accordingly. Perhaps you should have one
more baked dish and two fewer fried ones.
Perhaps you should make an effort to get a
couple of really large pots, thus allowing
more food to cook on each burner. Perhaps
you could shift the frying off the stove onto a
couple of electric frying pans. Whatever the
solution, it is better to discover the problem
now than in the middle of cooking the feast.
In describing the time line, I have left
out the most crucial resource of all–cooks.
Ideally, for a large feast, each cook should be
in charge of one dish–for a small feast, two.
Some cooks may be able to do more than
that, if there are dishes that can be completed
early in the day and others that need not be
started until fairly late, or if there are some
very easy dishes. Cooking rice, for instance,
is not a full time job, although cooking five
gallons at once is trickier than you might
expect. To decide which cooks do which
dishes, the simplest procedure is to show
them the recipes and let them choose for
themselves. Once a cook has chosen a recipe,
he should arrange to cook it for himself at
home at least once.
The number of cooks puts a limit on
how many dishes you can prepare on the day
of the feast. One way around that limit is to
do some of your cooking earlier. That is fine,
as long as you restrict yourself to dishes
which taste just as good the second day as the
first. Too much pre-cooking of too many
things and you end up spending a lot of time
and effort to produce the sort of meal you
expect to get in a college cafeteria.
Your time lines tell you whether you can
cook the feast you plan; you still need to find
out whether you can pay for it. Make up a
shopping list, showing how much of every
ingredient you will need. Then check out a
couple of supermarkets to find out how much
everything will cost. Add it all up and you
have a rough estimate of the cost of the feast.
With luck the real cost will be lower, since
you will do a more careful job of shopping
when you are actually buying the food.
You now have a reasonable idea of what
you need to do the feast. If it is consistent
with what you have, you are ready for the
next stage. If not, revise your menu, change
your plans, or find additional resources.
Once your plans are made, the next
thing to do is to arrange a practice dinner.
This is a dinner party for and by the cooks;
you may also want to invite the autocrat of
the event. Each cook prepares the dish or
dishes he will be making for the feast, in a
quantity appropriately scaled down for the
number present. The dishes are served in the
order in which they will be served in the
The practice dinner serves several
purposes. The most important is to test out
the feast as a whole. Does the balance of the
dishes seem satisfactory? Is there enough
food to fill everyone up, but not enough to
provide vast quantities of left-overs? Should
there be more of some dishes and less of
others? You get much better answers to such
questions by cooking the feast and eating it
than by staring at recipes.
A second purpose of the practice feast is
to get more precise information on what will
be needed to produce the real feast. As each
dish is prepared, the cook should note down
what tools are required, how large a pot was
needed for the amount made, and about how
much time each step took. If rolling enough
meatballs for eight people takes one cook
five minutes, then rolling enough for 240
people will take about two and a half manhours; that is useful information. If enough
gharibah to serve eight people fills a quart
pot, then enough for 240 will require about
an eight gallon pot. After the practice feast,
you can use the information to redo your
time lines more precisely. If you decide that
you should have more or less of some dishes,
you can alter the shopping list accordingly.
At this point you should also make a list of
all the tools you will need. It is possible to
roll out pie crust with a wine bottle, but a
rolling pin works better.
In estimating how long things will take,
remember that five gallons of water takes a
great deal longer to come to a boil than does
a quart. That is why, on the sample time line,
I allowed an hour and a half for cooking rice,
a task that normally takes about half an hour.
If you have a chance, you may want to
actually measure how long it takes a very
large pot of water to come to a boil on the
stove you will be using to cook the feast.
That will help you decide how much extra
time to allow for cooking large quantities.
A third purpose is to spot unexpected
problems. You should have discovered all
such problems already in the process of
drawing up the time lines, but don't count on
A fourth and last purpose of the practice
feast is to let the cooks get to know each
other, in a more relaxed context than cooking
a real feast.
After the practice feast is over and you
and the other cooks have finished discussing
its implications, you are ready for the final
stage of planning. Give the autocrat and the
chief server a list of dishes and ingredients so
that they can answer questions from people
with allergies or religious restrictions. Make
sure that everything on your list of necessary
equipment is being brought by someone.
Redo your time lines, taking account of what
you have learned and of any changes you
have decided on. If possible, leave some
margin for error. Try to schedule a couple of
hours free for yourself, sometime in the
afternoon; that way you will be available to
help with any crisis that develops. If the
crisis does not develop until later, you can
always spend the two hours helping to roll
Now you are ready to start shopping.
Decide what has to be bought the day before
the feast and what can be bought early; this
depends in part on the availability of
refrigerator and freezer space. Check
supermarket ads during the week before the
feast; someone may have chicken leg
quarters on sale for $.29/lb. Investigate bulk
food sources and see how their prices
compare. In Chicago, there is an area called
the Water Market where onions are sold in
fifty pound bags and squash in forty pound
boxes. If the prices are good enough, it may
be worth buying forty pounds of squash and
giving fifteen away. To locate bulk sources
in your area, you might try the business-tobusiness phone book, if there is one. Or ask
someone friendly at a local restaurant where
they get their food. Perhaps the chief cook
for the last event your group did can tell you
the best place for bulk eggs or meat.
Remember that, while the cost in money
of producing the feast is important, so is the
cost in time. Boned lamb shoulders may cost
a little more per pound of meat than unboned
ones, but they save a lot of time. What is sold
as washed spinach will have to be rewashed,
but the process will take a lot less time than
if you start with unwashed spinach. You do
not want to be penny wise and hour foolish.
In addition to the food, you will also
want to buy things such as dishwashing soap,
wax paper for rolling out piecrusts, plastic
wrap for covering things, paper towels,
sponges and scrubbies, scouring powder, and
whatever else you expect to need. Don't
forget to bring dish towels and one oven
thermometer for each oven.
Another thing to do at this stage, if you
have not already done it, is to locate a good
grocery store near the event site. I have still
not figured out why I ended up short ten
pounds of eggplants for the Tregirtse Twelfth
Night feast–but I am glad I knew where to
send someone to get them.
The cooking of the feast will probably
begin before the event; if you are making
mead, it may be a week, a month, or a year
before. If you are baking bread, you probably
want to do it the day before the event, so it
will be fresh. Some stews are just as good the
second day as the first, although if the stew is
thickened you have to be very careful to keep
it from scorching when you warm it up. Cold
nibbles, such as hais, hulwa, prince biscuit,
currant cakes, and the like keep well for a
long time; they can be made whenever
convenient. Arrange to have a reasonable
number of helpers at this stage of things.
Rolling hais is a simple process, but if you
are doing it by yourself for two hundred
people in the intervals between kneading
bread, putting bread in ovens, and taking
bread out of ovens, you may not get much
It is now the day of the event; you, the
food, the pots, the rolling pins, and three
boxes of assorted odds and ends have arrived
in the kitchen. Colored labels on ingredients
identify which course each is for (an idea
suggested to us by another experienced
cook). You have marked all of your pots and
tools and told everyone else to mark theirs.
Some of them will have forgotten, so be sure
you have tape and a waterproof pen. It may
be a good idea to make a list of what
everyone has brought, to make it more likely
that everything will get back to where it
Your assistant cooks arrive. Make sure
they know what is happening. Show them
where the time line is and where you have
the equipment and food. The idea of having
each cook in charge of a dish is to minimize
the degree to which everything depends on
As things start happening, try to keep
track. See who needs help, who has help to
offer. When it turns out that necessary
ingredients are missing, make up a shopping
list and arrange a grocery store run. Arrange
to set one of your volunteer workers to
washing things; that way clean pots and
utensils will be available when needed.
Check the oven temperatures with your
thermometers; their thermostats may not be
accurate. As you get close to the time the
feast is scheduled to be served, check with
the autocrat on timing. If the event is running
an hour late, there is no point in delivering
the feast on time and having it all eaten cold;
you may have to alter your plans
accordingly. When the feast actually starts,
coordinate the delivery of the dishes with
whomever is in charge of serving. Dishes
stay warm better in large pots on the stove
than sitting in bowls for half an hour waiting
for servers who are doing something else.
After the feast is done, the next stage is
cleanup. When you agreed to be head cook,
you made it clear to the autocrat that neither
you nor the other cooks intended, after
spending the first nine hours of the event
cooking the feast, to spend the next three
cleaning up, so someone else is in charge of
that. Your job is to notify whomever that is
that you are now finished with the kitchen.
After everything has been washed, it is your
job to make sure that everything borrowed
gets back to its owner; you are the one who
borrowed it. You may also want to make sure
that the leftover meat pottage goes home with
you, one of the other cooks, or someone else
who will appreciate it, instead of being
You are now done. If nothing went
catastrophically wrong, you have done a
good job. Note down the problems for next
time, thank everyone who helped you,
especially the lady who showed up in the
kitchen at noon and washed dishes for six
hours, go home and go to bed.
[by Cariadoc and Elizabeth]
An Islamic Dinner
Islamic feasts in the Society are only
occasionally cooked from recipes from
period sources; yet Islam was a literate
culture early in our period, with the result
that there are a number of surviving
cookbooks from the 10th to the 15th century.
My lord Cariadoc and I have been cooking
from the cookbooks available in English for
some years and now have a large stock of
tested Islamic recipes, so I decided to cook a
dinner for the Grey Gargoyles’ Spring
Tournament completely from medieval
Islamic recipes. I had three objectives in
designing the menu, in addition to making a
good dinner that my friends would enjoy: I
wanted to show something of the range of
medieval Islamic food; I wanted to make it a
very low-work feast, so that more of us could
enjoy the tourney; and I wanted to reduce the
cost as much as possible. Other
considerations included balance of flavors,
allowing for allergies, and limited kitchen
There are a number of recipes for
relishes or dips in the period Islamic
cookbooks. The feast started with one of
these, Badinjan Muhassa (p. 111), served
with bread. Unfortunately, I knew very little
about medieval Islamic bread other than the
fact that it existed, but I assumed that modern
pita bread would be a reasonable guess.
Badinjan Muhassa is based on eggplant,
ground and toasted walnut, and raw onion;
eggplant is probably the most common
vegetable in medieval Islamic cookbooks.
This version of the recipe is from a 10th
century collection; another version is in the
13th-century cookbook of al-Bagdadi.
The main course consisted of Tabâhajah
from the manuscript of Yahya b. Khalid (p.
97), a Cooked Dish of Lentils (p. 99), and
Andalusian Chicken (p. 77), served with rice.
The Tabâhajah is from another of the
cookbooks in the 10th-century collection. It
is one of those rare period recipes which
gives exact quantities for most of the
ingredients. It consists of meat (we used
lamb) marinated, cooked in oil, and topped
with chopped greens. The marinade is based
on murri, a condiment widely used in
medieval Islamic cooking. Real murri was
made by a lengthy process involving
fermentation; so far as we know it has not
been used since the 15th century. However,
there exists a period recipe for quick and
cheap imitation murri, and we made up a
supply of that for the marinade. Judging by
comments, and by how little was left over,
the Tabâhajah was the real hit of the feast.
The Cooked Dish of Lentils consists of
lentils cooked with onions and spices, with
eggs cooked on top at the end. It is one of the
easiest dishes I know of, the only real work
being chopping the onions, and is a favorite
with our after fighter practice crowd. It also
provides a main dish for vegetarians (at least
those who eat eggs). Both this and the
Andalusian Chicken are from an Andalusian
(Moorish Spanish) cookbook of the 13th
century by al-Andalusi.
The original title on the recipe for
Andalusian Chicken was just “Another
Dish,” so I gave it a more descriptive name.
It is made by frying the chicken with oil and
some seasonings “until it is gilded,”
simmering it in the juice of onion and green
coriander (cilantro), and finally thickening
the sauce with breadcrumb and egg.
Of the three main dishes, the lentil dish
has neither meat, wheat nor dairy products,
the Tabâhajah has neither eggs nor dairy
products, and the chicken has neither onions
nor dairy products, so that someone with any
single one of these common food allergies
would be able to eat at least one dish. With
only three main dishes, I could not allow for
multiple allergies. In order that our guests
could find out what was in the food, the
servers, both kitchens, and the autocrat were
provided with a list of all ingredients in each
dish, including drinks and desserts.
We served two drinks in addition to
water: sekanjabin (a sweet mint drink, p.
125) and a lemon drink (p. 125). Both of
these are made by making a flavored sugar
syrup, which keeps without refrigeration, and
diluting it to prepare the drink. Sekanjabin is
mentioned by al-Nadim in the 10th century
and still survives today; we used a modern
Middle-Eastern recipe. The lemon drink
comes from an anonymous 13th-century
Andalusian cookbook which has a great
many recipes for syrup drinks of this sort.
For dessert we served a plate of several
pastries and sweets. Khushkananaj (p. 116) is
a pastry made with flour and sesame oil with
a filling of almonds, sugar, and rosewater.
Hais (p. 124) are little balls made of dates,
ground nuts, breadcrumbs, and butter. They
are a fair amount of work, but as they keep
well (the original recipe recommends them as
travelers’ food) they were made a week in
advance. Both of these come from the 13thcentury eastern Islamic cookbook of alBagdadi. Hulwa is a general term for sweets
or candy. There is a recipe (p. 122) for
several kinds of hulwa in the 15th-century
eastern Islamic cookbook of Ibn al-Mabrad.
One kind is rather like modern divinity and
can be made with either sugar or honey; we
made it for the feast with sugar. A second
kind of candy we made is Makshufa (p. 122),
from al-Bagdadi’s cookbook, made with
sugar, honey, almonds, and sesame oil.
In the anonymous Andalusian cookbook
there is a discussion of whether food should
be served with each kind on a separate dish
or with everything on one platter: “Many of
the great figures and their companions order
that the separate dishes be placed on each
table before the diners, one after another; and
by my life, this is more beautiful than putting
an uneaten mound all on the table, and it is
more elegant, better-bred, and modern” [p.
24 verso-25 recto in the Arabic original]. In
spite of his strong words, I decided on the
inelegant version. We served each table a
large platter with rice on top of which were
the chicken, the lamb and the lentils next to
each other. The Badinjan Muhassa and the
bread were served first in small bowls, and
all the desserts for each table on one plate.
Practical Considerations
Cost: It is usually worth checking out
wholesale prices for the most expensive and
largest quantity items in a feast; for meats, it
is worth figuring out the cheapest cut that
will work for the dishes you are cooking. We
bought boneless lamb shoulders and chicken
leg quarters from a wholesale butcher who
happens to be our seneschal. If the butcher
had not been a member of the group we
would have had to cut up the lamb and cut
the chicken legs and thighs apart ourselves
rather than getting it done for us, but we still
would have gotten a much better price than at
the local grocery. Often ethnic or health food
stores will have some foods in bulk that
would be available in your local grocery only
in small quantities at high prices; we got nuts
and some of the spices in bulk at an Indian
grocery store. Serving one meatless main
dish (the lentils) also helped to keep the cost
down. The total cost of the food was about
$475 for almost 250 people. [This would
have been in about 1990.]
Quantity: My usual rule for estimating
quantities is that all dishes put together
should add up to about half a pound of
boneless meat per person, a little less if there
are a lot of hefty meatless dishes or if you
don’t expect people to be very hungry. Given
that this was a tournament, I expected people
to be hungry. I allowed a quarter pound of
lamb per person and 7 ounces of chicken
with bone, which comes to about another
quarter pound of boneless meat. How much
of the other dishes we wanted I estimated by
experience. I checked these estimates by
serving a “practice feast” a few weeks before
the event: the whole feast done in miniature
for 8 people. (This also helps to spot other
potential problems with a feast.)
What fed the whole crowd, with a few
main dish leftovers and a moderate amount
of dessert leftovers, was: 25 recipes of
Badinjan Muhassa, 64 recipes of Tabâhajah,
21 recipes of Cooked Dish of Lentils, 32
recipes of Andalusian Chicken, 3 recipes of
Hais, 8 recipes of Khushkananaj, 5 recipes of
Hulwa, 6.5 recipes of Makshufa, 5 recipes of
sekanjabin, and about 3 gallons of lemon
Work: I deliberately chose low-work
dishes, and ones where some of the work
could be done in advance. The walnut for the
Badinjan Muhassa was ground and toasted a
few days before the feast, and the Badinjan
Muhassa was mixed up the day before the
feast. The murri for the Tabâhajah was made
the week before. The hardest part of making
Andalusian chicken is turning onions and
green coriander into juice. We did that in
advance with the help of an unmedieval
blender and food processor, turning the
kitchen green in the process, and froze the
juice. The onions for the lentil dish were
chopped the day before; the desserts were
made anywhere from a week to a day in
advance, depending on how well they would
keep. The use of only one platter per table for
the main dishes and rice reduced the amount
of washing-up to be done.
Kitchens: Our site has two small
kitchens, the smaller one with a four-burner
stove and the larger with a six-burner stove.
Since the food was cooking in very large
pots, only two pots could fit onto the smaller
stove and four onto the larger. Both the rice
and the lentils could start cooking on the
stove and then be removed to finish cooking
by their own heat; five gallons of lentils or
nine gallons of rice will stay hot enough to
cook for a long time. (By the same token,
leftovers should be put in small containers
before being refrigerated after the feast: that
much food in one mass will stay warm
enough to spoil for a long time even in the
refrigerator.) We therefore cooked the rice
and lentils first and the lamb and chicken
afterward on the same stoves.
[by Elizabeth; originally published in
Tournaments Illuminated #105]
How to Make Arrack
Sugarcane is also used for the preparation of intoxicating liquor, but brown
sugar is better for this purpose. There are various ways of preparing it. They pound
Babul bark mixing it at the rate of ten sers to one man of sugarcane, and put three
times as much water over it. Then they take large jars, fill them with the mixture, and
put them into the ground, surrounding them with dry horse dung. From seven to ten
days are required to produce fermentation. It is a sign of perfection, when it has a
sweet, but astringent taste. ... This beverage, when strained, may be used, but it is
mostly employed for the preparation of arrack.
They have several methods of distilling it; first, they put the above liquor into
brass vessels, in the interior of which a cup is put, so as not to shake, nor must the
liquid flow into it. The vessels are then covered with inverted lids which are fastened
with clay. After pouring cold water on the lids, they kindle the fire, changing the
water as often as it gets warm. As soon as the vapour inside reaches the cold lid, it
condenses, and falls as arrack into the cup.
The Ain-i-Akbari, 16th c. Indian
Making this is probably illegal in the U.S. The method of distillation is one I first
encountered in a modern survival manual.
A Dinner at Pennsic
My lord and I have the custom of
cooking dinner for our entire encampment
one evening at Pennsic, working from period
recipes. On this occasion we were cooking
for 25 people. Our constraints are that there
are only two of us, although we usually get
some help; we have a fairly good kitchen setup, but it does not so far include an oven; we
do not keep a cooler at Pennsic; and we
wanted to do something simple enough that
we could be assured of being able to wash
the dishes in daylight.
The easiest sorts of food to cook over a
campfire are spit-roasted meat and dishes in a
large pot or frying pan. As no one in our
camp was making a grocery store run that
day, we decided against meat. Greens, eggs,
and butter were the most perishable
foodstuffs we were using, and all will keep
for a day or two without refrigeration as long
as you do not leave them out in the sun; also,
eggs are available on site. As we make them,
two of the recipes have meat broth. They
could, however, be made suitable for a
medieval fast day out of Lent (or for a
modern vegetarian) by using vegetable broth
instead, as the original recipes merely say
“good broth.” I figured that to feed that
number of people we would probably need
three large pots of food, so we might as well
make three different dishes as well as dessert.
There are several medieval versions of
noodles and cheese, both English and Italian.
We chose Losyns (p. 68) as it specifies that
the noodles be made in advance and dried,
allowing us to do so at our leisure before we
came. The name of the dish is presumably
related to lasagna, so one could make long
flat noodles, but we interpret it as the
losenges of heraldry and make diamondshaped noodles. We generally use a mixture
of whole wheat and white flour, on the theory
that most medieval flour would not be as fine
as our modern white flour. “Poudre douce”
(sweet powder) is a spice mixture used in
both this and the following recipe; we do not
know exactly what is in it, but our guess is
sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. We mixed it up
before we came.
The Carrots in Potage (p. 22) recipe is
originally for turnips in potage, with
“pastunakes” (carrots or parsnips) or skirrets
(a root vegetable we have been unable to
find) given as alternatives. It works fine with
all three of the vegetables we have tried, but
carrots are the easiest to be sure of finding in
a modern grocery store. For the Fried Broad
Beans (p. 17), we bought dried fava beans in
advance at a specialty food store. The greens
we used (cabbage, parsley, and spinach) were
period ones which we could buy locally;
other times we have used turnip, mustard, or
dandelion greens.
For a dessert, the most obvious choices
are fruit, sweets one can make in advance
and bring, such as Islamic candies and
pastries or late-period English cakes, and
things you can do in a frying pan. Since we
were eating fruit and nibbles we had brought
with us for most of our breakfasts and
lunches, we decided on Murakkaba (p. 119),
an interesting solution to the problem of how
to make a thick cake without an oven. There
are also English recipes for fritters we could
have made, but the murakkaba was such a hit
the previous year that we decided to repeat it.
Equipment needed:
Two large pots (1 ½ to 2 gallon) with
lids, plus a third to heat wash water; two
large frying pans for broad beans, one of
which gets re-used for murrakkaba; about
four bowls, one quite large; a cutting board; a
sharp knife or two; several big spoons and
ladles; a measuring cup and spoons (if you
don't want modern-looking ones, take a
period-looking mug and spoons and measure
how much they will hold at home); and a
cooking set-up which allows two large pots
and two frying pans on the fire at once.
What we made, which fed our 25 people
almost exactly, was: 4 recipes of Losyns, 4
recipes of Carrots in Potage, 4 recipes of
Fried Broad Beans and 3 recipes of
Murakkaba, done as 2 cakes.
[by Elizabeth; originally published in
Tournaments Illuminated #113]
Page 159
Part II: Articles
Articles Written in Persona
Concerning Gemstones
In the name of ALLAH,
The Merciful, the Compassionate,
Who is sufficient unto us,
upon Whom we depend and Whose aid we invoke,
by Whose mercy this work may serve the people of the Six Kingdoms
(for it is for that, that it is intended);
and it is written “Upon ALLAH we rely,”
and from Him also do we invoke the peace
on all of His prophets and worshippers,
who are sincere in obeying Him,
for there is no strength and no power
except with ALLAH,
The Exalted, the Almighty!
gemstones, and Theophrastos, and Pliny,
and after them many wise men in the East
and the West, that is to say among the
Arabs, the Persians, and the Moors, as for
instance Ibn al-Jezzar, Abu Ali ibn Sina and
al-Tifaschi, and also some philosophers of
the Franks have written about stones. Many
attribute magical properties to certain
gemstones, and according to others these
stones have such properties but they are not
magical, being according to the nature of the
stone. And Allah alone knoweth all.
It is my purpose to tell a little of how
gems are cut, and into what shapes, and
what gems are used among the different
peoples of the earth; it is my hope thus to be
of service to the people of the Six
Kingdoms, most especially to those who
would know what sorts of jewelry it is most
fitting to give as gifts to friends of other
nations, and also to such as themselves
desire to work with gemstones.
Concerning their Shaping
There are two ways I know of that
gems may be worked to the desired shape.
The first is told by Theophilus, a Frankish
craftsman; these are his words:
Rock crystal is water hardened into ice,
which is then hardened through many years
into stone. It is cut and polished in this way.
Take some chaser’s pitch, about which we
spoke above, and put it into the fire until it
melts. Then cement the crystal with it to a
long piece of wood of comparable thickness.
When it is cold, rub it with both hands on a
piece of hard sandstone, adding water, until
it takes on the shape you want to give it,
then on another stone of the same kind but
finer and smoother until it becomes
completely smooth. Now take a flat, smooth
lead plate and on it put a moistened tile
(which has been abraded [to dust] with
saliva on a hard hone) and polish the crystal
until it becomes brilliant. Lastly, put some
tile dust moistened with saliva on a goat skin
that is neither blackened nor greased,
stretched on a piece of wood and fastened
on the underside with nails. Rub on this until
Page 160
it is completely clear.
In the same way onyx, beryl, emerald,
jasper, chalcedony, and the other precious
stones are cut, ground and polished. A very
fine powder is also made from fragments of
crystal. This is mixed with water and put on
a smooth flat piece of lime wood and the
same stones are rubbed on it and polished.
Hyacinth, which is harder, is polished in the
following way. There is a stone called
emery, which is crushed until it is like sand,
then placed on a smooth copper plate and
mixed with water and the hyacinth is shaped
by rubbing on this. The washings which run
off should be carefully collected in a clean
basin and allowed to stand overnight. On
the following day the water should be
entirely removed and the powder dried.
Afterwards put it on a smooth flat limewood
board, wet it with saliva, and polish the
hyacinth on it. Gems made of glass are also
ground and polished in the same way as
rock crystal.
With regard to hard stones, it should be
said that sapphire and ruby are very hard,
and also certain sorts of the stone called
asterias, that has a star in it; these would
certainly require the use of emery. The stone
chrysoberyl, that some call chryselectrum, is
golden or pale green and has a line shining
in it like the eye of a cat, and it is very hard,
and so is the golden stone that Pliny calls
chrysolithus, but that is called topazos by
later writers, and also the stone balas, that
some say is a sort of ruby. It may be that all
of these would require emery for their
polishing, but I cannot say for I have not
polished stones in this fashion.
The other way in which stones may be
shaped is on a wheel, and it is done so for
the most part in civilized lands. The wheel
may be of stone, or of wood or metal or wax
and have on it powdered emery or other
such stuff mixed with water. Tripoli is also
used for polishing stones. Sometimes the
wheel is turned by a bow; the string wraps
around the shaft of the wheel and the
craftsman turns the wheel by moving the
bow back and forth with one hand, while
with the other he shapes the stone against
the turning wheel. I have heard also of
wheels turned by the feet, and even of great
stone wheels turned by water, but
those I have not seen.
The stone adamant is so hard
that it is said that it cannot be shaped or
polished, but it is set in its natural shape,
sometimes flat, sometimes like two
pyramids joined at their bases, and then it is
set with a sharp point upright and will write
on glass. Others say that adamant may be
polished, or even shaped, by rubbing one
against another, but this I have not seen or
done. Also I have heard that certain men
have the art of striking the stone so that it
breaks in two pieces, the break as smooth as
if it had been cut with a saw and then
Concerning the sawing of stones,
Theophilus writes:
If you want to cut up a piece of crystal,
fix four wooden pegs on a bench so that the
crystal lies firmly between them. They
should be spaced so that each of the pairs is
so closely fitted above and below that a saw
can just be drawn between them and cannot
be deflected anywhere. Then insert an iron
saw and throw on sharp sand mixed with
water. Have two men stand there to draw
the saw and to throw on sand mixed with
water unceasingly. This should be continued
until the crystal is cut into two parts; then
rub and polish them as above.
Concerning the engraving of stones,
this may be done in several ways. In the
simplest, a small sapphire or adamant is
fixed to the end of a rod and with it designs
are cut into the stone. Then again the rod
may be rotated with a bow; this is called a
bow drill. One can use in the same way a
drill of wood with a paste of water mixed
with emery or some other such stuff. Also
the stone can be engraved against a turning
wheel. All of these methods have been used
in the countries of the
East and the West and
among the Romans.
Theophilus says little
Page 161
about engraving stones and I do not know
how it is done among the Franks, or if they
have the skill for such work.
Sometimes when a stone is being
shaped, the lapidary discovers a flaw, or
some foreign matter within the stone. If the
stone is of little price he may elect to grind it
down on the wheel until the flaw is gone. To
do this with a stone of great value would be
costly, as the weight would be reduced by
the grinding away of much that was perfect
and whole in order to remove a little that
was imperfect; no man of sense would so
waste his money or his patron’s. Instead it is
common practice to make a cut in the
surface of the stone where it is flawed,
removing the flaw and polishing the sides of
the cut. It is for this reason that one often
sees a stone with such polished cuts in the
top of it. And as for emeralds, those of great
size are never flawless, and so the flaws are
permitted to remain.
Concerning their
Gemstones are for the most part cut in
one of two ways. Either the stone is cut with
a rounded top and bottom (I have heard that
the Franks call such a stone a cabochon, for
that it resembles in their eyes a small
cabbage) or it is polished all
over, keeping the natural
shape of the stone that no
weight be lost (and this is of
special importance in stones of
great price, for they are valued in large part
by their weight) and a hole drilled through
it. Stones of the first of these two sorts are
set in jewelry, held by a bezel or by claws;
the second sort can be strung on a necklace
or affixed to a piece of jewelry by a wire
through the hole, as is done among the
Romans. And the stones cut in the first way
have sometimes their backs hollowed
instead of domed, and then polished, that the
color may be more clearly seen, and this is
done especially with garnets. Also in setting
stones often a foil, of gold or of some other
metal, is put behind the stone to brighten it
and improve its color. Among certain
Frankish peoples, and especially the
English, it was of old the custom to cut and
polish garnets in thin slices and set them
upon a foil of gold marked like a game
board, done so fine that there might be
eighty lines to the inch. I have seen this
work myself and it is most skillfully done,
so that it is a wonder to me that it was done
by men who knew nothing of the Prophet
(on him be the peace and the blessings of
Allah!) or of the philosophers.
There are other ways in which stones
are cut, but these are for the most part new
fashions and I doubt whether a man of good
judgment ought to follow them. Some take
stones that are to be drilled and cover them
all over with small flat surfaces, polished,
called facets, taking care always to follow
the shape of the stone (if it be a valuable
one) and waste as little weight as may be.
Others, who have stones that are to be set
and not drilled, instead of cutting them
rounded put facets of the same sort on them.
This I have seen done in two ways. With
some stones (it may be those of greatest
price) there are many small facets, following
the shape of the stone as with drilled stones
and having no special pattern. With others
there are only a few; the top may be one
facet, and the four sides each flat, and
perhaps as many as eight facets on the
bottom side. All this work is done in Persia,
and I have seen the stones; I do not know
what the fashion may be among the Franks,
but doubtless they will in time copy it, for
stones cut in such ways sparkle in the
sunlight and are pleasing to the taste of
simple people. Another way in which stones
are cut is to take the form of the stone as it
comes from the earth, and this for some
(most especially emeralds, but also rock
crystal and others) is, as it were, a solid of
Euclid, with its surfaces plane, and to polish
these surfaces, and then drill the stone. It
may be that from this ancient practice the
idea of faceting arose. As for how stones are
set, that would be a matter for a treatise on
Page 162
jewelry, and that (if Allah is willing!) I shall
do at another time.
Concerning the Different Peoples
All stones were known to the Romans
in the old days when they ruled both Romes,
the old and the new, for Pliny wrote of them
all. In these times still the Romans know
many stones, and whether any known to the
old Romans are lost to them I cannot say.
Certain stones they favor most especially,
and these are emeralds and pearls, also
garnet and crystal they make much use of.
They use other stones also, but the especial
skill of their jewelers is with enamels, and
none in the East or the West is more skilled
in that craft.
The Franks in the old times, and
especially those of England, who were very
great jewelers, used agate and almandine
(that is a kind of garnet), also amethyst and
amber and jet, the last two being found on
the coasts of England. I have heard that
onyx and crystal were known to them. It
may be that they knew other stones also, but
that I cannot say.
In these days the Franks know the use
of many stones. But often for one stone they
use many names or one name signifies
stones that are wholly different. Thus the
ruby and the ballas ruby and the garnet are
all at times called by the one name:
carbuncle, that signifies a red stone. And
their philosophers cannot agree among
themselves concerning the naming of stones.
The Northmen are a people who live
north of the Franks; I have seen a little of
their work and it is very fine. I have heard
that they use garnets and crystal and also
amber and walrus ivory, but I think they
must know the use of other stones also, for
many of them are pirates and raid very far.
They have even raided in the West, in alAndalus. It is said that the fighting there was
very bloody; many women, children, and
Northmen were killed. Also some of them
take service with the Romans and doubtless
bring treasures from New Rome, which they
call the Great City.
The Irish are a people that live at the
end of the world, beyond the English. It is
said they use amber and crystal, and make
fine jewelry.
As to the peoples of the East and the
West, that is the Persians, the Arabs, and the
Moors, they know all stones and make use
of them.
Thanks be to ALLAH, the Merciful,
the Compassionate, that it has been
granted to me to complete this treatise to
serve the people of the Six Kingdoms, as is
the will of ALLAH, the One, the Only.
Notes & Bibliography
The above description of medieval
lapidary technology is in part conjectural,
based on what is known about classical
technology and pre-industrial Persian
techniques. In general, techniques are
described as “rumors”, etc., if it is
reasonably certain that they existed prior to
A.D. 1600 and possible (but not certain) that
they existed in the author's period: the 11th
or 12th century. Water-driven lapidary
wheels are an example.
There is no way to be certain that a
particular natural gemstone was not used in
a given historical period. Even if all modern
sources are in areas then inaccessible, some
other deposit might have been known in the
past and either lost or exhausted. Even if no
jewelry using the stone exists from the
period, that might mean only that it was
sufficiently rare that no pieces survived.
But where no positive evidence exists
in contemporary writings nor in surviving
pieces that a particular stone was used, and
where the known sources would in the past
have been difficult of access, one may
reasonably suppose that it was either totally
unknown or at least rare–and in the latter
case probably confused with some more
common stone that it resembled. Stones
which I believe would not have been known
in Europe in the Middle Ages have been
omitted from the list of medieval gemstones
Page 163
appended to these notes. Such stones are:
Alexandrite: First known discovery was
in the 19th century, but it is found in
Ceylon, which was an important source of
gem rough in period.
Black Opal: First known discovery was
in Australia.
Jade: Although prehistoric jade
weapons are known from Europe, and
although jade was used extensively in China
from very early times, it does not seem to
have been known as a distinct stone in
Europe until the 16th century, when it was
introduced from South America by the
Spanish. In the Middle East it probably
became known about the 13th century as a
result of the Mongol conquest of Persia.
Individual objects containing jade from
earlier periods have been reported, but
according to Ogden all of the specimens he
checked turned out to be other green stones.
Jade would presumably have been
misidentified as some other green stone,
possibly jasper, plasma, or chrysoprase.
Labradorite: A novelty when it was
discovered in Labrador in 1780. Deposits
also exist in Norway, Finland, and
Madagascar, but were apparently unknown
until recently.
Star Diopside: While it might be one of
the stones referred to as “asterias,” there
seems to be no evidence that it was known
prior to the 20th century.
Tanzanite: African in origin, apparently
first discovered in the 20th century. Its color
is the result of heat treatment.
Tiger Eye: The main sources are in
southern Africa and were discovered in the
19th century–it was regarded as a novelty at
the time.
Tourmaline: Gem tourmaline is said to
have been introduced to Europe by the
Dutch (from Ceylon) in 1703, but Ogden
describes one definite example from
classical antiquity and two others of
uncertain date, one of which may be
medieval. I have also seen stones identified,
I think correctly, as tourmaline in period
Persian pieces in a display at the
Metropolitan Museum in New York. Both
Pliny and al-Tifaschi mention stones that,
from their description, are rubellite—pink
Faceting. Persian faceted stones of the
sorts described above date back at least to
the 12th century; there is an example (a
faceted sapphire in a gold ring) in the
Walters collection in Baltimore. In the 15th
century faceted stones began to replace
cabochons in western European jewelry. The
table cut and the earliest forms of the rose
cut appear to have originated about 1500,
the systematic rose cut, the Mazarin, and the
early forms of the brilliant cut in the early
17th century. Beads with polished flat
surfaces were made in classical antiquity.
Diamonds. Diamond crystals are
normally either platelets or octahedra; the
latter, set point up, is the point naif or
writing diamond, a form commonly used
before the invention of the table cut. During
the Middle Ages and Renaissance diamonds
were sometimes backed with black foil;
Cellini recommends tinting the back
surfaces with lamp black, backing the stones
with a reflector, or both. Large irregular
stones, at least in the East, were “faceted” in
such a way as to minimize weight loss–
covered with facets conforming to the
original shape of the stone. Neither
procedure gave anything like the effect of
modern cuts. It was only in the 17th century
that the diamond began to become the most
important gemstone.
Names of Stones Known in Period. In
the list below, stones are given by their
modern names; other names are also listed,
usually in their Latin form (from Pliny).
Nomenclature was neither consistent nor
stable over time; in many cases a writer such
as Albertus had to guess which of the stones
he knew corresponded to particular stones
listed by Pliny. Chrysolite and (golden)
topaz exchanged names sometime during the
Middle Ages. Sapphire was originally the
name of the stone now called lapis lazuli.
Page 164
almandine (a variety of garnet)
amber [succinas] [chryselectrum]
amazonstone*, eumentres
chrysoberyl, cat’s eye [chryselectrum]
chrysolite, topaz
citrine [chryselectrum] [topasion]
diamond [adamant]
emerald [smaragdus]
garnet [carbunculus]
heltiotrope, bloodstone
jet, kacabre [gagates] [succinus]
lapis lazuli, sapphire, zamech, ultramarine
malachite [smaragdus]
moonstone [silenites] [asterias?]
mother of pearl, celontes [silenites]
opal, exacontalitus, pantherus
pearl, margarita
rock crystal, crystallus, iris [beryllus]
rose quartz
ruby [carbunculus] [jaqut (Arabic)]
sapphire [hyacinth] [adamas] [jaqut (Arabic)]
spinel, balas ruby [carbunculus]
star garnet [asterias?]
star ruby [asterias?]
star sapphire [asterias?]
sunstone (probably known in Roman and
medieval times, but identification not certain)
topaz, chrysolite
tourmaline, badjadi (Arabic), lychnis or mild
carbuncle (Pliny)
zircon, jargoon, jacinth [hyacinth] [lycurium]
zargun (Persian)
[Modern names first documented after
A.D. 1600 are marked with an asterisk;
names in brackets probably referred to
several gems; a question mark designates an
uncertain identification.]
Select Bibliography
Albertus Magnus. Book of Minerals. Tr. by
Dorothy Wyckoff. Oxford 1967.
Ibn Tifaschi, Ahmad. Arab Roots of
Gemology: Ahmad ibn Yusuf Al Tifaschi’s
Best Thoughts on the Best of Stones, Samir
Najm Abul Huda, tr., Lanham & London
Ball, Sydney H. A Roman Book on Precious
Stones. Los Angeles 1950.
Goldsmithing and Sculpture. Tr. by C. R.
Ashbee, N. Y. 1967.
Heniger, Ernst A. & Jean. The Great Book
of Jewels. Lausanne 1974.
Jessup, Ronald. Anglo-Saxon Jewellery.
Aylesbury 1974.
Lucas, A. Ancient Egyptian Materials and
Industries. London 1962.
Ogden, Jack, Jewellery of the Ancient
World, Rizzoli, N.Y., 1982.
Pliny, Natural History, Books 16-17, D.E.
Eichholz tr. Cambridge 1962 (Loeb
Classical Library).
Theophilus. On Divers Arts. Tr. by J.
Hawthorne and C. Smith. Chicago 1976.
Wulff, Hans E. The Traditional Crafts of
Persia. Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1966.
Illuminated No. 47, Summer 1978, since
slightly expanded. Artwork by Alia bint
Ulek ibn el Kharish]
Page 165
Concerning Trees and their Fruit
In the name of ALLAH,
The Merciful, the Compassionate;
I rely upon ALLAH,
the Unique, the Victorious.
It is said, “Upon ALLAH we rely,”
and from Him also do we invoke a benediction
for all his Prophets and worshippers
who are sincere in obeying Him,
for there is no strength and no power
except with ALLAH,
the Exalted, the Almighty
It is known to all who have studied the
writings of the ancients concerning natural
history, or have enquired of wise and learned
men experienced in the arts of the orchard,
that fruit trees do not grow true to their seed.
So it is that one may find a tall and sturdy
apple, bearing fruit sweet as the milk of
paradise and fair as the breasts of the maidens
that there delight the spirits of the blessed, and
yet when the seeds of those apples are planted
they grow up, perchance, into dwarvish and
twisted trees, bearing fruit ugly to the eye and
sour to the taste. It is for this reason that wise
men long ago devised the art of grafting, by
which a portion of a branch cut from a fruit
tree of surpassing virtue is grafted to a tree of
more common sort, and even as the son of a
noble man grows up like unto his father
although raised among beggars, heretics, or
Franks, so does that branch grow and flower
and put out the selfsame fruit as the tree from
which it was cut. It is by this art that the finest
fruits known to man are multiplied by a
thousand times, and so it is that when a tree is
long dead its scions may yet flourish and
cuttings from them be grafted to yet more
trees, and the same tree may live in its
descendants until the day of judgment and be
then (Inshallah) born away into paradise. So it
is, by man’s wisdom and the Mercy of Allah
(the Compassionate, the Merciful) that we
may even today eat of those self same cherries
that were written of by Pliny (upon whom be
Peace), he who wrote much concerning the art
of grafting in the seventeenth book of his
History of the World, although the tree from
which he plucked those cherries, and the trees
grafted of that tree, are long ago dust blown in
the winds of the world.
Now it is one of my delights to have
meals prepared according to the teaching of
those who have written before me concerning
the art of cookery, and so I bethought myself
that rather than having recourse to the
common fruits of the market I would seek out
for myself those ancient strains which
delighted the master cooks of times gone by
(upon whom be Peace) and discover whether
scions of those trees could still be found
beneath the dome of Heaven. After search and
long study, I discovered certain orchards
where such trees grew, and men of wisdom
and discernment who made it their life work
to find such strains of fruit as have been
praised by the learned aforetime, to seek them
out where they might grow and take cuttings
of them, that their line not perish utterly from
the earth. I discovered also merchants who
dealt in such trees, offering them for a small
price to such as delight in things ancient and
noble. From one such I procured three trees,
two apples and a plum, to set about my house,
and even as I write these words, the apples
bloom outside the window of my chamber.
Having so, by the Mercy of Allah,
satisfied my desires in these matters, I
bethought myself of others of the folk of the
Seven Kingdoms, and most especially of
those who delight in the art of cookery, and it
seemed to me fitting that I set down for them
Page 166
what I had discovered, and so I have done.
But it is Allah who knows all things.
Notes to the Above
My trees were purchased from J. E.
Miller Nurseries, which carries at least two
apples and one plum of varieties dating from
before 1650; I have found their trees, service,
and prices entirely satisfactory. The most
extensive collection of old and unusual
varieties of fruit trees in the country used to
be that of Southmeadow Fruit Gardens, which
carried about a hundred and eighty varieties of
apples as well as many varieties of other
fruits. Their illustrated catalog cost eight
dollars and was well worth it; it is the best
source for information on old fruit varieties
that I know of. Unfortunately, I am told that
the proprietor is no longer alive and the
nursery no longer a reliable supplier. The
catalog is available online:
The following list of varieties which may
reasonably be supposed to have existed before
1650 is drawn mainly from the Southmeadow
catalog; where dates are given, they represent
the earliest definite mention of the variety.
