A Medieval Summer Recipe – The Denver Post


One September a friend gave me a huge zucchini from his garden. In this country, chefs typically make zucchini bread with such animals or simply stash them on the counter until the pumpkin is tossed, the cook leaves the guilty feeling, or the zucchini leaves the bacteria.

But I thought that other countries would have to have a bounty for the late season as well; What do you do with your arm-sized zucchini? In fact, I found great recipes for cooking such vegetables from places as far away as Chile and Italy, even Brooklyn.

Likewise, we all know what chefs do here to cool off when they are afflicted by unbearable heat and weather. For example, we withdraw from the hot kitchen or serve cooling dishes such as chilled melons or other water-rich dishes. We eat mint chocolate ice cream.

For my part, I would like to study the cuisine of the Middle Ages, especially in Europe, the long time between the Middle Ages and the first tendrils of the Renaissance (around 500-1500 AD). It was an era of tremendous paradigm shifts in the way people lived, related, and actually cooked.

What food did common people in England or France do when the temperature outside (and inside in their day) was scorching hot? They didn’t have mint chocolate ice cream.

Apart from the courtly or spiritual cuisine, this is a legitimate question, because the entire Middle Ages could be described as the “aeon of hot soup”. Every house or hut had a hearth and the hearth had its pot, a 24/7 warmed vessel (typically earthenware) into which all kinds of edible were thrown and from which its heated mixture was drawn.

A “green porray”, as it was called in a French cookbook at the end of the 15th century, made of grain, grain and cabbage (with water) would have been a mainstay – yes, eat it almost every day – now and then supplemented with salted pork or similar leftover meat or an egg. And the porridge was always hot.

I found a few recipes from the Middle Ages for food served cool or at room temperature, including a kind of vegetable salad in a sweet and sour (as we call it) dressing. It’s very tasty and quite cooling in its own way, largely due to the power of the flavors in its sauce, which are both energized by acidity and seasoning.

Typical of recipes from the period, no measurements or dates, so I tried to mimic the medieval style. For example, a Jedi here might say that “the cinnamon is strong with this one,” with cinnamon being preferred as a spice by medieval cooks only after black pepper. So it goes in in a significant amount (especially for a chilled vegetable dish). It’s pretty tasty, in truth.

Translating the recipe’s original Old English was a fun challenge. I can’t give you everything, of course, but here’s just the beginning: “Compost. Take Persel, Pasternak, Rafens, scratch them and wash them clean. “(” Mixed salad. Take parsley root, parsnip and radish; peel and wash clean. “)

If the recipe says “whan it is colde” (“when cold”), it means that once it has been blanched, it will be cold enough to handle. For the preparation of this recipe we can use ice baths or very cold running water and even refrigerators.

But “do lat all thesee thynges lye al nyyt” it is important to follow the instruction to let the vegetables marinate overnight with the first spices. This is how the many flavors develop.

I replaced the parsley root with celery (the latter is hard to get here). The original recipe gives no indication of how the vegetables are cooked, so I cut them into large julienne for a kind of “white salad” match. (It’s after Memorial Day.) If you want more color, you can cut red radishes instead of white radishes, carrots instead of parsnips, and even purple over kale.

Just be strong at the cinnamon with this one.

Sweet and sour parsnips and pears (“Compost from Pasternak and Peeres”)

From “The Forme of Cury”, compiled around 1390 AD by the master chefs of King Richard II. Serves 2.


For the salad:

  • 1 cup each of parsnips and celery root, peeled and large julienne
  • 1 cup of white radish, cleaned and large julienne
  • 1 cup inner leaves of kale, large julienne
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup Bosc pear, peeled and large julienne
  • 1/4 cup green or golden raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of white grape juice or apple juice
  • Some threads of saffron

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup white wine or apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon sweet mustard (brown or “Ballpark” style)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground or ground cinnamon
  • Outer or large leaves of kale


Blanch the parsnips, celery root, white radish and cabbage (to your desired degree of crispness); Drain and immerse in an ice bath or very cold water. Drain and pat dry on kitchen or kitchen paper. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and add the pear, raisins, fennel seeds, ginger powder, vinegar, juice and saffron. Stir, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make a dressing with the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the cabbage leaves, by heating them together in a small pan or saucepan, simmering for a few minutes, and then cooling the mixture. (You can also heat the dressing in the microwave and then let it cool down well.) Mix with the chilled vegetables and serve in bowls with the large cabbage leaves.

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