So I've been reading through these cookbooks and I'm amazed at what they ate. There are some interesting things on the menu, and I'm not just talking about ol' Vlad:
Medieval banquets included now-uncommon meats like porpoise, seal, whale, peacock and swan.
I know what your thinking, finally a cookbook to tell me what to do with all these exotic dead animals I previously had no had recipes for!
Too many swan guts laying around needed a use? Why not try some delicious Chawdwyn?
Take Gysers, lyuers, and hertes of Swannes, or of wilde gese; And if þe guttes be fatte, slytte hem, and cast hem there-to, And boile hem in faire water; And then take hem vppe, And hew hem smale, and caste into þe same brotℏ ayene, but streyne hit þorgℏ a streynour firste; And caste thereto pouder of peper and of caneƚƚ, and salt, and vinegre, And lete boile; And þen take þe blode of þe swan, and fressℏ brotℏ, and brede, and drawe hem þorgℏ a streynour and cast thereto, And lete al boyle togidre; And þen take pouder of Gynger, whan hit is al-moost ynougℏ, And caste there-to, And serue it forthe.Swan bits with blood and ginger.
Om nom, right?
Now I'm thinking, about about the menu at Medieval times? What gives there? Where is the Chawdwyn?
Of course, I'm referring to the is a chain of dinner theaters in the U.S. which offer dinner featuring staged medieval-style games, 'sword-fighting', and jousting followed by a 'tournament'.
To my European and UK readers who were not aware of this silly concept, we Americans are strange... but you probably already know that.
photo credit: Phil Guest via Wikipedia
For the poor souls who have not had the pleasure of dining at Medieval Times I have their menu here, reprinted from their website:
Medieval Times' noble guests feast on garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, spare rib, herb-basted potatoes, pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages. A full-service bar is also available for adult guests. Vegetarian meals are available upon request.
The vegetarian meal includes tomato bisque soup, garlic bread, large Portobello mushroom cap stuffed with whole grain, rice and bean blend, large skewer of roasted vegetables, hummus with pita chips, pastry of the castle and two rounds of select beverages. (Please advise your server of special meal requests once you are seated at your table.)
Then you wash it all down with a big mug of Pepsi. Rock on.
Never mind the fact that potatoes and tomatoes are native to the Americas and did not make an appearance in any European cuisine until it was brought back by the Spanish in the early 16th century. Oops?
Don't get me started on the absurdity of the garlic bread. Though it was likely cultivated before the 16th century it was still a rare ingredient in any medieval English cuisine. Coffee is equally silly.
So what do you do when you crave some real medieval fare?
Skip Medieval times and start cooking from this online cookbook. Don't worry, not every recipe requires you to swipe animals from your local park/zoo/aquarium/pet store. Several recipes use more accessible ingredients.
Take this stew for example:
vj. Beef y-Stywyd.—Take fayre beef of þe rybbys of þe fore quarterys, an smyte in fayre pecys, an wasche þe beef in-to a fayre potte; þan take þe water þat þe beef was soþin yn, an strayne it þorw a straynowr, an sethe þe same water and beef in a potte, an let hem boyle to-gederys; þan take canel, clowes, maces, graynys of parise, quibibes, and oynons y-mynced, perceli, an sawge, an caste þer-to, an let hem boyle to-gederys; an þan take a lof of brede, an stepe it with brothe an venegre, an þan draw it þorw a straynoure, and let it be stylle; an whan it is nere y-now, caste þe lycour þer-to, but nowt to moche, an þan let boyle onys, an cast safroun þer-to a quantyte; þan take salt an venegre, and cast þer-to, an loke þat it be poynaunt y-now, & serue forth.
Ability to read Middle English not so great? Don't worry, I've roughly translated it for you.
Medieval Beef Stew:
Take fair beef of the forequarters, and cut into fair sized pieces, and wash(?) the beef into a good pot. Than take the water that the beef was soaking in and strain it through a strainer(remove the scum?) and set the same water and beef in a pot and let them boil together. Than take cinnamon, cloves, mace, grains of paradise, cubebs (substitute allspice/black pepper?), and minced onions. parsley and sage, an cast into the pot, let them boil together.
Take a loaf of bread and soak it with broth and vinegar, and than draw the bread through a strainer and set aside. When the stew is nearly done, cast the bread mixture into the stew but not the bread too much (not the mulch?) and let it boil, and add the saffron and the salt. "Look (to see) that it be thickened enough and serve it forth. (With a mug of Pepsi)
Oh, and if someone makes this stew and sends me photos, I will love you forever.