Pre 1650 Fruits
Calville Blanc D’Hiver (1627)
Court Pendu Plat (16th century–possibly
Devonshire Quarendon (1690)
Drap d’Or (=Coe’s Golden Drop?)
Lady Apple (1628)
Old Nonpareil
Pomme Royale
Reinette Franche
Roxbury Russett (Early 17th century)
Scarlet Crofton
Sops of Wine
Summer Rambo (16th century)
White Pearmain (1200!)
Fenouilette Gris
Golden Reinette
Grosse Mignonne (1667)
Early Violet (1659)
Buerre Gris (1608)
Rousselet de Reims (1688)
Bartlett (Williams Bon Chretien)
“of ancient origin”–may or may
not be pre-1600.
White Doyenne (“Sementium”) (1550)
Green Gage (Reine Claude)
Prune d’Agen
Nurseries Said to Carry Antique Fruits
Adams County Nursery and Fruit Farms,
Aspers, PA 17304. [www.acnursery.com]
Bountiful Ridge Nursery, Princess Anne,
Maryland 48009.
C & O Nursery, 1700 North Wenatchee
Avenue, Wenatchee, Washington 98801.
Lawson’s Nursery, Route 1, Box 294, Ball
Ground, Georgia.
Henry Leuthardt Nursery, East Moriches,
New York 11904.
J.E. Miller Nurseries, Canandaigua, New
York 14424. [www.millernurseries.com]
New York State Fruit Testing Association,
Geneva, New York 14456.
Stark Bro’s Nurseries, Louisiana, Missouri
63353. [www.starkbros.com]
Trees of Antiquity, 20 Wellsona Road,
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Waynesboro Nurseries, P.O. B. 987,
Waynesboro, Va 22980.
[Published in Tournaments Illuminated,
No. 57, Winter 1980, slightly edited since.]
Page 167
Some Receyptes
Praised be ALLAH,
Creator of days and appointer of times,
Who hath brought every creature to life
and provided all manner of sustenance;
beasts has He fashioned, and made herbs to grow;
and he encompasseth all mankind with His manifest blessings.
For them sent He down water from heaven, whereby He brought forth every kind of fruit;
and He hath made it lawful for man to taste of wholesome things,
and hath permitted him to enjoy such foods and potions as be not unlawful.
ALLAH bless His chosen prophet our lord Mohammad and his family.
Verily, he heareth prayers.
It is known that the Franks (cursed be they for
unbelievers) go against the law of Allah;
unclean meats they eat, and they are great
dunkards. Therefore, that all men may see and
know these things, in writing receyptes of the
Franks I shall not refrain from putting down
those that make use of unclean meats or
drinks forbidden by the law. For it is my
purpose in these writings to show a little of
the cookery of many peoples, those of the
East and the West, and also the Franks, and if
any who read this know concerning the
cookery of the Romans, I pray that they write
it down and send it to me, for I know it not.
And since the receyptes of the Franks,
who are ignorant of learning, are less clear
than those of al-Islam, I shall write a little
concerning their meaning, and with one or
two show how I have found they may best be
done, and what quantities are to be used. But
Allah alone knoweth all.
florw a straynor, and caste fler-to. An whan
thou seruyst yt inne, knock owt the marw of
the bonys, an ley the marwe ii gobettys or iii
in a dysshe, as fle semyth best, & serve forth.
Fylettys en Galentyne
Take fayre porke, fle fore quarter, and
take of fle skyne; an put fle porke on a fayre
spete, and rost it half y-now; flan take it of, an
smyte it in fayre pecys, & caste it on a fayre
potte; flan take oynonys, and schrede hem,
and pele hem (an pyle hem nowt to smale), an
frye in a panne of fayre grece; flan caste hem
in fle potte to fle porke; flan take gode broth of
moton or of beef, an caste fler-to, an flan caste
fler-to pouder pepyr, canel, clowys, an macys,
an let hem boyle wyl to gederys; flan tak fayre
brede, an vynegre, an stepe fle brede with fle
same brothe, an strayne it on blode, with ale,
or ellys sawnderys, and salt, and lat hym
boyle y-now, and serve it forth.
Receyptes of the English Franks
Take fayre caboges, and cutte hem, an
pike hem clene and clene washe him, and
parboyle hem in fayre water, an flanne presse
hem on a fayre bord; an flan choppe hem, and
caste hem in a faire pot with goode freysshe
broth, an wyth mery-bonys, and let it boyle:
flanne grate fayre brede and caste fler-to, and
caste fler-to Safron and salt; or ellys take
gode grwel y-mad of freys flesshe, y-draw
Take a porcyoun of Rys, &
clene, & sethe hem welle, & late
flen take gode Mylke of Almaundys
to, & sethe & stere hem wyl; &
sugre an hony, & serue f.
pyke hem
hem kele;
& do flerdo fler-to
Mortrewys de Fleyssh
Take Porke, and sethe it wyl; thanne take
it uppe and pulle a-way the Swerde, an pyk
Page 168
owt the bonys, an hakke it and grynd it small;
thenne take the sylf brothe, & temper it with
ale; than take fayre gratyd brede, & do thereto, and sethe it, an coloure it with Saffroun, &
lye it with yolkys of eyroun, & make it even
salt, & caste pouder gyngere, a-bouyn on the
Take almaunde Mylke, & Sugre, an
powdere Gyngere, & of Galyngale, & of
Canelle, and Rede Wyne, & boyle y-fere: &
flat is gode tannye.
Take Whyte of Eyroun, Mylke, & Floure,
& a lytel Berme, & bete it to-gederys, & draw
it florw a straynore, so flat it be renneng, &
not to styf, & caste sugre fler-to, & salt;
flanne take a chafer ful of freysshe grese
boyling, & put flin hond in the Bature, & lat
flin bature renne dowun by flin fyngerys in-to
fle chafere; & whan it is ronne to-gedere on
fle chafere, & is y-now, take & nym a skymer,
& take it up, & lat al fle grece renne owt, &
put it on a fayre dyssche, & cast fler-on Sugre
y-now, & serue forth.
Now those who are accustomed to the
receyptes of al-Islam will at first find these of
the Franks strange, that they say not how
much of each thing goes into the dish, and for
that reason I will give the quantities that I use
with two of the dishes. But for those who are
accustomed to cooking it will not seem
difficult to try the receyptes with such
quantities as they think right, and whether in
the East or the West or among the Franks I
have not found much in a dish to be the same
when two different cooks have made it, save
the name only.
It happened once to me that I traveled in
the land of al-Baran, I and my brothers and
our ladies together, and we were guested by
the folk of that land. And after the dinner I
spoke to the cook, saying “Noble Ivan, master
of your craft, what is this most excellent dish
you have set before me, for all of this feast of
yours is such as I hope for when I feast with
the blessed in paradise, but this dish is the
crown of all.” And he answered “Oh my lord,
what have I accomplished save with your aid;
this is your own receypte that I had from the
hand of one for whom you wrote it.” And I
tell you it was true; it was my receypte but my
dish it was not.
But before I began that tale I had
promised to tell the quantities I use with
certain of the Frankish dishes. And one is the
dish Caboges, and for that I use one head of
Caboge, neither very large nor very small, and
2 ratl of beef broth and 4 ratl of marrow
bones. The Caboge head I cut in four pieces
and put it into boiling water, and when the
water boils again, or a little later, I take the
cabbage out and let it cool until I can touch it
with my hands, then press the water out of it
(and with it goes some of the flavor that might
be too strong) and chop it, and then boil it
with the broth and bones until it is soft, a third
of an hour it might be, and then add salt to
taste and a very little saffron and half a ratl or
so of bread crumbs, enough to make it thick,
and simmer a little longer before I serve it.
And as for the cryspes, if you use the
whites of four eggs, one quarter ratl (that is
three uqiya) of milk, three or four uqiya of
flour, something less than one uqiya of berme,
one uqiya of sugar and a dirham of salt, and
after frying your crispes in hot oil you turn
them over, drain away the oil when they are
done, and sprinkle them with more sugar, you
will find no better dish for a meal’s end, not
even the sweets of the East and the West,
concerning which I will write another day.
The recipes are from Two Fifteenth
Century Cookery-Books, Thomas Austin Ed.,
EETS, first published in 1888 and in print
when I last checked. Since one purpose of this
article is to encourage readers to try working
from the original recipes, I have reproduced
them without modernizing the spelling.
Page 169
Understanding fifteenth century recipes is not
as hard as it seems; the main trick is to sound
the words out instead of trying to recognize
them by how they are spelled. The spelling is
inconsistent from one recipe to another. It is
useful to know that “u” is often used where
we would use “v” (serue it forth) and that “fl”
is pronounced “th.” As a further aid, you may
find the following sample translation useful,
as well as the glossary at the end of this note.
Take egg whites, milk, and flour and a
little yeast and beat them all together, and put
it through a strainer so that it is running and
not too stiff, and cast sugar therto, and salt;
then take a frying pan full of fresh oil boiling,
and put your hand in the batter, and let your
batter run down by your fingers into the pan;
and when it has run together on the pan and is
done, take a pancake turner and take it up and
let all the oil run out and put it on a clean dish
and cast thereon sugar enough and serve it.
Anyone with information to offer on
Roman cookery should realize that to a
medieval Moor “Roman” means Byzantine; I
already have Apicius. Anyone who wishes to
correspond on period cookery or who is
interested in translating period cookbooks
(from medieval French, medieval German,
medieval Portuguese, medieval Dutch, or
modern Spanish) should write to me.
Berme: Yeast. Possibly ale sediment.
Canel or Canelle: Cinnamon
Clowys: Cloves
Galyngale: Galingale, used in Thai cooking.
Gyngere: Ginger
Lye: Mix or combine.
Macys: Mace
Marw: Marrow
Mary Bonys: Marrow bones
Mylke of Almoundys: Almond milk.
Nym: Take
Pepyr: Pepper
Ratl: 16 oz=1 pint=12 Uqiya= 120 Dirham
Rys: Rice
Sethe: Boil
Stepe: Soak
Sawnderys: Saunders, used as red coloring
Swerde: Rind
Temper: Mix with
y-fere: Together
y-now: Enough
[Originally published in Tournaments Illuminated no. 69, Winter 1983]
One day al Fadl ibn al-Rab*’, the vizier of al-Amin, asked
the scholars Ab+ ’Ubaida and al Asma’* what each had written
on the subject of the horse. “Fifty volumes,” Ab+ ’Ubaida
replied. “And thou?” al Asma’* replied that he had written only
one volume.
The vizier then called for a horse and invited Ab+ ’Ubaida
to identify and name its parts. He declined to do so, saying that
he was a philologist, not a farrier. When al Asma’* was asked the
same he went over the horse, naming every part, limb and bone–
and the bedouin have a name for everything–and quoting ancient
verses to prove each word.
The vizier gave the horse to al Asma’* and ever after, so he
tells us, when he was going to visit Ab+ ’Ubaida and wished to
annoy him, he would ride that horse.
(Based on an account in A. J. Arberry’s The Seven Odes)
Page 170
Some Receyts
In the Name of ALLAH
The Compassionate, the Merciful,
Lord of the Three Worlds;
I rely upon ALLAH,
The Unique, the Victorious.
It is said “Upon ALLAH we rely,”
and from Him also do we invoke a benediction for all of His prophets and worshippers
who are sincere in obeying Him,
for there is no strength and no power
except with ALLAH,
The Exalted, the Almighty.
Now in my first chapter I wrote
concerning the receyts of the English Franks.
In this chapter I shall give some of the receyts
of the Italian Franks. But lest you think that I
concern myself only with the doings of the
unbelievers, in the next I will give some of the
receyts that we use in al-Andalus.
The island of Italy is attached to the
southern coast of Frangistan. In the north of
that island is the dwelling of the Caliph of the
Franks, and he rules in the city that was the
capital of the Romans before the Franks
conquered it from them. Much of the south
was for a long time held by the Romans, and
there also were settlements of our people. But
of late it has been seized by a warlike tribe of
the Franks, and also most of the island of
Sicily, the holding of the Aghlabids. Even so
in our fathers’ time was Sicily seized by the
Romans, yet we won it back. And so shall it
be again, Inshallah.
But I said that I would write concerning
the receyptes of the Italian Franks, and so I
must do so. I set them out as they came into
my hands.
Pottage from Meat
Take lean meat and let it boil, then cut it
up finely and cook it again for half an hour in
rich juice, having first added bread crumbs.
Add a little pepper and saffron.
When it has cooled a little, add beaten
eggs, grated cheese, parsley, marjoram, finely
chopped mint with a little verjuice. Blend
them all together in a pot, stirring them slowly
with a spoon so that they do not form a ball.
The same may be done with livers and lungs.
Mirause of Catalonia
Put together on a spit capons or pullets
or pigeons well cleaned and washed and turn
them over the hearth until they are half
cooked. Then remove them and cut them in
pieces and put them in a pot. Then chop
almonds that have been toasted under warm
ashes and cleaned with some cloth. To this
add some bread crumbs lightly toasted with
vinegar and juice and pass all this through a
strainer. This is all put in the same pot with
cinnamon and ginger and a good amount of
sugar and left to boil on the live coals with a
slow fire until it is done, all the time being
stirred with a spoon so that it does not stick to
the pot. It is quite nourishing, long in being
digested; it warms the liver and kidneys and
fattens the body and stirs the belly.
Catalonia, from which this recipe is
reputed to come, is a Frankish province on the
border of al-Andalus. It lies to the north of
Valencia, the city ruled by Roger Canbitur
(curses be upon him for an unbeliever), a
wicked man but a marvel of Allah for valor
and prowesse. It is said that he is now dead;
Allah grant that it be so.
Fried Gourd
Scrape off the skin from the gourd and
cut it sideways in thin slices. When it has
boiled once, transfer it from the pot onto the
Page 171
board and leave it there until it has dried out
a little. Then roll it in salt and good white
flour and fry it in oil; when it is done and put
on a platter, pour a garlic sauce over it, with
fennel blossoms and bread crumbs so
dissolved in verjuice that it looks thin rather
than thick. It would not be amiss to pass this
sauce through a strainer. There are those,
too, who use only verjuice and fennel bloom.
If you like saffron, add saffron.
A Garlic Sauce with Walnuts or Almonds
To almonds or walnuts that have been
coarsely ground, add as much cleaned garlic
as you want and likewise, as need be, grind
them up well, sprinkling them all the while so
that they do not make oil. When they are
ground up, put in white bread crumbs
softened in juice of meat or fish, and grind
again. And if it seems too stiff, it can be
softened easily in the same juice. It will keep
very readily for a long time, as we said about
mustard. This dish is little nourishing,
remains a long time in the stomach, dulls the
eyesight and warms the liver.
Frictella from apples
Morsels of apples that have been cleaned
and cored, you fry in liquamen or a little oil,
and spread them on a board so that they dry.
Then roll them in a preparation such as we
have described earlier, and fry again. If you
lick this up, be advised that it will be bad for
In an earlier recipe, the preparation in
which the frictellae are rolled is described
thus: To grated cheese, aged as well as fresh,
add a little meal, some egg whites, some milk,
a bit more sugar, and grind all this together
in the same mortar.
As to the liquamen which this recipe
speaks of, that is the clarified fat of pork,
which the Franks use in their cooking, being
ignorant of the laws of Allah (the
Compassionate, the Merciful). I believe that
tail, such as we use to fry with both in the
East and the West, would do as well.
In order to give readers a chance to work
out period recipes for themselves, I have
given them in their original forms. The
worked out versions can be found in part I of
this volume.
Verjuice is the juice of unripe grapes,
crabapples, or other sour fruits. I frequently
substitute dilute vinegar. “Tail” (referred to by
Cariadoc, not Platina) is fat from sheep tails,
used as a cooking oil in medieval Islamic
recipes. Liquamen in Platina is pork fat; it
seems to have no connection with the
liquamen used extensively in Roman cooking.
Rodrigo Diaz el Compeador (Roger Canbitur
to Moorish contemporaries), more commonly
known as el Cid, died in 1099.
“Island” (Jazírah) in Arabic also means
“Peninsula,” and causes much confusion in
geographical matters. Richard Burton, The
Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.
The source for the recipes is Platina, De
honesta voluptate, Venice, L. De Aguila,
1475, Elizabeth Buermann Andrews tr.,
Volume V from the Mallinckrodt Collection
of Food Classics, ©Mallinckrodt Chemical
Works 1967. The comments are from the
perspective of Cariadoc, c. 1100. “It is Allah
that knoweth all things.”
(Originally published in Tournaments
Illuminated #86, Spring1988)
“I am the Master of the world, and to that task I am
sufficient. But to master two spans square, that is beyond me.”
(al-Ma’m!n, Caliph and chess player)
Page 172
Concerning the Archery of al-Islam
In the name of ALLAH, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
My Lord, ease my task for me, O Thou who art bountiful.
Praise be to ALLAH, just, all knowing, all powerful
who protects His friends, He who shatters his foes,
Final Stage of construction. Dotted
Who grants victory to the Faith, who subdues Unbelief
line shows finished form of nock
He who pays to all mankind its due, punishment or reward
Praise to him that has rendered His supporters victorious and subdued His enemies
And blessing and peace of ALLAH upon our lord Muhammad, Bearer of the True Message, and to his
Family and his Companion train.
Now I have heard that among the
Franks, when a man desires a bow, he hacks
off a branch from a tree, cuts in each end a
notch, strings it, and that they call a bow.
But among us it is otherwise.
To make a bow is the work of a year.
The core is made of wood, most commonly
in five parts, although some use more or
less. These parts are the grip, the two limbs,
and the siyahs. The parts are spliced
together and glued with great care; when
the bow is complete, one cannot see where
one ends and the next begins. This work is
done in autumn, and then also the horn is
sawed and fitted to the core. In the winter
the horn is glued to the belly of the bow and
bound there, and the glue is permitted to dry
for some months. In spring the sinew is
applied to the back of the bow. During the
summer the bow is strung and shaped, and at
the last painted.
Those familiar with the bows of alIslam will know that they bend one way
unstrung and the opposite way when they
are strung. And when the bow is strung and
held to be shot, the belly of the bow is
towards the archer, and that is horn; the back
of the bow is away from the archer, and that
is sinew. And a bow is like a man, for it may
be bent bellywise, but if it is bent backwards
it will snap. The bow is made of wood, horn,
and sinew even as a man is made of bone,
flesh, and arteries and is bound together by
glue as the man by blood. As to the size of
the bow, it is commonly about one cubit and
two thirds and one quarter of a cubit (50.2
inches total), measured from nock to nock,
but some are longer or shorter. And the
measure used is the carpenter’s cubit, for
that is of the same length throughout alIslam.
The string is best made from raw
wound silk; some bind it with glue. Others
make it out of animal hide suitably treated.
The long arrow should have a length that
permits the head to come to the thumb on
the bow hand when the middle of the right
index finger is brought right back to the
lobe of the ear. This comes to one and
one-eighth cubits and one-half of a
qirat (30 inches) for a man of
medium height. The short arrow,
which is used with the sipar, is
about half of that length.
The sipar is a sort of
small shield which straps onto the
wrist of the archer’s bow hand.
The point of the arrow can then be
drawn back behind the bow,
resting on the sipar; when the
arrow is released the sipar guides
the arrow back to the bow and from there
where it is aimed, inshallah. There are other
sorts of arrow guides as well. With such
devices, short arrows or darts can be shot
great distances to
annoy the horses of
the enemy.
It is established in authentic tradition
that the Prophet said, “The angels attend no
human sport save archery.” Therefore one
should regard going to the shooting range as
Page 173
going to the mosque, being aware of the
exalted status of the guests that there attend
you, and should make the lesser ablution
before beginning to shoot.
To use the bow, the arrow goes on the
right side above the bow hand,
and the string is
thumb. The end of the
thumb is held down by the
middle part of the first finger. The
nock of the arrow lies in the notch between
the thumb and the fleshy part of the hand
just below the first finger. Some archers
wear a thumb ring to protect the ball of the
thumb from the string when it is released.
Others use a leather guard for the thumb.
There are even some who shoot without any
thumb guard at all.
In shooting for sport, there are many
games. One is flight shooting, in which the
contest is not in striking a target but in
casting an arrow as far as may be. Those
very skilled in this art can shoot an arrow for
half a mile, or it may be a little more.
Another game is gourd shooting, in
which the target is on the top of a tall pole.
The archer rides past the pole and shoots up
at the target, as if he were hunting a bird.
The story is told of one archer who had a
saddle made for him with a low back. At a
great festival, while competing in the gourd
shoot, he rode past the mast so that all
watching thought he had missed his shot,
then leaned right back with his head on the
rump of his horse and, shooting up and back,
struck and broke the gourd.
As to accuracy, a good archer shooting
at sixty bows distance (75 yards) should be
able to put his arrows into an object five
spans across (about 3 feet).
When hunting lions, one must
remember that the lion is also hunting, and
his manner of doing so is to run behind the
horse, leap up, and drag down the rider.
Therefore he who would hunt lions prepares
for it by riding along, shooting arrows into
the hoofprints made by his horse. In this
way he develops skill in shooting a target
just behind him.
For this exercise, and also for shooting
an enemy in a well, or at the bottom of a wall,
or an enemy close beside you when you are
mounted and he is not, it is well to be skilled
in the manner of shooting that is called
jarmaki. To do this, after drawing your bow
you tuck your head under your right arm so
that your bow hand lies against the nape of
your neck. In this position you can shoot an
arrow straight down without leaning out, or
to the rear of your horse on either side.
I write with the purpose of sharing my
small knowledge of these matters with those
desirous of wisdom, but it is Allah only that
is all-knowing. May my words be
Pleasing to Allah and to His Messenger–
may Allah bless him, his house
and his Companion Train
and grant them
Page 174
“Every time the archer shoots he should
invoke God–exalted be He–with the words, ‘in
the name of God’ and, whenever he makes a hit,
he should praise Him to whom belongs all power
and glory. He should regard accurate shooting
as proceeding from the bounty of God–exalted
be He–and the divine guidance and assistance. If
he misses, he should not become exasperated or
despair of God’s refreshing justice, nor should
he revile himself or his bow or his arrows. To do
so is to commit an outrage and a violation of all
that is just because a man who behaves in this
way in his ignorance attributes his failure to
those persons and things to which no blame
attaches. Those who do this sort of thing,
therefore, will incur the rancor of both angels
and mankind and sin to no avail. Anger is,
furthermore, the chief cause of low scoring.”
Notes to the Above
Most of the material above is based on
(or lifted almost verbatim from) Saracen
Archery, an annotated translation of The
Complete Manual of Archery for Cadets,
written in the fourteenth century by
Taybugha al-Baklamishi al-Yunani. Anyone
seriously interested in the subject of Islamic
archery should read both it and Klopsteg.
Some readers may be interested in the
range of the Middle Eastern bows and how
they compared to the English longbow. In
discussing range, it is important to
distinguish between the range achieved in
flight shooting, a sport in which the
objective was to shoot an arrow as far as
possible, and the range at which a bow was
effective in combat.
For flight shooting, the best
information available is from the Ottomans.
There is some uncertainty over the exact
length of the units in which ranges were
measured, but it appears that Ottoman
archers in the eighteenth century achieved
shots of over 900 yards. In the eighteenth
century, English longbow enthusiasts
regarded 350 yards as about the maximum
distance that a bow could throw an arrow
(Payne-Gallwey, Klopsteg). As of 1967, the
modern world record (for a hand bow) was
851 yards 2 feet 9 inches.
Latham and Patterson conclude, from a
variety of sources, that short arrows used
with an arrow guide of some sort could be
effective for harassing fire at ranges of about
four hundred yards; full length arrows would
have had a shorter effective range. It appears
from Payne-Gallwey’s observations of
English castle architecture that the effective
range of the longbow was less than three
hundred yards and may have been less than
a hundred and seventy.
Readers of Payne-Gallwey should be
warned that his book contains at least one
important error. The illustration of how a
thumb ring is worn and used has the ring
upside down, as judged by all other sources
I have seen and my own experience. Use of
the ring as shown might be hazardous to the
user's thumb. The book also contains an
illustration of the author shooting a Turkish
bow. He is using the standard modern
release (three fingers on the string) and
shooting off the left side of the bow in the
European fashion.
Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, Bt, The
Crossbow, Bramhall House, N.Y., 1958.
J. D. Latham and W. F. Paterson, Saracen
Archery, Holland Press, London 1970.
Paul E. Klopsteg, Turkish Archery and the
Composite Bow, Evanston, IL 1947.
(This was published in the Compleat
Anachronist pamphlet on Archery in 1988)
Page 175
My name was originally intended as a variant on the name of Carahue of
Mauritania, a Muslim character in the chanson Ogier le Danois (and in Poul Anderson’s
modern fantasy Three Hearts and Three Lions). Many years later, when I had learned more
about medieval Islam and become more concerned with historical accuracy, I asked a
friend in the Society who was a professional linguist if he could find an Arabic name
that would be mispronounced “Cariadoc” by Europeans, on the model of names such as
“Saladin” and “Avicenna.” The following letter to T.I. was the result; I am not its author.
An Epistle
In the name of ALL&H ,
the Compassionate, the Merciful,
written to the People of the six Kingdoms,
be they True Believers in the Revelation
granted to our holy Prophet Mohammad
(upon Whom be the Peace and the
Blessings of All'h!) or be they
of the Faith of the Nazarenes
or of the Jews, or yet of
any other faith, that they
intercede with his Grace,
Sir Cariadoc, Duke Tregirtsee,
Shaykh among Kings, on behalf of al-!ajj
#Abd-al-Rahman ibn al-Ra
Ra is
that he show Princely Grace to that
humble Slave of the Pen, but more, if
aught in this incur his Princely Wrath,
that he might throw the Kerchief of Pardon
to his Servant in the Name of ALL&H,
the Compassionate, the Merciful!
And afterwards. Be it known to all who
read this missive that it befell upon a day
some two years past that his Grace was
journeying through the Kingdom of the East,
and he came to take rest and respite in a city
of the cities of that kingdom, and that in the
very city nearby which this scribe ekes out a
meager living plying the pen. Now at the
hour of his evening ease, after he had
partaken of a sumptious feast and was of
merry humor, I approached him begging
permission to ask of him a question–for long
had it been my aspiration to win his favor
(and some little reward to sweeten life for
myself and my !ar"m) by fashioning for him
a monogram seal in the manner of the nobles
of al-Isl'm. For albeit men of the Nazarene
faith may bear arms in which are portrayed a
multitude of living beings, such images are
forbidden to us with the certainty that on the
day of judgement All'h will call upon the
makers of images to give their creatures life
and verily they shall be confounded. Now
this am"r, being of our faith, bears the bow
in his arms and no living creature yet, as a
muslim of great nobility and widespread
fame, such a monogram seal would be most
fitting to his use. Yet I was uncertain in this
as the name Cariadoc is unfamiliar to the
!Arab tongue, and spoke thusly to him: “O
shaykh among kings, long have I studied
written knowledge and heard the words of
wise men and am amazed and have long
wondered that a son of the Moghreb and a
follower of the ordinances of our Lord
Mohammad (upon whom be the peace and
Page 176
the blessings of Allāh) should bear the name
Cariadoc. How came this to be?” To this the
amīr responded: “Are thou in fact a man of
the pen and a learner of all things, open and
hidden?” To this I answered: “O bastion of
the faith and protector of the faithful, what
am I if not that which thou even hast said?”
Then spake his Grace: “Then ask me further
no askings, but within one month return to
me with the true answer to thine own
question and receive a boon of me–or know
it not and learn instead the measure of my
disfavor!” I fell to my knees quaking with
fear for my life and pleaded: “O flowing
fountain of mercy, o waterfall of generosity,
too short is the time allowed. To this task
would scarcely suffice a full year!” Spake
the amīr: “Take then a year–take two, but
bring me then proof of thy wisdom and
erudition or surely I shall put a swift end to
thy insolence!”
Thereupon I fled from the presence and
came at last by I know not which streets and
byways to mine own house, wherein dwelt
with me as my ḥarīm my wife, a Frankish
lady, met and won on my travels in the lands
of the Franks and very wise (although sharp
of tongue as is the custom among Frankish
women), and told to her all that had
transpired to the last word. “O thou great tub
of lard!” spake she, “o thou fool of the fools,
who will never learn to keep his chattering
mouth shut tight in the presence of the
wealthy and the powerful–this time thou
hast at last encompassed thine own
destruction! Who bade thee pester and
importune princes with thy accursed
questions? Better shouldst thou stay at home
where thou canst do little harm–or better yet,
betake thy complacent butt out into the
marketplace and set it down along the wall
of the mosque in the hope that some greater
fool and sluggard than thou may come to
thee and require thee to ply thy pen in his
business, and thus earn us aught to place
some food on our empty table, o father of
useless questions, o paragon of sloth!”
To these endearments (for the Franks
are indeed a strange people) I responded: “O
joy of my liver, do not yet despair. Recall
the tale of the wise man who was given a
term of five years within which to teach a
donkey to speak with the language of men.
When asked why he did not despair, he
answered: ‘Five years is a long time. Before
they have passed the Ṣulṭān may die–or the
donkey may die–or I may die–or the donkey
may learn to talk!’ With a full two years
before me I may yet find the answer to this
riddle.” Thus answered my ḥarīm: “So hie
thee to thy books (clutter enough to break
the spirit of full ten of the strongest of
baggage camels) and rummage about for thy
life’s sake, o father of phrases worth little in
dirhams or dinārs”
Now long I searched in the works of
the great historians but found no man from
among the true believers who bore the name
Cariadoc. Thence I turned to wise and
learned men among the Franks and they
assured me that this be a Frankish name and
one at home in the farthest northwestern
reaches of Frankland. Since I reasoned that
no Moorish prince and true believer might
have from birth such a Frankish name, I
concluded that Cariadoc is in truth not his
name at all–but rather nothing more nor less
than the amīr’s true name as it sounded in
the ears and reissued mispronounced by the
tongues of the Franks. For his Grace has
twice worn the crown of the Middle and
twice the crown of the East, and as a muslim
prince ruling over a land of several beliefs
he has kept the covenant according to the
sunnat of the Prophet (upon whom be the
peace and the blessings of Allāh) treating all
with tolerance and justice. What could be
more natural than that the Franks of his
realm, hearing their King’s name spoken in
the ʕArab tongue, a language foreign to
their ears, should imitate it with a name of
similar sound?
This once granted, it remained to me to
ascertain which of our names might be
mispronounced by the Franks as Cariadoc.
Certainly there is no such name–but there is
an attribute which has a similar sound. And
is not a ruler often called by his attribute
rather than by his given name? Does one not
speak of the great khalīf Harün calling him
by his attribute, al-Rashīd? The attribute
hidden in the pronunciation Cariadoc can be
Page 177
none other than the ʕArab tongue’s Qarī ʕal-Dhüq, meaning nothing other than: ‘he
whose taste is exquisite’. And is not that a
most fitting attribute for an amīr renowned
far and wide for his exquisite taste, both
aesthetic and gastronomic?
With the end of the second year
approaching and a great quaking of fear
arising within me as the day of finality
looms up before me, I set about the task of
preparing the monogram seal which would
contain my answer to his Grace’s riddle. It is
the nature of such seals to arrange the letters
of the text not as they flow from the pen in
writing, but rather so as to please the eye of
the beholder. After consultation with a
master better schooled than I in the
calligraphy of seals with heart in mouth I
prepared the monogram. For those who read
this missive and are not familiar with the
writing of the ʕArab tongue, let me explain.
The attribute Qarī ʕ-al-Dhüq is written with
nine letters since short vowels are not
written unless they stand first in a syllable;
the nine letters are: q, r, ī , ʕ, a, l, dh, ü and
q. They are placed into the seal area from
right to left, beginning across the lower part
of the area and progressing upward. The
initial q and r are joined as in normal
writing, but to fit the seal all other letters are
written in their unjoined forms (the joining
of ʕ to a being a flourish of the design).
Compassionate, the Merciful, I beseech ye,
o people of the Six Kingdoms, to intercede
on my behalf with his Grace, shaykh among
kings, to accept this monogram seal as the
correct answer to the riddle he gave me–for
who might learn the amīr’s personal name
when it is kept a secret from all? And I
beseech ye to entreat his Grace on my behalf
that he grant me the lowly position of qādī
in my own village of Al Nīyya so that I may
serve the amīr and all true believers here
witnessing wills, and settling minor civil
disputes, and therewith support myself and
my ḥarīm with the income therefrom so that
I no longer need importune the wealthy and
the powerful with pleas for alms in the name
of Allāh the Compassionate, the Merciful!
[Letter, Tournaments Illuminated no.
46, Spring 1978]
Page 178
Articles About Persona
Concerning a dream
The Society is, among other things, a
joint fantasy, and one that is very difficult to
maintain. The true magic comes when
within a Society event we believe, if only
for an instant, that we are truly in the Middle
Ages. Take that away and what remains is
only dross, no more than a gathering of
twentieth century people who like to dress
up and talk about history–or dress down and
hit each other with rattan.
Many things can break a fantasy. A
zipper cannot, if it is discreetly hidden, but
talking about zippers at an event, whether
defending or attacking them, can and does.
So does discussing motorcycles. So, more
subtly, does every attitude and tone of voice
that reflects the feelings and beliefs of the
twentieth century, hidden behind a colorful
disguise. For the fantasy to work we must,
each and all, believe in it as best we can
while it is happening.
One of the most serious temptations is
the opportunity to make a joke out of the
contrast between our medieval reality and
the twentieth century reality surrounding it.
It is always easy to get a laugh by
introducing a contemporary idiom into a
medieval speech or juxtaposing an armored
knight and an automobile. Easy and deadly;
every such joke cracks the illusion, drains a
drop of life blood from the fantasy.
Even if we all make the effort, it is
difficult to maintain the fantasy in the face
of its own inconsistencies. An Anglo-Saxon
lady could not co-exist with a courtier from
Renaissance Italy or Tudor England. Here
again, by making a point of these clashes
(“Perhaps you are my great-grandmother”)
we make it harder to integrate the
inconsistent elements into a single whole.
Perhaps the best solution is to imagine that,
because of our personas’ limited historical
and geographical knowledge, we interpret
different times as if they were only different
places. My friend Aelfwine comes from
Anglo-Saxon England, which is somewhere
off in that direction; Michael of York comes
from over there. Anglo-Saxon England and
Norman England in fact did not coexist,
save briefly and bloodily, but they could
have coexisted, in different places, and in
the Current Middle Ages (which have, after
all, no geographical location of their own in
the world of the first Middle Ages) they do.
Here we all are, drawn from different lands
(some of which happen to have the same
names but different dates, a peculiarity we
would do well to ignore), met together in a
land that has no particular place and time
save its own.
Additional inconsistencies are forced
upon us by the presence of the modern
world in the middle of our fantasy.
Sometimes they can be ignored, sometimes
mastered by creative naming. “Dragon” for
automobile is one such attempt, although not
an entirely fortunate one. It is well enough
to call something a dragon when it comes
roaring by, but prudent folk do not travel to
a feast in the belly of a dragon. Perhaps
“wagon” or “wain” would be better. “Car”
would be entirely proper if we were all
attuned to its archaic and not its current
meaning, which alas we are not.
The quest for authenticity, while an
eminently worthy part of our activities,
poses dangers of its own to which I, for one,
have too often succumbed. One cannot,
within persona, criticize anything–food,
clothes, poetry–for inauthenticity. Being
oneself a medieval person, one has no basis
from which to recognize it as inauthentic.
One tempting solution is to disguise the
criticism as a question. “I have never seen
anything like that, my lord, where does it
come from?” The hearer may take the
question as question (although, if he really is
being inauthentic, he has no answer within
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the fantasy) but the questioner knows well
enough what he is about. He has broken the
fantasy for himself, within his own mind, if
nowhere else. Better to leave all such
questions for conversations the next
morning, between mundane persons
inhabiting those same fleshly shells that
walked some hours before as lords and
ladies through the enchanted lands.
In accordance with which principle, as
this letter could not have been written by a
medieval Moor, I must sign myself
Sincerely Yours
David Friedman
[Guest editorial, Tournaments
Illuminated no. 42, summer 1977]
Staying In Persona and Other Things: An Opinion
In observing and talking with other
people in the Society, one area where I find
a good deal of disagreement is the subject of
staying in persona. The disagreement is
often stated in terms of being for more or
less authenticity, but that is, I think, a
mistake. The controversy is not about how
much authenticity one is in favor of but
about what dimensions of our activities in
the Society we are to be authentic about.
It is useful, in discussing this issue, to
distinguish between the question of whether
authenticity is desirable and the question of
whether, in any particular case, it is
desirable enough to be worth what it costs to
get it. A simple example is the matter of
wearing eyeglasses. Suppose you have an
Anglo-Saxon persona. Further suppose you
are very nearsighted and the two things you
most like to do in the Society are fighting
and archery. You may decide that being
authentic in the matter of eyeglasses, while
desirable, is not desirable enough to be
worth giving up the things you are in the
Society to do. Authenticity is a good thing,
but in this particular case it costs more than
you are willing to pay. I would use the same
terms to describe the situation of a sixteenth
century persona who chose to wear modern
eyeglasses instead of buying a special pair
of medieval looking ones–because she had
more important things to spend her limited
income on. In one case the cost is in money,
in the other in inability to do things, but the
principle is the same.
Having made that preliminary point, I
next wish to discuss the question of why
authenticity is valuable. There are several
reasons. The simplest–and, I think, the most
important–is that we are playing a game in
which we imagine, while we are playing it,
that we are medieval people living in a
medieval world. Your inauthenticity, if
sufficiently obvious, makes it difficult or
impossible for me to play the game. It is
hard to imagine oneself in the Middle Ages
while flashbulbs are popping or radios
blaring rock music.
A second reason is that we are amateur
scholars engaged in studying the life of the
past by trying to live it–sometimes described
as experimental archeology. Authenticity is
a way of getting the experiment right–and
the outcome of the experiment gives us
further insights into what really was
authentic. To take a simple example, one
could make a rough estimate of the size of a
medieval loaf of bread by trying to make a
recipe that specifies other ingredients by
weight and bread crumbs by the number of
loaves used.
A third reason, and one that is
important for many members of the Society,
is that trying to be authentic is itself a game
(too often a highly competitive one); in this
context the rules are essentially arbitrary,
but there have to be some rules in order for
there to be a game, and historical
authenticity is the rule we have chosen.
If these are the functions that
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authenticity, whether in speech, dress, or
behavior, serves, then we can compare the
authenticity of different dimensions of what
we are doing by seeing to what degree, in
each, our inauthenticity prevents us from
achieving the objectives that authenticity is
intended to promote.
Consider clothing as an example. Think
of the lowest level of authenticity–level
one–as clothing that would be obviously
inauthentic even to someone almost
completely ignorant of the Middle Ages,
such as an occasional reader of Hagar the
Horrible. Blue jeans and a T-shirt would be
a good example. Level two is the sort of
vaguely medievalish clothing that we see a
good deal of–a long dress of indeterminate
origin plus something on the hair for a lady,
a belted T-Tunic and pants for a gentleman.
Level three seems authentic at a casual
glance–the zippers are hidden and the
pattern and material not obviously modern.
One could go on to discuss higher levels, but
for my present purposes it is not necessary.
What is wrong with level one clothing
is that it breaks the effect for everyone.
Level two does the same thing to a lesser
degree for those who know something about
medieval clothing. The higher levels do not
seriously interfere with other people’s
enjoyment, although anything short of
perfection may fail fully to achieve the
objectives of recreational scholarship or
authenticity as a game.
The question to ask, with regard to
clothing or anything else, is not “how
authentic should we be;” putting it that way
suggests that there is some level of
authenticity that everyone must achieve and
which there is no point in surpassing. More
authenticity is always better than less–up to
the point where a professional scholar could
distinguish the garment from an original
only by its age. What we differ in is how
much authenticity we are willing to pay for,
given its cost. Someone who likes dressing
well, is good at making clothes, and has lots
of money to spend on handwoven fabrics,
will quite properly choose more authenticity
in garb than will someone with the opposite
Where the level of authenticity is very
low, one person’s inauthenticity makes it
harder for other people to play and enjoy the
game, so it is generally most important to
improve authenticity in the areas where it is
lowest. Getting people to wear tunics instead
of T-shirts is a significant step in making it
possible for us to imagine, at least for a few
minutes, that we are really in the Middle
Ages; replacing costume jewelry with jewels
that are made out of silver, gold, and real
gems is mostly a matter of one person
playing the game more perfectly for its own
sake. Both are desirable, but the former
should probably have the higher priority.
If we try to apply this common set of
standards to the many dimensions of the
Society as it now exists, what do we see? In
clothing, level one–blue jeans and T-shirt–is
rare and frowned upon. Most people at
events are in level two or level three
clothing, and a healthy minority are doing
better than that. The situation is similar but a
little worse with regard to armor; there is
more obviously out of period armor on most
tourney fields than obviously out of period
clothing surrounding them. It is worse still
with regard to cooking; while the situation
varies from kingdom to kingdom, blatantly
modern foods are much more common than
blue jeans at Society feasts.
Let me now go to the other extreme, to
something with regard to which almost all of
us are and always will be at level 1:
language. My persona ought to speak
Arabic, Berber and perhaps Latin; others
should be fluent in Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse,
etc. It would be nice if we all knew those
languages (provided most of us had a
language in common–Latin would do for
most educated personae). Imagine how
much more real the Society would feel.
Unfortunately, learning to speak a foreign
language is a great deal of work. Most of us,
myself included, are simply not willing to
put that much time and effort into achieving
even a very low level of authenticity in that
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particular dimension. We content ourselves
with trying to use a few archaic words and
locutions–the equivalent (for other than late
period English personae) of wearing a long
shirt outside our blue jeans and belting it in
to make it look a little like a tunic. It is not
that authenticity with regard to language is
not valuable, merely that it costs more than
we are willing to pay.
Authenticity is valuable in all the
dimensions of what we do, most valuable
when its lack is obvious to those around us
and so threatens their ability to believe in the
game while they play it, but our willingness
to be authentic in various dimensions is
limited by what it costs us, in time, effort,
and money. This brings me finally to the
subject of staying in persona.
With regard to staying in persona–what
we speak about, what we know, what our
expressed opinions and attitudes are–most of
us, most of the time, are at the blue jeans
and t-shirt level. This is true, in my
experience, across all kingdoms and most
groups. Someone almost completely
ignorant of the Middle Ages could walk
once across the feast hall or field of an event
and tell, by the conversations around him,
that he was in the twentieth century. In most
events, a majority of the conversations he
would hear would be obviously out of
period; certainly there would be more
conversations which sounded sufficiently
modern to seem strange to the medieval ear
(language aside) than conversations that
sounded sufficiently medieval to seem
strange to the modern ear.
