Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I will cook a medieval meal for Saturday lunch

As my family and friends know, I don't cook. It's not that I can't cook; in fact, I have cooked some very excellent repasts if I do say so myself, and been complimented for them. (And I've cooked some real Barry Crockers [shockers -- Aussie rhyming slang] -- just ask my children about the old mushrooms and tinned clams on gluggy brown rice.) But that was long ago. The estimable and the execrable are long-past repasts.

I don't cook because I don't like to cook -- except perhaps when I catch a fish, and even then it's an imposition -- and I do have a preference for living as much of my life as I can doing as I please (within reason). I think that being a single parent to three now-grown children cured me of regular cooking. I've always said, "Why cook when you can peel?" and "If I had to cook I'd starve". However, I made a vow some time ago that by the end of August I would cook a medieval meal. The Internet abounds with medieval recipes and it would be a shame not to indulge this whim before I pirouette off this pretty planet.

I challenge you to do the same! Read on.

I will be having duck a l'orange -- a particular favourite of mine for which I was delighted to discover a recipe from the Middle Ages -- and have ordered a bird from my local butcher, who tells me that this particular fowl is growing in popularity. It will be far too large for me alone, so my young flatmate and her boyfriend can have duck on Saturday night for dinner -- the young fella says he loves duck, and Kristie has never had it. The oranges will come from our own garden. The orange brandy I'm not too sure about, as it's so expensive. As only two tablespoons are required, I expect I'll go to the Federal Hotel on Friday, order a nip of Grand Marnier, pour it into a jar and bring it home.

I stared long and hard at these ducks today, smacking my lips as they gobbled up a plenitude of invertebrates washed down during this week's floods. The ducks, growing fatter by the hour, are at Lavenders Bridge, near my place. I took a picture of the bridge the morning after the flood on Monday night, and another, 48 hours after the flood. I've also been eyeballing this fat goose -- so medievally delicious -- as well.

I haven't yet decided what's for pudding, as we Australians call that sweet dish at or near the end of the meal, or 'dessert', as our American cousins call it. Probably something from this site.

I shall wash it down with non-alcoholic cider, which is an approximation of a stronger beverage from the Middle Ages. I would love scrumpy, perry or mead, but my doctor and several friends would shoot me, especially as I will be having this in the daytime and it would be very naughty to imbibe before the sun goes over the yardarm. I won't get that crappy carbonated cider from the supermarket, but a bottle of real apple cider from which I will remove the alcohol by low heat. This will keep my Hawkesbury River (liver -- more rhyming slang) out of my lower colon, and my quack (by which I mean doctor) and friends (by which I mean caring naggers) off my back. There won't be another favourite beverage of mine -- tea -- nor coffee either, because Europe didn't know these drinks till early modern times.

Watch out world, Wilson is finally going into the kitchen! I'll let you know how I go, on Saturday. Maybe even post some pix. I invite you to come for a visual taste.

Here's a dare. Why don't you cook a medieval banquet and tell us about it? Invite some friends over. Make a night of it. Or have it alone. Why not? I'll even post your pictures here, if you're ... game.

I'll keep this challenge open for a while. You can post a comment here, and/or find my email addy in the menu bar at the top of this blog. It happens to be: pipwilson [AT]


Blogger Bryna said...

A great challenge!

I love to cook, but have never delved deep into period cooking, cooking for the SCA, or gathering information from period sources.

However, this sounds like a great opportunity to start!

I have a German persona, as well as a German Blog-therefore I will go for a German type meal based on Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin (c. 1553).

I’ll update more on my blog:

12:06 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

I hope you'll update here as well, Bryne. Good luck!

3:30 AM  
Blogger JB said...

I heartily recommend that folks experiment with medieval cooking - do it a lot myself (, but I would point out that the modern duck a l'orange recipe linked to in the article bears almost no resemblance to the medieval one just above it.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

Oh well, I'm just a rookie and not used to cooking anything at all.

6:32 AM  
Blogger JB said...

It looks like a good recipe; it's just frustrating that the article is so misleading. (Often the case, which is frustrating, too.)

I mean, the medieval recipe is for a roasted duck with garlic, verjuice or vinegar, and maybe some lard, served with orange or lemon juice.

The Tuscan recipe is for a stuffed duck braised in a wine/juice mixture. It's not close in ingredients or technique, yet the implication is that the recipes are somehow related. Sigh.

Still, as I say, I'll bet it was pretty good. I love duck, and the citrus really does help to cut the fat.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Master G said...

I have been cooking medieval repasts for 22 years. If you want to learn more here are a couple of links that may help you.
This is the blog we have set up to discuss medieavl cooking amongst a small group of Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) cooks, mostly based in Melbourne. The SCA is the world's largest medieval re-enactment/living history group (I am the immediate past Chairman of the Australian branch).
This is the record of the cooking done by local Victorians over the last few years. We were responsible for the Project Gutenberg'ing of "A Forme of Cury", the 1390s cook book of the cooks of Richard II of England, as well as cooking many, many medieval feasts in that time.
This is the wiki where we post redacted medieval recipes from "A Forme of Cury).

You can contact me at gwynfor (at) gwynfor (dot) org if you want to get more information.

5:41 PM  

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