Thursday, May 11, 2006

An uncertain soup.

Today, May 11th …

William the Conqueror crowned himself King of England on Christmas Day 1066, but it was not until this day in 1068 that his wife, Matilda was crowned Queen consort. The coronation was naturally followed by a lavish banquet, and a new dish was created for it which was to become a coronation tradition until the reign of George IV in 1821.

William’s cook was a Norman (naturally) by the name of Tezelin. He came up with a white soup called “Dilligrout”, and the story is that William was so pleased he gave Tezelin a manor at Addington in Surrey, on the condition that the manor provide this dish at future coronations in perpetuity. A manor for a bowl of soup!

We will never be sure as to the exact recipe for this soup. The OED is unable to help, saying only that it is some sort of pottage, and is unable even to clarify the derivation of the word. It is possible that it has the same root as groat and grit, referring to coarse grain – although this would hardly seem likely to simulate such royal generosity. Other sources say it was “ .. compounded of almond milk, the brawn of capons, sugar and spices, chicken parboiled and chopped, and was called, also, ‘Le mess de gyron,’ or, if there was fat with it, it was termed maupigyrnun.”, which would have been an expensive, elegant dish and much more appropriate to set before the king.

If this latter description is correct, then the dillegrout/maupigyrun must have been similar to the original “blancmange”, which meant “white food”, and was made from chicken and almond milk. There are no recipes from the time of William’s reign, so we must be content with one from Englands oldest cookery manuscript, the late fourteenth century “The Forme of Cury”.

Blank Maunger.
Take Capouns and seeth hem, thenne take hem up. take Almandes blaunched. grynd hem and alay [mix] hem up with the same broth. cast the mylk in a pot. waisshe rys and do therto and lat it seeth. thanne take brawn of Capouns teere it small and do therto. take white grece sugur and salt and cast therinne. lat it seeth. yhenne messe it forth and florissh it with aneys in confyt rede other whyt. and with Almaundes fryed in oyle. and serue it forth.

Tomorrow: To Pickel Wallnutts Green.

Quotation for the Day …

Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish, game, or any other dish? who would not give all else for two pennyworth only of beautiful soup? Lewis Carroll.

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