This would be an unavoidable situation
if staying in persona were as difficult as
learning a new language. Many of those I
have discussed the matter with seem to think
it is; their argument is that while a few
people may have the resources of
scholarship and verbal fluency to “pull off”
a medieval persona, most of the Society
cannot do it, or at least not without devoting
so much effort to the attempt as to take the
fun out of the Society for them.
This argument confuses the step from
level one to level two with the step from
level one to level five. It is as if we excused
blue jeans and t-shirts by assuming that the
only alternative was a handsewn outfit made
from handwoven material colored with
period dyes. I am not suggesting that we
should all become professional scholars or
professional actors, specializing in our own
personae–only that we should make at least
some minimal attempt to act like the people
we claim to be.
The first step is to avoid saying those
things that we all know are inappropriate to
the medieval context. No computers, no
cars, no football games. It will require a
little effort the first few times, but it takes no
skills or knowledge that we do not all
already have. A good second step would be
to introduce into our conversation or
behavior some element that seems
appropriate for our medieval persona and
inappropriate to our mundane one. For an
Arab that might mean eating with only the
right hand, for a Norseman swearing by
Thor, for a medieval Christian crossing
himself at appropriate occasions.
These things would not constitute doing
a “good job” of staying in persona, any more
than a belted T-tunic and pants are a “good
job” of dressing medievally. The latter is
about the minimum level that we feel should
be acceptable in dress–what we expect of a
new member or permit ourselves when we
are being sloppy and casual–and the former
are the equivalent in persona. The one is
about as difficult as the other, and they have
comparable effects on the overall feel of an
[An earlier version of this was published in
the Crown Prints ]
Page 182
Concerning Knighthood
If a man act in honorable wise when he
gains thereby glory, repute, or the love of a
fair lady, none may know if he is in truth an
honorable man. When he chooses between
honor on the one hand and all that he desires
on the other, then may his honor be known.
The man who, fighting for a crown he
fiercely desires, yet accepts without dispute
the blow that ends his hopes, is in truth
honorable–the more so when no soul but
himself would have known the blow was
true had he said otherwise. He who refuses
to accept the blow until he can no longer do
so without open shame is no honorable man,
howsoever gentle and courtly he may appear
in other lists, where there is nothing to be
won or lost save that reputation which men
miscall honor.
It has been the custom in certain lands
that, when a knight is to be dubbed, the King
calls the knights to assemble, whereat the
eldest approaches the throne to complain
that there is one absent who has by right a
place among their company. To this the
King assents, and calls out him who is to be
dubbed. And all this is in token that a knight
is made neither by King nor all the chivalry
assembled; their part is but to recognize that
he has made himself a knight. Neither belt,
spurs, nor chain makes up a knight, nor yet
the accolade of any King.
And as kings and knights are but men
and fallible, so may they be mistaken, and
some may wear the three tokens who are not
knights, and some be truly knights who wear
neither belt, spur, nor chain. But Allah alone
knoweth all.
The Little Things
Staying in persona does not mean
saying you are a different person. It means
being a different person. One of the hardest,
and most interesting, parts is getting the
little things right. Before you worry about
inventing ancestors for seven generations
and an elaborate personal history–things
which few people tell strangers in any case–
it is worth first learning as much as possible
about the little things that anyone from your
time and land would have known. The more
such details you integrate into your medieval
self, the better you can convince others (and
yourself) that you are your persona.
One way of doing this would be as a
group project, involving two successive
gatherings a few weeks apart, both held out
of persona. In the first, each person tries to
stump the others with questions their
personae could have answered without
thinking–the sort of questions that you could
answer without thinking if they were asked
of your twentieth century persona. The
questions must be ones for which the answer
can be learned; invented answers are not
I suspect that most of us, myself
included, would find that we did not know
the answers to a majority of the questions.
Those who were sufficiently interested
could then go home, or to the library, and try
to find the answers to as many as possible.
In the second gathering, we would come
back together to report to each other the
answers we had succeeded in finding.
I have not actually participated in such
gatherings, but I have spent some time
thinking up questions–to some of which, for
my own persona, I do not know the answers.
Here they are. All are intended to apply to
your persona prior to your arrival in the
Current Middle Ages.
What kinds of money do you use? What
are the relative values of the different kinds?
How much does dinner at the inn cost? How
much does a horse cost? How much does a
skilled worker make per month?
What system do you use to describe
Page 183
what time it is? When does one day end and
another begin? How do you tell time
(sundial? clock?)?
What system do you use for describing
dates? What is your calendar like?
Can you read? If so, what have you
read? What poems, tales, etc. have you
heard told?
What do you know about history? Have
you heard of Alexander the Great? Julius
Caesar? Charlemagne? Vergil? Saladin?
What do you “know” about each?
What do you know about geography?
What is the most distant country you have
heard of? The most distant country you have
met someone from?
Who is your immediate overlord (title
and/or name)? Who is your ultimate
What is your religion? What duties
(prayers, fasts, dietary restrictions, etc.)
does it impose? What do you (your persona)
know about its doctrines and history?
What do you eat for breakfast? Lunch?
Dinner? What do you drink? Where do your
food and drink come from? How is the food
cooked (style of cooking, tools, how does the
oven work, etc.)?
What sorts of wild animals live in your
area? Which are dangerous? Which are
good to eat? How are the latter hunted?
What clothes do you wear? What are
they made of? Where do they come from?
What crops are grown in your part of
the world? What goods, if any, are exported,
and how are they transported? What goods
are imported?
What language(s) do you speak? What
language(s) do other people in your town
(city, barony...) speak?
If you or one of your friends wrote a
poem, what form would you use? What
about a song?
What “mythological” beasts do you
know about? Which ones do you believe in?
What do you believe about them?
Most of these questions are specific to
your persona and so may seem to violate the
requirement that the answers be researched
instead of made up. But in most cases,
although research may not tell you for
certain what would be true of your persona,
it will limit you to a few alternatives. A
twentieth century American might plausibly
have any of a number of different things for
breakfast, but there are far more things that
he would not have.
Some of you, after reading the list (and
perhaps making some additions of your
own) will conclude that only a professional
scholar can stay in persona. There are few
things that must be done perfectly in order to
be worth doing, and staying in persona is not
one of them. The more such questions you
can answer the better a job you can do.
scholarship–is one of the things the Society
is about. And fun.
A few answers:
“Beer, manchet and fish or meat were
the usual breakfast of the members of
the Percy family, according to the
Northumberland Household Book of
1512. The parents were served with a
quart of wine as well as a quart of beer,
but wine was evidently thought
unwholesome for the children, who
received beer alone.” C. Anne Wilson,
Food and Drink in Britain, p. 376. She
also asserts that pottage was a common
breakfast, especially for the poor, in
England in the middle ages.
“... the Caliph’s breakfast was served
him, of the remains of the previous
evening’s supper, cold lamb or chicken,
or some such dish.” Eric Schroeder,
Mohammad’s People The reference is to
the Caliph Mu’awia.
“There are others who sprinkle ground
pepper over the food when it is cut for
eating; this is a practice of the Christians
and Berbers.” From Manuscrito
Anonimo, a 13th century Andalusian
Page 184
Some Tricks
To stay in persona is convincingly to be
another person. The first one you must
convince is yourself. To do so, I find it
useful to deliberately adopt certain tricks of
behavior in order to remind myself that I am
now Cariadoc and not David.
Some are ways of speaking. I do not
speak Arabic (and hardly anyone at an event
would understand me if I did) but I can and
do adopt medieval Muslim locutions. One
example is the practice of always following
the name of God with some admiring
comment. The most common is “The
sometimes I use “He that upholds the
Heavens without pillars above us” or some
other phrase borrowed from period sources.
Another is following the name of a good
Muslim who is dead with “on whom be
peace” and the name of a prophet or a
particularly holy man with “on whom be the
peace and the blessing”–and adding to the
name of a notable non-Muslim the phrase
“curses on him for an unbeliever.” (I usually
omit that one, out of consideration for the
perils of being a Muslim in a predominately
Christian society.)
Medieval (and modern) Arabs eat only
with the right hand, using the left for all
unclean purposes. I think it likely that a
medieval Moor, coming from a similar
culture and one heavily influenced by the
Arabs, would do the same. Cariadoc does
not use his left hand in eating. The practice
is not only (I think) authentic; it also
provides me with a silent reminder of who,
at the moment, I am.
For similar reasons, I do not wear
glasses at events. Doing without glasses
when I am in persona is not merely a matter
of being authentic–it is also a striking way
of reminding myself that I am in a different
world. Fuzzier. As an adult, Cariadoc has
never seen the stars clearly and cannot
recognize a friend across the length of a hall.
Those are some of the ways in which he is a
different person from David.
These tricks are mostly ways of
convincing myself that I am a different
person, although they may help to remind
other people as well. Most of them are
specific to my persona. The equivalents for
your persona I leave for you to discover;
they almost certainly exist.
The Last Sermon
There is after death, the Prophet presently said, a Day of Dooming
and Reparation; and there will be no more favor shown me on that Day
than any other man. Therefore if I have struck any man among you an
unrequited blow, let him strike me now. If I have offended any, let him
do as much now to me. If I have taken any man’s goods, let him now
receive it again. Make me clean of all guilt, that I may come before
God guiltless to man.
Nay, God’s Apostle, they cried weeping, all wrong of thine is
wiped clean out; and we are the guilty toward thee! Only one man
stood up and reminded Muhammed of three dirhams he had given at his
bidding to some poor man.
Better to blush in this world than the Other! The Prophet said, and
paid him what he owed. Then he got to his feet again, and went back
into Aisha’s hut, and that was the last time the people saw his body
Page 185
Some Sources for Islamic Persona
Not all, not even most, Muslims were
Arabs. Islam may have been the first world
civilization; in period it stretched from Spain
to Malaya. Muslims might be Arabs,
Berbers, East or West African Blacks,
Indians, Kurds, Mongols, Persians, Turks, ...
. They were all united by a common religion
and a common religious language, but
divided by numerous religious factions,
languages, and cultures. In order to be a
medieval Muslim, you will find it necessary
to learn about both medieval Islam and the
particular culture your persona belongs to.
You will find yourself learning two
sorts of things: physical and historical
details and what it felt like to be a medieval
Muslim. The best way to learn both, but
especially the latter, is to read books that
your persona might have read–or written.
Such books give you both detailed
information on the world your persona lived
in and a first hand view of how it looked to
people who lived in it. So I will start my list
of sources with primary sources–things
written in period.
Primary Sources
The Koran: This is the one book that
every educated Muslim knew. Islamic
literature and conversation was full of
Koranic references, and Islamic Law was in
part based upon the Koran.
The Thousand and One Nights. The
story of Scheherezade, which provides the
frame story for the Nights, is mentioned by
al-Nadim in the 10th century; the surviving
texts are considerably later, possibly 15th
century. The Burton translation (16
volumes!) is a delight; Payne is also
supposed to be very good. Anything under
eight hundred pages and calling itself the
Arabian Nights is likely to be an abbreviated
and bowdlerized version, intended for
children. The stories give you a sample of
period fantasy fiction and, along with the
footnotes, provide a good deal of
information on period Islamic attitudes and
The Fihrist of al-Nadim, tr. Bayard
Dodge, Columbia University Press 1970.
This is something between an annotated
bibliography and an encyclopedia. It is a list
of every book al-Nadim has read, organized
by subject–I think the total is in the
thousands. It is not easily read through at a
sitting, but dipping into it gives one a good
picture of the intellectual world of an
educated tenth century Muslim.
The Table-Talk of a Mesopotamian
Judge, by al-Muhassin ibn Ali al-Tanukhi,
D. S. Margoliouth, tr. Al-Tanukhi was a
tenth century judge who found that the
anecdotes people were telling were no
longer as good as the ones he remembered
from his youth and decided to improve the
situation by writing down all the ones he
could remember. The book is a wonderful
first person view of the Middle East in the
tenth century.
An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and
Warrior in the Period of the Crusades:
Memoirs of Usamah ibn-Munkidh, Philip
Hitti tr. Usamah was a Syrian Emir; his
memoirs, dictated in his old age, describe
events during the period between the first
and second crusades.
The Shahnamah. This is a famous
Persian epic by Firdouzi, which any late
Persian persona would be familiar with. The
Epic of the Kings, Reuben Levy tr., revised
by Amin Banani, Routledge & Kegan Paul,
London: 1967,1973,1977 (ISBN 0 7100
1367 1) is a prose translation, with some
omissions. A King’s Book of Kings,
available from the Metropolitan Museum in
New York, contains copies of the miniatures
manuscript of the Shahnamah and is a good
source for late Persian clothing.
Khalila wa Dimna: This is a collection
of beast fables in Arabic, based on a Persian
translation of an Indian collection (The
Page 186
The Travels of Ibn Battuta: Ibn Battuta
was a fourteenth century Islamic world
traveller who traveled at least as far as India
and claimed to have made it to China. The
Travels of Ibn Battuta, by H.A.R. Gibb,
(Cambridge: 1958, 1962, 1971–the final
volume was completed by C.F. Beckingham
after Gibb’s death and published in 1994) is
the only complete English translation of his
memoirs. The account is detailed and filled
with interesting anecdotes; it describes
travels to or through East and West Africa,
Arabia, Iraq, Persia, Constantinople,
Anatolia, Southern Russia, Afghanistan,
India, China, Andalusia and points between.
Most of it is probably true, although there is
some doubt about the Chinese portion.
The Maqaddimah of ibn Khaldun, tr.
Franz Rosenthal, Princeton University Press,
Princeton (1967). This is the introduction to
a world history by a famous Moorish scholar
c. 1400. It gives you a picture of the world
as seen from that time and place. It is also
considered one of the first great works of
modern political science.
Arab Historians of the Crusades,
selected and translated from the Arabic
sources by Francesco Gabrieli, translated
from the Italian by E.J. Costell, University
of California Press, Berkely and Los
Angeles, 1969, 1978. This is a collection of
extracts from contemporary Arabic accounts
of the crusades.
Books of Traditions. Islamic law is
based on the Koran and the Traditions of the
Prophet–accounts of things that Mohammed
said and did. The attempt to collect
traditions and verify their authenticity was a
major scholarly project for many centuries.
Some of the most famous collections are
those of Al-Bokhari and ibn Muslim. They
are useful both as things your persona might
have known and as snapshots of Arabic life
at the time of the Prophet.
Saracen Archery by J.D. Latham and
W.F. Paterson, Holland Press Ltd., London
1970. This is a modern annotated translation
of a period treatise on archery. It is useful as
a source of information on both Islamic
archery and an archer’s life in Mameluke
Secondary (and out of period primary)
Schroeder, The Bond Wheelright Company,
Portland, Maine (1955). This is something
between a primary and a secondary source–a
history of the early centuries of al-Islam
made up of passages from period sources
fitted together into a reasonably continuous
whole. It is very readable and gives you a
feel for the history of Islam as your persona
might have known it.
The Modern Egyptians by Edward
Lane, 1860 (facsimile from Dover). This is a
detailed account of Egyptian life in the early
nineteenth century. If it were only period, it
would be exactly what an Islamic persona
needs. Given that Islamic society has been
relatively conservative in recent centuries,
large parts of what it describes are probably
accurate for our period–the problem is that,
without additional evidence, one does not
know which parts. Still, a guess is better
than nothing–and the next book provides
some of the author’s expert guesses.
Arabian Society in the Middle Ages, by
Edward Lane, Curzon Press: London,
Humanities Press: N.J., 1987 reprint of 1883
edition, edited by Stanley Lane-Poole, based
on the notes to the 1859 edition of Lane’s
translation of the 1001 nights. This is a
readable and entertaining description of
Arabian, in particular Egyptian, society in
our period. While Lane is careful about
details such as the dates of introduction of
tobacco and coffee, it is not always clear
how much of what he is saying is based on
period sources and how much on his
observations of early 19th century Cairo,
described at greater length in The Modern
Egyptians. He cites period sources but rarely
dates them, and never cites translations–
probably because they did not exist when he
was writing.
Page 187
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to
Al-Madinah & Meccah, by Sir Richard F.
Burton, Dover, N.Y. (1964 reprint of 1893
edition). This is another first hand account
of part of the 19th century Islamic world, by
a famous English adventurer, scholar, and
A History of the Maghrib by Jamil M.
Abun-Nasr, Cambridge University Press,
London 1971.
The Berbers in Arabic Literature by
H.T. Norris, Longman, London & N.Y.,
1982. These two books contain a lot of
interesting information on the history and
culture of the Maghrib–North Africa and
Muslim Spain.
Arab Painting, Richard Ettinghausen,
Macmillan, London 1977. Lots of pictures,
so a good primary source for clothing.
David Nicolle, “An Introduction to
Arms and Warfare in Classical Islam,” in
Islamic Arms and Armor, Robert Elgood
Ed., Scolar Pr 1979.
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by
Amin Maalouf, translated by Jan Rothschild,
Schocken Books, N.Y. 1985. This is a
history of the crusades from the Muslim
side, based on contemporary Arabic sources.
Everyday Life in Ottoman Turkey, by
Raphaela Lewis, Dorset Press, N.Y. (1971).
Social Life Under the Abbasids, 170289 AH, 786-902 AD, by Muhammad
Manazir Ahsan.
Period Islamic cookbooks are listed on
pages 2-3.
Mohammed’s Death
Abu Bakr, coming in haste, found Umar still at the door, with a
crowd around him, crying: “These fainthearts are saying the Prophet of
God is dead — he is alive! And be those tongues torn out!”
In the hut, Aisha was wailing and tearing her face with her nails.
Muhammad’s body lay with his own mantle thrown over it. Abu Bakr
uncovered the face and bent down, till his brow well-nigh touched the
brow of the Prophet of God. Then he drew the mantle over the face
again, and went out. Umar was still shouting to the crowd.
“Gently, Umar!” Abu Bakr said. Then he turned to the people and
spoke. “Lo! As for any who worshipped Muhammad, Muhammad is
dead. But as for him who worshippeth God, God is the Living One and
He dieth not.” And he recited from the Koran the verse:
It was as if the people had never known till then that such a verse
had been revealed. When I heard Abu Bakr recite that verse, Umar used
to say afterwards, my feet were cut from under me — ay, I fell on the
ground; for then I knew that the Apostle of God, God’s Prayer and
Peace be on him! was dead.
(Based on the account in Mohammed’s People)
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Adjusting to Reality
The Society is real. That is one of its
most attractive and least obvious features.
You do not become a great warrior by
rolling dice or by showing up at a meeting
and announcing that you just defeated ten
vikings, three knights, and a giant. You
become a warrior by taking a clumsy sword
in your hand, strapping a heavy shield to
your arm, and spending many hours getting
sweaty, sore, and bruised. Eventually, with
reasonable luck, you are a competent
fighter–but probably not a great one.
The same is true of everything we
honor and respect. A poet or storyteller is
judged not by how good he tells us he is but
by the poems he composes or the stories he
tells. The Society is real, not a children’s
game of “I’ll tell you how wonderful I am,
you tell me how wonderful you are.”
This feature of the Society is one of the
reasons for my reservations about elaborate
persona stories. Many, although not all,
seem to be attempts to claim credit for deeds
the teller has not actually done and skills he
does not actually have. Their authors fail to
recognize–or attempt to deny–the reality of
the Society. To the extent that they succeed
they convert it, at least for themselves, into a
much less interesting game.
Persona development is not inventing a
story about what you have done but figuring
out who you are. To do so, you need to
know something about your history, but not
a great deal. The difference between one
upper-class early twelfth century Berber and
another is small compared to the difference
between either and a late twentieth century
American professor. I can figure out most of
the differences between myself and my
persona without first working out his life
story. I have not yet decided exactly where
in North Africa my persona was born–and
have not yet run out of unanswered
questions about my persona whose answers,
if I can find them, will not require that
In part, my reservations about persona
stories are a matter of personal preference;
there is no reason someone could not have
both an elaborate personal history and a well
developed persona, and I know a few who I
suspect do. One reason it is only a suspicion
is that a real medieval (or modern) person is
unlikely to tell people his life story. I have in
mind a Norman knight I have known for
many years. My sole evidence of what I
suspect to be a well worked out persona
history is that once, when I was telling
William Marshall stories, my friend
mentioned that in his youth he had once met
the Marshall.
When someone I have just met tells me
about his extensive journeys, implausible
parentage, and incredible accomplishments,
I conclude that he is more interested in being
the hero of his own novel than in learning
what a real medieval person would be like.
My persona, noticing that the great warrior’s
performance on the field does not match his
war stories, concludes that he (like, no
doubt, some real people in the Middle Ages)
is better at bragging than at fighting.
Implausible Persona Story # 1
Born in Muslim North Africa. As a teenager accompanied his uncle,
a diplomat in the employ of a minor local ruler, on trips to both black
Africa and Constantinople. Kidnapped by Christian pirates and sold as a
slave in Italy, where he converted to Christianity and became a protegé
of the Pope.
This is a real person; what is his name?
Page 189
A Dying Dream
It is not surprising that different
members of a large volunteer organization
have different opinions as to its purpose and
nature, nor is it surprising if, as a result, one
group of members feels that others are
“doing it wrong” while others feel that the
first are “making a fuss about nothing.” In
the case of the SCA, I believe one can
distinguish two different and incompatible
views of what we are doing.
According to one view, the SCA is a
group of Twentieth Century people whose
hobby is the past. Many of the meetings of
the group are loosely modeled on such
historical events as tournaments or Twelfth
Night revels, and at the meetings the
members wear costumes designed to show
off one of their interests–historical clothing.
It is entirely appropriate that at such
meetings people discuss their researches,
interests, and activities, and hold contests in
which the members compete for prizes
based on the authenticity and quality of
costumes, cooking, and the like. Individuals
choose personae as a way of specializing in
some particular place and period, while
feeling free to study any other part of the
past that strikes their interest. In addition,
the creation of a persona allows some
members to exhibit their ability to invent an
interesting or entertaining fictitious history.
According to the other view, SCA
events are not meetings of Twentieth
Century hobbyists but joint fantasies. At an
event you are your persona, and your
knowledge and viewpoints are those your
persona would have had, modified, perhaps,
by your contact within the society with other
personae. While it is appropriate to show
how well you can play the game by wearing
attractive and authentic clothing or cooking
from period cookbooks, it is entirely
inappropriate to discuss the authenticity or
inauthenticity of the result at an event. At an
event you are your persona; you can hardly
discuss the inappropriateness of rayon or
potatoes when you do not know such things
exist. Nor is it appropriate to introduce
yourself to a new acquaintance with a
lengthy history of where you were born and
who your parents were and how you happen
to have the friends and relatives you do–any
more than it would be appropriate to recite
your life history when you meet a stranger at
a cocktail party. Such discussions can occur
only in other contexts–baronial meetings,
planning sessions, or conversations before or
after events among the Twentieth Century
persons whose period personae attended.
Of course, the distinction between the
two viewpoints is not as sharp as I have
made it sound. Those who believe in the
second viewpoint are likely to complain that
those who believe in the first view events as
costume parties, but even in a costume party
there is room for some playacting. The same
person who spends most of the event
discussing his mundane job and car troubles
with his friends may attempt to play a
medieval role for a minute or two when
being presented in court. And even the
strictest believer in staying in persona will
find himself mixing persona and Twentieth
Century person in borderline contexts–at a
fighting practice, for example, where he uses
his medieval name but discuses the
suitability of various modern materials for
making body protection. Similarly, an article
in Tournaments Illuminated may be either a
communication by one medieval persona
addressed to others or an article written by
and for Twentieth Century people interested
in the Middle Ages; one can even mix the
two modes to the extent of producing a
medieval article with modern notes.
Nonetheless, I believe that most of us, most
of the time, fall fairly clearly into one camp
or another–with some of us wincing when
the Queen announces in court that the King
is not present because he is home in bed
with a heating pad, while others grow
increasingly frustrated when a friend not
only refuses to answer simple questions
about what books he got his information out
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of and what time period his costume
represents, but even refuses to admit that he
understands them.
It is worth pointing out that the
disagreement is not about whether one is for
or against authenticity. In many areas the
first view may lead to as much or more
authenticity as the second; a Twentieth
Century hobbyist making costumes to enter
in a costume competition may know more
about how such costumes were made and do
a better job of making them than someone
who lacks both knowledge and skill but is
doing her best to believe, for the evening,
that the outfit she faked up from an old
square dancing dress and some pieces of
scrap cloth was really made from silk
bought at the Troyes fair from a merchant
who claimed to have brought it all the way
from Constantinople. The one area in which
the second area can be expected to lead to
greater authenticity is in behavior–but even
there, one may be trying very hard to act
medieval and yet have very little idea how
medieval people actually acted.
It is probably clear by now that I
myself view the Society in the second way,
that I believe events ought to be (but seldom
are) joint fantasies in which all present try to
act, and so far as is possible think, as though
they were, for that evening, truly in the
Middle Ages. While I believe that the
Society has many attractions as a framework
for recreational scholarship and a place to
meet diverse and interesting people, I
consider that its primary attraction is the
opportunity to live, occasionally, in a
different world as part of a different sort of
society, seeing out of a different pair of eyes
and understanding and acting on the basis of
a different view of reality. I find it
unfortunate that this view of the Society
seems to have become rarer and rarer over
the years, to the point that many members
have not so much rejected as never
considered it–and to the point where there
are almost no events at which there is any
serious attempt to maintain the illusion, save
by a few scattered individuals.
Why has this happened? One reason is
that staying in persona, however much fun it
may be, requires a continuing effort. Even
aside from positive actions–doing and
saying things your persona would do and
especially at the beginning, not to do and
say things your persona would not. It
requires even more effort when you receive
no external support, when the people around
you, instead of helping to build and maintain
the fantasy, are by their words and actions
shattering it, reminding you of the Twentieth
Century world around you and expecting
you to respond to them as a Twentieth
Century person. I believe that many people
who join the SCA are inclined to view it as I
do; that is why they joined. That, if you can
remember that far back, is why most of you
joined. It is in new groups that one is most
likely to find some belief in the reality of
what we are doing. For new members of the
Society, the very fact that they are wearing
medieval clothes makes them feel that they
have left the modern world. For old
members, and for old groups, dressing up in
fancy clothes and hitting each other with
sticks is what they always do on weekends why should they act or feel any differently
than they do the rest of the time?
This brings me to a second reason why
the Society as a joint fantasy is dead or
dying. For me to stay in persona is at most a
minor, and perhaps amusing, aberration for
those who view a tournament as a costume
party. But for them, and especially those of
them who are taking public acts–making
announcements, giving awards, doing
business before the throne–to speak and act
as the Twentieth Century people they are is
about as consistent with what I am trying to
do as a ringing alarm clock is with sleeping.
Ten Twentieth Century people wandering
through a medieval crowd can talk about
their cars and computer programming in
perfect comfort while creating a substantial
problem for those present who do not wish
to know that either exists; ten personae in a
crowd of Twentieth Century people whose
Page 191
hobby happens to be the Middle Ages are
limited to talking to each other and trying to
pretend that the other people, or at least their
words and acts, do not exist. Hence the
attempt to treat SCA events as joint fantasies
is very much more vulnerable to
unintentional sabotage by those who
disagree than is the alternative approach.
Can and should anything be done to
alter the direction in which the Society has
drifted? Whether you believe it should be
changed depends on whether you agree with
me about what the Society should be. If you
do, there remains the question of whether
and how a change might be made. My own
opinion is that the only way is for a
substantial number of people to discover that
staying in persona, making events real, is
simply more fun than the alternative. It is
difficult for a single individual to either stay
in persona or show others what a real event
could be. Perhaps a group of friends, a
household or something similar, could make
a deliberate effort to come to events in
persona, support each other in their roles,
and gradually ease the people around them
into doing the same. Perhaps a small group,
a new shire, could decide to make its own
events as real as possible, and gradually
spread the idea through the kingdom.
Perhaps at some mass event such as the
Pennsic War a group of true believers could
fence in a patch of enchanted ground for
their encampment and let it be known that
whoever came inside was undertaking to
join them while he remained. Perhaps the
idea would spread. Perhaps.
[Tournaments Illuminated, No. 63,
Summer 1982]
Enchanted Ground
I will be organizing an authentic encampment at Pennsic.
The objective is not merely to have an encampment that
looks medieval, but to create an area where the twentieth
century does not exist--where everyone is trying to stay
in persona all of the time.
If you are interested in participating and would like more
information, write or call:
David Friedman
(Duke Cariadoc)
921 Fern St.,
New Orleans, LA 70118
Several newsletters, Spring 1986
Page 192
The Enchanted Ground: A Progress Report
“Perhaps a group of friends ... could
make a deliberate effort to come to events in
persona, support each other in their roles,
and gradually ease the people around them
into doing the same. ... Perhaps at some
mass event such as the Pennsic War a group
of true believers could fence in a patch of
enchanted ground for their encampment and
let it be known that whoever came inside
was undertaking to join them while he
remained.” (TI No. 63, Summer 1982)
One of the attractions some of us find
in the Society is the opportunity to imagine,
for at least a few hours, that we are actually
medieval people in a medieval world. One
problem with doing so is that many other
people are playing a different and
inconsistent game. It is hard to be a
medieval person while answering questions
about the sources for my clothes or my food,
or even while the people next to me are
conducting such a conversation.
Some years ago, I came up with a
possible solution for this problem. Set up an
encampment within which everyone stays in
persona all of the time. Those who wish to
discuss D&D or fighter aircraft can do it
somewhere else. Those who would like to be
medieval people for half an hour but not for
a week can visit. If treating the Society as a
joint fantasy is, as I believe, more fun than
treating it as a costume party, they will
enjoy themselves and the idea will spread.
I sketched the idea in a TI article, in the
hope that someone would try it. So far as I
know nobody did, so eventually my lady
wife and I decided to try it ourselves. The
encampment has now existed at four events–
the twentieth year celebration and the last
three Pennsic Wars. This article is a report
on what we have learned from that
While our central objective was
authentic behavior–being in persona–we felt
that it would be easier to achieve that against
an authentic background. One does not have
to worry about how to deal medievally with
Coleman lanterns and boom boxes if there
are none. Our first requirement was that
participants be willing to stay in persona;
our second was that their equipment be
reasonably period in appearance.
We located people interested in
participating partly by personal contacts and
partly by running ads in kingdom
newsletters. At TYC, our encampment
consisted of the two of us plus one
household of our friends. Our first Pennsic
encampment consisted of us, two members
of that household, and two other couples.
The encampment has remained small; at the
latest Pennsic it involved fourteen people.
The geography of our encampment is
very simple. Our boundary is a gold rope. At
the entrance is a sign; the current version
Gentles: Within these bounds the
twentieth Century does not exist. You are
welcome to join us. We only ask that you
restrict your conversation to topics suitable
to your persona.
What Works?
The idea of a clearly defined boundary
works well in both directions. People who
come in usually understand what we are
doing and try to be a part of it. Occasionally
someone who came in without noticing the
sign starts talking about something
inappropriate. We cannot explain the
problem without ourselves dropping out of
persona. The usual solution is to ask the
visitor if he will take a walk with us, lead
him out of the encampment, and explain the
situation there.
For those in the encampment, the
boundary provides both a symbol and a
safety valve. While we are inside it, it
reminds us of what we are doing. If we have
to discuss something out of persona, we can
always go out of the encampment to do it.
Page 193
We have not yet held an opening ceremony
with a formal exorcism of the twentieth
century, but I do follow a policy of not
putting up the sign until the pavilions are up
and the cars gone.
Another thing that works is the bardic
circle, which we try to hold most evenings.
Darkness hides a lot. Poems, songs, and
stories performed by medieval poets,
singers, and storytellers help strengthen the
illusion. Most important of all, the essence
of the encampment is people not tents, and
around the fire at the bardic circle we are
interacting as medieval people.
What Doesn’t Work
My first surprise was how few people
chose to participate. The fundamental reason
is not the difficulty of producing period tents
and gear–there are many more authentic
tents outside our boundaries than in. Nor, I
think, is it the lack of people interested in
being in persona–as witnessed by the
number of evening guests at our bardic
circles. The real problem comes from one of
the great strengths of the Society, the fact
that, like any feudal order, it is founded on
strong local bonds. Most people at Pennsic
want to camp with their friends.
That cuts both ways. We may not be
local, but we are friends; our encampment
has become its own local group, almost its
own household, even if only for one week a
year. Our recruitment has been less than I
expected, but our stability has been more.
It is sometimes suggested that an
authentic encampment should be isolated,
located far away from everything else to
preserve its purity. In our opinion, that is a
serious mistake. People in our encampment,
like people in every other encampment,
come to Pennsic to do things–help with the
Chirurgeons, merchant, fight, herald. They
do not intend to simply sit in the
encampment looking authentic. The farther
the encampment is from where everything is
happening, the less willing people will be to
participate in it.
A second reason we do not want to be
isolated is that the encampment is intended,
in part, as a demonstration of how we think
the game should be played, a way of
convincing other people that being a
medieval person is more fun than being a
twentieth century person talking about the
Middle Ages. The farther away we are, the
fewer people drop in for conversation during
the day or to visit our bardic circle at night.
The greatest weakness of the
encampment is that it tends to die during the
day. With most of us off merchanting or
heralding, there are not enough people to
bring our tiny medieval society to life. At
the most recent Pennsic we thought we had a
solution–a series of in persona classes and
conversations, loosely modeled on the
Platonic Academy of Lorenzo de Medici, to
be held in the encampment in the afternoons.
Unfortunately we arrived only a week early,
and as a result found ourselves camped on a
hill more than half a mile from the rest of
the war. That the bardic circle survived
despite our isolation is a tribute to the stout
hearts and strong legs of those who came to
join it, but we gave up on the Academy until
next year.
For the Future
Our encampment has survived and
slowly grown–to that extent it has been a
success. To really succeed, however, it must
expand beyond one encampment at one war.
The fundamental reason for starting it was to
create a pattern that other people could use,
develop, improve upon.
You need not come to Pennsic to be
part of what we are doing. Get a long piece
of rope and dye it gold. Put it around your
encampment, wherever that may be, and
hang a suitable sign at the entrance, facing
out; the people inside do not know what the
twentieth century is and so need not be told
that it does not exist. Let your tents be
period or nylon as you please. The essential
idea of the encampment is not period tents
but period people.
Page 194
(Tournaments Illuminated Summer
If you want to be part of our
encampment at Pennsic, write. If you run
your own in persona encampment, let us
know how it works out. The badge is
registered in my name but intended as the
symbol of an in persona encampment; any
such encampment is free to use it. Its blazon
is “Azure, a candle inflamed within an
annulet or.”
After this article was published we
made a second and more successful try at
running the Academy, and continued it in
some later years. The Enchanted Ground
itself has now been part of Pennsic for more
than twenty years. Growth has been slow
and irregular; this summer (2010) we expect
a total of 23 participants.
David Friedman
The ascetic Amr ibn Ubayd had been an intimate friend of Mansur
before his elevation. He once visited the Caliph.
Come near us and be seated, said Mansur; and let us have some
Amr spoke as follows: Thy power would never have been thine if
thy predecessors could have kept their hands on it. Then be warned of
the Night wherefrom a Day shall dawn after which there will never be
another night.
When Amr rose, the Caliph said: We have ordered you ten
thousand dirhams bounty.
I do not need it, said the ascetic.
But by God you’ll take it, exclaimed Mansur.
By God, I shall not.
What? Cried Mansur’s son Mahdi, who was present. The Prince
of True Believers swear a thing shall be done and you swear the
Who is this young man? Asked Ibn Ubayd.
My heir and sucessor, my son Mahdi.
Thou hast clothed him, the ascetic said, as the righteous are never
clothed; thou hast given him a name (for Mahdi means the Divinely
Guided who shall come) which is none of his, and smoothed a path for
him wherein the more he prospers the more reckless he will be.
Have you any wish I can grant? Asked Mansur.
Never send for me again, but wait till I come to thee, Amr replied.
Then we shall never meet again, the Caliph said.
That is my wish, said he; and went away. Mansur followed him
with his eyes till he was gone. Then he turned him to his courtiers
again, and said: All of you walk with stealthy steps; you are all beasts
of prey, all–only Amr son of Ubayd is different.
(From Mohammed’s People)
Page 195
Concerning Consistency
Ignorance is Bliss
One of the things I enjoy about SCA
events is the opportunity to be in persona–to
act and speak as the medieval person I am
pretending to be. In discussing the subject
with other members of the Society, one issue
that is often raised is the problem of
consistency. How, it is asked, can one
function as a medieval person at an event?
Time travel is not a medieval idea, so how
can one medieval person interact with others
from hundreds of years before and after his
time? How can I, as a North African from
1100 A.D., learn Italian dances from the
sixteenth century or cook from a fifteenth
century English cookbook?
What is wrong with all of these
questions is that they confuse what I know
with what my persona knows. I know that
my wife’s persona is several hundred years
later than mine. My persona knows only that
his lady wife is a foreigner and a Nazarene.
David knows that the gentleman in the
starched ruff is from the sixteenth century.
Cariadoc knows, having been told, that the
gentleman is from a Frankish tribe called the
English. Cariadoc also knows that, like most
other Franks, the gentleman in question does
not face towards Mecca to pray, does not
wear a turban, and does wear funny clothes.
None of that is in any way inconsistent with
what Cariadoc knows of the world–
foreigners are like that.
Cariadoc comes from a culture far from
the SCA mainstream, so it is easy for him
not to know the difference between a tenth
century Englishman and a sixteenth century
Englishman. But while the average SCA
persona may not be quite as ignorant of
other people’s times and places, he is still
much closer, in that regard, to Cariadoc than
to David. Most medieval people did not
know much history or geography, and much
of what they did know was wrong. If you
meet a stranger who is wearing odd clothes,
it is much more natural to assume that he is
from a distant country, or from a part of
your own country where local styles are a bit
unusual, than that he is from a different
One obvious response is that Cariadoc
does not have to recognize sixteenth century
clothes in order to know that the gentleman
he has just met is from the sixteenth
century–after all, the gentleman has just
responded to my query of “what are you” by
answering “I am a sixteenth century
Englishman.” But this is an inconsistency
that comes not from being in persona but
from being out of persona. Real medieval
people did not start conversations with
strangers by asking them what century they
were from. All we have to do in order to
avoid problems with temporal inconsistency
is to talk as our personae instead of about
them–and not mention any dates.
This brings up a related point–
conversation. Some people seem to assume
that, in order to be in persona, you must
spend most of your time talking about
current events–“have you heard the latest
news about the crusade/Henry VIII/the
Norman Conquest?” If so, then conversing
for more than a few minutes would require
quite a lot of specialized knowledge, and a
conversation among personae from different
times and places would rapidly become
either obviously inconsistent (“What
crusade/Henry who /what’s a Norman?”) or
very confusing.
But consider, for a moment, your
ordinary twentieth century conversation.
How much of it is about events that will
appear in the history books a thousand years
from now? The answer, surely, is very little.
Mostly we talk about what is happening
around us or in our lives–and two people
with very different personae are still
attending the same event. If we do mention
Page 196
current events, they are likely to be
something like the latest Welsh border raid
or last year’s bad harvest–neither of which
comes attached to a date.
It is sometimes suggested that, in order
to do a consistent persona, one would have
to talk only with others from the same time
and place. One wonders how medieval
travelers managed. When Ibn Battuta, a
fourteenth century North African, traveled
through Anatolia and Southern Russia to
India, where he spent several years as one of
the chief judges of Delhi, did he have
trouble maintaining a consistent persona?
The people he traveled among were as
foreign to him as my fellow feasters are to
me–yet somehow he managed to interact
with them while remaining himself. Indeed
his experience, like mine, seems to have
been that strangers are often more
interesting to talk with than people from the
next village over.
A different sort of consistency problem
is raised by the institutions of the Society
itself. Knights, Dukes, Seneschals, Knight
Marshals, Masters of the Laurel and
Pelican–how do all of these things fit into
Cariadoc’s world? And, equally puzzling,
how does he fit into them–what is a Berber
doing marshalling a tournament or ruling a
Kingdom full of Englishmen, Vikings, et
multae caetera?
The answer again is that I am obviously
a foreigner. The Middle Kingdom is not the
Maghreb. It is no stranger for a North
African Berber to be Earl Marshall of the
Middle Kingdom, as I was many years ago,
than for another North African Berber to be
the chief Malikite Judge of the city of Delhi
in India, no stranger for me to have ruled
over the mingled populations of the Middle
than for Robert Guiscard de Hauteville, a
Norman adventurer, to have ruled over the
medley of Moslems, Byzantines, Italians,
and Jews inhabiting what was to become the
Norman Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The
customs by which the Middle Kingdom
chooses its kings are indeed very odd–they
will make a fine traveler’s tale for my
hearers to scoff at, if I ever make it back to
the Maghreb.
Another problem that some people see
with being in persona is the problem of
being stuck with your persona’s quarrels.
How can we conduct a civilized event if
Vikings and Celts, Normans and Saxons,
Guelfs and Ghibbilenes, Saracens and
Crusaders, feel obliged to kill each other in
the middle of the dance floor? Is it not
necessary, in order to conduct our affairs in
relative quiet, to impose an ahistorical ban
on period persona violence?
The simple answer is that such a ban is
not in the least ahistorical. In period,
“enemies” interacted peaceably quite a lot of
the time. The Irish and the Norse may have
had their little troubles, but that did not keep
intermarrying. One of my favorite bits in the
memoirs of Usamah ibn Munqidh, a Syrian
Emir who was an older contemporary of
Saladin, is the part where he is trying to
avoid offending a Frankish friend while
turning down the friend’s offer to foster
Usamah’s son. Usamah is as eager to have
his son fostered among the Franks as a
nineteenth century Englishman would be to
have his son raised by cannibals in darkest
Africa–but, being unwilling to say so, he
politely explains that, much as he
appreciates the offer, the boy is the apple of
his mother’s eye, so ... . Moslems and
Christians might fight to the death on the
walls of Acre, but in Norman Sicily they got
along well enough–so well that one of the
most famous of the successors of the
Norman Kings, the Holy Roman Emperor
Frederic II, was suspected by some
contemporaries of being a closet Moslem.
Nothing I have said here answers the
question of whether being in persona is
more fun than other ways of enjoying the
Society. Nor have I said much about the
techniques to convince oneself and others
that one is, for the moment, a medieval
person. But I hope I have convinced you that
there is no inherent impossibility, no glaring
inconsistency, in attending an event as a
medieval person at a medieval feast rather
than a twentieth century hobbyist at a
costume party.
