Regulations to safeguard the consumer and allow punishment of unscrupulous professionals are not an exclusive feature of our litigious age. Kings and governments have for centuries made it their concern to see that food sold to the public is safe, and that it is genuine.
In the time of King Richard II, in 1379, certain regulations were laid down to specify what might be included in a pasty, and what must not, and spelled out the punishment for offending pasty-makers.
Ordinances of the Pastelers, or Piebakers, as to pasties.
Because the Pastelers of the City of London have heretofore baked in pasties rabbits, geese, and garbage, not befitting, and sometimes stinking, in deceit of the people; and also, have baked beef in pasties, and sold the same for venison, in deceit of the people; it is therefore, by assent of the four Master Pastelers, and at their prayer, it is ordered and assented to.-
In the first place, - that no one of the said trade shall bake rabbits in pasties for sale, on pain of paying, the first time, if found guilty thereof, 6s. 8d., to the use of the Chamber, and of going bodily to prison, at the will of the Mayor; the second time, 13s. 4d., to the use of the Chamber, and of going etc.
Also, - that no one of the said trade shall buy of any cook of Bredestret, or, at the hostels of the great lords, of the cooks of such lords, and garbage from capons, hens, or geese, to bake in a pasty, and sell, under the same penalty.
Also,- that no one of the said trade shall bake either whole geese in a pasty, halves of geese, or quarters of geese, for sale, on the pain aforesaid.
Richard II’s reign is known for The Forme of Cury, the first English cookery manuscript, prepared for the Master Cooks in the King’s employ, in about 1395. There are no pasty recipes as such – it would not have been considered necessary, as everyone knew how to make dough. Early cookery texts did not give detailed instructions such as a novice could follow – most of the general population was illiterate anyway – they were intended simply as aides memoire for professionals.
I give you, instead of a pasty, an apple pie recipe from The Forme of Cury. The spiced apples were placed in a pastry ‘coffin’ – essentially a container with thick hard walls, which was functional, and would not have been eaten by the well-to-do, but might have been re-filled, or broken up and crumbled into stews as a thickener, or given to the poor.
For To Make Tartys In Applis.
Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel brayed colourd wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.