Thursday, June 24, 2010

Starting Points

When I first started researching medieval cooking - back in the dark ages before the invention of the internet - there were few resources available to anyone who didn't live close to an academic library. The few good sources of information were either people you had to go find, or texts that been copied and re-copied so many times that they were almost unreadable. Now there are so many resources that the beginner is likely to be overwhelmed.

Even on my own page of recommended books I've got an awful lot of titles listed, and for people who are just beginning to study medieval European cuisine, or those who just want to touch on the subject lightly, it can be difficult to figure out where to start.

So I thought I'd take a moment here to list a handful of what I see as basic works - books that provide an easy point of entry to the subject.

For an overview of medieval European cuisine, I'd recommend the following:

The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages by Terence Scully

Cooking in Europe, 1250-1650 by Ken Albala

Both of these books are well written in a very approachable style. They provide the general context of medieval cooking as clearly and simply as possible.

If you want to try and cook medieval foods however, you'll need recipes. There are a handful of websites out there which have recipes worked out already, but there are many medival cookbooks widely available, and working from the original source is really cool and very educational. Below are a few that I feel are good, basic sources, broken down by region. The best part is that most of them are available online for free.


Forme of Cury
(included in "Curye on Inglish" - in Middle English)
(free online version - in Middle English)

Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books
(in Middle English)
(free online version - in Middle English)


Le Méenagier de Paris
(English translation, as "The Goodman of Paris")
(free online version -in French)
(free online version - English translation)

The Viandier of Taillevent
(in French, inlcludes English translation)
(free online version - English translation)


Das Buch von guter Speise
(free online version - in German)
(free online version - in German with English translation)


The Neapolitan Recipe Collection
(in Italian with English translation)

Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco
(free online version - in Italian)
(free online version - English translation)

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