[Published in Tournaments
Illuminated, No. 101, Winter 1991]
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Matters of Opinion
In Defense of Authenticity
Much of the fun of the SCA consists of
recreational scholarship–learning how things
were done in the Middle Ages (and the
Renaissance) and trying to do them. For
some of us that means working out recipes
from fifteenth century cookbooks–and
discovering that, surprisingly enough, they
taste good. For others it means making real
armour–armour that not only looks right but
also works. For still others it means telling
stories from the Mabinogion or the
Thousand and One Nights, or making suits
of clothes that are medieval down to the
What I find puzzling and disturbing
about the present state of the Society is that,
although a considerable number of people
do such things and have for very many
years, surprisingly little of their work finds
its way into our daily life. We have been at
it for over twenty years now and yet it is still
the case that, in most of the things we do,
what we do is much less authentic than what
we know–and what we know about how
things were really done is much less than
what we could know. Thus, for instance, a
sizable majority of the dances commonly
danced in the Society are not only not
period, they are not even seventeenth
century. Most feasts in most groups contain
no dishes that are cooked from period
running-around games for the entertainment
of those who are not fighting, but they are
virtually never period games–although many
such are known. The list could be expanded.
The problem may be in our attitude
towards authenticity. Authenticity often
seems to be viewed as something to be done,
if at all, because one is supposed to do it–not
because it is worth doing. A typical example
is a pamphlet I recently read on one of the
performing art forms. It contained a passage
of a few pages discussing what pieces were
period. The passage began with the
explanation that those who were entering
contests might find the information useful.
The implication, clearly enough, was that no
performer would care whether a piece was
or was not period unless it was being entered
in a competition. One result of this attitude
is that, in many of the things we do, period
work seems to be largely limited to
competition entries.
The attitude can be seen most clearly in
responses to the suggestion that something
not be done because it is not period–for
instance, that the fact that “Road to the
Isles” is a twentieth century dance based on
nineteenth century originals is an argument
for finding other and earlier dances. Such a
suggestion is usually interpreted not as an
attempt to make the Society more interesting
by making it more medieval but simply as
an attempt to spoil everyone else’s fun. One
can get the same reaction by suggesting that
since there is no evidence that cold tea was
drunk anywhere in Europe any time in
period and considerable evidence that
chocolate deserts were not made anywhere
in the world until late in the seventeenth
century, we ought to find other things to eat
and drink at our feasts.
The most common objection to such
suggestions is that “the SCA is supposed to
be fun.” This is true. It is also true of folk
dancing, baseball, and video games.
Nonetheless, it would seem rather strange to
show up at a tournament with ball and bat,
or at a baseball game with sword, shield, and
armor. Each is a different way of having fun
and each implies a particular set of
constraints on what you do in order to have
It would not be surprising if the
response to the suggestion that something
should be more authentic was the reply that
authenticity, although a good thing, was in
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this particular case more trouble than it was
worth. We cannot all do everything
perfectly; the same person who researches
and uses period recipes might reasonably
enough dance modern folk dances on the
grounds that he does not know any good
period dances and has neither the time nor
expertise to research any. But the usual
response, and the one with which I am
concerned, is not that inauthentic dances are
better than no dances–it is that historical
authenticity is irrelevant to the normal
activities of the society and the attempt to
introduce it is therefore an intrusion. The
argument is not often put that baldly, but
that is what it amounts to.
This brings me to the essential question
which is rarely asked and more rarely
answered: What is the point of authenticity?
If the answer is that its only function is to
give more authentic people an excuse to feel
superior to less authentic ones, then surely
we should forget about it.
Authenticity has several functions
within the Society. One of them is to
encourage us to learn how things were done
in the past by trying to do them, which turns
out to be fun–a kind of fun that is hard to
find anywhere else. We are very much more
likely to figure out how things were done in
the past if we feel some obligation to try to
do them that way than if we feel free to do
“anything that is fun.”
Consider dancing. Sixteen years ago,
most of the period dances done in the
Middle and East Kingdoms were out of one
book–Arbeau’s Orchesography. Most of
them still are. The reason is not that Arbeau
is the only surviving period dance treatise–it
is not. It is merely the only one readily
available in English.
If one gets bored with the dances in
Arbeau, one solution is to use modern folk
dances instead. It is easy enough to do–there
are lots of good dances, and plenty of folk
dancers to teach them. That, for the most
part, is what has happened.
If, however, you are unwilling to use
dances that are out of period, or if you
regard them as a temporary expedient to be
used only until something better can be
found, there is another solution–look for
more and better period dances. The first step
in that direction is to go to the early editions
of Playford, which are almost period; the
first was published in 1651. The next step is
to find translations of earlier dance treatises
such as Caroso, or to locate copies of
untranslated treatises and try to translate
them and work out the dances. If you are a
dance master but not a linguist, there are
probably other people in your kingdom who
are linguists and not dance masters–and
could be interested in a joint project.
Why does that not happen? One answer
is that it does; there are people in the Society
who have worked on dances from period
sources other than Arbeau, although very
few. I am neither a dancer nor a linguist, but
I am a cook, and have gotten volunteer
translators from within the Society to
translate several previously untranslated
period cookbooks. The reason it does not
happen very often may be because most of
us feel satisfied dancing 19th century folk
dances and cooking from Fanny Farmer, and
many regard period cooking or period
dancing or period almost anything else as
something done only in order to win a
contest, probably in the hope of getting an
award–not as what we should be continually
aiming at in everything we do.
So one reason for authenticity in what
we do is as a way of encouraging us all to
engage in one of the forms of fun that
distinguishes the Society from baseball and
video games–figuring out how people
danced, cooked, sewed, fought, and lived in
the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Another reason for authenticity is that it
helps us to an experience that we cannot get
elsewhere–the experience of living, for an
evening, in a different world, of being a
different person with different beliefs and
feelings, seeing, for a little while, out of a
different set of eyes. The attempt to do
things, so far as possible, in the way they
were done is one way of making events feel
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real–something more than costume parties
held by people whose hobby is dressing up
and hitting each other with sticks.
I am not suggesting that we should
never do anything at an event that is not
entirely authentic. If you have no period
dances, folk dances are better than nothing;
if you have no period recipes, Fanny
Farmer’s beef stew is better than going
hungry. What is wrong is being satisfied
with folk dances and beef stew, instead of
trying to work to replace them with
something better.
(Versions of this were published
in Pale and Pikestaff in 1987)
Concerning Contests
It is widely agreed that while the
Society has at least enough fighting and
politics, it is seriously deficient in most
other medieval arts–that it would be both
more medieval and more fun if we had more
singers, poets, jewelers, cooks, musicians,
and artists of many other sorts. The most
common solution suggested for this problem
is that the arts be encouraged by holding arts
contests. I agree with the diagnosis but not
the prescription. We ought to have more
medieval arts in the daily life of the Society,
but I doubt that contests are the way to get
One problem with arts contests is that
they are among the most unmedieval events
we hold. Most, in my experience, feel more
like a modern debate tournament than like
anything from the Middle Ages. While this
may not be inevitable, it is at least difficult
to avoid. At an arts contest we are judging
not only the quality of the works submitted
but also their authenticity. It is hard to do so
without judges and entrants discussing what
was or was not done in period. Any such
discussion forces us to look at the Middle
Ages from the outside–as twentieth century
students of the period, not as medieval
people. No medieval judge evaluated art
works, and no medieval craftsman defended
them, according to whether or not they were
authentically medieval.
A related problem is the tendency in
arts contests to judge works on
documentation instead of, or in addition to,
judging them on authenticity. Obviously, if
the artist has reason to expect the judges to
make a mistake–if he knows something
about the authenticity of his work which
they probably do not know–it is up to him to
pass on the information. But the requirement
for documentation in arts contests often goes
much further than that. Artists are expected
to provide evidence to the judges of things
that the judges ought to already know, such
as what verse forms were used in period.
Documentation is treated as an objective in
itself, rather than as evidence for the
authenticity of the work. In some cases–
exotic dancing, for example–entrants get
credit for documentation even if all the
documentation shows is that neither the
entrant nor anyone else knows enough to tell
what was or was not being done in period. In
effect, the artist is being judged partly as an
artist and partly as an amateur scholar. I can
think of few better ways of discouraging the
arts than to require that every work of art be
accompanied by a term paper.
One might be able to solve, or at least
reduce, these problems by creating events
that function as contests but fit into
medieval patterns. One could imagine an
occasion at which poets perform before a
king or great lord, with the best being
rewarded by the gift of a silver arm ring.
That is how poetry was encouraged in some
period cultures. If, as is likely, the lord who
is giving out the prizes does not know
enough about period poetry to judge which
performances are or are not authentic, he can
always have advisors whispering in his ear.
The idea is not to avoid considering the
authenticity of the work, but rather to
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prevent open discussion of the authenticity
of the work from destroying the authenticity
of the event.
Other arts might compete within the
framework of a fair–as often happened in
the Middle Ages. The fiction of the event
would be that the craftsmen were there to
exhibit and sell their work, with ribbons
being given by the local lord as a way of
craftsmen to his people. For some that
fiction would be fact, since many Society
craftsmen do produce work for sale. Those
who wished to exhibit but not to sell could
always explain that they were currently too
busy to accept orders.
So far I have been discussing ways in
which we could continue to have arts
contests while making them feel more like
medieval events. I believe, however, that the
real solution to the problem does not lie in
contests at all. Almost inevitably, contests
encourage the idea that art and authenticity
are hothouse flowers, suitable for contests
rather than for the daily life of the Society.
This reinforces the unfortunate tendency of
modern American society to regard
education and “culture” as things that are
good for you but taste bad–like cod-liver oil.
The objective of encouraging the arts is not
to produce authentic contest entries but to
make medieval arts part of the daily life of
the Society. The way to achieve that is by
practicing our arts within the daily life of the
Society and encouraging others to do so.
For those of us who are cooks and are
producing feasts, that means developing
authentic dishes and serving them at feasts.
Since we are cooking not for a handful of
judges but for a hall full of hungry people,
we had better be sure that they are dishes
which people will like–or we will not be
asked to do any more feasts. That is a
constraint that also applied, in a somewhat
more extreme form, to the cooks of the
Middle Ages.
For those of us who are cooks and are
not doing feasts, introducing our art into the
daily life of the Society means bringing a
basket of period nibbles and offering them
to all and sundry. That is both an exercise of
the medieval virtue of generosity and a way
of spreading the news that authentic food
can also taste good.
Those of us who are jewelers can and
should make medieval jewels, wear them,
give them as gifts, sell them. Those who are
poets or storytellers should use their art to
entertain those who wish entertainment. If
we find that we cannot hold an audience,
that is evidence that there is something
wrong with either the piece we have chosen
or the way in which we have presented it.
That, too, was a problem that period
performers had to deal with.
One reason for the popularity of arts
contests as a way of encouraging the arts
may be that tournaments are such a visible
part of our activities, and fighting one of the
two medieval activities that do not seem in
need of encouragement. My own view is
that we have it backwards. Fighting is
popular not because we have fighting
contests but because it is something that
many people do for its own sake. The
prevalence of elimination tournaments is
one of the things wrong with the way we do
fighting, not one of the reasons for its
For crown tournaments we must have
an objective way of determining who has
won; that is why crown tournaments are, and
perhaps must be, elimination lists. But I
think it is a mistake to make so many other
tournaments into small scale imitations of
the crown. Elimination tournaments allow
the less experienced fighters to do very little
fighting. Worse, by encouraging the idea
that we are fighting to win a tournament
rather than for fun, honor, and glory, they
have some tendency to make fighting less
fun and less friendly than it might otherwise
tournaments are not particularly medieval;
their structure is based on modern sporting
events not on medieval tournaments. The
winner of a medieval tournament was the
Page 201
fighter who, after the day’s fighting was
done, was judged to have fought best–but he
did not have to prove it by working his way
up a double elimination tree.
Perhaps, if we wish to encourage
medieval arts, we should take our model not
from fighting but from the other medieval
art of which we have at least enough–
politics. The people of our kingdoms, as in
the kingdoms of old, require no public
competitions, no special prizes, to engage in
that activity. It is done for its own sake, for
the pleasure of the game and the rewards
proper to it. The reward of a successful
politician is power–the ability to influence
what happens within the kingdom–just as
the proper reward of a story teller or a
musician is an attentive audience and the
proper reward of a good cook is a hall full of
happy and well fed people.
If we wish medieval arts to be a part of
the life of the Society, to function for us as
they functioned in the past, it is to the past
we should look for models of how to
practice and encourage the arts. If you are an
artist, find ways of working your art into the
life of your kingdom. If you wish to
encourage the arts, recognize and reward the
arts you wish to encourage.
I brought three silver arm rings to the
most recent Pennsic war, and departed with
two. The third left on the arm of a lady
singer, who had come to our campfire to
delight us with the tale of Cuchulain and the
Cattle Raid of Cooley. To the next war I
propose to wear seven rings, and, fortune
favoring, to bring none away. If one wishes
to attract bards, one must use the proper bait.
Concerning the C in SCA
A question that occasionally arises in
the Society is whether there is some
essential conflict between being creative and
being authentic. Must we choose between
slavishly copying historical works, on the
one hand, and being creatively unmedieval
on the other?
The answer is no. It would be difficult
to argue that Chaucer was not creative–or
Michelangelo, or Dante, or the unknown
master who created the Sutton Hoo treasure.
Their works could hardly be described as
slavish copies of what already existed. Yet
each worked within the artistic canon of his
own time. Each, to some degree, enlarged
that canon by his own work. When they
were all done, the year sixteen hundred had
not arrived, so nothing that they did can be
properly classified as out of period for the
Just as the creative artists of the past
worked within the technical and stylistic
limits of their own times and in doing so
produced works of great and original art, so
we, if we are good enough, can produce our
own original works within those same
limits. A poet does not have to invent his
own verse form, or even his own poetic
conventions, in order to write original
verse–and few poets do. While a painter
may find the lack of modern acrylics
inconvenient, there is a vast body of
medieval and Renaissance art to prove what
can be done without them. The most
beautiful jewels ever made, in my
judgement at least, are more than a thousand
years old, and the most technically
Page 202
impressive more than two thousand. The
treasures of the past provide ample evidence
that there is no conflict between originality
and authenticity.
In some arts there is a division between
author and executor. A great actor or dancer
need not be the author of the plays or dances
that he performs; a great musician does not
play only his own music. Most of the dishes
cooked by even the greatest chef are not of
his own invention. In such arts, the
interpretation of the existing work is itself a
difficult and creative act. If the art we are
practicing is acting, or dancing, or music or
cooking, there is no need to produce new
plays, dances, pieces, or recipes in order for
our performances and our dishes to be
original works. By choosing to execute
works that were produced in period, we
make it more likely that our execution will
be authentic as well as original; we do not
have to worry that errors in our
interpretation may be compounded by errors
in what we are interpreting. We know that a
recipe written down in 1226 contains only
period ingredients.
What if we wish to create not a period
dish but a period recipe–or poem, or play, or
jewel? There is still much to be said for
starting out by copying surviving works. A
medieval cook spent his life learning what
medieval cooking was like by eating it and
learning how it was done by watching other
medieval cooks. That is not an option
available to us.
The nearest alternative is to cook a
large number of dishes from period
cookbooks. The process is not entirely
lacking in creativity–medieval recipes rarely
include quantities, temperatures, or times–
and it is the essential preliminary to any
more creative medieval cooking. If, instead,
we start our exploration of medieval cooking
by inventing our own dishes, what we will
be inventing will not be original medieval
dishes but original twentieth century dishes,
perhaps slightly influenced by twentieth
century ideas of what medieval cooking was
Similarly, a Society jeweler with the
good taste to want to make Anglo Saxon
jewelry will be wise to look at as much of it
as he can. Having done so, he will want to
make pieces closely based on some of the
simpler originals. As he gets better and
acquires more of a feel for what an Anglo
Saxon jeweler might have done, he may go
further afield, while still producing nothing
that would look out of place in the Anglo
Saxon rooms of the British Museum.
I have been arguing in this essay that
there is no conflict between authenticity and
originality. That does not mean that
authenticity has no other difficulties. There
has been a great deal of technical progress
since the year sixteen hundred, with the
result that it is easier to cook in a modern
kitchen than in a medieval one or to make
jewelry with modern rather than medieval
tools. The use of period techniques is made
still more difficult by the fact that if you
wish to use period tools to make jewelry you
must first make the tools. The result is that
most Society artists compromise, using
some mixture of authentic and modern
techniques to produce their work. It is better
to do work that is imperfectly authentic than
to insist on being perfect and as a result do
nothing at all. The best should not become
the enemy of the good.
I have, as it happens, made Anglo
Saxon jewelry–but not in an Anglo Saxon
jeweler’s shop. I have sometimes
daydreamed about building the workshop
that Theophilus describes in a book written
at almost precisely the date of my persona,
but I will probably never do it. I do medieval
cooking, but mostly in a modern kitchen.
While I accept the necessity for a
certain amount of compromise, I also
believe that those who manage to do
medieval crafts with medieval techniques
deserve our admiration and applause. My
favorite example is the Sated Tyger, a
cookshop at Pennsic which for some years
produced and sold a large volume of period
baked goods cooked in period ovens. Each
year the staff of the cookshop arrived early
to build their ovens (named Hansel and
Gretel) out of bricks and clay.To bake they
lighted a fire inside each oven, heated them
up, then replaced the fire with pies. Their
medieval cooking was more medieval than
mine and I honor them for it.
Page 203
Peers Errant
From time to time, in one kingdom or
another, someone suggests that the peerages
should get organized and do something. In
my view, this is usually a bad idea. If the
peerages were better organized they would
be less useful; if they tried to get together
and do things they would get less done. The
purpose of this essay is to explain why.
To understand the shape of a key, one
must first know what sort of lock it is
intended to open, so I start with the problem
to which the peerages are one of the
solutions–the problem of getting things done
in a large, decentralized, volunteer
organization. Given the present size and
structure of the Society, if everything
happens through channels very little will
happen. If people only engaged in artistic
activities after being told to do so by their
local MOA who had been told to tell them
by the regional MOA who had been told to
tell them by the Kingdom MOA who had
been ... we would have very little in the way
of period arts. The obvious solution is for
most people, most of the time, to ignore the
official structure and just go out and do
things. That is how most of what we make–
garb and armor, weapons and songs–gets
One difficulty with this is that the
individual member of the Society may have
no way of knowing which other members
are reliable authorities. If someone
announces that he is holding a workshop on
medieval cooking in his kitchen next
Sunday, how can those who attend tell
whether he is an expert on the subject or just
making it up as he goes along? If one of the
local fighters offers to teach you how to
fight, how do you know whether he is really
competent or someone the other fighters all
regard as a blundering blowhard?
One solution is formal organization. If
you learn about cooking at a class at a Royal
University or from a T.I. article, there is at
least a presumption that the information is
reasonably accurate. If you learn fighting
from the local Knight Marshall, the odds are
reasonably good that he knows something
about both fighting and training and is
regarded by the other fighters in the group as
a responsible person.
This solution, however, brings us back
to the difficulty of getting things done in a
hierarchical, bureaucratic, “organized” way.
It is all too easy for people in a formal
organization to end up spending their time
writing reports instead of teaching classes,
or for a group to consume its time and
energy and its members’ mutual good will
fighting over who has what office.
The peerages are a different solution. If
the person who has announced that he is
teaching a class in his kitchen has a Laurel,
there is a presumption that the information
presented is reasonably accurate. If the
person who offers to teach you fighting has
been knighted, there is a presumption that he
knows how to fight, how to teach, and is a
reasonably honorable person. In both cases
it is only a presumption. Doubtless there are
Laurels who are not careful to make sure
what they teach is true before they teach it,
just as there are villain knights–and mistakes
in T.I. articles. But these are the exception
not the rule.
The orders of peerage ought, I believe,
to be viewed not as organizations with
corporate responsibilities but as groups of
individuals, each with the job of going out
and doing good in his particular way. The
function of the white belt or the Laurel
medallion is merely to make it a little easier
to do certain kinds of good, by certifying the
bearer’s competence.
This is, incidentally, a period
conception of knighthood, although not the
only period conception. Consider the knight
errant of the romances, the figure on whom
our image of the knight is chiefly based. He
is not someone who has received orders
from the Minister of Giant Killing to go out,
kill a giant, and send back a report in
triplicate. Rather he is someone wandering
Page 204
around the countryside looking for deeds
that need to be done, deciding for himself
which of them to do and how, and
depending on his position as a knight, at
most, to get him a certain amount of respect
and attention. That, I think, is what peers
should mostly do. Hence the title of this
Peers are not the only ones doing it–any
more than knights are the only people
authorized to kill giants or rescue maidens.
A kingdom, a Barony, a Shire flourishes or
fades by the number of its people who see
themselves as having the job of finding
things that need doing and doing them. We
are all–sovereigns, peers, and people alike–
knights errant.
“A Kingdom’s no more solid than a sound
That must be built on air unceasingly,”
Amr ibn Hind called before him two poets, uncle and
nephew, and told them that he was giving them leave to depart
his court to visit with their kin and entrusting them with letters to
the Governor of al-Bahrain, instructing him to welcome them
well and reward them for their services.
When they had been a little while upon the road, the uncle
grew suspicious, for he knew that ibn Hind was a cruel and
tyrannical king, and both poets had in the past written satires
against him. He therefore proposed that they open the letters, and
if they were as they had been told deliver them, but if not, not.
But his nephew, trusting in the King, refused.
When they were a little farther on their road, they met a
youth, and the uncle asked him if he could read. He replied that
he could. “Then read me this.” And the youth read:
“When this letter of mine is handed to you by alMutalammis, cut off his hands and feet and then bury him alive.”
Al Mutalammis assured his nephew that his letter would
prove to be the same, and urged him to open it, but the nephew
refused. The uncle thereupon fled to Syria, but the nephew
delivered the letter and was cruelly done to death. And that was
the death of Tarafa, who composed the second of the seven odes
that are the glory of the poetry of the Arabs in the Age of
Ignorance, before the coming of our lord the Prophet
Mohammed, peace and blessings upon him, his kindred and his
companion train.
(Based on an account in A. J. Arberry’s The Seven Odes)
Page 205
The Bardic Arts: A Comment
In a recent article on filk songs,
Mistress Morgana asks what sort of bardic
performances are appropriate in the SCA.
The question is of interest to me both as a
performer and as host of the bardic circle at
my encampment at Pennsic. While I agree
with Mistress Morgana that we do not want
to limit ourselves to works actually
composed in period, that does not get us
very far towards deciding what should be
encouraged or discouraged.
I find it useful to divide performances
tolerable, and period. The division is based
mostly on the degree to which the
performance creates or destroys the illusion
of really being, for at least a few minutes, in
the Middle Ages. Unacceptable is anything
that makes it obvious that the performer is a
twentieth century person addressing a
twentieth century audience. That includes
stories about knights going through metal
detectors and anything else with obviously
out of period references–the “Song of Sir
Greenbaum,” for instance. It also includes
anything written to an obviously modern
tune or in a blatantly modern style,
especially take-offs on popular songs. Those
are the sorts of things that I do not perform
at events (post revels are another matter) and
try to keep out of my bardic circle.
The tolerable category consists of
pieces that would be recognized as out of
period, in form or content, by any
reasonably expert observer, but not by a
random member of the audience. That
includes folk songs with post 1600 tunes as
well as songs, stories, or poems that refer to
events that are out of period but not
obviously so. The tolerable category does
not include folk songs prefaced with an
apology about not being in period; the song
may be acceptable, but the preface is not.
The period category includes works
actually composed in period, such as stories
from the sagas, Boccaccio, Usamah or al-
Tanukhi. It also includes works written,
inside or outside of the Society, in period
form on period topics. Examples would
include the words, at least, to “Song of the
Shield Wall,” “The Raven Banner,” and
“Catalan Company”–three of my favorite
SCA poems. Stories about events in the
SCA also qualify, if told in such a way that
they could be stories about people in period.
Works in this category are the reason for
having a bardic circle.
There are a lot of borderline cases. The
tune to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
is not exactly modern, but most hearers
know it is not period. At the other extreme,
the words to “Catalan Company” contain
echoes of the modern folksong from which
its tune is borrowed, but not many people
are likely to notice them.
A song that sounds fine to me may
seem clearly unacceptable to Mistress
Johanna, who is a semi-professional lutenist;
a story about Iceland or al-Islam that sounds
period to her may strike me as obviously out
of period in style or contents. As with most
things in the Society, the important
classifications are not right and wrong but
better and worse. We cannot expect to do
things perfectly–even period songs are
rarely played on exact replicas of period
instruments–but we can agree that the closer
we come, in form and content, to works that
were or could have been created in period,
the better.
There are many dimensions to
authenticity and sometimes they conflict. To
Johanna, a period song in translation is less
authentic than in the original language. But
one of the characteristics of the original
song as originally performed was that the
audience understood it. For an audience that
does not understand the original language,
the translation is, in that dimension at least,
more authentic than the original.
(Published in The Mews, summer 1988)
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Norse Riddles
(Written for Patri ibn Cariadoc)
The snake with one wing and forty legs
Sheds its scales on the sand.
My sting is in my tail.
I only bite when I have shed my skin.
What snake am I?
Could not bear up
The foe of a mouse,
As a bright eyed bride
Brought down the house.
I met my mate,
Which lost a bet,
But swiftest treasure
Did I get.
Two men I bound to their deaths,
Yet would not for a third a weapon make.
Who am I?
This branch broke
A Kingdom, drowned a King
It served. Set a term to the
Labors of the longest
Of Snakes, stoutest of steeds.
My gift is victory, my shadow death,
Who bound a lordly beggar’s final breath.
I was a hostage for him
Who being brave broke faith;
Now I and my twin brother are parted forever.
Who am I?
Because I was overlooked,
One who could
Gave me to one who could not
To use as he did not intend.
Who am I?
We held to our oath though things looked black;
Defenseless men may still attack.
Battling bound blooded the foe,
By our courage caught, for our courage let go.
Part of me
Bought all of me
From a bloody weapon’s hold;
Whose head am I?
I am the cup still full, though the hall drink me dry.
I weave the web no sword can cut, no shield deny.
I am the treasure and tale of its taking.
I am the longest lived of all man’s making.
In the year 138 the fugitive Umayyad prince, Abd al-Rahman, reached
Spain and conquered it for himself. He had the heads of Mansur’s
appointed Governor and his lieutenants preserved in salt and camphor,
and labels affixed to the ears. These, with Mansur’s diploma and the
black gubernatorial banners, he had put in a sack, borne to Qayravan in
Africa, and left by night in the market place.
“Thanks be to God for putting the sea between me and such a
foe!” Mansur exclaimed, when he heard of it; and one day thereafter he
asked in audience this question: Who deserves to be called the Falcon
of Quraysh?
“Yourself, surely, Prince of the True Believers.”
“No, the Falcon of Quraysh is Abd al-Rahman, who wandered
alone through the deserts of Asia and Africa, and had the great heart to
seek his destiny, with no troop at his back, over the sea in an unknown
(From Muhammad’s People)
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No Audience
One of the oldest traditions of the Society is
the requirement that everyone present at an
event make some attempt at period dress. To
me, this symbolizes the idea that there is no
audience–everyone present is a participant.
That is an essential difference between an
event and a play. We are all inside the
medieval fantasy. Some of us may be
playing medieval fighters or actors while
others are playing medieval spectators, but
we are all playing.
I am reminded of this tradition when I
hear someone complain after an event that it
was boring–there was not enough
entertainment. Such complaints reflect a
fundamentally mistaken view of what an
event is. They assume it is a show put on by
someone else for our entertainment–and that
it is therefore that someone’s fault if we,
sitting in the audience, are bored.
But there is no audience. An event is
not a play; it is a stage, on which we all are
players. The hosts provide a place, a
framework, decoration, usually food. The
rest is up to you.
If you are a musician, find other
musicians and go play something. If you are
a story teller, find some bored people and
tell them stories. Start a game of nine man’s
morris. Gossip with some of your friends
about the doings of others. Start an
interesting conversation about something
your persona might have talked about. Ask
the fighter who has just taken off his armor
to explain that beautiful blow that he won
the fight with.
If you cannot play an instrument, or
sing, or tell a story or a poem, or play a
period game, and are too shy to gossip, or
start conversations or ask questions of
fighters, do not despair. Somewhere in the
building someone is cooking dinner, or
setting up the hall for court, or doing some
other of the myriad things necessary to
maintain the framework of the event.
Another pair of hands will almost certainly
be welcome. However shy you are, after an
hour and a half of deboning chickens you
should find it easy enough to strike up a
conversation with your fellow workers.
Some time ago, I attended an event
accompanied by an energetic eleven-yearold. Shortly after we arrived, he vanished.
On further inquiry, I discovered that he had
volunteered to help someone with
something. When I asked him about it, he
explained that he had discovered he had
more fun that way.
The people who bear the load, who
make the Society work, are the people who
create the events, write the poems, tell the
stories, sing the songs, sew the clothing. If
you have just spent two hours deboning
chickens then you are bearing your share of
the load. If you are a card carrying member
of the SCA Incorporated and come to every
event expecting to be entertained, you are
part of the load being born.
“What do you call the last man out of
the kitchen at an event?”
“Your Majesty”
Old joke.
(Published in The Gargoyle’s Tongue
in 1988)
The Prophet used to say:
“Let a man answer to me for what wags between his jaws
and what wags between his legs, and I will answer to him for
(Mohammed’s People)
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Medieval vs Medievalish
I believe that the Society would be
more fun if we all made a greater effort to be
authentic–to cook feasts from period recipes
instead of from Fanny Farmer, to do
Renaissance dances instead of modern folk
dances, to base SCA swashbuckling on
sixteenth century fencing manuals instead of
on twentieth century fencing. I further
believe that such authenticity is most fun
when it is integrated into the daily life of the
Society instead of being isolated on a
reservation as contest entries.
In trying to explain my views to other
Society members, I have come across an
argument that I find interesting, persuasive,
and wrong. It may be stated as follows:
Coke cans should be kept out of events
because they spoil the mood. We all know
that medieval people did not use either Coke
or cans, so having Coke cans around makes
it hard to feel as if we are really in the
Middle Ages. On the other hand, most of us
do not know enough about medieval cooking
to realize that a modern beef stew does not
qualify. Most of us do not know enough
about dance or music to tell the difference
between something that seems vaguely
medievalish–Road to the Isles or Joan Baez
songs–and something that is actually period.
Since we cannot tell the difference, the
medievalish works for us just as well as the
medieval. So there is no reason for us to try
to make what we do any more authentic than
it already is.
The conclusion of this argument is not
merely that being authentic is sometimes
more trouble than it is worth. With that I
would agree–which is why I have learned
neither Arabic nor Berber, although my
persona would have spoken both. The
conclusion of the argument is that
authenticity, beyond a rather low level, is
One answer is that authenticity–
learning how people did things by doing
them–is fun. For many of us that is true, but
it provides no reason why those people in
the Society who do not enjoy researching
the Middle Ages should make any effort to
use what is discovered by those who do.
And yet I think there is a reason. I believe
that authenticity makes the Society more
interesting for everyone, including those
who have no interest in researching the
Middle Ages. I believe, in other words, that
medieval really is better than medievalish.
Why? Part of the answer is suggested
by the following paradox: If Coke cans are
bad only because we know they are not
medieval, then the less we know the better
off we are. If only we were sufficiently
ignorant, there would be no need to do
without Coke cans.
What is wrong with this, of course, is
that if we did not know enough about the
Middle Ages to realize that Coke cans are
not a part of them, we would also not know
enough to get any fun out of playing
medieval. Much of the enjoyment we get
from the Society comes from imagining we
are medieval people in a medieval society.
The less we know about the Middle Ages,
the less interesting that game is.
I have sometimes heard it said that the
Society is not really based on the historical
Middle Ages at all but on the nineteenth
century romanticization of the Middle Ages,
as seen in the works of authors such as Scott
and Doyle. But if that were all the Society
was, it would not work as well as it does.
There are, after all, re-creation groups based
on works of fiction, such as the Friends of
Darkover or the Tuchuks. None of them is
as large, as successful, or as interesting as
the SCA. One reason, I think, is that no
fictional world has the richness of detail, the
complexity, the persuasive reality of an
actual society. An author has a hard enough
time making the little piece of his world that
the reader can see through the window of
one book seem real. We are basing our game
on a story that was written over a thousand
years by millions of authors and is real from
every direction.
Page 209
A different way of putting the point is
to observe that the medieval works of
writers such as Scott and Doyle would have
been very much less good if they had had to
invent the Middle Ages for themselves.
What we see and enjoy in Ivanhoe or the
The White Company is the image, however
distorted, of a society that really existed.
If this is true, then the attempt to make
the daily life of the society more authentic,
to go beyond medievalish to medieval,
serves two quite different purposes. It is an
opportunity for recreational scholarship–
doing research for fun. It is also a way of
preserving and increasing the richness, the
detail, the complexity, and the interest of the
game we are playing, the fantasy in which
we jointly participate.
Yakub bin El-Leyth Es-Saffar, having adopted a predatory life,
excavated a passage one night into the palace of Dirhem, the
Governor of Sijistan. After he had made up a convenient bale of gold
and jewels and the most costly stuffs, he was proceeding to carry it
off, when he happened in the dark to strike his foot against
something hard on the floor. Thinking it might be a jewel of some
sort, a diamond perhaps, he picked it up and put it to his tongue, and,
to his equal mortification and disappointment, found it to be a lump
of rock-salt. Throwing down his precious booty, he left it behind him
and withdrew empty-handed to his habitation.
Next day the governor’s treasurer was alarmed to discover that
a great part of the treasure and other valuables had been removed;
but on examining the package which lay on the floor, his
astonishment was not less, to find that not a single article had been
conveyed away. The Governor had it proclaimed that if the thief
would announce himself, he would be pardoned and rewarded.
Yakub, relying upon the promise, presented himself before the
governor, and explained that having by inadvertance tasted the
Governor’s salt in his house, and so become the Governor’s guest,
he had been unwilling to violate the laws of hospitality by stealing
from his host and had therefore put down his booty and departed.
The governor appointed him to an office of importance, where he
gradually rose in power until he became the founder of a Dynasty.
(Based on an anecdote in Arabian Society in the Middle Ages by
Edmund Lane).
After the assassination of Ali, his rival Mu’awiya, nephew of
Othman and governor of Syria, became the fifth Caliph. “So long as
our hearts which hate thee are in our breasts,” said to him Adi, Hati’s
son of Taiy, “and so long as the swords we fought thee with hang
still on our necks, so long, if thy cunning take half a span, shall our
revenge take a span of thee. The peace of the sword, Mu’awiya, lets
not the sword sleep!”
“Those are the words of a wise man—write them down,
somebody!” was all the Caliph said.
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Period Solutions
Many years ago, I constructed for
myself a char aina, a simple form of Persian
body armor made up of four plates, usually
rectangular, covering the front, back, and
sides of the body. To attach the plates to
each other I used leather straps riveted to the
metal plates. After using it for a while, I
unsatisfactory; the rivets kept pulling
through the leather and having to be
I then did what I should have done
before starting the armor–looked at pictures
of surviving char ainas to see how they
were held together. I did not find a single
one in which the leather had been riveted
directly to the metal. The most common
system was a buckle on one plate and a Dring on the plate it was joined to. From then
on, when a strap pulled out I replaced it with
a D-ring on one plate, a buckle on the other,
and a strap joining them. That system works
This is a simple example of something
quite common in the Society. Many of the
problems we encounter in trying to
reconstruct the Middle Ages, both simple
(how to fasten armor together) and more
subtle (how to encourage Medieval arts),
were also encountered in the original Middle
Ages. In trying to solve such problems, our
first step should be to ask how they solved
There are two reasons to approach
problems in that way. The obvious reason is
that the more we use period solutions to our
problems, the more accurately we will
succeed in recreating the past–which is one
of the purposes of the Society. A less
obvious, but equally important, reason is
illustrated by my char aina. The system I
originally used not only is inauthentic–it
also does not work. We know more than the
people of the original Middle Ages about
certain things, such as astronomy,
mathematics, and physics, most of which are
of only marginal relevance to the things we
do in the Society. We know very much less
than they did about how to build armor,
cook with period ingredients, rule a
kingdom, or preserve food without benefit
of modern technology. These are things that
were matters of great importance to people
in the Middle Ages–frequently matters of
life and death to those most directly
concerned. They therefore devoted a great
deal of thought, effort, and experimentation
to discovering how to do them–far more
than we have.
Since there is no evidence that our
intelligence is greater than theirs and since
most (although not all) of our superior
scientific knowledge is irrelevant to such
problems, it is quite likely that the solutions
they came up with are better than the
solutions we will come up with on our own.
If so, then finding period solutions to period
problems is not merely a way of making the
Society more authentic. It is also a way of
building armor that does articulate and does
not fall apart, cooking feasts that taste good,
building happy and prosperous kingdoms
and surviving Pennsic without daily
shopping trips off site.
That last problem is one that my lady
wife and I have been working on for some
years. Keeping meat fresh in a cooler for a
week-long war is both inauthentic and a
dangerous. One medieval solution is to
slaughter the meat as you need it.
Unfortunately, the mundane authorities
might object–and a whole cow or sheep is
rather a lot of meat for two adults and one
child. Another solution is the use of salt fish;
we have some, but have not yet done the
experimentation necessary to produce a
workable period recipe using it.
Our best solution so far is one we
discovered in a collection of recipes
included in a fifteenth century Icelandic
medical miscellany. It consists of two
recipes entitled “The gentry’s salsa” (or “the
lord’s salt”) and “How to use the above
Page 211
salsa.” The salsa is a mixture of spices, salt,
and vinegar used to preserve cooked meat.
In our experience, it will preserve meat in an
unsealed container at room temperature for
over three weeks. At both TYC and Pennsic,
we have brought pickled meat to the event
and used it over a week later.
These examples involve technical
problems–building armor and preserving
food. The same approach can also be applied
to problems of a somewhat more subtle
nature. Consider, for instance, the perennial
issue of how to encourage the arts.
The most popular solution in the
Society is to hold arts contests. Almost
inevitably, such contests force the
participants, both entrants and judges, to
look at the Middle Ages from the outside
rather than the inside. The result usually
feels more like a modern debate tournament
than like anything from the Middle Ages.
Neither medieval craftsmen nor medieval
judges worried about whether a work of art
was or was not authentically medieval.
How were arts encouraged and
supported in period? In part, for those arts
that produced a tangible product, in the same
way that twentieth century arts are in the
twentieth century. Jewelers or tailors or
painters produced things for their customers
to buy. For some arts that works well in the
Current Middle Ages as well–armor is a
notable example.
Another way of encouraging the arts
was for prominent people, especially kings
and great lords, to honor and reward artists.
In Norse culture, a generous lord was a ring
giver–one who rewarded those who pleased
him by giving them arm rings of silver and
gold. As is clear in the sagas, the recipients
included skalds who composed and
performed poetry for the King.
The kings of the Current Middle Ages
are rarely rich in material things, so giving
valuable gifts to express their appreciation
of poets may not be a practical option. They
can, and sometimes do, give presents of
costume jewelry, but that is not an entirely
satisfactory substitute. Much of the point of
a gift is in the fact that it costs the giver
something and is worth something to the
recipient. What the King wants to convey to
the artist is not “I am pretending to
appreciate your performance” but “I do
appreciate your performance,” so a pretend
gift does not really serve the purpose. In this
as in many other things, one must remember
that the Society, despite appearances to the
contrary, is real.
Our Kings are rich in things other than
gold and silver. For most performers, being
asked to sit with the King at high table,
being called before the Queen and thanked,
being publicly praised, are gifts of great
value. And they are gifts that cost something
to the giver: time is among the scarcest
possessions of princes. In such ways kings
can, and good kings do, encourage the arts.
Building a kingdom is the job of the
king, but not only of the king. Many of the
people of the Society are rich, if not in
money then in other things of value. If a
king can express his appreciation for a
performer by offering him a seat at his table,
a vintner can do the same by offering a
bottle of his best vintage, a jeweler with the
gift of a jewel of his own making. Here
again, it is precisely the fact that the gift is
of real value to both giver and recipient that
makes the compliment a real one.
Long ago and far away, a gentleman
whom I greatly respected was given a
peerage that he very much deserved. His
persona was, like mine, Muslim. After the
King granted him his peerage, I presented
him with a robe of honor–a robe and turban
appropriate, so far as my knowledge ran, to
his persona. The presentation of robes of
honor was a period Muslim tradition–and,
then as now, a way of showing the recipient
the honor he had earned.
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Words and Things
Cultures develop their own customs
and jargon, and the SCA is no exception.
Some of ours are based on historical
practice; there really were knights in the
Middle Ages and they really had squires.
Many others were either deliberately
invented within the Society or represent one
person’s historical mistake, converted by a
few transmissions into historical fact.
Having our own terms and customs is
not wholly a bad thing; a real medieval
kingdom would have developed customs of
its own, after all. What is clearly a bad thing
is when people mistakenly believe that what
we are doing is historically accurate, thus
putting us in the position of spreading
ignorance rather than knowledge. And it
seems a pity, when there are perfectly good
medieval terms for the things we want to
talk about, to use our own inventions
instead, thus replacing a part of the real
Middle Ages with the invention of a
twentieth century mind–usually bearing
signs of its origin.
The purpose of this note is to discuss
some of the errors.
In the SCA, all knights are in direct
fealty to the crown–they are, in medieval
terms, tenants in chief. In the real Middle
Ages, a knight was no more likely to be a
tenant in chief than any other noble. What
he owed service for was not his knighting–
which in any case, for most of our period,
was usually done by someone other than the
King–but his land.
In the SCA, the white belt is the token
of knighthood; people who are not knights
are strongly discouraged from wearing them.
In the Middle Ages, a white belt (and white
garments) were sometimes used in the
knighting ceremony. But I have seen no
evidence that knights continued to wear
white belts thereafter, or that other people
didn’t. If anyone does have such evidence, I
would be interested in seeing it.
Rank and Jewels
In the SCA, we have a set of rules
defining what kinds of coronets people of
different ranks may wear–strawberry leaves
for a duke, pearls for a baron, etc. In the real
particular swords–occasionally had a
symbolic value. But so far as I can tell, there
was no general correspondence between
type of coronet and rank. The one exception
I have come across is the crown imperial–a
crown with arches, which was supposed to
be limited to emperors. The rules we use are
apparently based on current British practice,
originating in the late 17th century. Thus,
for example, Fox-Davies writes: “when it is
remembered that the coronet of a baron had
no existence whatever until it was called
into being by a warrant of Charles II after
the Restoration, and that differentiated
coronets for the several ranks in the Peerage
are not greatly anterior in date, ...” Arthur
Fox-Davies, The Art of Heraldry an
encyclopedia of armory, pp. 279-280.
Many, although not all, SCA kingdoms
also have sumptuary laws that define what
rank you must be to wear a coronet that is
not on the reserved list–most commonly,
requiring an AoA for even a plain band of
greater than some specified width.
