April 15 ...
The feedback yesterday convinced me that the rationale behind the mock chicken pie made from pork and potatoes was indeed because chicken was a luxury meat ‘back then’ – compared to ordinary every-day pork. The second part of the conundrum remains however – was it intended to fool the family (or guests)? If they were fooled, did the cook have the last laugh silently, or did she reveal the trick after receiving the praise?
Today’s choices cause no such dilemma. They are foods intended purely for fun, and as they come from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, they demonstrate for just how long we have been playing with our food.
The first one is from The Form of Cury, the first known English cookery manuscript which was compiled by the Master Cooks of King Richard II right at the end of the fourteenth century. It is for ‘Golden Apples’ – meat balls made with a ‘farsur’ or ‘farce’ of ground meat, which are then ‘gilded’ with egg and saffron (or parsley if you want Green Apples). See if you can make out the instructions, now that you have some clues. I will post a ‘translation’ at the end of the week.
Farsur to make pomme doryse and oþere þynges. Take þe lire of Pork rawe. and grynde it smale. medle it up wiþ powdre fort, safroun, and salt, and do þerto Raisouns of Coraunce, make balles þerof. and wete it wele in white of ayrenn. & do it to seeþ in boillyng water. take hem up and put hem on a spyt. rost hem wel and take parsel ygronde and wryng it up with ayren & a party of flour. and lat erne aboute þe spyt. And if þou wilt, take for parsel safroun, and serue it forth.
The second is another favorite that kept popping up for centuries under various spellings. It is for ‘yrchouns’ or ‘hirchones’ – that is, ‘urchins’ or ‘hedgehogs’ – made with spiced ground pork stuffed into pigs’ maws (stomachs) to form fat sausage shapes which were then stuck all over with ‘spines’ made from blanched almonds cut ‘small and sharp’, or in some recipes from small ‘prikkes’ of pastry. The recipe I give you is from the early fifteenth century Harleian manuscript: another source actually suggests making ‘hirchones’ with the maw (stomach) of ‘one great swine’ and five or six maws of (smaller) ‘pigges’- the idea being, apparently, to have a happy little hedgehog family on the table to delight the guests. If you cant get any pigs’s maws at the butcher this week, make them as you would a meatloaf and they will be fine.
Take Piggis mawys and skalde them wel; take groundyn Pork and knede it with Spicerye, with pouder Gyngere, and Salt and Sugre; do it on the mawe, but fille it nowt to fulle, then sewe them with a fayre threde and putte them in a Spete and men don piggys. Take blaunchid Almoundys and kerf them long, smal and scharpe, and frye them in grece and sugre. Take a ltytle prycke and pryckke the yrchons. An putte in the holes the Almoundys, every hole half, and lech fro sometimes. Ley them then to the fyre; when they be rostid, dore them, sum with Whete Flowre and mylke of Almoundys, sum grene, sume blake with Blode, and lat them nowt browne to moche; and serve forth.
Tomorrow’s Story …
Mock Food No. 3
Quotation for the Day …
A clever cook, can make....good meat of a whetstone.
Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536)