Sumptuary laws existed in period; they are
summarized in great detail in Chapter 8 of
Ronald Lightbown’s monumental Medieval
European Jewellery (published by the
Victoria and Albert Museum). Typically, the
period laws limited extravagance in general–
silk clothes, jewels with pearls, and the like,
as well as rich headgear. Often the
restrictions apply to all ranks; sometimes
they permit richer clothes and jewelry to
those of higher rank.
The only example Lightbown mentions
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which comes close to fitting the SCA pattern
is a set of laws enacted in Messina in 1308
which provided that women “were not to
wear chaplets with ornaments of pearls or
enamels, though they might wear bands of
stuff on their hats. This rule was not to apply
to the wives of knights: they might wear
garlands decorated ... provided their width
did not exceed two fingers’ breadth, and
provided they had no fleurons. ... which
presumably were reserved for those of
baronial or princely rank.” The laws make
an exception for maidens, who are permitted
to ornament themselves as they like “up to
the day on which they are married, and for a
whole year afterwards.” And the laws also
imposed extensive restrictions on forms of
expensive display other than headgear.
The place where we collect admission
for an event is usually called the trollbooth
and the person doing it is often called the
troll. This is, of course, not a medieval usage
but a modern joke. One problem with
finding a period term is that this is not a
period job. When a noble invited his friends
and neighbors over for a feast, he did not
charge them for it. A period term for a
related function is “porter”–doorguard.
There are doubtless others that could be
Groups going to Pennsic or other large
camping events often send one member
ahead in advance to claim land for them; this
person is sometimes referred to as the
landlord. Arranging camping space in
advance for travelers or troops on the march
is a medieval problem. The person who did
it was called a “harbinger.”
It is widely believed in the SCA that
the period term for “course” was “remove.”
It is not true. “Remove” is a post period term
for a sort of course within a course–a dish
that was removed before the rest of the
course or brought in after. The period term
for “course” in English is “course.”
Many people in the SCA use the term
“smalls” for children; it is sometimes hard to
tell whether they believe it is a period term
or merely think it is cute. One sees phrases
in period such as “great and small they
assembled”–but that does not mean that
“smalls” is a synonym for “children” any
more than “tall and short they assembled”
would mean that “shorts” was a synonym
for “short people.” In English, the period
term for “child” is “child.” This particular
error has spawned another–the belief that
“smalls” (short for “smallclothes”) is the
period term for underwear. It is a historical
term, but after our period.
In the SCA, the person running an
event is usually called the autocrat. It is a
period term, but that is not what it meant.
One alternative would be “seneschal”–the
chief servant of a castle–but we are already
using that for something else. “Autocrat”
has spawned a host of entirely unmedieval
terms, such as crashocrat and feastocrat. The
person who is producing a feast is the head
cook. You may want to find your own
period terms for some of the others.
Technology as Magic
Another problem is the common
practice of describing out of period things as
magical. Tape recorders get referred to as
magic boxes, for example, and cameras as
soul stealers. Sometimes this is a deliberate
effort to be funny by drawing attention to
the mundanity; given how hard it is to
ignore the twentieth century when you are
living in it, I do not think it demonstrates
any great wit to talk about tape recorders,
cameras, or televisions at an event. But such
references are also made by people honestly
trying to fit the mundane object into the
medieval context.
Their mistake is in confusing the
Middle Ages with modern fantasy. Medieval
references to magic–so does much modern
literature. That does not mean that medieval
people regarded magic as a normal part of
their lives. My persona–or yours–would no
Page 214
more expect to meet an enchanter, elf or
fairy than you or I expect to meet James
Bond or Captain Kirk or Elvis. Referring to
mundane things in magical terms calls
attention to them–our personas’ attention as
well our own. If we must refer to such things
(much of the time we can simply ignore
them) it is better to treat them as casually as
possible in a medieval context–to describe
cars as wagons, not dragons or fire chariots.
If people must take photographs at
events, it is not necessary to talk about
stealing souls (“no, white chief, me not mind
having soul stolen”). People in the Middle
Ages did not have cameras but they did have
pictures. There is nothing unmedieval about
asking someone if he minds your making a
quick sketch of him.
In all of these cases, the problem is not
just that a word or idea is out of period but
that it is obviously so. There are plenty of
terms that are out of period but that almost
nobody knows are out of period–the period
English term for a sword guard, for
example, is “cross,” not “quillions.” It is
better to use the correct term, but failing to
do so is not likely to break the medieval
mood for many people, since most hearers
will not know it is wrong.
Quite a lot of us, on the other hand,
know that the social occasion called “tea” is
associated with Jane Austen not Jane
Seymour, so a Queen’s Arts Tea makes us
feel less medieval and more nineteenth
century. Although very few of us could say
exactly when “minister” acquired its modern
meaning of a high officer of state, quite a lot
of us realize that Elizabeth I did not have a
minister of defense and Elizabeth II does–
which is a reason why we shouldn’t call our
art officers “ministers of arts.”
On one occasion Amr, still Governor of Egypt, came to
Damascus to visit (the Caliph) Mu’awaya, who was now grown
old and feeble. His freed slave Wardan was with him. The two
old men fell into talk.
“Prince of the True Believers, said Amr, “what pleasures
keep their savor for thee nowadays?”
“Women?” said the Caliph; “no–I do not need women any
more. To go fine? My skin’s so used to stuffs the softest and
richest, I cannot tell what’s of the best any more. And eating–I
have eaten delicate dishes so many that I can no longer tell what
I like. No, I think I have no pleasure keener now than drinking
cool in summer, and seeing my children and my grandchildren
go about me. And thou, Amr, what’s thy last remaining
“A bit of cultivable land,” said the conqueror of Egypt;
“enough to yield me some fruit, and a little profit over and
Then the Caliph turned to the freedman Wardan. “Thou,
Wardan,” said he, “what would be thy last enjoyment?”
“A noble generous deed!” said he. “Some deed that would
live in the memory of all remembering men, and earn for me in
“The audience is concluded!” cried Mu’awaya; “that’s
enough for today! This slave here, Amr, is a better man than thou
or I.”
(Muhammad’s People)
Page 215
Two Hundred of Your Closest Friends
One of the most unmedieval things
about SCA feasts is that we charge for them.
A medieval feast hall was not a restaurant.
The feasts on which our events are based
were dinner parties held by a lord for his
retainers and a few–or a few hundred or, in
some cases, a few thousand–of his friends.
To have charged them for their meal would
have seemed wildly inappropriate to all
concerned. Generosity was an important
medieval virtue. And even if a feudal lord
lacked that virtue, there was still a
considerable difference between his social
role and that of an innkeeper.
This point was brought to the attention
of members of our Shire by our seneschal,
Dain Greymouse, when we were discussing
ways of making our next event feel more
medieval. He suggested a simple solution to
the problem and persuaded the rest of us to
try it. The event was held as a tourney and
feast with no site fee and no feast fee–a
dinner party for two hundred of our closest
friends. It was a successful event, so we did
another free event the next year and intend
to continue doing at least one a year.
One of the things that helps make our
free events possible is that our group has
several experienced feast cooks who can
produce a feast that is both period and good
at a cost of about $2.50 per person. In
addition, we are a University group with free
access to one of the best sites in the
kingdom (a medievalish student activities
building designed, in the early part of this
century, by a previous generation of
anachronists). With no site rental and low
feast costs, a small event (50 people) only
costs us about $125, and even an event for
two hundred is only about $500.
The first time we did it, we persuaded
the Student Activities Board that a medieval
feast was a worthy activity and deserved a
subsidy. The next summer, we were asked to
do a medieval feast for a mundane wedding;
we made enough money from that to pay for
another free event. Before we got around to
doing it, we put on a coronation. His
Highness persuaded us to raise our proposed
feast fee to something closer to what
coronation feasts usually cost, with the
result that we made quite a lot of money on
the event. Between that and the income from
occasional paid demos, we now feel
confident that we can put on at least one free
event a year.
A free event not only feels more
medieval, it also makes it easier to make the
event more medieval in other ways. We
would like, if possible, to get our guests to
leave their cameras at home, to avoid
obviously mundane conversations in places
where other people will hear them, and in
various other ways to help make the event
feel as though it is really taking place in the
Middle Ages. While some regard such
restrictions as an attractive feature of the
event, others may see them as at least a mild
imposition. It is easier to get people to go
along if they feel you are doing something
special for them–such as feasting them for
The relation between the authentic
event and the free event works in the other
direction as well. Our ideal free event would
have about a hundred people. Not only does
that keep the cost at a reasonable level, it
also means that, with a limited number of us
to run the event, we are not too stretched to
do a good job. By making it clear that
people who come are expected to be more
careful than usual about keeping things
period, we can keep the numbers down to a
reasonable level–and at the same time,
encourage those who want to attend the kind
of event we want to put on, while
discouraging those who do not. Another way
of achieving the same result is to schedule
our event against a popular event of the sort
we do not like, in the hope that it will draw
away precisely the people who would
neither enjoy nor contribute to ours.
Of course, it is possible to overdo such
an approach. Our second free event was
Page 216
scheduled (deliberately) against a popular
RenFair and (accidentally) against a border
war that the King decided to promote, with
the result that we ended up with only about
forty people–and a very pleasant small
event. Maybe next year we’ll get it right.
One difficulty with a free event is that
it is harder to estimate how many people are
coming. We could require advance
reservations, but to enforce that would
require a troll booth and feast tokens–two of
the things we are trying to avoid. Besides,
with no feast fee, there would be no cost to
sending in a reservation and then changing
your mind, so we might get substantially
more reservations than guests–just as, at
Pennsic, people often rope off space in their
encampment for everyone they think might
show up. We ask people to tell us if they are
coming, but we do not require reservations–
everyone who shows up is fed. We try to
estimate attendance in advance by requests
for crash space plus talking to local people.
In addition, we try to make our feast plans
sufficiently flexible so that we can scale the
feast up or down at the last minute.
I do not think it is practical to make all
SCA events free. Some are so large that they
would bankrupt even a very wealthy group.
Some groups have no sources of income
adequate to pay the cost of even a fairly
modest free event. But there are many
groups that get a substantial income from
participating in renaissance fairs, putting on
paid demos, and the like, and many events–
indeed, many of the most enjoyable events–
are small enough so that such a group can
afford to put them on for free. Doing so, at
least occasionally, is a nice way of
practicing the medieval (and modern)
virtues of generosity and hospitality.
(This was probably written c. 1990; food
prices are higher now than they were then.)
The only time when his court ever saw Hajjaj happy and genial was
one day when Layla of Akhyal was brought before him, she of whom
her cousin Tawba of Amir, now long dead, had once written:
If Layla of Akhyal should come and bid me Peace,
Though the earth covered me over, and heavy flags of stone,
For joy I should bid her Peace again, or the owl of my ghost
Out of the grave should cry to her his mournful cry.
“They tell me,” said Hajjaj, “that when thou wert passing near
Tawba’s grave thou didst not even turn out of the way to visit it. Thou
has been unfaithful to him: had he been in thy place, and thou in his, he
would never have left thy grave behind him unvisited.”
“God save the Prince! I had excuse,” said Layla.
“There were women with me,” she said, “who had heard that poem
of his; I would not give them the chance to mock at him for not keeping
his word.”
Hajjaj liked this answer, and ordered her a generous bounty. They
talked long together; nor did any man ever see him so gay as he was
that day.
(Mohammed’s People)
Page 217
I Have Seen the Past–And It Works
The structure of the Society consists of
a rather peculiar mixture of feudalism and
central authority. We use feudal terms such
as “Barony” and “Baron” but then try to
combine them with a modern central
administrative system in which the baron’s
herald is appointed by the king’s herald,
who in turn is appointed with the assent of
the Corporation’s herald. Odder still, it is the
medieval fiction and not the modern
hierarchy that more accurately describe what
is really happening in most kingdoms most
of the time. Local officers may be warranted
by their kingdom superiors, but most of
them are actually chosen by their local
There is a reason why the Society is
more feudal in substance than in form. The
essential characteristic of a feudal order is
that the key resource is controlled at a low
level, with the result that higher level
“rulers”–kings, princes, dukes–are coalition
leaders rather than autocrats. This is as true
of the Society at present as it was of France
in the twelfth century. Their key resource
was heavy cavalry. Ours is volunteer labor.
The result is that, in practice, the most
powerful people in the Society are barons or
their equivalent–local leaders who can get
things done. Our king wins his crown on the
tourney field, but to actually accomplish
anything he needs the support of the local
leadership–just like a medieval king.
I have argued elsewhere that
authenticity is often desirable for purely
practical reasons–medieval people knew
more about making armor than we do, so by
imitating them we produce better armor. The
same is true of political institutions. The
constraints facing the Society (and, I
suspect, many other volunteer organizations)
are analogous to those faced by medieval
societies, so medieval political structures
may work better for us than modern ones. If
so, we may be better off encouraging the
feudal tendencies of the Society rather than
setting up a (functionally inappropriate)
centralized system and then using it to
pretend to be feudal. In addition, by
accepting and building on the actual feudal
structure of our organization, we make what
we are doing feel, and be, more period and
more real.
What follows is a detailed proposal for
a medieval solution to one of our current
problems–the gap, in large SCA kingdoms,
between the King and the Baron. The basic
idea is to make possible a new unit, called a
county, consisting of several baronies,
shires, or the like that want to work together.
The Count would be chosen by the member
groups, with the approval of the Crown. He
would serve much the same functions–
symbolic and charismatic leader, arbitrator,
coordinator–that are served by the King in
smaller kingdoms. He would be, in essence,
a coalition leader, someone powerful lords
one step down want to follow–which is, I
think, what powerful nobles in period
mostly were.
One further advantage to the proposal
is that it would get us away from the modern
idea of identifying geography with politics–
of dividing the Middle Kingdom, for
example, into regions defined by state
boundaries. A County might contain two
groups in Illinois, one in Minnesota, one in
Indiana and one in Michigan–just as the
holdings of William Marshall included part
of Ireland, part of Normandy, a chunk of the
Welsh Marches, and bits and pieces of land
scattered around the Angevin domains.
Page 218
Counties: A Proposal
1. A county shall be a collection of three or more
independent groups (shire, barony, province, or
equivalent) in the same kingdom, sharing a common
feudal head. The groups need not be geographically
2. A county is created by the Crown on the petition of
the constituent groups.
a. A petition from a barony must be signed by the
Baron. It shall be considered invalid if opposed
by a majority of the members of the barony, as
determined by the crown.
b. A petition from a province or shire must be
signed by a majority of the members of the
c. Each petition must state the proposed name of
the county and who the feudal head is to be; all
petitions must agree in order to be counted
together towards the establishment of a county.
3. In order to be formed, the proposed county must
have a population equal to one fourth of the
minimum population required for a kingdom;
currently that is 100.
4. a. Once a county has been formed, additional
groups may petition to join it; member groups
may petition to secede from the county. Petitions
are as in part 2 above.
b. In case of disagreement between a Baron and a
majority of the barony, as in 2a above, the status
quo ante shall prevail while the crown attempts
to resolve the conflict.
c. In order for a group to join the county, its petition
must be approved by both the Crown and the
d. The feudal head of a county may, after
consulting with the barons of the county and
requesting the advice of the populace, announce
that he is unwilling to continue to accept the
fealty of a particular baron, or of the members of
a particular group. Such a group will then cease
to be a part of the county.
5. a. If a county drops below the minimum required
population or number of groups due to loss of
members or groups, it will have six months in
which to meet the requirement, after which it
may be dissolved by the Crown.
b. If a county is below the minimum required
population due to an increase in the population
requirement, it shall be given a reasonable length
of time by the Crown to meet the new
6. If the feudal head of a county already holds the rank
of count, he shall be known by that title. If he holds
the rank of duke, he may use either that title or the
title of count; in the former case, the county may be
known as a duchy.
7. Landed Counts
a. The feudal head of a county who is neither a
Count nor a Duke shall be known as a Viceroy,
or by such other equivalent title as the Crown
shall specify and the College of Heralds approve.
b. After he has served as viceroy for two years, he
shall receive the title of Count. Time during
which the county is below its minimum required
population, as in 5 above, shall not count towards
the two year term.
c. Such counts shall be known as landed counts, to
distinguish them from royal counts.
d. Landed counts shall retain the title of count even
after giving up the office.
8. If the feudal head of a county is female, substitute
Countess, Duchess, and Vicereine above as
9. The feudal head of a county may be a couple.
10. Powers of the Count
a. In this section and the next, “Count” refers to the
Count, Countess, Duke, Duchess, Viceroy,
Vicereine or couple who is the feudal head of a
b. The Count shall have the power to devise and
bestow such non-armigerous awards as he sees
c. The Count shall have the power to devise and
bestow armigerous awards only insofar as that
power is specifically delegated to him by the
crown. In particular, the Count may be
authorized to give awards of arms to the citizens
of the county on behalf of the crown.
d. The Count may receive the allegiance of the
Barons of the county, and shall offer his
allegiance to the crown.
e. The Count may hold courts within the confines
of his county, or elsewhere by invitation of the
Crown, local Count, or Baron.
f. The Count may, but is not required to, request
one or more kingdom officers to appoint county
officers. Such officers must be acceptable to both
the Count and the kingdom officer.
g. If the office of Baron becomes vacant, the Count
may offer his advice to the crown concerning a
replacement, but the decision shall be made by
the crown based upon the desires and welfare of
the populace of the barony.
11. Term of the Count
a. The position of count, like that of baron, is a
permanent one, save that a Count may resign or
be dismissed by the crown for cause. A Count
may also lose his office if his county fails to
meet the requirements for population and number
of groups, as in section 5 above.
b. If one member of a ruling couple resigns or is
dismissed, the remaining member may, at the
discretion of the crown, be permitted to rule
alone. Alternatively, a replacement for the absent
member may be appointed by the crown, as in c
c. If the office of count becomes vacant, the crown
may appoint a successor after consulting with the
people and baronage of the county and with the
previous Count, if available. The decision should
be based upon the desires and welfare of the
populace and baronage.
Page 219
A Letter
Summer 1982
The Board of Directors
Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
Dear Sirs:
In your June minutes you quoted from a
letter by Catherine Rogers-Cook, in which
she argued for stiffening membership
requirements for participation in the SCA.
The quote ended with the comment from the
board that “events are moving in this
direction.” I am writing to argue for
precisely the opposite position; the direction
in which, in this regard, “events are moving”
is, I believe, one symptom of an undesirable
trend in the Society.
In order to make my argument, let me
first make a distinction which I think
important between the Corporation and the
Society. The former is a legal entity,
chartered in the state of California; the latter
is a set of people, a social network, linked
by mutual acquaintance, a common interest
in “recreational medievalism,” and joint
participation in a “game.” A few members
of the Corporation are not members of the
Society (isolated subscribers); many,
perhaps a majority, of the members of the
Society are not members of the Corporation.
The trend that I consider undesirable is the
increasing tendency either to regard the
Corporation and the Society as the same
entity, or else to regard the Society as in
some meaningful sense the property of the
Thus Ms. Rogers-Cook writes, and you
apparently agree, that “when a person takes
an active part in his or her branch, the
person owes it to all the other members to
commit to the group at least to the extent of
an associate membership.” As you and Ms.
Rogers-Cook know, there are people in the
Society, probably a fair number of them,
whose annual expenditures on the Society,
in time and money, come to well over a
thousand dollars. What you are saying, in
effect, is that such people, if they do not
choose to be members, are making less of a
commitment (and presumably less of a
contribution) than those who spend one
percent as much–provided that that one
percent is a payment to you for membership
in the corporation. From the standpoint of
the Corporation that is reasonable enough;
those who have not paid their membership
have not contributed to the corporation. If
the board were elective it would be
appropriate to deny them a vote. But they
have still contributed to the Society, and it is
only the confusion of the two that makes it
possible for Ms. Rogers-Cook to write what
she has written, and for you to agree.
You may reply that the Society and the
Corporation are different, but the former is
the creation of the latter, hence the
Corporation is entitled, if it wishes, to
demand that those who participate in the
Society pay their dues to the Corporation.
My answer is that this is simply not true.
The Society is the creation of several
thousand people over some fifteen years.
The Corporation did not invent the personae,
sew the clothes, write the poems, do the
deeds, start the wars, or brew the mead.
Certainly the Corporation played an
important role; it provided the bulk of the
publications and most of the formal
structure. But it did not do anything
approaching all of the building, and it is
therefore not entitled to tell its co-creators
that the joint product belongs to it and they
must pay for the privilege of participating.
Of course, it is appropriate to tell
people that if they do not pay for
membership they are not entitled to what
membership directly pays for–T.I. and the
newsletters. It is equally appropriate for the
College of Heralds to tell those submitting
devices that if they do not pay the fee they
will not get the services of the college. It is
equally appropriate for Raymond’s Quiet
Press to refuse to give its publications to
those who do not pay for them. But to say
Page 220
that if Raymond does not pay you he is not
committed to the Society and should be
restricted in his ability to participate in it
makes little more sense than to say that if
you do not buy his books you are not
committed to the Society and should not be
permitted to participate in it.
So far I have discussed the
Corporation’s claim to own the Society,
which I think implicit in current trends, in
terms of its justification or lack thereof. One
half of ownership is the legitimacy of the
claim; the other half is the power to enforce
it. There is a sense in which the claim to
own something, however well justified, is
pointless if there is no way you can control
what you say you own. It seems to me that
the Corporation is very nearly in this
Ms. Rogers-Cook proposes that
“membership be required to register as the
head of a household, to hold any office
whatsoever, to receive any award
whatsoever, to attend or give counsel at any
Peers’ circle, any award advisory circle, or
any ruler’s council, and that no (one?)
should be given the precedence, rank or
status of any awards they have been given in
the past or which they have won who is not
a member.”
This entire catalog of proscriptions
seems to me an example of the confusion of
form with substance; its implementation
would simply push the two farther apart.
I will start with the final proposal.
There exists a bard by the name of Baldwin;
you probably know him. I presume he is a
Laurel. If he fails to pay his membership and
is forbidden “the precedence, rank, or
status” of a Laurel he will not be one bit less
a bard, nor will he be to any degree less
entitled to the respect he now receives. Nor
will he fail to get it. I am, as it happens,
entitled to wear the tokens of a knight. The
only respect I wish to get is from those who
know enough about me to believe that I also
deserve to wear them. That is why, at a large
event such as Pennsic, I mostly do not wear
a white belt; I do not want the regard of
those who recognize only the belt and not
the man.
Going farther up the list of
proscriptions, it is suggested that nonmembers be forbidden to give advice
publicly. Since neither you nor Ms. RogersCook can control to whom rulers talk, and
since rulers will in any case take the advice
of those whose council they value and
ignore the rest, this proposal, if it were
implemented and if it had any effect, would
move peers’ circles, Curiae, and the like, a
little more towards being empty ceremonies
and a little farther from serving their
intended purpose.
Next up comes the proposal that nonmembers be forbidden from holding office.
Here you have at least some case, since
officers, or at least some officers, are
representatives of the Corporation. The
content of the proposal, however, is that the
corporation, an organization that depends for
its functioning mostly on volunteer labor,
should refuse to accept donations of labor
unless they are accompanied by donations of
cash. While you may be entitled to do so, it
seems a peculiar policy. And here again, you
risk separating form from substance. You
cannot prevent a non-member from holding
unofficial fighting practices. If he is a good
fighter and trainer, you cannot prevent him
from being regarded by the other fighters in
the group as their leader. All you can do is
make sure that the person officially in
charge of fighting in the lists at official
events is someone else, lacking that regard.
I come now to the first, and to my mind
least defensible, of the proposals, that nonmembers be forbidden “to register as the
head of a household.” Being the head of a
household has nothing to do with the
Corporation or even the kingdom; it is a fact
about the relationship between one person
and some others. The Kingdom, or the
Corporation, can if it wish refuse to admit
that someone is the head of a household; it
can also refuse to admit that the earth is
round, with about as much effect.
In finishing this part of the argument, I
Page 221
will briefly assume that you decide, as you
so far have not, to go all the way in trying to
force participants in the Society to be
members of the Corporation, by forbidding
non-members to attend events. Assuming
that the kingdoms do not simply ignore the
order, the first effect would be to encourage
unofficial events. You could forbid the
newsletters from publishing such events–
thus greatly increasing the circulation of the
unofficial newsletters. You could not, as a
matter of both mundane law and practical
enforceability, prevent me from transporting
“Cariadoc,” the persona I have created, from
the context of an official event of the SCA
to the context of unofficial events to,
eventually, some alternative framework such
as one of the parallel organizations already
existing, or some new organization of a
similar sort. You could not prevent me and
others, if we wished to do so, from basing
our ranks, customs, rules of fighting, and the
like on those that have developed in the
Society. You could impose on us the cost
and inconvenience of redoing some of the
organizational work that has been done over
the past fifteen years; that is all.
I have argued that the Corporation
neither can nor should own the Society. You
may reply that I have misinterpreted your
attitude, that all you really want to do is to
assure that officials are well informed by
requiring them to subscribe to the
newsletters, or that your objective is simply
the practical one of raising enough money in
membership fees to pay for the
Corporation’s essential expenses.
With regard to the first argument, it is
certainly desirable that officers be well
informed. Being a member is some evidence
of that, although not much; one can
subscribe and not read the newsletter, and
one can fail to subscribe and read someone
else’s copy. It is also desirable that officers
be hardworking, responsible, well informed,
likable, competent, and many other things.
Whoever is responsible for choosing the
officer must balance these desiderata in
deciding who among the limited number of
people who want the job can best do it. I see
little point in choosing the one characteristic
of being a member, which is in any case
only mild evidence of what you really want,
and elevating it into an absolute
requirement; by doing so you in effect say
that you would rather a shire choose a knight
Marshall who does not know how to fight
but is a member than one who does but is
The final argument that may be made
for current trends is that the Corporation
requires income to do its essential duties,
and requiring people who benefit from those
duties to be members is the obvious way of
getting it. My first reply is that how much
the Corporation needs is not something
handed down from the heavens; it is the
result of choices made by the Corporation.
An immediate example is the case of the
new groups in Australia and New Zealand.
You have, as I understand matters, chosen to
handle the groups through the Steward’s
office rather than letting one of the
Kingdoms deal with them as has usually
been done with new groups. This may be a
good or a bad idea, but it was certainly a
choice which could have been made the
other way. Its consequence was to transfer
the work from the Kingdoms, which run on
volunteer labor, to the Steward’s office.
Having chosen to do so, you can hardly
claim that the fact the Steward is doing so
much as to require a salary is an unavoidable
necessity of running the Corporation.
You can, of course, argue that everyone
in the Society benefits from the good work
of the Steward’s office, and everyone should
have to pay for it. But many of the
“beneficiaries” will disagree, and if pushed
hard enough will express their disagreement
by doing without whatever services you
insist require membership to receive. It
seems to me a much wiser policy to require
payment for those services (T.I. and the
newsletters) that can be clearly separated out
from the general activities of the Society,
and which in any case absorb the bulk of the
Corporation’s income. This is, if anything,
Page 222
more practical now than in the past, since
T.I. has improved to where it is, by itself,
well worth the cost of membership.
Your Servant in the Service of the Society
David Friedman
(Cariadoc of the Bow)
[A later comment, c. 1996]
This letter was written some fourteen
years ago; aside from minor stylistic editing,
it is as originally sent. The issue is still with
us, currently in the form of a surcharge to
non-members who attend events. The
argument is that those who are not willing to
contribute to the Society, or to bear their
part of the load, should be charged more.
It is easy enough to recognize those
who contribute to an event. Look in the
kitchen after the feast has been served–they
are the ones washing dishes. When everyone
else has gone, they are pushing brooms.
Before everyone else has arrived, they are
posting signs or peeling onions. They bear
the load–not the people who pay twenty
dollars a year for membership and treat
every event as an amusing spectacle
Membership fees pay the printing and
mailing cost of Tournaments Illuminated,
part of the cost for the kingdom newsletters,
administration–some of which is worth
doing. They do not sing songs, write poems,
hire halls, cook feasts or clean up
afterwards. People do those things–the
people who make the Society whether or not
they are members of the Corporation.
A group with ten paid members and
fifty people willing to work lives. A group
with fifty paid members and nobody willing
to work dies. Telling people at their first
feast that they are perfectly welcome–at a
higher price than everyone else–is not a
good way of attracting new members.
When I first joined the Society, the
rules included a long list of different classes
of members. At the bottom of the list,
somewhere around class G, was anyone who
showed up at an event in garb. That may no
longer describe a member of the SCA
Incorporated, but it is a good minimum
requirement for a member of the Society.
In the city of al-Basra there is a mosque of ’Ali ibn Abu Talib (May
God be pleased with him), and it is said to be a miracle of that mosque that if
a man climbs into a certain minaret and calls out upon the name of ’Ali, the
minaret trembles. The traveler ibn Battuta came to that mosque and, being
informed of the miracle of the trembling minaret, desired to see it. A man of
al-Basra accompanied him into the minaret, and there he saw a wooden
handle, like the handle of a trowel, attached in one angle of the minaret’s
wall. The man seized the handle and cried out:
“By right of the head of the Commander of the Faithful ’Ali (God be
pleased with him), shake,” and shook the handgrip and the whole minaret
And so Ibn Battuta placed his hand upon the grip, and he cried out:
“By right of the head of Abu Bakr, the successor of the Apostle of God
(God give him blessing and peace), shake,” and he shook the handle, and
again the minaret trembled.
In his Rehla, where I found this tale, Ibn Battuta remarks that what he
did was safe enough at Basra, where the people were Sunni, but that at
Mashhad ’Ali or Mashad al-Husain it might have cost him his life.
Page 223
Decentralization, Democracy, and all That
In January of 1994, the Board of
Directors of the SCA, with no advance
notice or public discussion, announced that
it had decided to increase dues by about
40% and close SCA events to nonmembers–the latter a policy that had been
proposed for comment in the past and
abandoned in the face of an overwhelmingly
negative response. The reaction by members
unhappy with this decision (of whom I was
one) included an unsuccessful attempt to
responsible, a successful legal action to
force the Board to open the corporation’s
books of account to members (as required in
the corporation’s bylaws), and a public
announcement, by royalty representing
eleven of the thirteen kingdoms, that if any
kingdom chose to secede from the SCA Inc.,
the others would continue to deal with it.
A number of the Board members
associated with the decision eventually
resigned, the policy of required membership
was reversed, and the ultimate result may
yet be significant changes in the structure of
the Society. Readers interested in the
controversy and my views of it will find
extensive material on the SCA pages of my
/Medieval.html (in case I ever move my web
site, try searching on “David D. Friedman”
or “Recreational Medievalism”). I include
here two documents that date from that
controversy but deal with issues that are, I
believe, of continuing relevance to the SCA
Incorporated and the wider Society of which
it is a part.
Thu, Jan 27, 1994
The Board of Directors
Society for Creative Anachronism
Dear Sirs:
I am writing in response to your actions
of Saturday, January 22nd, in particular the
decision to require membership of all who
attend SCA events. I believe that this
decision was a serious mistake, both on its
own merits and in the context of the clearly
expressed preferences of the membership as
shown in recent polls. For my reasons for
considering the policy undesirable on its
own merits, I refer you to the letter on that
subject that I sent you in the Summer of
1982. I will be happy to provide copies to
any who desire them, since I understand that
there has been some turnover in the Board’s
membership in the interim.
The purpose of this letter, however, is
not to argue that particular issue but rather to
discuss what I believe to be the reasons for
the problem that led to your recent action,
and how that problem might be better dealt
with. There are two reasons why you might
find my views on the subject of interest. The
first is that I have been involved with the
Society through most of its history,
including having reigned, twice each, over
what are now the two largest kingdoms. The
second is that I am a professional economist,
having taught at (among other places)
UCLA, Tulane, Chicago and Cornell–and
some, although not all, of the issues I will be
discussing are within my areas of
professional competence.
It is my understanding, based in part on
a recent public letter from the chairman, that
the board’s action was a response to severe
budgetary problems. These problems come
chiefly, I believe, from two sources–
administrative expenses and legal expenses,
the latter including the cost of liability
This raises an obvious question–what
has changed to create such problems?
Society dues, in recent years and over the
history of the Society, have risen more
rapidly then general prices, so why is it that
dues which were reasonably adequate a few
years ago are now inadequate?
The usual answer is that the problem is
the increasing size of the Society. It is not
Page 224
immediately obvious why this should be the
case. Additional members bring additional
expenses, but also additional dues and
potential volunteers. If, fifteen or twenty
years ago, we were able to provide for a
membership a tenth its present size entirely
with volunteer labor, why can we not
provide for the present membership with ten
times the amount of volunteer labor?
The answer, I think, has to do with the
nature of volunteer labor. Volunteers are
paid, not with money but with status,
gratitude, a feeling of accomplishment, and
similar intangibles. These resources, like
monetary resources, increase with the size of
the Society–but they are much harder to
transfer and concentrate. The result is a
severe problem for an organization that
maintains its centralized structure while
greatly increasing its size.
With a membership of two thousand
people, we can find (say) ten people living
near the Society headquarters, each willing
to contribute several hundred hours a year to
helping run the Society. When we increase
to twenty thousand without changing our
structure, we need either ten people willing
to each contribute several thousand hours or
a hundred willing to each contribute several
hundred–still all living in a fairly restricted
area. We can find neither.
The lack of volunteer labor is not the
only problem that arises as a result of
increasing the scale of organization. Social
sanctions are sufficient to keep most people
honest against the temptation to steal tens,
perhaps even hundreds, of dollars. They may
be insufficient against the temptation to steal
thousands or tens of thousands. So as the
sums involved increase, there is pressure to
shift to professional employees, legally
binding contracts, bonding agencies, and
similar formal (and expensive) mechanisms
of control.
One way of trying to deal with this
problem, and the one you seem to have
chosen, is by raising the per member cost,
trying to force more participants to be
members, and maintaining the present
structure of the Corporation. I think there is
a better solution.
To start with, note that the shortage of
volunteer labor exists almost exclusively at
the national level. The kingdoms and the
local groups routinely use quantities of
volunteer labor, to fill offices and run
events, vastly larger than the quantities of
paid labor the Corporation finds it necessary
to employ. The reason for this disparity is
that the resources used to pay volunteer
labor are much more readily available at
lower levels of the organization. Very few of
us know the people who handle the
Corporation’s membership list, or have an
opportunity to thank them. Most of us know
who cooked the feast we just ate or taught
the class we just attended, and many of us
not only have but use the opportunity to
thank them.
So the obvious solution to this part of
the Corporation’s problem is to decentralize
its operations, at least to the Kingdom level.
One way of doing this would be to maintain
the present organizational structure but turn
over most of the operating responsibilities to
the kingdoms. That would probably include
having each kingdom collect dues from its
own membership and maintain its own
membership list.
A better way, in my opinion, would be
to decentralize organizationally rather than
administratively. Convert the kingdoms into
independent corporations and let the present
Corporation convert itself into an
organization providing services to the
kingdoms. The Society would thus follow
the model of many other volunteer groups,
including (I believe) most of the other living
history groups, in which most of the formal
corporate organization is at the equivalent of
the kingdom or barony level rather than at
the national or international level.
Under this model, the Corporation
would continue to produce Tournaments
Illuminated. Kingdoms could, and most
membership charge the cost of T.I., which
they would purchase from the Corporation
Page 225
for their membership. The Corporation
could, and probably would, produce model
sets of rules for fighting and other activities,
which the kingdoms would be free to adopt
if they wished. The Corporation could offer
to purchase insurance on behalf of the
kingdoms–and the kingdoms could accept or
reject the offer, according to whether or not
they found that the Corporation could get
better rates than they could get for
themselves. The Corporation could support
itself both by selling services, to kingdoms
and individuals, and by requesting subsidies
from the kingdoms.
So far I have discussed decentralization
as a solution to the problem of inadequate
amounts of volunteer labor. It also helps to
reduce the problem of legal costs. The more
resources the Corporation controls, the more
attractive it is as a target for lawsuits.
Suppose a fighter in Florida is injured
and he (or his insurance company) is
circumstances he can hope, if he wins, to
receive compensation from the resources of
an organization with tens of thousands of
members and hundred of thousands of
dollars of income. Under my proposal, his
direct case would be only against the
(incorporated) Kingdom of Trimaris–which
has much shallower pockets and is thus a
much less attractive target. He might have
some case, although a far weaker one than at
present, against the SCA Inc.–which would
also be a much less attractive target than it
now is. He would have no case against the
rest of the kingdoms, and thus no hope of
getting at the bulk of the resources now
controlled by the Corporation.
It follows from this argument that legal
costs, both the direct costs of litigation and
the indirect cost of insurance against such
litigation, ought to be substantially lower for
a Society decentralized into a dozen or more
separate corporations. This is one advantage
of organizational decentralization over the
sort of administrative decentralization that I
described earlier.
Similar arguments apply to the problem
of controlling malfeasance by individuals
who handle money on behalf of the Society.
Embezzlement is not much of a problem for
local groups, although it doubtless occurs
occasionally, because the sums available to
be embezzled are not very large. It is hardly
worth offending all of one’s friends in order
to steal enough money to run away to
Atlantic City for a weekend. By moving
most of the flow of money down to the
Kingdom, or even the Baronial, level we
would restore the situation as it existed
when the Society was much smaller–too
small to be an attractive target for
embezzlers. To put the same argument in a
somewhat different form, consider how
much more attractive a target we would be
at present if the admission fees paid for local
events all flowed through the hands of the
Corporate treasurer.
Hoping that you will find these suggestions
useful, I remain
Sincerely Yours
David Friedman
Visiting Professor, Cornell Law School
Known in the Society as Cariadoc of the
Bow, Knight, Master of the Laurel, Master
of the Pelican, and Duke.
The Romans say that if you have a Frank for a friend, it is
certain that he is not your neighbor.
(From a ninth century Life of Charlemagne.)
Page 226
How Another Hobby is Organized
Every August, Elizabeth and I load our
minivan and head for Pennsic. Every
February, Elizabeth’s parents load their
minivan and head for Tucson. Our hobby is
the SCA; theirs is mineral collecting. The
Tucson Gem and Mineral show is several
times the size of Pennsic. My wife’s parents
are as active in their hobby as we are in
ours–more active these days, since their
children are grown and ours are not. My
mother-in-law is currently the first vice
president of the Midwestern Federation of
Mineral Societies. We had formed the
impression, from past conversations, that the
formal structure of their hobby was
considerably less centralized than ours, so
on a recent visit we asked some detailed
The Gem and Mineral Hobby
The national organization of gem and
mineral collectors, their nearest equivalent
to the SCA Inc., is the American Federation
of Mineral Societies (AFMS). It has seven
members–the seven regional federations.
The members of the regional federations are
local gem and mineral clubs, plus some
unaffiliated individuals, typically from areas
without a local club. The individual clubs
are unincorporated, or in some cases
incorporated, associations.
The only control that the national
federation exercises over the regionals, or
the regional federations over the individual
clubs, is the decision to accept them as
members. A club that wishes to be a
member of one of the regional federations
must submit its bylaws for approval, but my
mother-in-law had never heard of an
application being turned down. A club must
also agree to a statement of principles
covering things such as collectors leaving
sites at least as clean as they find them and
reporting important finds to the appropriate
scientific authorities. Subject to approval of
bylaws, the internal structure of the club is
entirely its own business. There are no
mandatory reports up a bureaucratic
hierarchy, no requirement that the regional
approve the officers of the local club or the
national approve the officers of the regional.
Individual clubs have no territorial
monopoly; I am free to form a club in the
same city in which one already exists.
Regional Federations do have a defined
territory. They cannot solicit clubs outside
their territory, but can accept clubs from
outside their territory that ask to join. A club
can, and a few do, belong to more than one
regional federation.
How Directors and Officers are Chosen
The Board of Directors of the national
federation consists of the president and first
vice president of each regional federation
plus one national officer elected (by the
previous year’s board) from each of the
seven regions.
The rules of the regionals vary; my
information is on the Midwest Regional
Federation. Midwest has an annual
convention at which each club gets one
delegate. Regional officers are nominated by
a nominating committee of 7, consisting of
two committee members elected each of the
past three years (for a three year term), plus
the current president. They nominate 4
candidates for their committee, of whom 2
will be elected to replace the 2 whose terms
are expiring. They nominate one candidate
for each of the 5 offices. Candidates can also
be nominated from the floor, by a petition
signed by at least 100 adult members (which
is currently less than 1% of the
membership), coming from at least 10% of
the clubs. This has happened, but rarely–in
my mother-in-law’s view, when the
committee nominated the wrong person.
This structure shows one possible way
of combining stability with democracy. As
Page 227
long as everything goes smoothly, the
system is self-perpetuating. But if the people
running either the regional or national level
do things that the membership strongly
disapproves of, the membership has the
power to replace all of the regional officers
within a year (assuming the other regionals
have systems similar to the Midwestern) and
all of the national directors within two years.
How Well Does it Work?
Gem and Mineral Collecting is a
somewhat bigger hobby than ours; my inlaws estimated about 50,000 members
nationally and about 13,000 in the Midwest,
which is the second largest of the regional
federations. One similarity between the two
hobbies is that in both there has been a
recent, drastic increase in dues at the
national level. In our case it was a jump
from $25/year to $35/year for a subscribing
membership, along with changes in the other
classes. In their case it was a jump from
twenty-five cents to fifty cents per club
member in the fee that the National
Federation charges the regional federations.
The fees charged by regional federations
vary; the Midwestern Regional charges its
clubs a fee of $1 per member per year, out
of which it pays (or will pay when the new
rates are implemented) fifty cents to the
National Federation.
One reason their cost is so low is that
the National has only two employees, both
part time. With only seven members the
National Federation does not need to do a lot
of complicated record keeping. Similarly,
since the Regional has mainly clubs as
members, it also does not have to do a lot of
record keeping. Money earned or spent by a
club is the concern of that club, not the
regional or national federation. In the SCA,
in contrast, every dollar of feast revenue
collected by a local group is, in theory at
least, income of the SCA Inc., to be kept
track of at the corporate level and reported
in the corporation’s tax return.
A second reason is that they provide
substantially less in the way of publications
to their members. Both the national and
regional newsletters go to clubs–two or three
copies to each club (to the president, vice
president, and newsletter editor if there is a
club newsletter). Individuals can also
subscribe separately. The national newsletter
provides about as many square inches per
year as we get, although the physical quality
is more like a newspaper and less like a
newsletter provides somewhat fewer square
inches per year than the Pale.
A third reason their cost is low is that
insurance is not included in the basic
membership. It is available to clubs that
want it for an additional charge (in the
Midwest) of $1.60/member/year. Coverage
is $1,000,000 per incident/$2,000,000 per
occasion. It covers all members at a club
event against liability. Some sites require an
additional insurance certificate naming the
site as coinsured; my in-laws thought that
had cost either $60 or $100 for a gem and
mineral show they were involved with,
which had about 2000 attendees, about 70
club members working the show, and about
50 dealers.
History of their Hobby
One argument raised in discussions of
decentralizing the SCA is the possibility of
internal conflict, splits, etc. I asked my inlaws about whether the Gem and Mineral
hobby had had such problems. Their answer
was that, so far as they knew, there had been
one serious split in the history of the
National Association. The facts, as they
remembered them, are as follows:
The Eastern Federation used to cover
the entire East Coast, from Mississippi to
Maine. Quite a long time ago, some of the
southern members decided that they wanted
to split off. Under the national rules, a new
regional federation is recognized by the
AFMS only if it is has the consent of the
regional federation it had been a part of.
Instead, the Southerners seceded.
Page 228
For a while, the resulting Southeastern
Federation was not a member of the
National. Some clubs in the region were
members of the Southeastern Federation,
some of the Eastern, and there were bad
feelings between the two groups. After
about ten years, the Eastern Federation
agreed to accept the split and the
Southeastern Federation became part of the
The two striking differences between
what I have described and the SCA Inc. are
that they are much more decentralized and
much less expensive. Including the cost of
insurance, membership in the Midwest
Federation comes to $2.60/year. The
comparable figures for the SCA are $20/year
without any publications or $35 with
publications. Our publications are somewhat
better than theirs, and they go to all
subscribing members–but they only absorb
about a third of our budget. Their system for
handling publications provides a way of
guaranteeing that the club has information
about regional and national activities,
without requiring officers to subscribe
Their insurance limits are, I believe, the
same as ours. Their insurance covers all club
members; the SCA’s liability insurance, as
of 1994, covered the corporation but not the
members. Their hobby is probably at least as
risky as ours–mineral collectors sometimes
do their collecting in dangerous places such
as abandoned quarries and old mine shafts,
their shows have a lot of outsiders going
through them, and their merchants have
expensive goods available to be stolen or
Decentralization does not prevent
cooperation. Gem and Mineral shows are
sometimes run by groups of clubs and are
generally open to competitors from lots of
other clubs and exhibitors both from other
clubs and from outside the federation. My
general impression is that the level of
consistency across the member clubs of the
AFMS is not radically different from that
across the groups of the SCA.
Nor does decentralization seem to lead
to more internal conflict than centralization.
Over a history significantly longer than ours,
they have had one internal conflict on the
scale of a kingdom breaking up with the
breakaway region effectively seceding, and
it was eventually resolved. We have had at
least two smaller conflicts of that sort
(leading to the Far Isles group in England
and MSR in New York), both so far
unresolved, and our present difficulties
might easily lead to one or more kingdoms
The article above was originally posted
to the Rialto (rec.org.sca, the SCA
newsgroup on the internet) in 1994; I have
edited it slightly for publication.
“Short and straight is the road to a friend, though he lives far away.”
Some learned men were sitting talking of the fabulous generosity of famous men
of old, and especially of that of the Barmecides. Sa’id, the Vizier of Mu’tamid,
remarked that he believed all such tales were fictions invented by sycophants in the
hope of gain. Abu’l-Aina asked why, in that case, no similar tales were invented
about His Excellency the Vizier, from whom something was to be hoped and feared,
whereas the Barmecides were dead and could do neither good nor harm to anyone.
(Condensed from al-Tanukhi, 10th century)
Page 229
Another Sort of Letter
30 July, 1973
Tournaments Illuminated
Dear Sirs:
Much as it pains me to disagree with an
authority so learned as Master Bersark, I fear I
must take issue with his criticism of the cover
illustration of T.I. #25. Master Bersark’s
essential error (which, I must confess, I too
made on first examining the cover in
question) was to interpret it as illustrating a
combat between two men with great swords.
More careful examination, however, will
show beyond any doubt that only one of the
weapons in question is in fact a great sword.
The other weapon is equipped with a pair of
spikes about half way up the blade; while
these bear a superficial resemblance to the
secondary quillons sometimes found on great
swords, their position, midway between the
true quillons and the point, demonstrates
conclusively that the weapon is not a great
sword at all. It is, rather, a grattle swax, a
(deservedly) obscure weapon combining the
faults of both great sword and battle axe,
while possessing the virtues of neither.
Once we have correctly identified the
weapons in the illustration, it becomes clear
that what is here represented is the well
known exercise of great sword and grattle
swax. This rather peculiar form of combat,
popular among the more timorous knights of
medieval Germany, involved the two parties
crossing their swords and leaning upon them,
each supported by the other. The warrior who
first collapsed, or fell asleep, was deemed
defeated. The function of the false secondary
quillons of the grattle swax was, of course, to
prevent the blade of the great sword from
sliding along that of the grattle swax. It might
be argued that two grattle swaxes would work
even better, but this would require the
combatants to actually possess two of them,
which was unlikely. I should perhaps add that,
in the opinion of some scholars, the exercise
of great sword and grattle swax provides the
true origin of the term “tilting.”
Yours in behalf of scholarly endeavor
Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, O.L., KSCA, etc
(Tournaments Illuminated #29)
Why are the hills of Lebanon bare?
Because every Frank in Christendom has a splinter of the True
Why does the King of the East wear a crown?
To discourage falcons in nesting season.
(Written during Finvairr’s reign)
Who would want to be King when he could be Baron of
Page 230
Other Articles: Making Stuff
A 9th-Century Pup Tent
Last summer we decided that our
children had gotten too big to share one
child’s bed and our Pennsic tent too small to
hold three beds plus anything else. The first
step was to build Bill (four) his own bed.
The second was to make a new tent for him
and his sister Becca (seven).
We wanted a tent that would be period,
would be less work to make and set up than
our pavilion, and would have less timber to
transport than the common Viking tents. A
search of our library turned up a picture
from an illustrated German psalter, c. 832,
with “an host encamped against” the
psalmist–a reasonably realistic and detailed
line drawing showing a row of pup tents,
seen from the side.
Note that:
(1) there is a horizontal ridgepole supporting
the top of the tent, visibly sticking out at
both ends. We assume it is supported by two
vertical poles.
(2) The tent wall is trapezoidal, longer at the
ground than at the top, so that the end stakes
reach out ahead of the ends of the ridgepole.
(3) No guy ropes are visible, although the
picture is sufficiently detailed that you can
count the stakes (7 on a side).
(4) There are triangular doors at the ends (at
least the front end) of the tent that can be
thrown back outside the tent when open.
We wondered if the lack of guy ropes
to give front-back stability was real or
merely artistic license, but decided to make
it as drawn and add the ropes if we needed
them. In fact, the tent stood through two
problems; the shape of the walls, with cloth
stretching forward and back to stakes from
the vertical poles, gives stability enough.
After Pennsic, we came across a webbed
description of an Anglo-Saxon tent called a
geteld; it was the same tent. Apparently the
design was used over a substantial area.
Size: we needed it big enough to take
two small children’s beds, one of them a
four-poster, plus a little extra space. The tent
as we made it is 8' high at the ridgepole,
with a rectangular footprint 12' long and 7'
Page 231
12 yards of 60" cotton canvas for the walls
and another 6 yards for the doors
2 8' lengths of 3"x%" oak for the vertical
poles. (If you don’t have a source for long
oak planks, ordinary 2x4’s would work
1 8' length of 1#"x%" ash for the ridgepole
(A 2x4 would work for that too.)
14 wooden stakes, 8" long
Swarzenski, Hanns, Monuments of
Romanesque Art: The Art of Church
Treasures in North-Western Europe, 2nd
ed., University of Chicago Press, Chicago,
1967. The picture in question is Plate 4, Fig.
Figure 1 shows how the cloth is laid out
and cut for the tent and doors; the two
6"x16" rectangles that go over the end of the
ridgepole can be cut from any convenient
scrap pieces. Figure 2 shows how the pieces
go together; I have left out the second set of
doors to simplify the drawing. Point A joins
to point a, B to b, etc.
Figure 3 shows details of the door ties;
Figure 4 shows the frame pieces and Figure
5 the assembled frame. Note that there are
wooden blocks glued to the sides of the
ridge piece at each end, as shown on Figure
4. They are there to keep the verticals from
sliding along the ridge piece, especially
when you are in the process of setting up the
tent. You may want to peg them on to make
them more secure.
Ash Ridge Piece
Figure 5
Page 232
Many years ago, Elizabeth and I tried to figure
out, mostly from pictures, how medieval
pavilions were constructed. We built three
pavilions based on our design, starting with a six
foot tall scale model intended for a child, then
one we thought was big enough for us (and used
for several Pennsics), and finally one that was
big enough for us. We used it for quite a while,
but were never entirely satisfied with the design.
About a year ago I made a new pavilion
based on a design by Dafydd ap Gwystl, who
had done a much more careful job than we did of
trying to figure out how period pavilions were
constructed. I like it so much that I replaced my
article describing how to make our design with
Dafydd’s article describing how to make his. A
longer version of his article, complete with
pictures, evidence that many period pavilions
were of about this design, a mathematical
appendix describing how to calculate the
dimensions for constructing a pavilion of
arbitrary size, and much else, is webbed at:
Making a Medieval Single-Pole Pavilion
By David Kuijt, ska Dafydd ap Gwystl
I will describe dimensions for three separate
designs: a small tent suitable for a dayshade,
changing tent, or one or two people; a larger
multipurpose pavilion; and a large pavilion
suitable for use as a great hall at events,
sleeping a whole household, and so on. All
of the dimensions I describe are calculated
based upon finding 60" wide canvas. The
bottom edges of the wall trapezoids, on all
three designs, are exactly 60" across. If your
canvas has different dimensions you may
need to redesign. For example, if you have
96" wide canvas, it is possible to construct
an 8-spoke pavilion with 6' spokes.
The small tent uses 8 spokes 4' long. It
is 11' tall, 13' diameter on the ground (134
square feet area), and requires 32 yards of
canvas to construct. The cost of this tent in
materials is less than $200, depending upon
the price of canvas in your area.
The pavilion has 12 spokes 6' long. It is
13' tall, nearly 20' diameter on the ground
(293 square feet area), and requires 54 yards
of canvas to construct. This tent will cost
around $300 in materials by my estimate.
The large pavilion has 16 spokes 10'
long. It is 17' tall, more than 25' diameter on
the ground (516 square feet area), and
requires 88 yards of canvas to construct.
This large pavilion will cost less than $500
in materials, depending upon the price of
The easiest way to
make the hub is to
laminate four pieces of
%" plywood to make a
slab 3" thick. Use good
wood glue, and be sure to use high-quality
plywood. The more laminations (layers) in
the plywood the better. Once the glue has
dried, cut it to shape (8 sided, 12 sided, or
16 sided depending upon the size of
pavilion) and drill one hole in each side
using a 1.5" spade bit. You only need to go
about 2" deep on each hole.
After the spoke holes are drilled, you
need to make a hole through the center of
the hub large enough to admit the center
pole. The size and shape of this hole depend
upon the dimensions of the center pole.
The dimensions of the hub are not
crucial to the design of the pavilion. The
important thing is that the hub is broad
enough for the holes holding the ends of the
spokes (8, 12, or 16 spokes in the three
designs of pavilion I describe). In my
pavilion the hub is 6" radius, and the holes
for the twelve spokes are 2" deep. This
means that the spokes should be 4" shorter
than 6' (in other words, 5'8") so the distance
from the center pole to the end of the spokes
is exactly 6'.
Page 233
Go to your lumberyard and buy one
2x4 for every two spokes needed. Pick dry
2x4s with no warp or knots. Rip the 2x4 into
two 2x2s on a table saw. You can use them
with square cross-section or make them
more attractive by beveling the edges with a
hand plane, joiner, router, or a tablesaw
blade set at 45 degrees. Round one end
down with a rasp or file so it has no sharp
corners to abrade the tent. File the other end
down to a 1.5" diameter cylinder, so it fits in
the holes of the hub. The fit does not need to
be precise. The twelve spokes on my
pavilion cost less than $10 total.
rounded the top and drilled a hole into it,
into which I glued a large metal spike. The
result is a center pole that comes apart
readily, and is quite sturdy.
The slowest thing about putting this
pavilion up is figuring out where the walls
should be properly staked. Having a floor
sized and shaped to match the base of the
pavilion can vastly accelerate this process.
This floor can then be laid out before the
pavilion is put up, showing exactly where
every stake goes. The floor should be made
of some durable, waterproof, rot-resistant
material that is easily cleaned. Since it is not
attached to the rest of the tent it can be
easily replaced or repaired if necessary.
Sewing Notes
The only important characteristics of
the center pole are that it is strong enough,
the right length, and that it fits in the hole in
the hub.
The center poles in manuscript
illustrations and paintings vary from
moderately slim to enormously huge. If you
have a car with a roof rack that can take a
long pole, you might want to have a pole
without any joint. If not, the following joint
system is easy and reliable.
My center pole started out as a 7' piece
of 8/4 Oak, about 6" wide. I got my fancy
woodworking store (where I found the
wood) to plane it and cut it into two 7' long
poles, 2" square, and some waste. The total
cost to me was $25 or $30.
I then bought a 16" section of 2" square
metal pipe from a metalworking store. I cut
two ends of the 7' poles at a 60 degree
(steep) angle, then fitted one end tightly into
the metal sleeve and the other one slightly
more loosely.
Finally, I beveled the top section,
First, the caveat: I don’t know much
about sewing. There may be much better
ways to do the stuff I describe below, and
I’m sure that an experienced sewing guru
would know the better ways to do it. If you
want to ask such a person’s advice, great.
(And by the way, if you find some better
way to do some of this stuff, please let me
know). If you want to just muddle through,
follow my instructions below.
Buy canvas that is pre-treated to be
water-resistant and fire-retardant, if you can
get it. Buy good canvas. This is not the place
to cut corners of cost.
I STRONGLY advise that you not
attempt to sew the pavilion without a very
heavy-duty sewing machine. You can rent
these in some places, or find a friend who
has one if you are lucky. Some possibilities
for renting or borrowing heavy-duty sewing
machines are university theatre departments,
theatrical supply stores, or commercial
enterprises making or repairing sails or
tents. Don’t try to use an everyday utility
sewing machine if you can avoid it. It will
be very frustrating and take a long time,
breaking a lot of needles. I'm speaking from
Page 234
experience, here.
Get some experienced sewing guru to
advise you on any questions you have
regarding the sewing. One important thing
to do is to get them to show you how to
make a flat-felled seam: all the seams on the
pavilion should be flat-felled seams for
strength. Luckily for anyone who (like me)
is a sewing ignoramus, all the seams are
straight and simple.
Cutting out the large canvas pieces can
be a chore, especially marking the long
straight lines. The easiest way to do this is to
lay the fabric flat, then take a surveyors
chalk-line and use that to mark the cutting
NOTE!!!! There are NO SEAM
ALLOWANCES marked on the pattern.
You MUST allow some appropriate seam
allowance on the outside of each pie piece
for the roof and of each trapezoid for the
walls. I’m not exactly sure what seam
allowance is best: I added a 1" seam
allowance. If you forget to do this, you will
waste an awful lot of fabric.
First, finish all the rain flaps on the
edge of each roof pie piece. The rain flap is
the 12" deep rectangle at the bottom of the
pie piece. You can dag it if you wish, hem it
or edge it with some contrasting colored
Now sew all the pie pieces for the roof
together. At the peak you will need to sew a
large metal ring or grommet to the pieces.
Alternatively you can take a short section of
#" rope (something that will not rot: nylon
or hemp, not cotton) and wrap the thin ends
of the pie pieces around the rope before
sewing them down. This will leave a hole at
the very peak of the roof for the center pole
to go through.
Finish the top edge of each wall
trapezoid, and the mud flap at the bottom
(the rectangle 5' long by 1' deep).
Now work your way around the tent,
sewing one trapezoid on at a time. Note the
dotted line on the pattern that marks the
edge of the flap – that is where the top of the
wall must be sewn to the roof. Make sure
that the roof rain flap is on the outside. Sew
the seam attaching one trapezoid to the other
along the side seam as well as the roof seam.
Before you go too far, decide how
many doors you want and where. To make a
door, just finish the adjacent vertical edges
of two wall trapezoids rather than sewing
them together. I’ve found it very convenient
to have two doors on opposite sides of my
pavilion. This allows me to open both doors
and let a breeze through in hot weather, and
it is often convenient to have a back door.
Once the walls and roof are sewn, you
need to make small reinforced cups of some
of the remaining scrap canvas. These cups
are sewn to the edge of the eaves. Their
function is simple–they lock one end of a
spoke in the right position on the edge of the
Take a square of canvas and fold to
make a triangle. Sew it down and finish the
edges using any simple method (hem, serge,
whatever). Fold again, to make another
triangle. Sew one edge so that you have a
triangular cup shape, with the hypotenuse
open. This sounds complicated, although it
is very easy to do; I hope this illustration
will help explain it.
Now sew the cup
down (making sure not
to close the cup) so the
end of the pole will fit
inside the cup. Sew one
such cup at every spoke
position (where the
horizontal seam at the
eaves crosses a vertical
seam down a pie piece and wall
If you want to have ropes
on the tent, sew simple loops to
the outside of the eaves to take
the ropes.
Page 235
are constructed
woven cotton
straps to the
bottom of each vertical seam on the walls.
Make sure you sew them down securely.
You will need one loop for every vertical
seam joining two wall trapezoids; doors will
require one loop for each trapezoid edge at
the door opening (two loops total).
Get your local blacksmith to make you
enough 15" or 18" stakes. For simple stakes
it won’t be very expensive, and you might as
well have good stakes for a good pavilion. If
you have no local blacksmith, get some 12"
tent nails. Don’t use aluminum or plastic
stakes – they won’t last, and they aren’t
good enough.
Painting and Decoration
Some pavilions were plain undecorated
canvas, but many of the ones shown in
manuscript illustrations are brightly colored
or painted. I haven’t experimented in dyeing
canvas, so I can’t give any useful advice for
pavilions that can sometimes be found in
illustrations. Consult with some local fabric
guru and experiment.
Painting a pavilion is quite simple.
Most pavilions were painted with simple
lines, gothic arches, and the like. This turns
out to be quite easy to do. I bought
commercial exterior acrylic latex house
paint from a local do-it-yourself store. You
need to thin the paint with water so that it
soaks into the canvas a bit. This makes it
much easier to brush on in a single
application – undiluted house paint tends to
bead up on the surface. You must avoid
diluting the paint too much, though, or it
will wick out from the design rather than
sticking to where you apply it. I found that
thinning the paint with an equal amount of
water gave me a good consistency. As an
added benefit this also cuts the cost of the
paint in half, as you get two gallons from
every gallon you buy. Don’t paint your
pavilion indoors – find a big slab of clean
concrete or pavement to lay the pavilion out
and paint it. The paint will bleed through the
canvas slightly, so dont paint on a surface
where this will matter. Be very careful to
avoid spills onto the canvas, as they are
impossible to clean up.
Most single-pole pavilions seem to
have had a decorative finial, often a golden
ball. Some pavilions have whole statues on
top. Flags are also fairly common,
sometimes in conjunction with a gold ball. A
decorative finial of some sort makes the
pavilion look nicer, but it also has a practical
purpose in plugging the only hole in the
pavilion fabric, at the top. I’ve experimented
with a number of simple ball designs but I
haven’t found one I’m really satisfied with
Finally, the flap at the end of each roof
segment is often decorated. They may be
dagged or painted, sometimes with mottoes
and sayings in contrasting colors to the tent.
Appendix A: Pavilion Plans
Fabric and Layout
These patterns are based upon 60" wide
canvas. The trapezoidal wall pieces take up
the full width of the canvas, so can only be
laid out in one direction. The most efficient
way to lay out the triangular roof pie pieces
is shown below. It is possible to lay them
out so as to use less fabric, but not
advisable, as it involves cutting along the
bias of the fabric. Cutting along the bias will
allow stretching of the piece, which will
distort the pavilion in the long run.
Page 236
Comments by Cariadoc
My version of Daffyd’s design differs
from his in several details:
I’d like to thank Branwynn Ottersby,
my squire and partner in chaos. She and I
did all the sewing on the original single-pole
pavilion, attempting with our blood and
curses to prove that two people who had no
skill at all with sewing could still make a
pavilion. She also graciously consented to
proofread this article. I’d also like to thank
Sorcha de Glies, who tested the improved
design described in this article, and proved
with her blood and curses that having
someone who actually can sew improves the
whole product.
1: My spokes are oak 1x1’s rather than
softwood 2x2’s.
2: I made the hub from a 2" thick piece of
hardwood–it didn’t have to be as thick, since
the spokes are thinner.
3: My center pole is a hardwood 2x2. I used
a spokeshave to convert the cross section
from square to octagonal for the top half of
the pole. Then I cut the hole in the hub so
that it would fit the top half of the shaft but
not the bottom half. That way the hub slides
halfway down the centerpole and stops when
it gets to the point where the pole is no
longer shaved down.
4: My stakes are hardwood 1" dowels. Iron
stakes, while not impossible, strike me as an
unlikely extravagance in a society where
iron was very expensive and wood very
cheap. It may be worth having every third
stake be a substantially larger one as a safety
precaution; having a tent come down when
pegs pull out of softened ground in a
rainstorm is no fun.
5. My centerpole is a single piece of
hardwood, 12' long (I’m shorter than
Dafydd). I’ve spent too much time, mostly
at the end of Pennsic, trying to convert a two
piece center pole back into two pieces.
My Hub (shoes optional)
His Hub
Page 237
A Period Rope Bed
Some time ago, several of our
Mirkfaelin friends told us about a period
picture one of them had found, a period
ivory showing a rope bed (Figure 1). I have
now made several versions of that bed.
Figure 2 shows the second, built for my 68
lb son. It turned out to be ridiculously easy
to make–about half an hour for me to build
the bed, plus another hour or so for me and
my lady wife to lace it. It is also light and
disassembles and assembles easily.
One problem with rope beds is that,
unless the rope is very taut, they sag. The
solution is to have the mesh of ropes fasten
not to the foot of the bed but to a horizontal
dowel a little above the foot. You wrap a
rope six times around the dowel and foot
and pull. This pulls the dowel towards the
foot with a mechanical advantage of twelve
to one (minus considerable losses from
friction), tightening the bed. The result is
satisfactory for one person, although it still
sags enough to provide a couple with more
togetherness than they may want, especially
in hot weather.
The basic construction is very simple.
For the small child’s version, which was the
first one I made, the legs are oak, 1 ⅝" x 1
⅝". The sides are oak dowels, 1" in
diameter. Each leg has two 1" diameter
holes drilled into it at right angles to each
other, one a little above the other. The ends
of the dowels fit into the holes.
Materials for the bed
(small child’s version)
2 legs, oak, 9"x1 ⅝ " x 1⅝"
2 legs, oak, 18"x1 ⅝" x 1 ⅝"
2 sides, 1" oak dowels, 4' long
2 ends, 1" oak dowels, 2' long
1 end piece, ¾" oak dowel, 26" long
¼" manila rope: 50' (for the web)
¼" rope 7' long—ideally a different color
Figure 1
Total cost: approximately $60 (some
years ago)
That bed was not quite adequate for our
son; it would hold him, but the dowels at the
sides bowed in more than I like. Figures 2
and 3 show the bed I made for him. The end
pieces are still 1" oak dowels but the sides
are 1 ⅜". I made a slightly larger version for
his older sister, who weighed about a
hundred pounds; it would be adequate for a
small adult.
Larger dowels raise a problem, since
the hole they fit into has to be significantly
smaller than the width of the piece of wood
it is drilled in. I solved this problem for the
second bed by tapering down the ends of the
1 ⅜" dowels to fit into 1" holes. The ideal
tool is a spokeshave, but if you don’t have
one a knife should do.
Page 238
Figure 2
For the third bed, I got my lumberyard
to cut the legs as 2" strips from a 1 ⅝"
plank, giving me pieces 2"x1 ⅝". I drilled
the 1 ⅜" holes for the side dowels into the
two inch sides of the legs and the 1" holes
for the end dowels into the 1 ⅝" sides. That
way I could do the whole thing without
having to taper any dowels.
In addition to being smaller, these beds
differ from the one shown in Figure 1 in
four ways.
1. The legs are plain instead of
2. The legs are proportionally shorter
than in the picture–because it is intended to
fit inside a tent at Pennsic.
3. The legs at the head extend higher
than at the foot. I did it this way with the
idea of eventually adding some sort of
4. The holes the side dowels plug into
are a little higher on the legs than the holes
that the end dowels plug into. I did it that
way because I couldn’t get sufficiently deep
Figure 3
at the same height without having the two
holes run into each other. I don't know
whether the fact that the original appears to
have sides and ends at the same height
reflects shallower holes, thicker legs, or
artistic license.
When I first wrote this article, my kids
were little. Currently one of them is bigger
than I am so I have now built an adult size
version of the bed, shown in Figure 4. The
legs are softwood 4x4’s (actually about 3 ½
x 3 ½). The side rails go into square sockets
in the legs. The end rails fit into square
sockets but have rounded ends that go
through holes in the ends of the side rail
then through a hole in the leg, coming out to
be pegged on the outside of the leg. Thus the
whole frame stays together even without the
tension of the ropes,
making setup easier
than in the version
described above. The
figures show details.
Page 239
Interlacing the Rope
Figure 1 is not detailed enough to show
how the rope is interlaced. I succeeded,
however, in working out a pattern that looks
right; it is consistent with the figure and
ropes consistently alternate between going
over one and under the next. Figures 2 and 3
show the pattern.
For Transport
To disassemble the bed, unwrap the
rope at the foot and slide the end piece up
towards the head of the bed. Run the rope
through the loops of rope around the end
dowel, use it to tie them into a bundle,
remove the end dowel. Repeat with the
loops of the rope mesh at sides and head.
You now have four bundles of loops.
Disassemble the frame. When you
reassemble it, slide the wooden pieces
through the loops, untie the rope holding the
bundles together, assemble. You may want
to leave the loops around the frame pieces
for transport to simplify reassembly.
Possible Variants
The friends who first told us about the
ivory on which our bed design is based did a
slightly different variant. In theirs, the robes
of the mesh are tied together wherever they
cross, giving an effect rather like a fishing
net. That should save some of the time we
spend adjusting the positions of the ropes to
make the mesh reasonably even when
setting the bed up.
All of the variants of the bed we have
made were for one person; we still use our
old two person slat bed, described in a later
article, for Pennsic. A number of people
have asked us about a two person version.
The obvious problem, aside from the greater
weight, is that the mesh sags in the middle,
which might impose a forced proximity—
sometimes pleasant, but perhaps not in hot
weather. We have not actually tried building
a bed sized for two, or even the simpler
experiment of putting two children on one
adult sized bed—we should, one of these
days. It might turn out that the problem was
less in practice than in theory.
One approach to the problem that I
have had described, based on an out of
period rope bed, is a line of hanging feet
down the middle, designed to touch the
ground only when forced down by the
weight of the occupants. A simpler version
might be a rope running lengthwise from the
middle of the head of the bed to the middle
of the foot. If you try any of these, or other
approaches, let us know how they work.
One concern is that they might reverse the
problem of proximity.
Concerning Dimensions of Wood
Readers who are not woodworkers may
be confused by the distinction between the
nominal dimensions of planks (2x2, 2x4,
3x3) and the actual dimensions. The
nominal dimension measures the size of the
plank as originally cut. The actual
dimension is less because some of it is lost
in the process of planing the wood smooth.
So a 2x4, which is nominally 2" by 4", is
actually about 1 ½" by 3 ½". Dowels, on the
other hand, are usually labeled with their
actual diameter.
To add additional confusion, hardwood
is often labeled by its nominal thickness in
quarter inches. Thus 4/4 is four quarter
inches–a nominal thickness of an inch and
an actual thickness of about ¾". 8/4 is a
nominal thickness of two inches, 12/4 of
three inches.
When in doubt, measure.
Figure 1 is the Andrews diptych, an
ivory panel currently in the Victoria and
Albert Museum. It used to be labelled “13th
c. Byzantine” but currently (as of a few
years back) is identified as “Carolingian?”
The scene is of Jesus telling a man to take
up his bed and walk.
Page 240
Bottom View
of 2x4
Building a Simple Period Table
A distinctive style of table appears in many
period illuminations; each of the two trestles
on which the tabletop rests has three legs
made from planks, wider at the bottom than
at the top. The table is easy and inexpensive
to make and it comes apart, making it easy
to transport. To make one, you will need the
following materials:
End View
Side View
Figure 1
2/29"x1x8 (legs)
2/22 ½"x2x4’s for the tops of the trestles.
2/6'x1x12’s for the table top.
How to cut
out the legs
End View of
Assembled Trestle
Bottom View of 2x4
Figure 1 shows how to cut three legs
from each of the 1x8 planks, where to cut
the sockets that the legs fit into in the top
piece, and how the trestle goes together.
One tricky part is cutting the sockets
for the legs, since they have to be angled
into the 2x4’s as shown in the end view of
the assembled trestle. The way I did it was
to draw the outline of the socket, drill two
¾" diameter holes as shown in Figure 2
(which shows the center socket–the end
sockets are a little shorter, so I use one ¾"
hole and one ½"), and chisel and file out the
remaining wood until the narrow end of the
leg fits tightly into the socket. Alternatively,
you could do it with a drill and a saw. If you
are using a drill press, you can angle the
hole by putting a block under one edge of
the 2x4 then drilling straight down, as
shown in Figure 3.
The other tricky part is fitting the legs
into the sockets. You want to make the
socket a little too tight, so that the end of the
leg doesn’t go quite all the way in. Then you
trim wood off the end of the leg or out of the
socket until it goes far enough in to make its
end flush with the top of the top piece.
When you assemble the table, you may find
a few narrow wooden wedges useful to
make the fit tighter and the leg less inclined
to wobble.
Once all the pieces are made, you
assemble the two trestles and lay the two
boards across them. A table cloth long
enough and wide enough to hang over on all
Drill Holes
Figure 2
2x4 E
nd V
Figure 3
sides helps hold the planks together–but
even without that, the table is reasonably
When I made the table shown here I
had access to inexpensive ¾" oak planks,
which I used for the legs; in the figures I
have made the legs a little wider than in my
table, on the assumption that you will
probably be using softwood.
The period pictures shown on the next
page are from a fifteenth century source; I
do not know how much earlier and later the
same design was in use.
Reference: Illuminated Manuscripts:
Boccaccio’s Decameron 15th Century
Manuscript, texts by Edmond Pognon, J.
Petter Tallon tr., Miller Graphics.
Page 241
Now this is the tale of how the long war between the brother tribes of ’Abs and Dhubyân
was ended. Al-H'rith was a great man of the tribe of Dhubyân, a lord of the Arabs. On a time, he
asked his cousin Kh'rija son of Sinan if there was any man of the Arabs who would refuse him
his daughter’s hand in marriage. “Yes,” Kh'rija answered, “Aus son of Haritha of the tribe of
They mounted their camels and traveled to the territory of Aus who, being told al-H'rith’s
errand, rudely refused. After al-H'rith had departed, the wife of Aus, a woman of the tribe of
’Abs, asked who it was who had come and ridden off, and why. When her husband explained, she
upbraided him for his foolishness and persuaded him to ride after al-H'rith, apologize, and bring
him back.
Aus called before him the eldest of his three daughters and asked if she wished to be wed to
al-Harith. She replied that as she was neither beautiful nor of a winning character and no kin of
his, and he lived too far off to fear her father, she feared that he might in time divorce her. The
second daughter gave the same answer.
When Buhaisa was brought and the question put to her, she replied that she would do as her
father thought best. Her father told her what her sisters had said. She replied that she was good
looking, of lofty character, and had a most distinguished father, and if her husband divorced her
God would never be good to him again.
When all had been agreed to, a tent was pitched and Aus sent his daughter in to al-H'rith.
When al-H'rith emerged, (said Kh'rija son of Sinan) I asked if he had finished the job.
“No, by God. When I stretched out my hand towards her she cried, ‘Stop that! What, here in
front of my father and brothers? Impossible.’”
When we had gone a little ways on our journey, al-H'rith told me to ride ahead, while he
turned off the road with his bride. In a little while he caught up with us. “Finished?” I asked.
“No, by God. She said to me ‘What, would you treat me like a slave-girl out of the market,
or a woman taken in battle? First you must kill the camels and slaughter the sheep and invite the
Arabs, and do all that should be done for one such as me.’”
“I see she’s a girl of spirit and good sense,” I replied.
When we had come to our own country and prepared the feast, again he went in to her, and
again I asked if the job was done, and again he replied that it was not. I asked him the reason.
“I went in to her, desiring her mightily. ‘You see, we’ve made ready the flocks,’ I said to
her. ‘How is it you find time to go about marrying women, while the Arabs are busy killing each
other?’ she asked (for this was during the war between ’Abs and Dhubyan.) ‘Go out and make
peace between those people, then return to me, and you shall have all that you desire.’”
“She has spoken well,” I replied. So we went forth to the warring tribes and proposed peace,
and it was agreed that the dead should be counted up and that side that had killed the greater
number should pay reparations. It came to 3000 camels, paid out over three years. And when we
returned, al-H'rith went in to his wife, and she bore him many sons and daughters.
(Based on the account in the 10th c. A.D. Book of Songs of Abu ’l-Faraj al Isbah'n(, as
translated by Arberry.)
Page 242
The Cluny Table
The Cluny Museum in Paris has a
period peg-together table, shown above. I
made a scaled down and somewhat
simplified version, also shown above, with
and without its top. My main change was
replacing the carved panels in the original,
which are well beyond my ability, with
panels of quarter sawn oak—much easier to
make and also quite attractive. The final
figure shows the pieces of the table as I
made it. I omitted the ornamental pieces at
the ends of the upper supports and
somewhat simplifed the shape of the pieces,
kept the vertical dimensions almost the same
as the original, but scaled down the
horizontal dimensions by about !.
The table is constructed in four layers.
Two pieces cross to make the stand. Above
them is a central pillar and four outer pillars,
each joined to the center by a panel and each
fitting into a socket below in the stand and a
socket above in one of the pieces that
supports the table top. In the original the
panel is carved openwork; in mine it is plain
quarter sawn oak. Above the pillars is the
support for the table top, above that the table
top itself. The bottom of the table top has
four pairs of wooden tabs, positioned so that
the support pieces pass between them; pegs
attach the support pieces to the tabs. The
tabs are attached to the table top both by
glue and by two pegs running at a diagonal
through each tab and into the table top.
Before trying to make the table, go
over the figure carefully to figure out what
fits into what and why. To make it a little
easier, I have labelled:
X: The sockets in the stand pieces that
the bottom ends of the four outer pillars fit
into. Each is 1" deep, #" wide, 5/4" long.
The ends of the pillars that fit into them are
#" wide by 9/8" long. The end of each pillar
is held into the socket by a (" diameter peg
running crossways, as shown. There is also a
socket for the central pillar but it is not
Y: The sockets in the support pieces
that the top ends of the outer pillars fit into.
Each is %" deep, 9/8" long, (" wide. The
ends that fit into them are (" by 1".
Z: The tabs that attach the table top to
the supports. Each has two diagonal holes to
peg it to the table top and one hole crosswise
to peg it to the support, as shown.
On the figure, everything is to scale
except for the table top, which is half scale
to the rest, and the side view of a tab, which
is expanded to show the shape and the holes.
All pegs are (" diameter, all peg holes (".
In making the table, precise placement,
especially of peg holes, is obviously
important. If pieces are going to peg
together, assemble them and mark the exact
placement of the holes.
The central pillar is grooved on all four
sides to fit the panels; each outer pillar is
Page 243
Foot A: 30" wide, 2.75" thick, 4.5" high
Support A: 14" + ornamental ends x 7" x 1"
Foot B: 27" wide, 2.75" thick, 4.5" high
Support B: 11" + ornamental ends x 7" x 1"
Pillars: 17" x 1.5" x 1.5"
Table top: longest dimension 40"
Table height: 32"
similarly grooved on its inside face. The
grooves are ¼" wide, ¼" deep. The pictures
show details of construction. If you want to
build a closer copy than mine, see
ble.htm. My estimates of the dimensions of
the original are:
11 1/4”
4 1/2”
3 1/2”
4 1/2”
9 3/4”
Table Top
(half scale)
16 1/2”
5 3/4”
10 1/2”
8 1/2”
Bottom View
3 3/4”
3 3/4”
4 1/2”
15 3/4
End View
Support A
Side View
18 1/8
10 1/2”
End View
Support B
Side View
9 1/2”
1 1/8”
Bottom View
Bottom View
8 1/8”
10 1/2”
1 1/4”
1 5/8” thick
1 5/8”
3 3/8”
2 3/8”
Foot B
Side View
1 5/8” thick
1 5/8”
1 5/8”
19 1/2”
1 5/8”
Foot A
Side View
9 3/4”
Y 3/8”
21 1/2”
5 3/4”
Page 244
(bottom view)
pillar top
Outer pillar
Center pillar
Outer pillar
Tabs attached
To tabletop
Center pillar
Pieces for the moderately accurate Cluny table (previous page)
The bare bones Cluny table (next page)
Page 245
The Cluny Table: A Bare Bones Version
One of my objectives in researching period
furniture is to find designs simple enough so
that lots of people can make them for
themselves; I sometimes teach a class at
Pennsic entitled “Portable Period Furniture
You Can Build in Your Dorm Room.” My
first version of the Cluny table was
somewhat simpler than the original, since I
left off a number of ornamental details that
would have been difficult, perhaps
impossible, for me to recreate. It was still
quite a lot of work to build and a good deal
of trouble to assemble and disassemble. A
sufficiently talented and energetic college
student could probably build it in his dorm
room with the tools available to him—I
know of one who built quite an impressive
constraints—but it would be a lot of work.
For my second try, I did a bare bones
version—mechanically speaking the same
table, but simplified down to make it as easy
to build and as inexpensive as possible.
Drilling a round hole is a lot easier than
chiselling a square one, so I made the holes
round. A dowel in a drilled hole of the right
size makes a pretty tight fit, so I left off the
pegs that held the posts into the sockets in
the original. I made more modifications
along similar lines and used inexpensive
softwood—2x4’s for the base and support,
1x8’s for the table itself. The result was a
design that cost less than $25 in materials
and took about four hours of work to make.
The pictures at left show the pieces and the
assembled table. The figure at right shows
the disassembled pieces and their
The construction should be clear from
the pictures and the previous article. The
table top is made by gluing three lengths of
1x8 edge to edge, with four additional pieces
glued underneath for reinforcement. It could
have been made from one piece of plywood,
but although a little less work it would not
look as nice. The tabs are glued to the
bottom of the table top, with ⅜" wooden
pegs as additional support. Each tab has a
9/16" hole for a horizontal peg, running
through the ½" hole in the corresponding
support to attach the table to the supports—I
made the holes in the tabs a little bigger than
the pegs to avoid having too tight a fit. A ¾"
dowel in a ¾" hole makes a pretty tight fit,
so I sanded the dowels down a little at the
ends and rubbed beeswax on them for
The table is a little under two feet
square. It should be straightforward to scale
the design up to something that four, or even
eight, people could eat around.
5/8” thick (reinforcing piece)
1 5/8”
Table Top
View from below
21 3/8”
21 3/8”
5/8” thick (reinforcing piece)
5/8” thick (reinforcing piece)
7 1/8”
7 1/8”
7 1/8”
5/8” thick (reinforcing piece)
Holes for
side dowels
4/.75”x 26”
Page 246
A Period Chair
Figure 1 is taken from a Renaissance
painting; figure 2 shows a chair based on the
same design. It is the only period design I
have so far discovered which combines three
desirable features: It is reasonably easy to
build, it is very portable, and it provides
back support.
My version differs from the picture in
two major and several minor ways. The first
major difference is that it is designed to be
easily disassembled for transport. While the
original was presumably glued, mine is held
together by a rope, as shown in the figure.
The second is that the back support on mine
is substantially lower than in the figure. I
built it that way because the support is on a
vertical dowel, so if high forces me to sit
with my back more nearly vertical than I
like. Further experiments should test my
conjecture that the lower support is more
comfortable for me.
Materials for the chair
2 front legs, 2" hardwood dowels 18"
1 back leg, 2" hardwood dowel 28"
3 lower horizontals, ¾" hardwood dowels
3 upper horizontals, ⅞" hardwood dowels
1 hardwood plank 8"x22"x ¼" (seat)
1 hardwood plank ¾"x6"x2" (back)
9' of rope + 1 random stick
Total Cost: Approximately $50
Figure 3 shows side views of one of the
front legs, the back leg, and the back support
(which attaches to the back leg). Figure 4 is
an end view showing the placement of the
holes into which the horizontal dowels fit; it
is the same for all three legs and, unlike the
other figures, is full sized. To get the
placement and angle of the holes right, make
two copies of Figure 4. Cut the circles out
and glue them to the top and bottom ends of
each of the legs, making sure their
orientation is the same; use a flour and water
Figure 1
Figure 2
paste to make later removal easier. Then
draw a line connecting point a on the top
copy with point a on the bottom and another
connecting b with b. The center points of the
holes at A1 and A2 will be on line aa, the
center points of the holes at B1 and B2 on
line bb. To get the angle of the hole correct,
orient the dowel so line aa' (or bb',
depending which hole you are drilling) is
vertical, than drill straight down. The upper
two inches of the back leg have a flat
surface on their front where the back support
is attached. The support is slightly convex in
the horizontal direction and rounded at the
front top edge, as shown.
The seat fits into grooves in the upper
horizontals, shown in Figure 5. The ends of
the ⅞" dowels are reduced to ¾" to fit the
corresponding holes (A1 or B1) in the legs.
The tip of the support is cut at an angle to fit
flush against the corresponding end of the
other support going into the same leg. The
lower horizontals have similarly angled tips
but no groove. Their diameter is a little less
(¾" instead of ⅞") since they don’t have to
be big enough to fit the seat into, so there is
no need to reduce the ends to fit the holes
Page 247
Back Rest
Where back glues on
Flat surface to glue back to
Figure 3
Figure 4
18” A2
(A2, B2).
The seat is two pieces of ¼" hardwood
plank as shown in Figure 6. Its shape is an
equilateral triangle with circular arcs cut out
of the tips.
Each side of the triangle is 16 ½", the
radius of the arcs is 1 ¼". The exact layout
depends on the width of your plank; the
figure assumes 7". It may require some trial
and error to get the dimensions just right—
big enough to fit all the way into the grooves
but not to
keep the horizontals from fitting all the way
into the holes in the legs. Remember that
removing wood is easier than adding it.
Once all the pieces have been cut out
and the back support glued to the front of
the upper end of the back leg, the chair is
ready to be assembled. Fit all of the
horizontal supports into the corresponding
holes in the chair legs, being sure to orient
the angled ends so they fit together. This
Page 248
Top View of End
End View
Top View of End
End of Lower Horizontal
Upper Horizontal
Lower Horizontal
Side View
Side View
should also put the slots in the upper
horizontals where they need to be to hold the
seat. When the whole thing is fitted together,
tie the rope twice around the three legs
between the two sets of supports as shown in
Figure 2 and tighten it with a stick. If your
joints are tight enough, you may find that
the chair will hold together without the rope.
Tools: You will need a saw to cut
pieces to length and to cut the flat surface at
the upper end of the back leg, where the
back rest glues on. To drill the holes use a
drill press, a portable electric drill, or a brace
and bit. All holes are ¾" so that is the only
size bit you need. You can put the groove in
the upper horizontals with a bench saw or
radial saw. It should be possible to do it with
a hand saw and chisel, but a lot of work. If
you want to try, I suggest marking two lines
¼" apart for the edges of the groove and
driving several small nails into the dowel
along one of them to serve as guides for the
A spokeshave and file can be used to
reduce the ends of the upper horizontals
enough to fit into the holes in the legs; if you
don’t have a spokeshave, use a plane or
chisel. To shape the chair back I used a
chisel to remove the superfluous wood then
a belt sander to smooth it. Alternatively, you
can start with a ¼" thick piece, steam it and
bend it. To do that, you get a pot with a lid,
big enough to fit the wood piece in
Put in an inch
or so of water
and a bowl to
rest the piece
on. Bring the
water to a
boil, put the piece on the bowl above the
water, cover it, steam for ten or fifteen
minutes, then clamp the piece to a suitably
curved surface until it dries. I have done
only a little experimenting with this, so you
may want to talk to someone with more
experience steaming wood.
Variations: The dimensions are for a
chair that fits me; you can experiment to get
it right for you. For proportions closer to
those of Figure 1, use a longer dowel for the
back leg. If you never plan to disassemble
the chair, use glue to hold it together instead
of rope.
The hardest part to build is the seat. An
easier alternative is to replace the wood with
leather, wrapping it around the upper
triangle of dowels; you can then use ¾”
dowels for both sets of horizontals. See
pictures on the next page.
The Seat
Page 249
The Will of the First Caliph
This is the testament of Abu Bakr son of Abu Quhafa, at his
life’s end in this world whence he is departing, at his life’s
beginning in the Other to which he goeth, a time when even the
infidel believeth, and the sinner hath knowledge, and the liar
speaketh truth.
I appoint Umar son of Khattab to be Caliph over you after
me; hearken therefore to him, and obey. If he doth justice, that
will accord with my expectation and knowledge of him; if he
doth the contrary, then every deed hath its own wages. I intended
good, but I know not the hidden. And now Peace be to you, and
the Mercy of God and His Blessings.
“I have never looked into the causes of any rebelling
against me,” said (the Caliph) M'm!n, “without discovering that
oppression by my Governors was at the bottom of it. Nor was I
ever so embarrassed by anything as I was by the answer of a
certain Kufan, whom the citizens of Kufa had sent up as a deputy
to complain to me of their Governor.”
“You are lying, for the Governor of Kufa is a just-dealing
man,” was my reply to his complaint.
“The Prince of the True Believers is undoubtedly telling the
truth,” the deputy answered; “and I am undoubtedly lying; and
this being so, surely when you appointed this just man Governor
of Kufa it was to the prejudice of all other cities. Pray appoint
him to some different city now, that he may overwhelm them
with his justice as he has overwhelmed us.”
“Be off with you, I’ll remove him,” said I.
(From Mohammad’s People)
Page 250
A Period Folding Chair
The two pictures on the right show an
antique Middle Eastern chair, possibly 19th
or early 20th century Syrian. The picture
below them is a similar chair from the
fifteenth century. The design is very
convenient for SCA purposes, since it folds
almost perfectly flat.
The two differ in one significant detail.
The Syrian chair is symmetrical from the
seat down—the short legs are identical to
the lower part of the long legs. The chair
below it uses straight short legs, curved
long. The latter design is a little easier to
make, I find it somewhat more attractive,
and it is the one for which I have found
period examples, so in this article I focus on
it while also providing instructions for those
who want to try the other version—which I
suspect, but cannot yet prove, is also period.
Figure 1 is the side view on the right
reduced to a line drawing. Figure 2 is a
cutting diagram for the vertical pieces.
Dimensions are based on the Syrian chair,
which is the only one I have actually been
able to measure. The seat is 19 #" above the
ground, so to make your own chair first
determine what seat height you find
comfortable and then scale the figure
One of the chairs
shown has five long
verticals, four short
verticals, and nine
short slats for the
seat, the other has six,
five, and 11. How
Figure 1
many you want for
your chair depends on
how thick the plank is
that you are cutting your verticals out of and
how wide you want the chair to be.
Hardwood lumber often comes in %"
thick planks. While it is possible to use that
thickness for the chair, unless you are
making it in a child’s size
you will end up needing a
lot of pieces. The chair in
Figure 1 is cut from 1 ""
thick wood. That gives it
decided what kind of
wood of what thickness to
use and bought it, the next
step is to make a pattern. Copy Figure 2—
this article is on my web site and can be
downloaded—blow it up to
whatever size you require,
modify for the number of pieces
you need, print it out. Paste it to
the wood using a little flourwater paste, then saw out the
pieces. It helps to have a band
saw, which is how I did mine. If
you don’t have one you can use
an electric jig saw, if you don’t
have that, a hand jig saw—
although that may take a while.
Drill the holes. Cut the slats for
the seat out of the same thickness
wood you use for the verticals,
using Figure 1 for shape and size.
Note that Figure 2, unlike Figure
1, is for the version of the chair
where the short verticals are
straight rather than curved.
In my experience, the seat
slats are the trickiest part of the
whole operation. There are two
Page 251
slightly different kinds—one that pivots on a
long vertical and rests against a short, one
the other way around. When the chair is
assembled, the central holes of the two are
going to be superimposed, with one dowel
running through both. That means that the
sum of the distance between the two holes
on slat A and the corresponding distance on
slat B is going to be the horizontal distance
between the hole in a long vertical that A
pivots on and the corresponding hole in a
short vertical that B pivots on. With that
distance fixed, an error in the length of a slat
or the position of hole of as little as an
eighth of an inch results in either a slat that
is too long and so keeps all the slats from
lying flat or is too short and so leaves a
noticeable gap.
The best solution I have found is to
make one slat A and one slat B and fiddle
with them until you have them exactly
right—until you can assemble them with a
short vertical and a long vertical and dowels
through all the holes and have the two slat
seat lie flat with no gaps. Then use them as
patterns for the rest, making enough so that
you have a slat A for every straight vertical
and a slat B for every curved vertical. Then
assemble the whole thing, trim anything
that’s a little too long, curse at whatever
gaps show up, and replace any slats that, by
some malevolent magic, turned out wrong.
You now have everything except feet
and back. The feet are long rectangles with
rounded corners as shown in Figure 3, cut
from 1" thick wood. Use a saw to cut a
½"x½" groove along the top edge of each
for the tabs at the ends of the verticals to fit
into. Glue the tabs in and fill the gaps in the
groove with additional pieces of scrap wood
cut to fit. Alternatively, drill or router holes
for the tabs and use a chisel to square them.
The back attaches to the long vertical pieces
using the piece labelled "Top Piece" in
Figure 3. It is grooved along its bottom edge
to take the tabs on the top ends of the
verticals and along its top edge to take the
edge of the back, which goes in as shown by
the two arrows and is glued.
1” 1/2”
Before gluing on the back and feet you
must first assemble the verticals and the
slats, as shown in the figures, using ⅜"
hardwood dowels. I cap the dowels with
wooden hemispheres bought from my local
hardware store. Alternatively, you can drill
the end and put a much smaller dowel
through it crossways.
Before gluing, use sandpaper or a file
to round the outer edges of the two slats at
the edge of the seat and the front edge of the
seat so they won’t cut into the legs of the
person sitting in the chair. Sand anything
smooth that you want smoother than it is. If
you are going to finish the chair with linseed
oil, now is the time to do at least those parts
that will be hard to get at once the whole
thing is together. I usually disassemble, oil
the pieces, avoiding places that will have
glue, then reassemble a day or two later
when the oil is dry. When the chair is
reassembled you can glue on the feet, the
top piece, and the back. Fill in the parts of
the grooves that are empty with additional
bits of wood cut to size. Oil anything that
didn’t get oiled before. Wait a day or two.
You now have a chair that will fold flat.
For proof, see the next page.
Page 252
Most of my chairs were made of
hardwood, with thicknesses ranging from %"
to 1 '", but I also made one out of
softwood. The verticals were cut from a
three foot length of 2x12, which cost about
ten dollars in number 2 pine. Using four
long verticals, three short, and seven slats
gave me a width of 7x1 %"=12 "". I used
half inch pine plank for the back and cut the
feet and the top piece out of a two by four.
Total cost, including dowels, was under
twenty dollars, and the chair came out very
I also did several in the style that has
the short verticals as well as the long
verticals curved. If you want to do one that
way, you can still use Figure 2. The slanted
lines on the long verticals which you were
wondering about when you looked at the
3 feet of 2x12
figure represent what would be the top of the
piece if it were a short vertical—just above
the hole for the dowel that the seat slats
pivot on. So print out the figure twice to an
appropriate scale and use one copy for
cutting the short verticals. If you come
across a reference to a period chair done that
way, let me know—I’m still looking.
I have shown sizes on many of the
figures, but don’t take them too seriously—I
have never gotten my hands on a period
version of the chair to measure. Details in
this article are a combination of details from
the out of period antique I started with and
details that I included because I did it that
way and the result was satisfactory. Feel free
to change anything you like and see how it
comes out. I, for instance, replaced the iron
rods in the antique chair with (" dowels in
the chairs I built.
A certain Arab sold a woman from his share of the spoil of
Iraq for only a thousand dirhams. But she was of high birth; and
people laughed at the man for selling her so cheap.
“But I never knew there was a number above ten hundred!”
cried the Arab.
(From Mohammad’s People )
Page 253
A Folding Armchair
Some years back, Master Hal Raeburn
made me a folding chair with arms. It is a
very comfortable design whose only fault is
that it does not fold very flat and so is a bit
of a nuisance to transport—at least when my
wagon is packed and overflowing for
Pennsic. The design goes back to at least the
14th century; the 16th century version is
sometimes called a “Dantesca” chair.
Eventually I made a scaled down version for
my son, and since then several full sized
ones. Since I am not as good a woodworker
as Hal, I simplified the design somewhat. I
also modified it in order to make it possible
to take the chair apart.
Making the Chair
On the left is the chair Hal made for
me, on the right the chair I made for my son.
Figure 1 is a cutting pattern for one of the
four S shaped pieces that make up the main
structure. The pieces are identical except for
the holes (A) drilled part way through them
for the horizontal dowels to fit into—on two
pieces they are on one side of the board, on
two on the other side.
The tricky part of these shaped pieces is
that the circle (B) in the center of each is
only half the thickness of the board, in order
that two can fit together as shown on the
next page.
General Considerations
I used oak, which is a strong wood and
readily available; if you use something
weaker, such as pine, you may want to alter
the design to use thicker pieces. The figures
show the pieces at 100%—scaled for the
chair I use, not the 90% version I made my
son. I am 5' 3½"; if you are substantially
taller or shorter you may want to scale the
design accordingly. A version of this article
is on my web page, so the easiest way of
making patterns may be to download, copy
the figures into a drawing program, scale as
desired and print.
For cutting curved pieces I used a band
saw. If you don't have access to one, use an
electric jig saw. If you don't have that, a
hand jig saw should do it, although I expect
it will take longer. For blind mortresses—
the sockets in the chair arms and feet—I first
drilled a hole of the appropriate size then
used chisels to square it; a router would be
easier if you have one. For grooves I used a
table saw; if you don't have access to one a
hand saw or a chisel should work.
Figure 1
I found that the easiest way to make
them was to first cut out the piece then use
an adjustable drill bit set for the radius of B.
The bit cuts a circular groove and also
removes much of the wood inside the circle.
Additional wood can be removed with a
Figure 2 shows the arms and feet;
thickness, the dimension not shown, is 2".
The shaded squares (D) are blind
mortresses—sockets that the tabs (C) on the
end of the S pieces fit into. The shaded
region E is a groove that the back slides into.
Page 254
Arm: side view
Figure 2
Foot: side view
Its exact width should be the same as the
thickness of the back, either ½" or ¾"
depending on your relative preference for
lightness or strength.
For the chair I made my son, which was
scaled to 90% of the full sized chair whose
measurements are shown, I used ¾" oak for
the S shaped pieces. The original was 1"
hardwood, which might be better for a full
sized chair intended to be used by a
reasonably heavy adult. You will also need
four dowels. Their length should be the
distance between the near sides of the
sockets in arms and legs, since that is the
separation of your two pairs of S pieces,
plus twice the depth of hole A, into which
they fit. From the separation of the sockets
in Figure 2, that comes to 12 ¾"+¾"=13 ½",
assuming the holes are ⅜" deep. Diameter
should be the same as hole A, about 1" for
the full sized version of the chair.
Once you have cut all the pieces and
made sure that the pairs of S shaped pieces
fit together and that tabs C fit into sockets D,
the next step is to drill a hole at the center of
each circle B. To make the two pivot pieces
that go through those holes, cut two 2 ¾"
lengths of ⅞" hardwood dowel and
two circles of ¾" hardwood the
same size as circle B. Drill a ⅞"
hole part way through the center
of each circle and glue the dowel
into it, giving the mushroom
shaped piece at right.
Assemble two S pieces and
one pivot piece as shown. Repeat for the
other pair of S pieces. Make sure to
assemble the legs so that all
the holes A, drilled part way
through, face inwards and
pivot pieces face outwards.
Assemble the whole thing,
with tabs in slots and dowels
in holes A.
The picture to the left
shows how it now looks—a
chair minus back and seat. To
keep the pivot from coming
out, drill a hole through the
stem of the mushroom and
put a small dowel through it
as shown.
Figure 3 below is an
approximate cutting diagram
for the back—its aesthetic
excellence should be credited
to Hal, whose design I
copied. Use either ½" or ¾"
wood. Scale the figure so the slots (G) are
the right distance apart, and the right width,
to fit into the grooves in the arms. This is
best done after you have the rest of the chair
assembled, since the exact separation of the
arms depends on the exact angle at which
the S shaped pieces cross, which in turn
depends on fine details of the pieces.
Figure 3
Groove on the other side of the piece
Figure 4
1 1/2”
Page 255
The seat consists of two support pieces
of oak about 2"x1¾"x16¼" and one piece
about 12¾" x 12½" x ½" that makes the seat
itself; figure 4 shows a side view of one of
the supports. The ½" piece goes into grooves
cut into the inside surface of the supports—
the surface away from the adjacent S piece.
Exact dimensions should be calculated, like
the exact form of the back, after the rest of
the chair is done and you can measure the
separation of the two upper dowels. The
pictures above right show a top and bottom
view of the assembled seat.
For my chair, I made the grooves ⅜"
wide and ½" deep, then planed half an inch
on each side of the seat down to ⅜" to fit,
but if I were doing it again I would just use
½" wide grooves. The outside surface of the
thick pieces is inset at the end—shaded area
F—so that the edge of the assembled seat
can fit partly over the adjacent S piece, as
shown to the right.
The chair, minus back and seat,
consists of two closed loops of wood—front
S piece to foot to back S piece to arm to
front S piece again. In Hal’s version, one of
the S pairs crosses right over left, the other
left over right, with the result that one of the
two loops is just inside the other. This
prevents the loops from moving forward or
back with regard to each other,
supplementing the effect of the cross pins on
the pivot pieces. It also means that the two
loops can, in principle, be separated without
taking either apart. In practice, however, the
chair is sufficiently rigid so that it would be
difficult to separate the crossing pieces far
enough to make that possible.
One way to make the chair more
transportable is to never glue on the arms,
legs, and dowels, relying instead on the tabs
being tight enough in the sockets to hold the
piece together. That is how I have done
There is a problem with the design I
have just described. If the tabs and sockets
are loose an arm or foot can come off when
you move the chair; if they are tight, there is
some risk that you will break a tab off in the
process of disassembling. If the grain of the
wood runs lengthwise at the ends of the S, it
is at about 45° in the center of the S where
the piece is only half thickness and so
particularly in need of strength. If the grain
runs parallel to the piece at the center, it is at
an angle at the ends, and so likely to split.
One solution is to make each S out of
three pieces of wood instead of one. The
long piece is shaped like the S pieces of the
current design, except that all of it is the
same thickness; its grain runs parallel to the
piece at the middle of the S. The other two
are shorter, each providing one curve of the
S (see figure 5, which shows the direction of
the grain); their grain runs parallel to the
piece at the end where the tabs are. Glue the
Page 256
Figure 5
ure 5
three pieces together and you have a single
S, just like the ones described above, with
the grain of the wood parallel to the piece at
the end for half its thickness and parallel to
the piece at the middle for all its (half)
thickness. I have now made one chair that
way but have not yet used it enough to see if
the design works in practice as well as in
A different solution, which I plan to try
next time, is to eliminate the tabs on the
ends of the S pieces, drill a hole where they
were and a matching hole in arm or leg, and
peg the two together with a short dowel.
That should be a lot less work than chiseling
out holes to fit the tabs.
Making a wooden seat for the chair is
one of the hard parts. Just as with the three
legged stool described earlier, you can
substitute a leather seat. The result is shown
below on the left.
Finishing the Chair
Once everything is made, sand or file
round any sharp edges or corners that you
don’t want sharp, assemble it, glue on feet,
arms, and dowels (or not, depending on
whether you want to be able to disassemble
it later). I finish my furniture by wiping on
raw linseed oil, leaving it fifteen minutes or
so, wiping it off, repeating four or more
hours later then letting the whole thing dry
for a few days. The result on oak looks
beautiful and provides some protection,
although perhaps less than with more
modern finishes. Linseed oil is a period
material but I do not know if it was used for
finishing furniture in period or not.
Page 257
Conjecturally Authentic Furniture
In the SCA, we often speak as if
something either is authentic (“in period”) or
is not (“OOP”). This is a mistake—indeed
two mistakes. Authenticity is a matter both
of dimensions–a poem may be written in
modern English yet wholly authentic in its
verse form–and degree.
Treating authenticity as a yes/no
category is not merely false but destructive.
It provides an argument against any attempt
to do things in a period way–“we can’t be
authentic, since we don’t have the exact
plant varieties used for food in period, or the
exact breeds of sheep they got their wool
from, so why bother to try?” In a less
extreme form, it provides an argument
against any attempt to improve the existing
level of authenticity: “what we are doing is
already period–we wouldn’t be doing it if it
weren’t–so why try to do any better?”
One interesting category intermediate
between blatantly modern and clearly period
is the conjecturally authentic: something that
could have been done in period, might well
have been done, but we have no good
evidence was done. Bluejeans do not
qualify, because I am fairly sure they were
not made in period, although (without
zippers) they could have been. The peg
together furniture shown on the next few
pages, much of it made for my encampment
at Pennsic, uses period techniques (the
construction, although not the appearance,
of the bed is loosely based on one from a
viking ship grave) and materials likely to be
used in period, but I am not working closely
enough from a period model to claim that
the furniture accurately represents furniture
made in period.
One reason to do work that is only
conjecturally authentic is that none of us has
the time and energy to learn everything; I
know people who have done extensive
research in medieval furniture, but I am not
one of them. A second is that not everything
is knowable–for some of the medieval things
we want to do, information on how they
were done in period may not have survived.
These reasons must be balanced against a
strong argument on the other side: medieval
people knew much more than we do about
how to solve problems using their
technology, so learning how they did things
and imitating them may save us the cost of
learning by our own mistakes.
One reason to be at least conjecturally
authentic is that doing so provides an
interesting window on medieval life–not
what they did but the problems they faced.
Asking yourself how to build a bed in a
world where metal is expensive, rubber
unknown, wood, leather, rope and labor
plentiful and cheap, helps you understand a
little more about how the medieval world
worked. The same is true of other attempts
to use medieval technology to solve
problems faced both in period and now–the
discussions of hardened leather, pavilions,
and Pennsic without coolers elsewhere in
this book are examples. One conclusion I
have reached is that, although medieval
technology and economics may limit you,
there is still a lot that can be, and was, done
within those constraints. I find it hard to
think of examples of things we have to do at
events, including camping events, that could
not be done in a satisfactory fashion using
only period technology.
The objects shown on the next pages
are solutions to a particular set of problems:
How, consistent with medieval technology
and economics, do you build a portable crib?
A bed? A set of shelves? A chair? They are
less authentic than the furniture described in
the previous articles or that produced by the
handful of SCA carpenters who have made a
serious study of medieval furniture. But they
are more authentic than most of what is used
in the SCA, fairly easy to build, and
designing them was fun.
Construction Notes:
The pieces of furniture illustrated here
Page 258
are held together by mortise and tenon
joints. The mortise is a slot cut in a plank,
the tenon an extension of a second plank that
goes through the mortise and is pegged on
the far side. This should be clear from the
figures, which show many such joints.
One detail that may not be sufficiently
clear is the exact location of the hole in the
tenon that the peg goes into. I like to make it
slightly overlap the line showing where the
edge of the plank containing the mortise is
going to lie. That way when I assemble the
pieces and force a tapered peg into the hole,
I lock the joint tight. I have tried to illustrate
the layout in the detail diagram of the end of
the upper headboard of the bed.
All pegs are ½" hardwood dowels,
tapered at one end. All pieces were at some
point sanded, stained, and finished.
Except for the rails, the bed pieces have
a nominal thickness of 1" (1x6, 1x8, ...),
which implies an actual thickness of ¾". The
rails, the slats and the glued on shelf that
holds the slats are pine; everything else is
poplar. If you use a stronger or weaker
wood, you may want to modify proportions
accordingly; the same is true if you are taller
or shorter than our 5' 3 ½" or intend the bed
for more or fewer than two people. The
wider the bed is, the greater the leverage
your body weight can exert against the slats
and thus the stronger they should be.
The rails were originally intended to
support a canopy, as in many medieval beds,
but have proven more useful as a place to
hang damp garments when going to bed.
The back and sides of the shelves and
the floor and ends of the crib are ½"
plywood; the crib rails are pine 1x4’s, the
shelves pine 1x12’s. Instead of drawing the
assembled shelves, I have shown how they
go together by labeling tenons (a, b) and
mortises (A, B), with a fitting in A and b in
Side (2)
Shelf (4)
11 1/4”
Tenons a in
mortises A
Tenons b in
mortises B
Back (1)
Peg-together shelves
(shown unassembled)
Page 259
Side Piece
Peg (6)
Top View
(mattress and rails removed)
Shelf to hold slats
side rails go through
these holes
Cross Rail
Front View
Front legs
Side Piece
Upper Headboard
Side Rail
Lower headboard
Front leg
Rear leg
Side Pieces
(end view)
Side View
Peg-together four poster canopy bed
Side Piece
Hole for side rail
Cross Rail (2)
4’ 5 1/2”
5 3/4”
3 1/4”
Front legs (2)
Upper Headboard (1)
2 1/4”
4’ 10”
(all slots 3/4” wide)
Rear legs (2)
2 3/8”
3 1/4”
Lower head and footboard (2)
Hole for peg
4’ 4”
3 1/4”
Slat (8)
3 1/4”
Side Rail (2): 3/4”x3/4”x6’ 9”
2 1/4”
6’ 9”
(all slots 3/4” wide)
Side Piece (2)
3 1/4” 7 3/4”
1 3/4”
1 1/2”
End View of Side Piece
Shelf to hold slats
Page 260
The picture shows the assembled chair,
the diagram shows it disassembled. All
pieces are made from ¾" thick hardwood
(nominal 1"). Back, bottom, and sides are
each made from two pieces glued together;
the dashed line shows the glue joint. The
chair arms are glued along the outside top
edge of the sides—opposite sides for the two
chair sides. They project out behind the
sides in order that the tenons (d) at the end
of the back support can fit into the mortises
(D) at the ends of the arms.
To assemble the chair, you fit tenons a
and b on the right edge of the chair bottom
into mortises A and B in the right chair side,
making sure that the arm is attached on the
opposite side from the bottom. You fit
tenons a and b on the left edge of the bottom
into A and B in the left chair side. Fit tenon
c on the right edge of
the chair back into
mortise C in the right
chair side, tenon c on
the left edge of the
back into mortise C in
the left chair side.
You now have a
chair, but one in
which all of the stress
when you lean back is
against tenons c. To
provide additional support for the back, fit
tenon d of the back support into mortise D
of the chair arm on each side. The back
support now runs across behind the back at
the height of the arms. Put ½" pegs into all
of the ½" holes in the tenons (six of them—
tenons d don’t need pegs) and you are done.
Page 261
A Tourney Chest That Comes Apart
A few years back I went by air to an
out of kingdom weekend event, a weekend
devoted to period cooking at which I was
one of the instructors. I did not like the idea
of spending an SCA weekend living out of a
suitcase, so designed a peg together tourney
chest that broke down to a collection of
planks that would fit in my luggage. The
chest is loosely based on the Mastermeyer
chest, a Norse tool chest from about 1000
A.D.; I modified the design, converting all
the joints to pegged tenon and mortice so
that it could be taken apart. Information on
the original and a description of a much
closer reconstruction can be found at:
The chest consists of six pieces, five of
which are shown below—two sides, two
ends, a bottom and a top (not shown). The
longest pieces are 25" long, which was just
slightly less than the longest dimension of
my suitcase. If you are making it for the
same purpose I was, you will want to adjust
the size accordingly, based on the
dimensions of your luggage. The photograph
on the next page shows all six pieces.
The parts of the chest most likely to
break are the grooved ends, so they are
hardwood; the rest is pine to save weight
and cost. The pegs are short lengths of ⅜"
diameter dowel going through ⅜" diameter
holes; the holes are inset ½" from the edges
of the bottom and side as shown. I used a
router to make the grooves; if you don’t
have one you could use a chisel.
The trickiest parts were the lid and the
hinges. The lid of the original is curved. To
make something similar you start with a ¾"
thick plank 10½"x22½", hollow out the
bottom and curve the top, as shown in the
photographs. I used a router and then a
chisel, but you could do it with just a chisel.
My original plan was to attach the lid to the
side in a way that let the two pieces fold flat,
but I was unable to find a way of doing that
that looked right, so ended up attaching the
hinge to the top with nails peened over—in
effect rivets—and to the side with
removable pegs. The figure above shows an
expanded view of one of the pegs—a 5/16"
dowel with two 3/16" holes in it that two
Hinge pegs: Expanded view
Sides: 2 pieces, 1/2” thick
End: two pieces 3/4” thick
1/4” deep grooves 1/2” wide
Bottom: 1/2” thick
Holes (mortices)
Page 262
short 3/16" dowels fit through. The exact
distance between the holes will depend on
the thickness of your hinge. Someone later
suggested to me that a better solution would
have been to make the hinge pin, the metal
piece that joins the two sides of the hinge,
removable, so that the hinge could come
apart; that way I could permanently attach
both sides, one to the lid and one to the back
List of Materials
Hinges: One pair
½" pine: 2/25"x10½, 1/25"x11¼", ¾" pine
1/22½"x10½", ¾" oak: 2/12½"x11¼".
Dowels: ⅜"x12", 5/16"x 9", 3/16"x5"
(enough to make plenty of pegs)
Page 263
A Clothing Rack
Some time ago, our local Golden Key
wanted a clothing rack. I did not find any
period examples, so designed one that used
period techniques and was easy to make and
take apart. I thought other people might find
the design useful. The cutting pattern and
photograph should be self-explanatory
2/2x4x62" (verticals),
1/1x4x54" (horizontal)
2/2x6x30" (horizontal)
1/1""x54" softwood dowel (closet rod)
Pegs: 2/#" diameter dowels about 3" long
Two horizontals, 2x6x30”
One horizontal, 2x4x54”
One horizontal dowel, 1.25”x54”
Two verticals, 2x4x62”
One day, when the Prophet (God’s Peace and Blessing upon Him,
His Kindred and His Companion Train) was sitting by the way, a man
came running by in terror of his life.
“Save me, Prophet of God, there are men after me who desire my
The Prophet (God’s Blessing upon Him and his family) replied:
“Run on. I will save you.”
As soon as the man was out of sight, the Prophet got up, moved a
few feet, and sat down again.
A little while later, the pursuers came, and they asked him:
“Muhammad, has a man passed you here?” And they described
“By Him Who holds my soul in his hand, since I sat down here no
one has passed.”
And knowing the Prophet to be a truthful man, they turned aside
and sought the fugitive a different way, and so the man was saved.
(Based on a story in The Subtle Ruse)
Page 264
A Harp Cart
My daughter’s harp is too heavy and
fragile to be carried around Pennsic
unprotected. Its case is soft sided and
obviously modern. I built her a hard sided
wooden case, only to discover that case plus
harp weighed more than she could readily
lug around. So I built a cart to carry the
case; this time the solution worked. Other
harpists noticed and expressed interest,
hence this article.
Figure 2
Figure 1
Figure 1 shows the case, figure 2 the
cart with the case strapped into it. Figure 3
shows the disassembled cart; note the
sheepskin padding at the corners and end.
Figure 4a is a picture of one wheel, 4b a
diagram showing how it is built. 5a shows
the cart viewed from below, 5b is the
corresponding diagram. Overall dimensions
depend on the size of what the cart is going
to carry; mine can be estimated from the
yardstick in Figure 5a.
Page 265
The Wheel
The Body
The wheel starts as a disc of #" thick
plywood, diameter 12", with triangles cut
out between the spokes as shown. It is
reinforced with sixteen pieces of %" oak,
eight glued to each side, and two 3"
diameter disks of #" oak glued onto the
center, one on each side. Arrows on Figure
4b show where the hardwood pieces attach
to the plywood. The axle is a hardwood
dowel 1&" in diameter; it passes through the
oak disk, the plywood, and the second oak
disk on the other side. There is an oak
washer that fits over the axle outside the
wheel and a softwood spacer that goes
between the wheel and the body of the cart,
holding the wheel far enough out so that it
doesn’t run into the body.
The body of the cart starts with a frame
of (nominal) 1x2 softwood glued onto a
floor of "" hardwood plywood. The two
long pieces of the frame extend behind the
cart for the handles to attach to. The sides of
the cart, which are glued to the frame and
the edge of the floor, are 4#" wide by %"
thick softwood. On Figure 5b the floor has
been displaced down and to the right and the
walls folded out flat.
Additional pieces—two feet projecting
down at the wide end of the cart, corner
pieces to reinforce the walls, an extra piece
under the front end of the cart, and the (oak)
pieces under the cart that the axle goes
through, can be seen in the pictures.
Figure 5a
Figure 4a
1 3/4”
1 1/8”
Handle: Oak
3/4” thick
3/4” Oak
4 1/2”
3 1/2”
3/4” Oak
Side: 4 1/2”x3/4” Softwood
3/4” Oak
1/2” Plywood
4 1/2x3/4”
Frame: Softwood 1x2
4 1/2”
1 1/8”
Figure 5b
3/4” Oak
3/4” Oak
Floor: 1/4” hardwood Plywood
4 1/2”
Side: 4 1/2”x3/4” Softwood
Figure 4b
3/4” Oak
3/4” Oak
3/4” Oak
Handle: Oak
3/4” thick
4 1/2”
Page 266
To Make a Lyre
My initial source for information on
how to make an Anglo-Saxon lyre was an
article by Master Dofinn-Hallr Morrisson,
webbed at http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~priestd
/lyre.html. I have also made use of the
chapter on the Sutton Hoo lyre in Aspects of
Anglo-Saxon Archaeology by Rupert BruceMitford. My later lyres are based on the lyre
excavated in Trossingen in 2002, the only
complete instrument still known to exist.
Several were based on the preliminary
account of the excavation, but for the most
recent ones I was able to use the much more
detailed description published in Germania
in December of 2006.5
In this article I first describe three ways
of making the Sutton Hoo style lyre, two
loosely based on Dof’s deliberately
simplified design, the third an attempt to get
closer to the original. Dof is not responsible
for any errors I have introduced. I then go on
to describe how to build a Trossingen lyre.
The picture above is a finished lyre
constructed according to my second design.
It is 30" long and 8#" wide. The general
pattern is common to all three designs—a
rounded rectangle with an offset rounded
rectangular hole. The main body of the
instrument is a hollow soundbox. Six strings
Barbara Theune-Großkopf, "Die Vollständig
erhaltene Leier des 6. Jahrhunderts aus Grab 58
von Tossingen, Ladkr. Tuttlingen, BadenWürttemberg," Germania 84, 2006.
run from a tailpiece6 at one end, over a
bridge resting on the soundbox, over the
hole, to tuning pins at the other end of the
instrument. If Dof’s interpretation of the
evidence is correct, the instrument is played
by using one hand to strum all six strings
while using the other to damp from behind
the strings you do not want to sound.
Readers interested in further explanation
should check his web site, other sites that
discuss the lyre, and the email list
All three of the Sutton Hoo style lyres
whose construction I describe are made of
maple with an oak soundboard, although
other hardwoods should work as well. The
first design, which I have not made, is
intended to produce a working instrument
without requiring the use of a router or
chisel. The second and third designs assume
that you have either a router or skill and
patience with a chisel. The other tools you
will require are a saw capable of making
curved cuts in %" hardwood, including one
interior cut (so a band saw by itself is not
sufficient), some way of sanding the wood,
and a drill. For the third design a table saw
is useful but not essential. For convenience
The tailpiece is conjectural. So far as I know,
none have survived and there are no
instrument clearly enough to tell if there is a
tailpiece, let alone what it looks like.
Page 267
all three designs are given for instruments
about the size of the Sutton-Hoo lyre; some
of the lyres shown in the illustrations are,
and some historic lyres were, substantially
1 3/4”
Hand Hole
along the second dimension (see figures).
Cut oak pieces C and D as in the first
design. Cut the maple as shown in Figure 2.
Rout out the lightly shaded region to a depth
of ⅝"—in other words, until the remaining
thickness of the bottom is only ⅛". You will
Soundbox Hole
Figure 1b
3/4” Maple A
Figure 1a
1 3/4”
1/8” oak B
Figure 2
Hand Hole
Rout 5/8” deep,
leaving 1/8” thickness
for the bottom
3/4” Maple
1/8” oak D
Top (sound board)
First Design: The body
Materials: maple plank ¾"x30"x8", oak
planks ⅛" x26"x8", ⅛" x30"x8", ⅛"x4"x8".
In each case, the grain runs along the
second dimension (see figures). If you can’t
get ⅛" oak (I bought it at ¼" and had the
lumber store plane it down for me;
alternatively, it might be possible to use a
saw to split a ½" thick plank into two pieces
each about ⅛" thick) use ¼". Or use ⅛"
hardwood plywood, in which case the
direction of the grain will not be an issue.
Figure 1a shows the cutting pattern for
the pieces. Piece A is the maple plank that
makes up most of the lyre, B the bottom of
the instrument, C and D the top. Arrows
show the direction of the grain. Glue piece
B to the bottom of the maple, glue C and D
to the top as shown on Figure 1b (ignore the
six black circles for the moment). Let the
glue dry. Then … (skip the next bit)
probably want to initially leave a ridge
unrouted along the center of what is going to
be the sound box in order to have something
to support the side of the router while taking
down the rest of the sound box. You take the
ridge down as a final step, using a piece of
wood of the thickness you have routed out
under the edge of the router to support it if
Cut pieces C and D as you did for the
first design and glue them onto the maple as
shown in Figure 1b. You don’t need an oak
bottom because you still have a maple
bottom. Let the glue dry.
First and Second Designs
Sand the body to round any sharp
edges, make joints more precisely flush, and
bring the wood to your desired level of
smoothness. Get six zither pins.7 Experiment
with scrap wood to see what size drill gives
you a hole a pin will screw tightly into. Drill
six holes in the pin end of the lyre,
corresponding to the black circles on Figure
1b. Tap the threaded ends of the zither pins
into the holes, then screw them in.
Second Design: The body
Materials: maple plank ¾"x30"x8", oak
planks ⅛" x26"x8", ⅛"x4"x8". Grain runs
More authentic peg designs are discussed
Page 268
Third Design:
The body of the actual Sutton Hoo lyre
was made in two pieces, not counting the
sound board. One possible reason was to get
the grain running crosswise in the peg end,
so as to minimize the risk that a peg, pulled
by the tension of the string, would act as a
wedge to split the wood. Another possibility
is that doing it that way made it easier to cut
out the interior hole. My guess is that the
maker was simply showing off.
The pictures above show the assembled
lyre, the unassembled pieces of the body,
and two views of the peg end. After
assembly, the two pieces of the body are
held together by rivets—brass rods that run
through a hole from a brass plate on the top
of the lyre to a brass washer on the bottom
and fasten by peening over the washer.
All designs:
Drill a (" hole one inch deep in the
center of the end of the lyre opposite to the
pins. Glue into it a 1#" long (" dowel with
at least #" protruding, as shown in the
picture at right. Make a tail piece of ""
thick hardwood (you should have some
suitable oak left over) roughly similar to
Figure 3. The 12 small holes are 1/16" in
diameter, the 2 large holes somewhat larger
and slanted (see edge view). Their exact
size depends on what is going through them
to hold the tail piece onto the peg at the end
of the lyre; I’ve used both rawhide and
silver wire. Make a bridge roughly similar
to the ones shown in the pictures from ""
hardwood (or bone or amber if you happen
to have them). The bridge of the Trossingen
lyre (p. 272) was made of willow.
Wipe raw linseed oil onto all of the
wood, leave it five or ten minutes, wipe off,
let dry. Wait at least four hours and repeat.
Or use some other finish if you prefer.
Purchase the following nylon guitar
strings (gut strings if you can get them—or
you could experiment with wire): Two each
G, b and e. Attach the strings to the tail
piece, running each in one hole, out the hole
behind it, and tying, arranging the strings as
shown in Figure 3. Attach the tailpiece to
the peg at the end of the lyre, using a short
Page 269
length of rawhide, a loop of silver wire,8 or
whatever else you have that will work.
Attach the far end of each string to the
corresponding peg at the peg end of the lyre,
cutting the strings to length if necessary.
Tighten the strings by turning the pegs (you
will need to buy or make a key—a device
that fits over the peg to turn it) until they are
just barely taut. Insert the bridge, locating it
at about the middle of the soundbox.
Continue to tighten the pegs, tuning them
(low to high, left to right if the lyre is
viewed from the string side with the peg end
up) to b-flat, c, d, e-flat, f, g. This assumes a
distance from bridge to tuning pin of 20"—
for each 6% longer (shorter) you should
lower (raise) the scale by one half step.
Make sure the bridge is still vertical—
tightening the strings tends to pull its top
edge towards the pegs. Leave it a while.
Retune (the strings will stretch). Repeat until
it holds its tuning.
You now have a lyre.
The Trossingen Lyre
In 2002 an excavation of a
Merovingian grave at Trossingen yielded the
skeleton of a warrior holding a complete
lyre—the only complete period lyre
currently known to exist, two others having
been destroyed during WWII. See the next
page for pictures of the original instrument
and my copy.9
The Trossingen lyre is less square than
the Sutton Hoo, with a slight waist. The
body is a single piece. The soundboard is
glued on instead of nailed, although there
are several nails that appear to be later
repairs. I prefer the design, in part on
aesthetic grounds and in part because it is
easier to make than an accurate copy of the
Silver wire, as shown in one picture, looks
classy but has some tendency to cut into the
wood. And if it were used in historic lyres it
would probably have been found in the
excavations—and wasn’t.
This is the only period lyre for which I have
been able to locate a detailed description. I do
not know which of the details are specific to this
rivetted Sutton Hoo design.
Several other details differ from the
lyres described above. Instead of a peg at the
bottom end10 there is a protrusion of the
body, as shown in the figures. There are
two beechwood pegs running vertically
through body and soundboard; the figures
show their position. The soundboard is of
varying thickness, about ¼" under the
bridge, an eighth inch or less above and
below that. The body is also of varying
thickness, about ¾" at the peg end tapering
to ½" at the yoke. The soundboard fits into
the body at the upper end rather than lying
on top of it.
There are also three more striking
The tuning pegs are upside down—the
heads are under the lyre, the strings attached
to the end protruding above the lyre. Four of
the pegs are made of ash and appear
designed to be turned with the fingers, two
are hazel and appear designed for a tuning
key. My guess is that one group are
replacements. I can get ash but not hazel
and wanted to try the finger turned version,
so used that for all my pegs.
The Trossingen, unlike any other lyre I
have seen described, has sound holes–eight
small holes in two horizontal rows of four,
placed so that the bridge might fit between
the two rows, as in my picture below, plus
two more holes located near the tips of the
The entire surface of the instrument is
elaborately carved (see picture on the next
page11 below bottom left). This feature I
have made no attempt to reproduce.
Aside from those differences, the basic
construction is the same. You start with a ¾"
thick plank, 32" long by 8" wide; if you
want to stick closely to the design of the
original you taper the plank towards the
yoke end, using a saw, a router, a sander, a
chisel, or whatever else you think will work.
I am imagining the instrument vertical, tuning
peg end ("yoke") up.
The image is trimmed from one on the web
which is under a creative commons license:
Page 270
Using a router, you
hollow it out as usual,
leaving &" thickness.
Cut out the body–I find
it easier to do the
router work first, since
the extra wood helps
support the edge of the router–
and cut a depression to fit the
end of the soundboard into (see
pictures). Sand flat the surface
the soundboard will fit into.
To make the soundboard,
you start with a "" plank about
26" long by 7 #" wide.
Working from one side—I used
a router, then smoothed with a
belt sander—you take most of
it down to &", leaving a band
about 4" wide at "" and
tapering between that and the
rest.12 You cut the sound board
to shape, drill the sound holes,
glue it to the body with the flat
side down for a better fit, the
surface you have shaped up (I
did this wrong the first time,
which made a good glue join much harder to
achieve). Sand everything smooth, finish the
instrument with linseed oil, add tuning pegs,
tailpiece, and strings. For the pictured
instrument I used a piece of thick rawhide as
the tailpiece.
The Trossingen lyre is in several
ways mildly assymetric; I do not know how
much of that is due to warping, to the
constraints of the available material, or to
working around the pattern of the carving,
and how much is functional. Since only the
last is relevant to how other lyres ought to
be made, I first built as exact a copy as I
could (shown on the right), then redid the
design to make it symmetrical and built a
second and smaller instrument based on that
(pieces shown on the left, instrument above).
I am simplifyng the profile—the sound board
actually gets thicker again at the peg end,
coming to about 3/16." I do not know how much
of the variation was deliberate.
The cutting pattern at the end of this
article is the symmetrical version. If
you want to make a closer copy you
should probably work from the
Germania article, since it has more
detailed information than I give here.
Medium Trossingen
The Trossingen lyre was held
together with bone glue. Modern bone
glue comes as tiny amber spheres. Put
some in a small jar, fill with water to
a little above the top of the spheres,
leave overnight. Then heat it by
putting the jar in the microwave or in
a pan of water on the stove. As it
heats it liquifies; if you think it is too
thick you can add a little more water.
You spread it on the lyre body where
it needs to be glued to the soundboard
and clamp. You have to be careful to
clamp it everywhere to avoid having
places where there is no glue join.
Bone glue softens when it gets
hot. Don’t leave your lyre in a very
hot car or sitting on top of your tent
spokes on a hot Pennsic day (yes—I did).
But if you do something wrong it makes it
possible to separate the glued pieces and try
again. You could also use modern glues—
but when the kind of glue
actually used is still readily
available, I prefer to use it.
Page 271
On the finished lyre, the strings will run
from a tailpiece at one end to pegs at the
other. You can, as described earlier, use
metal zither tuning pegs. The real
instruments used tapered wooden tuning
pegs fitting into tapered holes. After
unsuccessful attempts to taper the pegs by
hand and the holes with a plumber’s reamer,
I went up on the web and located a peg
shaver designed for tapering tuning pegs and
a matching taper reamer designed for
tapering the holes they fitted into. After
experimenting with making my own tuning
key I went to using square socket keys
apparently intended for cabinet doors. As
you will see from the pictures, I tried a
variety of peg designs; the following
description is what I used until the long
article on the Trossingen lyre, complete with
details of its pegs, became available.
To make square headed pegs like those
on the Sutton Hoo lyre, start by cutting a
piece of wood with a square cross section to
fit the socket key (10 mm or 8 mm) and the
length you want the peg to be—about 2".
Clamp a piece of scrap 2x4 to the table of
the drill press, put a drill bit—the kind that
has a sharp point to center it precisely—in
the chuck, and drill a hole in the 2x4. Take
the drill bit out of the chuck, turn it over,
and put it in the hole, point up.
Clamp your piece of wood in the
chuck, centering it as well as possible, and
lower it onto the point of the drill bit,
centering that at the bottom of the piece of
wood; the drill press is now functioning as
an improvised vertical lathe. Use a round
file to turn a groove just below what will be
the head of the tuning pin for the string to
wrap around. Below that,
press a flat file on either
side, and turn the wood
round; if you get bored using
a file try coarse sandpaper.
You now have a tuning
pin with a square head, a
groove for the string, and the
rest round, as shown in the figure. Take the
peg out of the drill press and use the peg
shaver to taper the round part. Drill a small
hole crosswise in the groove for the string.
Finally drill holes in the lyre where you
want the pegs to be and taper them with the
reamer. Use fine sandpaper on both pegs and
holes to smooth them.
Alternatively, you could start with a
piece of dowel and cut one end square to fit
the key. One advantage of the way I do it is
that I can use varieties of wood not readily
available as dowels, such as the ash that
some of the pins of the Trossingen lyre were
made of or ebony if I want to make a
particularly classy instrument.
When you finally assemble the
instrument, check that none of the pegs
protrude beyond the bottom; if they do, saw
off the tip. Otherwise, when you are
pressing down on the peg end of the lyre in
the process of tightening a string, you may
pop out a peg.
The Trossingen pegs: To make pegs for the
Trossingen lyre I cut a piece of ash into
pieces about '"x("x2%" with the grain
running the long way, then use a saw to
reduce 1%" of the length to a cross section
of about 5/16" and a sander to round that a
little (see pictures). I insert the end of the
piece in the chuck of my
drill press and use it as a
vertical lathe to turn the
reduced part, not counting
what’s in the chuck, down to
about a 5/16" diameter
dowel, as described above. I
taper the part of the wood
that was in the chuck so it
won’t get in the way in the
peg shaver (it is going to
Page 272
the purpose. Alternatively, buy ""
hardwood and use a plane, router, and/or
sander to take it down; this gives you the
option of varying the thickness as in the
Trossingen lyre.
A simpler and less expensive solution
is to use &" hardwood plywood, available at
Home Depot (and I presume other places) in
4'x8' sheets for ten dollars or so. One sheet
should make a lot of lyres. One problem is
that the plywood tends to splinter when
being sawed or drilled.
protrude so doesn’t have to be exactly
tapered), use the peg shaver to taper the rest,
cut a narrow slit in the end for the string,
flatten the end a little (because that’s how
the real ones were done—I don’t know
why), use saw and sander to shape the head
of the peg as shown, and fit the peg to the
hole it goes in. The sequence of steps is
shown at the top of the next page. Pegs and
holes end up about 7mm in diameter at the
widest; I am now experimenting with
smaller ones.
Sources for Materials
Metal Zither Tuning pins: www.elderly.com
Square Keys:
Peg making tools:
Bone glue:
/chemic02.htm #glues&watercolorbinders
Wire for strings: http://www.fortepiano.com
Wood for sound boards: &" hardwood is
hard to find; I have had some success
searching online. If you are unable to locate
a source, there are several other possibilities.
Using my band saw I can cut an &"
slice off a board with a width of up to about
6", which works for small lyres but not big
ones. You should be able do the same thing
with a hand saw and a wider board if you
have a sufficiently steady hand with the saw;
I haven’t tried. Or you might be able to find
a lumberyard that was willing to split a
board for you and had a big enough saw for
Bridge of the Trossigen Lyre
A version of this article and a cutting
pattern for the symmetrical version of the
Trossingen lyre are webbed at:
Articles/ More_Articles.html.
My Ebony Bridges
8.8 cm x 2.2 cm
Cutting Pattern
Trossingen Lyre (symmetrical)
Replica Lyre Bridges in the
British Museum
Page 273
A Jeweler’s Bibliography
Concerning Three Treatises on the Jeweler’s Art
These books serve excellently either as
introductions or as aids to the experienced
worker; each is written by a master both of
his own craft and of its exposition. The
volume by Fr. Theophilus is most basic; he
begins the section on metalwork (Book III)
with instructions on how to build a
workshop, construct a forge and bellows,
forge tools, grind and harden them, make
crucibles, and refine silver. Having thus
gotten the student fairly started, he sets him
a project, a small chalice of silver, and in the
ensuing chapters describes its construction
and the construction of further projects,
explaining along the way all the necessary
techniques. After working his way through
eighty chapters, the reader will find himself
in possession of two chalices, a cast censor,
a well-equipped workshop, and an extensive
set of skills. The remainder of Book III
contains, among other things, instructions on
building an organ and casting bells. Books I
and II are devoted to the arts of the painter
and the worker in glass.
Sr. Cellini writes for those having
access to more extensive sources for
supplies and equipment; where Fr.
Theophilus provides a necessary ingredient
by repeatedly heating and quenching a piece
of copper, Sr. Cellini apparently sends his
apprentice to the corner apothecary for a
cake of verdigris, “the best you can get.”
The pieces described are accordingly more
elaborate and the techniques somewhat more
complicated, yet his descriptions are
sufficiently clear to permit a careful
craftsman to follow many of them. The
instructions on setting stones, and in
particular on preparing colored foils to set
behind the stones to improve their color, are
especially interesting.
Herbert Maryon is a student of both
Theophilus and Cellini; his book is the most
complete of the three, containing details
taken from the other two books as well as
much new material. The craftsman, and
especially the novice, will probably find it
the easiest manual to work from.
While these books are chiefly valuable
as manuals for the craftsman, they also serve
to reveal the characters of their authors and
perhaps, through them, of the nations from
which they come. Fr. Theophilus begins his
discussion of metalworking with a prologue
arguing that in making beautiful things we
glorify Allah (the Compassionate, the
Merciful). Sr. Cellini devotes his work,
scarcely less explicitly, to the glorification
of Cellini, filling it with anecdotes of his
triumphs over various of his co-workers. Mr.
Maryon appears devoted primarily to the
advancement of his art, an end admirably
served by his book.
(The Books)
On Divers Arts, The Treatise of Theophilus,
John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith,
translators. University of Chicago Press
1963, 1976. Also available in a Dover
A medieval craftsman’s manual,
probably from the 12th century. It contains
one section on the art of the painter, one on
the art of the worker in glass, and one on the
art of the metalworker. The third section is
much the longest and most detailed, and it
seems likely that the author was himself a
The Treatises of Benvenuto Cellini on
Goldsmithing and Sculpture, C.R. Ashbee,
translator. Dover 1967.
Cellini was a sixteenth century Italian
craftsman, author of both this book and a
famous autobiography. The treatise on
goldsmithing contains a great deal of
technical information on period techniques,
mixed with anecdotes designed to
demonstrate the superlative wisdom and
skill of the author.
Metalwork and Enamelling, Herbert
Page 274
Maryon. Dover 1971.
Maryon worked for many years at the
British Museum; he was responsible, among
other things, for the restoration of the Sutton
Hoo treasure. His book is a detailed and
carefully written manual. It should be
particularly useful to SCA jewelers for two
reasons. First, he describes many period
techniques, not as matters of merely
antiquarian interest but as practical ways of
making jewelry. Second, he assumes that the
reader will have to do a good deal of
improvisation, including making much of
his own equipment. In one of his chapters on
soldering, for example, he not only explains
how to make a jeweler’s furnace but even
tells the reader how to make his own
Reference Works
Most books on historical jewelry are
coffee table books, designed more for
beauty than information. While they contain
pictures of some magnificent pieces, they
tend mostly to show the same pieces–and
only from the front. It is worth getting one
or two such books (preferably second hand,
or remaindered, or on discount from
Publishers Central, since they are usually
expensive otherwise), but the additional
information you get from additional books
decreases rapidly.
Four exceptions to this rule are:
Jewellery of the Ancient World, by Jack
Ogden, Rizzoli, 1982.
Medieval European Jewellery, by Ronald
W. Lightbown, Victoria and Albert, 1992.
Jewellery Through 7000 Years, British
Museum Publications Limited, 1976.
Jewelry Ancient to Modern, Anne Garside
Ed., Viking Press, 1979.
The first of these contains the most
careful and scholarly discussion of what
stones and techniques were used when that I
have ever seen. Unfortunately, since
Ogden’s subject is jewelry in classical
antiquity, he says relatively little about the
Middle Ages and Renaissance. The second
is an enormous book from the Victoria and
Albert Museum, containing a lot of
information and pictures of a lot of pieces; it
may be the best single source of information
on medieval jewelry currently available. The
third book describes the collection of the
British Museum, and the fourth the
collection of the Walters Gallery in
Baltimore. Each contains pictures and
descriptions of a large number of pieces.
One other useful source of information
is Costume and Fashion by Herbert Norris.
Along with his description of the clothing of
each period he has a fairly detailed
discussion of the jewelry. Since he is writing
about English costume, the information is
useful for western European personae, less
useful for others.
Three other books I would recommend
Anglo-Saxon Jewellery, by Ronald Jessup.
Shire Publications, 1974.
European Enamels, by Isa Belli Barsali,
translated by Rudolf Rudorff. Hamlyn,
Medieval Goldsmith’s Work, by Isa Belli
Barsali, translated by Margaret Crosland.
Hamlyn, 1969.
These are small books, each specializing in a
particular area. There are probably other,
similar, books that I have not come across.
One can also sometimes get information on
jewelry from books on a specific culture,
such as The Viking or Treasures of Ireland.
[Expanded slightly from the version
originally printed in A Book of
Bibliographies for the Arts and Sciences in
the Current Middle Ages, Airmid Godwin,
ed., and combined with an article published
in Tournaments Illuminated.]
Page 275
Period Jewelry You Can Make
A medieval hobbyist looking at the
magnificent medieval jewelry in collections
such as the British Museum or the New
York Metropolitan Museum will conclude,
correctly, that he is not likely ever to be a
good enough jeweler to make such pieces,
and if someone else makes them he probably
will never be able to afford them. Precisely
the same thing was true for most people in
period–even most of the gently born people
on whom most of us base our personae. The
jewels in most museums (the Museum of
London is a notable exception), after all, are
a selection heavily weighted towards the
most impressive pieces.
If what you are looking for is not what
the king and high nobility of England wore
but what a reasonably well off Englishman,
or Anglo-Saxon, or Norseman might wear,
your chances of getting it are a good deal
higher. Most period jewelry was made, not
of gold, but of silver or brass or bronze or
iron–sometimes gilded. Some of it was
elaborate, but many pieces were not.
In this article I give detailed
instructions for making seven pieces of
jewelry. The combined material costs for all
seven pieces should be less than twenty
dollars, provided you can find someone
willing to sell you silver wire in small
quantities. The required equipment consists
of a hammer, something to hammer against,
a propane torch or equivalent, something to
solder on, a pair of needle nosed pliers (or
something similar), some tool capable of
cutting wire, and a small file. None of the
first six pieces should take much more than
an hour–the second time. The final piece is a
little more difficult.
The dimensions of most of these pieces
are based on original pieces I am copying.
Real pieces varied a good deal; these are
merely examples I happened to have
information about. As a general rule, the
smaller a piece the harder it is to make, so
you may want to scale up some of these, at
least the first time you do them.
A pair of Anglo-Saxon Earrings
These are described in Jessup but not
illustrated, at least in the current edition. I
have seen a picture, possibly in an earlier
edition of Jessup, but have so far been
unable to find it and am therefore guessing
on the dimensions. I thought it worth
including anyway because it is one of the
easiest to make period jewels I have seen.
2 pieces of 20 gauge sterling wire 4" long.
2 drilled gemstone (or glass) beads.
Figure one shows the earrings and
should be self explanatory; the markings on
the ruler are sixteenths of an inch. The only
tool you need is a pair of pliers, preferably
with very narrow jaws. When selecting your
beads, check to make sure the wire will go
through them; gemstone beads are often
drilled from both ends, meeting in the
middle, and if the two holes don’t quite
match a wire may not go through. The wires
should be sufficiently springy so that you
can separate the ends, put one through a
pierced ear, then reconnect them.
Making Small Wires out of Big Wires
The next two projects require you to
take a piece of wire and make the ends
thinner. To do this you roll the end on your
anvil (or equivalent) while tapping it with a
hammer; you can supplement this by filing
away some of what is left.
While this thins down the silver, the
Page 276
result, at least when I do it, is not as thin as
in the original pieces I am copying. One
possible explanation is that the jewelers who
made them had more skill with a hammer
than I do, more patience, or both. Another is
that they were using draw plates, pulling the
end through successively thinner holes. That
is how I did the spiral ring shown below–
earlier versions, done with hammer and file,
didn’t come as close to matching the
pictures of the original. Draw plates are
described by Theophilus in about 1100; the
spiral ring is mid-sixth century, when draw
plates may or may not have been available.
Unfortunately, draw plates are expensive
and my readers are unlikely to already have
Hammering silver hardens it, making it
springy and difficult to bend, which is
inconvenient in these projects, since after we
hammer the wire we are going to bend it. It
is also inconvenient because we may want to
hammer it some more–which works better
when the metal is soft. You solve the
problem by annealing the wire, heating it
enough to undo the effect of the hammering,
using the same torch you will use in later
projects for soldering things. Heat it in a
semi-darkened room so that you can judge
the temperature of the silver by its color;
when it has gotten up to a dull red it is hot
enough. Remove the torch, let it cool, and
Norse Finger Ring
(Hall, p. 105).
2 ¾" of 12 gauge sterling silver wire.
Thin out the ends, as described above.
Anneal. Form the wire
around a ⅝" diameter
mandrel, then bend the
thin part of the ends
around the ring as shown
in the figure. Try to get
them thinner than I did in
the ring pictured here.
Anglo Saxon Spiral Finger Ring
[Jessup, Figure 32.1 and Smith fig. 45]
7.5" of 14 gauge sterling wire.
Thin down the last 1.5" at each end (1).
Anneal. Wrap around a mandrel the
diameter of your finger (2–after removing
the mandrel). Spiral around itself and wrap
the ends around the ring shank as shown in
the figure (3). Put the ring shank between
two wood blocks of the same height, so the
spiral is resting on them (4), and hit the
spiral with a hammer to flatten it (or don’t, if
you are happy with how it turned out
initially). Put it on your finger (5).
Smith (p. 108) shows a piece with a
much larger shank, presumably a bracelet.
All of the remaining projects require
you to make silver wire into a circle. This is
easier if you have something cylindrical to
wind the wire around. What I use for the
purpose is a ring mandrel, a slightly tapered
cylinder of steel intended to be used in
making rings. If you don’t have one, any
hard cylinder of the right size, such as a
wooden dowel, should do. You might even
take a piece of 1" or 1 ⅜" oak dowel and
sand or file it down into a tapered cylinder,
giving you a tool that, like my ring mandrel,
will fit a range of sizes.
Page 277
A second point is that silver soldering
is usually done with very small amounts of
solder, so as to avoid flooding the piece. The
little bits of solder I am using are pieces of
20 gauge wire (made out of silver solder, a
silver alloy that melts at a lower temperature
than sterling) about 1/16" long.
The remaining pieces require soldering,
so in addition to what you already have you
will need silver solder and flux for silver
solder. Silver solder melts at a much higher
temperature than the lead based solder you
may be familiar with, which is why you
need a small propane torch or something
similar. (The period equivalent would be a
small furnace–Maryon describes how to
make one–or a blowpipe, a small tube used
to blow air across a flame to create a hot jet
of fire. A common flux was borax.) Binding
wire, thin iron wire used to hold things
together while you solder them, will be
useful for the more difficult projects. You
also need a surface to solder on that won’t
be burned or cracked by your torch. The
easiest is a soldering pad, available from a
jewelry supply store, but a piece of (not heat
sensitive) rock or a container of sand should
A few points are worth making about
silver soldering for those who have never
done it. The most important is that silver
soldering is done at temperatures close to
the melting point of what you are soldering,
so you have to be careful not to overheat and
melt the piece down. For the sort of small
pieces we are doing, you want the flame
running along the length of the wire so as to
heat all of it at once to a reasonably uniform
temperature and you want to keep the flame
moving, so as not to overheat any part of the
Double twist ring: 13th c.
2 feet of 22 gauge sterling wire.
Silver solder. Flux.
Cut the wire in half. Fold one of the
halves in half again, this time over some
small sticklike object. Put the ends in a vise
as shown in the figure; if you don’t have a
vise hold them in a pair of pliers. Take the
end that used to be the middle and now has
the stick in it, and twist it clockwise about
thirty-six times.
You now have a piece of twisted wire
about 4 ⅝" long, with what looks like about
16 twists per inch. The reason it is 16
instead of 8 is that if you twist a doubled up
piece of wire around ten times you end up
with what look like twenty twists, since both
wires are going around. Hence twists per
inch is twice what you would calculate from
the number of times the wire is twisted (each
twist being 360°) and the length of the wire.
Repeat with the remaining piece, this
time twisting counterclockwise. You now
have two pieces of wire, identical except for
the direction of twist.
Before Soldering
After Soldering
Binding Wire
Page 278
Lay the two pieces together; if you
want you can tie them with binding wire.
Put flux on them, put little bits of solder on
them, (see figure). Heat the whole thing with
your torch until the solder flows, joining the
two pieces. This is easier if you already
know how to solder silver or have someone
to show you, but with patience you can
figure it out for yourself. You may want to
look at Maryon or some other good book on
jewelry making for a more detailed
You now have a length of
double twist wire. Wrap it around
the same rigid cylinder you used for
the first project–the one that is the
same size as your finger. Cut off the
surplus. File the ends flat so they will fit
together. Squeeze the circle of wire so the
ends slightly overlap, then pull it just far
enough open so that you can put the ends
against each other–that way the spring
tension of the ring will hold the ends
together. Get it arranged exactly the way
you want it to end up–this is easy to say, but
may require a lot of fiddling. The idea is to
have the two faces
exactly match. Put
some flux on the ends
and a little bit of
solder. Heat it until the
solder melts and flows,
joining the two ends.
You now have a ring.
Unless you have a very big finger, you
probably have enough double twist left over
to make a second, smaller ring to give to a
The original this piece is based on has a
diameter of about )" . The picture shows
both it and my copy. The outside of the
original is worn almost flat, but you can see
the structure by looking at the inside.
Knot ring: late medieval
18" of
24 gauge sterling wire. Flux and
Fold the wire in half and twist it, as in
the previous project–but this time you want to
end up with one piece of wire, all twisted
clockwise. Twist about 90 times around,
ending up with what looks like 22 twists/inch.
Wrap it around your ring cylinder twice,
leaving equal amounts extra at each end. Tie a
knot with the ends, as shown. Now flux the
whole piece, put some tiny bits of solder on it
and heat it until the solder flows, joining the
two wraps. The picture shows the original and
my copy; the original is nicer.
A simple circle pin.
(Deefy and lots of other sources)
4 #" of 12 gauge sterling silver wire.
Wrap the wire around a )" ring
mandrel once, with all the extra at one end.
Cut off what is left; you are going to use that
to make the pin. (You wrap before cutting
because it is easier to wrap the silver when
you have something excess to hold onto.)
Take the circle of wire and solder the ends
together–just like soldering the ends of the
(fiddle with it until the
ends are flush and held
together by spring
tension), only easier.
Use your file to
file a narrow section,
as long as your wire is
wide–this is where the pin is going to go on
(see figure).
Page 279
Flatten one
end of the pin,
using a hammer
and/or a file,
anneal it, and
bend it around
the ring brooch
at the narrow
now have a ring with a pin on it. Cut the
other end of the pin so it partly overlaps the
width of the wire of the ring at the other
side. Use your hammer and file to taper
down the pin so that it goes from its full
width at the base, where it wraps around the
ring, to almost a point at the tip.
Circle pins like this, often smaller and
often made of base metals such as brass, are
very common in medieval digs. They may
have been low end jewelry–or perhaps the
medieval equivalent of safety pins.
A fancier circle pin. (Deefy RB 103)
1 ½" of 10 gauge sterling wire (for the pin)
18" of 24 gauge silver wire
3 ½" of 18 gauge silver wire.
Cut the 24 gauge wire into two pieces,
one 9 ½" long, one 8 ½" long. Fold each in
half and twist it about 40 times around–the
longer counterclockwise, the shorter
clockwise. The longer one is going to be the
outer circle, the shorter the inner, and doing
it this way makes the twists correspond
between the two.
Make your 18 gauge wire into a circle;
solder closed. Measure the longer twist
along the outside of the circle, subtract about
a tenth of an inch (for the space where the
pin goes), cut–you now have a length of lefthanded twist that will go around the outside
of the pin. Similarly shape and cut a length
of right handed twist to go around the inside.
Assemble the whole thing (binding wire will
help a lot), solder it together. Make and
attach the pin as in the previous project.
This is a harder project than the others
because of the delicate soldering needed to
assemble the three circles. If you have never
done silver soldering before you may want
to get some experience with the easier
projects before you try it.
Both of these are circle pins; the figure
shows how they work. The basic idea is to
pull some of the cloth through the circle,
stick the pin through it, then pull enough
back so it holds. The same design was also
used for belt buckles, with the pin serving as
the tongue of the buckle; Egan and Pritchard
show a number of examples similar to the
first one. You might try scaling up the
second and fancier pin; it would make an
attractive buckle.
In case, after doing all of these
successfully, you are still feeling ambitious,
you may find the pictures below of interest.
The arm rings are bard bait; I make them to
give to people who do a very good job of
entertaining me and my guests at my bardic
circle at Pennsic. Making them is much
easier than people think, since although they
appear to be braided they are actually only
twisted. Stare at the picture long enough,
think about rope, and you will see the
The other picture shows my favorite
penannular fibula, a simple but elegant piece
presently residing in a museum in
Page 280
All of these projects except the first
require you to heat the silver, either to
anneal it or to solder it. Heating may result
in dark discoloration on the surface. To
remove it, the piece should be pickled–
immersed for a few minutes in a warm acid
bath. The powder for making a pickling
solution can be purchased from any jewelry
Pickling removes the discoloration but
leaves a rather dull surface. This is usually
polished using tripoli, a fine abrasive, on
some sort of turning wheel. For a finer
polish, you use first tripoli and then
jeweler’s rouge.
If you have a Dremel Mototool or an
electric drill, you can probably find a
suitable accessory to use as a polishing
wheel. If you don’t, it should be possible to
polish small pieces like these by hand, using
tripoli, a rag, and patience–but I must
confess that I have not done it. Some pieces
can be burnished–a period technique that
consists of rubbing them with a very smooth
piece of something very hard, such as steel
(burnishers are available from jewelry
supply stores)–but that is hard to do on
something as intricate as the second circle
pin. Rio Grande offers hand polishing sticks,
but I have not tried them. If you polish your
pieces by hand successfully please let me
know, so I can tell other people how to do it
next time I revise this piece.
Source for materials:
My favorite mail-order source for
jewelry supplies is Rio Grande in
Albuquerque. Their phone number is 800
545-6566. Their web page is:
Deefy, Mary B., Medieval Ring Brooches in
Ireland, Wordwell, Co. Wicklaw, 1998.
Egan, Geoff and Pritchard, Frances, Dress
Accessories c. 1150-1450. London HMSO
Hall, Richard, The Viking Dig, The Bodley
Head, London, 1984.
Jessup, Ronald, Anglo-Saxon Jewellery,
Shire Archaeology, Aylesbury, U.K., 1974.
[p. 79 figure 23.1, Kent, mid-sixth c.]
Enameling, Dover 1971.
Smith, Reginald A., A guide to the AngloSaxon and Foreign Teutonic Antiquities in
the department of British and Medieval
British Museum, Oxford
University Press 1923. [p. 45, fig 45.]
For period jewelery technology, see:
John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith,
On Divers Arts: The Treatise of Theophilus,
University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1963.
There is also a Dover reprint of this which
may still be in print.
Page 281
The Ashmolean Ring
The figure on the left shows a ring in
the Ashmolean museum in Oxford.
According to the museum label it is made of
a lead alloy, presumably in imitation of
silver, and dated to the 13th or 14th century.
My copy, on the right, is made in silver in
imitation of the original the Ashmolean ring
is imitating.
To get the dimensions, I measured the
width of the case the ring was in, then
measured the width of the ring relative to the
case in a photograph of the case, then
measured the dimensions of the wire relative
to the width of the ring in a photograph of
the ring. By my calculations:
Ring: 1" diameter, .2" width
Single twists: 1/40" wire (22 gauge), with
about 29 twists to the inch
Spacing wire: 1/40"
Central double twist: .03" wire (20-21 guage)
Primary twist about 30/inch, secondary twist
about 11/inch
Since there are two wires twisted
around each other (two strands of two wires
each in the case of the central double twist),
I am counting twice for each full turn—once
for each wire. When twisting the wire, you
make half as many full turns as the numbers
above—29 turns for every two inches of the
single twist, for instance.
The diameter of the ring is about an
inch, so each of the component circles is
about three inches long. Twisting two
strands of wire shortens them to about 5/7 of
the original length. So a single ring requires
4x(7/5)x3"=17" of 22 gauge silver wire for
the top and bottom twists
2x3"=6" of 22 gauge silver wire for the
spacing wires
4x(7/5)x1.4x3"=24" of 20 gauge silver wire
for the central double twist
You can expect losses at the ends
where the wire is held by a vise or drill, so
you will want to start with somewhat more
than the lengths given above.
Cut about 2' of 22 gauge silver wire.
Bend it in half. Twist in the direction shown
in the pictures until you have an apparent 29
twists/inch (actually 29 full turns/2 inches).
You may want to do this by taking a short
piece of wooden dowel, drilling a hole
crossways through it, running the wire
through that and clamping both ends of the
wire in a vise. You can then put the dowel in
a variable speed electric drill, set it to turn in
the right direction, and use it to twist the
wire, checking from time to time on how
many twists you have per inch.
Alternatively, if you are patient, you can
twist it by hand.
Cut about 3' of 20 gauge silver wire and
do the same thing, ending with 30
twists/inch. Then double that up and twist
the two twisted strands together in the
opposite direction (if using an electric drill,
remember to reverse it) to about 11
Shape your single twist into two rings
each 1” in diameter, and solder closed.
Make two more rings out of single strands of
22 gauge wire and solder closed. Shape your
double twist into one ring just a tiny bit
bigger (because it is thicker, and you want
the inside surface of the ring to be
reasonably flat for comfort) and solder
You now have five rings, all about the
same size. The picture on the next page
shows a single twist, a double twist, and the
five rings. Use a ring mandrel or, failing
that, a piece of 1” wooden dowel to get all
of them round. Stack them in the order
shown and solder together. This is easiest if
you have a soldering mandrel to do it on, as
in the picture. Pickle the ring, polish it, and
you now have a reasonably accurate copy of
an English ring that someone in the 13th or
14th century made a lead imitation of.
Page 282
I sometimes have a problem with the
wire breaking before I get it twisted all the
way. If that happens, don’t twist it quite as
far. My measurements are, after all, based
on a single ring—there is no guarantee that
all others were identical.
Single Twist
Double Twist
I was in Mahdi’s presence, says Ibn Hakim, when Sufyan Thawri the ascetic was brought in. He gave
Mahdi only the common greeting, not the salutation fit for a Caliph, although behind Mahdi towered up his
Headsman Rabi, leaning on his sword.
“Well, Sufyan,” said Mahdi, with a smile, “once you escaped us, and again. Now we have you. Are
you afraid of what our doom may be?”
“Doom me, and a King shall doom thee who is powerful to sort true from false.”
“Prince of the True Believers!” cried Rabi, “shall such a one affront you so? Let me give him a tap on
the neck.”
“Nay,” said Mahdi. “He and his like want nothing better, that we should kill them and be damned,
while they are saved. Rather let be made out at once his commission as judge at Kufa, and let it be stated
that no judgment he makes shall be subject to revision.”
So it was done, and the commission handed to the ascetic. He departed the Palace, threw the
commission in the Tigris, and took to his heels.
(Based on an account in Mohammed’s People)
Page 283
Shield and Weapon Weights
In Caid, as in some other kingdoms,
there are minimum weight requirements for
weapons and shields; in Caid, swords
(including basket hilt and gauntlet) are to
weigh at least one pound per foot and a 24"
round shield is to weigh at least ten pounds.
The latter requirement may, as I understand
it, be waived in some circumstances.
I can see only two legitimate grounds
for such weight requirements: safety and
authenticity. So far as safety is concerned,
minimum sword weight requirements tend if
anything to make fighting more dangerous.
Injuries are most likely to be inflicted by
strong fighters, and in the hands of a strong
fighter a heavy weapon is more dangerous
than a light one. Heavy shields may protect
somewhat better than light ones, provided
the shield is not too heavy for the user to
control. On the other hand, a heavy shield is
more dangerous to the opponent, in case of
accidents, than a light one. All things
considered, I find it hard to see how such
rules can be justified in terms of safety.
What about authenticity? One purpose
of the Society is “to study the past by
selective re-creation.” To the extent that our
rules permit, or still worse encourage,
weapons whose handling characteristics are
different from those of the real weapons
they are intended to imitate, we fail in that
purpose. If, for example, the swords which
are most effective in our fighting are so light
that real medieval swords of similar weight
and balance would either break or fail to
penetrate mail, or if our shields are so light
that in real combat they would survive only
a few blows, it is reasonable to forbid both
light swords and light shields and require
something more authentic. So far as I know,
however, those who support weight limits
have never provided any evidence of what
the characteristics of early medieval swords
and shields really were. In this article I try to
do so.
Table 1 shows all of the broadswords
for which length and weight are given in the
three sources in which I have found such
figures. Most are from the catalog of the
Wallace collection in London, three from
Cut and Thrust Weapons by Eduard Wagner
and 3 from Treasures From the Tower of
London, a catalog compiled by A.V.B.
Norman and G.M. Wilson. The final column
gives the weight in pounds divided by the
length in feet; a weapon for which this
figure is below l is illegal in Caid unless the
fighter’s gauntlet adds enough weight to
make up the difference.
Examining table 1, we find that a
majority of the swords are too light to be
legal in Caid; the average weight per foot is
.89 pounds, also too light to be legal. If we
add in a half pound gauntlet (many medieval
gauntlets would have been lighter;
remember that our fighting rules are based
on medieval combat prior to the adoption of
plate) we bring the average up to 1.05
lb/foot; even with this addition a third of the
swords in the table fail to meet the
requirement. The requirement corresponds
more nearly to the average weight of period
swords than to its minimum, hence it cannot
be justified on grounds of authenticity.
Not only is the requirement unjustified,
it also has at least two undesirable
consequences. It provides an unreasonable
barrier to the weaker fighters, especially (but
not exclusively) women, by forcing them to
use equipment that is too heavy for them. In
addition, the requirement encourages
weapons that are realistic in weight but
unrealistic in balance. Since the weight of a
basket hilt or counterweight counts towards
satisfying the requirement, fighters can and
do make swords which have light blades and
heavy hilts; such swords handle quite
differently from real medieval swords,
which are typically blade heavy. Since it is
the strength of the blade which determines
Page 284
whether a sword can cut armor without
breaking, weight requirements, if any,
should apply to the blade not to the whole
sword. The present rule encourages
balancing near the hilt) while forbidding
some realistic ones (lighter swords
balancing farther towards the point), thus
defeating the whole idea of making rules
that re-create actual medieval fighting.
What should be done? Lowering the
weight requirement is only a partial solution;
as long as the restriction is defined in terms
of the total weight of the sword it
encourages swords with unrealistic balance.
The simplest solution, and the one I am
inclined to favor, is to eliminate the rule;
fighters will be discouraged from using
unreasonably light swords by the difficulty
of killing anyone with them. If that is not
satisfactory, we should at least state the limit
in terms of weight per foot for the blade, not
for the sword; I would suggest about half a
pound per foot.
Table 6 shows all of the circular or
almost circular shields from before 1650 that
are listed in the Wallace Collection catalog.
They are all from the sixteenth or
seventeenth century and most are described
(presumably ornamented shields are more
likely to survive in collections than plain
ones). Sixteenth century shields are in
period for the Society but out of period for
our sort of fighting. They give us some idea
of what weight shields it is possible to make
but they do not tell us what shields were or
could be used in early medieval combat.
Unfortunately, early shields are rare. I
have discussed the question of shield
weights with the curator of one of the largest
arms and armor collections in the country
and the assistant curator of another; neither
was willing to commit himself beyond the
suggestion that one could use the surviving
metal fittings from early shields to design a
reconstruction and weigh that. Hence while
the fact that the average weight per square
foot for the historical shields is less than the
minimum permitted by Caidan rules
suggests that the Caidan shield requirements
are too high, I do not think the table justifies
much more than the conclusion that, absent
evidence on the other side, the burden of
proof is on those who claim that a medieval
shield could not weigh less than 3.2 pounds
per square foot.
Fighting Style
I have so far ignored one argument for
weapon limits unrelated to issues of safety
or authenticity. It is sometimes said that
some type of weapon (most commonly a
large shield) encourages “bad” style.
Sometimes the claim is that the style really
does not work but novices adopt it because it
is easier than learning to fight better and
gives good results against other novices. In
other cases the claim is that the bad style
does work but should not, that somehow it
defeats and drives out better styles. It is
rarely explained in what sense the losing
style is better.
Both of these arguments seem to me to
be attempts by some fighters to use the rules
to impose their views of how to fight on
others, and as such indefensible. So far as
novices are concerned, it is up to whomever
is training them to advise them as to what
weapons and fighting style work; if they
choose to ignore the advice that is their
concern. They might turn out to be right. I
can easily enough imagine myself or others
some years back informing a new fighter by
the name of Paul of Bellatrix that he was
doing it all wrong (“shields are for hiding
behind”); perhaps if one of us had been King
or Earl Marshall we could have come up
with rules capable of dealing with someone
who not only insisted on fighting all wrong
but had the effrontery to kill us while doing
What about those who concede the
effectiveness of the styles they dislike and
Page 285
wish to ban them anyway? This attitude
seems to me to be based on a
misunderstanding of what fighting is about.
It is true that good fighting is beautiful, but
its beauty comes from the fighter pursuing a
particular objective (killing his opponent) in
an elegant and effective way. To claim that
because certain styles of fighting are elegant
they should be required even when they do
not work is ultimately to argue for
converting fighting into a form of dance.
This seems to me entirely undesirable. It is
also directly contrary to the idea of the
Society as a group of people discovering
how things were done by trying to do them.
There is one exception. Our fighting
corresponds in part to real medieval combat
and in part to medieval tourney fighting
done with blunt weapons under restrictive
rules. To the extent that we are interested in
reproducing the latter, it is appropriate to
introduce restrictions based on the rules
actually used in medieval tournament. Since
these rules varied from time to time and
from place to place, such restrictions are
probably most appropriate in special
tourneys held under rules based on the rules
of particular historical tournaments.
[Published in Crown Prints, reprinted in
Tournaments Illuminated no. 64. Tables 2-5
are new.]
Table One: Swords
9th-10th c.
13th c.
14th c.
early 16th c.
9th-10th c.
9th-11th c?
11th-13th c.
Before 1432
about 1480**
about 1500
30 ⅛"
32 ⅜"
33 ⅜"
33 ¾"
29 ⅜"
29 "
23 ⅝" *
31 ⅛"
34 ⅜"
34 ¾"
36 ⅛"
75 ½ cm.
89 ½ cm.
92 cm.
Weight (lb/oz)
.5 Kg.
1.42 Kg.
1 Kg.
* Approximately 5" of tip missing
Swiss or Swabian
Wt/Lgth (lb/ft)
** Hand and a half?
Table Two: Two-Handed Swords
Date (approx.)
Mid 16th c
16th c.
early 16th c.
50 ¼"
58 ¾"
50 ⅛"
44 ⅝"
53 ¼"
46 ⅛"
23 ¾"
19 ⅝"
13 ½"
14 ¾"
16 ½"
17 ⅝"
Over all
78 ⅜"
63 ⅝"
59 ⅜"
64 ½"
69 ¼"
63 ¾"
Spanish or German
Page 286
Table Three: Polearms
Date (approx.)
Weight (lb/oz)
late 14th-early 15th c.
14 ¾"‡
16 ¼"‡
23 ½"‡
31 ⅝"‡
21 ⅛"‡
about 1500
Poleaxe Tower
about 1500
Modern Haft
Poleaxe Tower
Iron butt spike
early 16th c.
Partizan Tower
Modern Haft
early 16th c.
Partizan Tower
Modern Haft
early 16th c.
Haft not original
16th c.
Modern Haft
early 16th c.
Modern Haft
about 1600
Partizan Tower
‡The head, in some cases including the socket. Four 17th c. halberds are listed with shafts. The overall
lengths are 60 ⅝", 85", 90", and 75.5". The first is listed as an officerʼs halberd, and the fourth as a “Halberd
or Pole-Axe.”
‡‡There are 12 of these, “Carried by the Guard of the Elector of Saxony; all of one pattern but differing
slightly in details.”
Table Four: Maces
Wt (lb/oz)
15 ½"*
17 "**
22 "
25 ¾"
23 ⅘"
17 ¾"**
*From the guard
S. German
N. Italian
Table Five: Rapiers
46 ⅝"
41 ½"
43 ⅝"
39 ½"
42 ⅜"
43 ⅜"
1570-1600 47 ⅞"
42 "
44 ⅞"
41 ¼"
1580-1600 41 ¼"
40 ¼"
45 ⅞"
41 ¾"
1550-1600 44 ⅜"
44 ⅝"
41 "
Average Wt/Lgth:
North Italian
Italian (Milan)
Italian (Milan)
Italian (Milan)
Page 287
Table Six: Shields and Bucklers
(lbs/sq ft)
Leather Targets for Parade
22 ½ "
22 11/16"
22 3/16"
Wooden Pageant Shields
22 ⅝"
18 27/32"
Wooden Bucklers
17 ½"
20 ¾"
Steel Bucklers
16th c.
15 ½"
21 ¼"
Steel "Shield or Bucklers"
23 ⅜"
22 ¼"
22 ¼"
Steel "Pageant Shields or Bucklers"
16th c.
21 ⅜"
16th c.
24 7/16"
24 ⅞"
22 7/32"
23 ⅛"
21 ¾"
22 ½"
22 ¼"
1580-1600 23"
Post 1556
22 ¾"
19 ½"
22 3/16"
23 ½"
1620 23 ⅜"
Average of Historical Shields is 2.75 lb/sq
corresponds to a 24" round weighing 8 lb 10 oz.
A.S. XVI 24"
Caid Minimum
ft, which
A.S. XVI 24"
Note: Some of the shields were slightly oval; the
average radius is shown. The last three shields are given for
purposes of comparison.
Page 288
In-Persona Storytelling
One of my favorite activities at events
is to wander from table to table at a feast or
from campfire to campfire at a camping
event, telling poems and stories. I know of
no better way of pulling people out of the
twentieth century, if only for a few minutes–
especially if the story is presented as a
medieval story told by a medieval
storyteller. While I am telling a story, I am
their environment–especially at night around
a bardic circle, with nothing in sight that is
obviously inappropriate to the twelfth
century. A further attraction of storytelling
is that it is an art with a real function in the
SCA world, one that gets done not because
someone has announced that we ought to
promote the arts but because people want to
do it.
By “in-persona storytelling” I do not
mean telling stories about your persona, an
activity I regard with considerable
misgiving. I mean telling stories as your
persona–from his point of view, not yours.
This article is about how to do so.
Consider a simple example–a short
period anecdote about the bird that is the
The Commander of the Faithful
was sitting with his nadim, his cup
companions. One of them said,
“Commander of the Faithful, did you
know that the world is a bird?” “No,”
he answered, “tell me that tale.”
“Ah,” he said, “The world is a bird.
Syria is its body; Iraq and Yemen are
its wings. The Orient is its head–and
the Maghreb, that is its tail.”
Sitting among the cup companions
there was a Maghrebi, a Berber of the
Maghreb like myself.
“It is a true tale,” he said. “And do
you know what kind of a bird the
world is?”
“No,” replied the Commander of
the Faithful.
“Ah,” said the Maghrebi. “It is a
There are a number of things worth
noting about that story–aside from the
observation that neither ethnic prejudice nor
one-upmanship is a modern invention. I do
not explain what “Commander of the
Faithful” means–because the information is
not necessary to understand the story and
because my persona would take it for
granted that his hearers already knew. Nor
do I explain where the Maghreb is. I do,
however, make it clear that I am myself a
Maghrebi, and thus make myself part of the
frame of the story. All of these are ways in
which I try to project the illusion that both I
and my hearers are medieval people. I do
explain, in passing, what “nadim” means, on
the theory that my listeners are foreigners,
and so, although they will of course
recognize such obvious terms as “Maghreb”
(the Islamic west–North Africa and Muslim
Spain), they might not know what “nadim”
means. And even in that case, my
explanation (“cup-companions”) takes for
granted the social setting–a ruler surrounded
by his favorites.
More subtly, I do not explain the social
context of the story–that the Berbers, being
neither, like the Arabs, the originators of
Islam nor, like the Persians, major
contributors to Islamic civilization, are
viewed as second class citizens, natural
targets for other people’s denigration. That
is implicit in the story–and is precisely the
sort of thing that people take for granted
about their own situation and are unli