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Monday, October 20, 2014


Photo from: Dominique Montestier
Fr. canif, ganivet, canivet, Eng. penknife, pocketknife, paring knife, a 25 cm curved knife. It can be used to slaughter animals. Villena gives detailed instructions on its use in carving. He instructs, for example that when preparing trout, first the head is cut off with a small gañivete. The small knife is used to slit open the side and remove the bones starting from the tail, the bones are plucked out with the tip of the knife.

Villena also explains that it is used to cut bread and to skin fruit. The skin of truffles is removed with this knife. It is used to skin carrots and when preparing thistle and atrichokes.  [Covaarrubias. 1998:627:a:50; and Villena/Calero. 2002:23a: 38a-38b:39b:40a etc]


Preparing Carrots with a Paring Knife
Photo by: Lord-Williams

2 lbs carrots[1]
salt to taste
1 c olive oil for frying
½  c vinegar
1 garlic clove mashed
1 tsp caraway

with the addition of:[2]
¼ c honey
2 tsp Duke’s Powder[3]

1 tbsp brown sugar


A Typical Sweet and Sour Medieval Dish
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cut off the tips and the bottoms of the carrots. Then cut them into thirds without skinning. Clean them and slice them lengthwise. Put then on boiling water with salt. When tender remove them and dry them. Fry them in a frying pan with olive oil. Then add boiling vinegar, mashed garlic and  caraway.

If following the Medieval Spanish Chef’s additions: Add the honey and Duke’s Powder. Mix all ingredients well. Before serving sprinkle with brown sugar.

[1] Orange carrots were used as white carrots were not available. White carrots would be more in keeping with the period.
[2] The following ingredients were added by the Medieval Spanisih Chef as the recipe tends to be insipid.
[3] See blog titled escrúpulo published April 18, 2014.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Bombus's landing on asphodel flower
Photo from Rovanto
This blue cheese is lightly smoked before placed in caves to mature naturally. It is one of the most popular Spanish cheeses. It is named after gamón, the common name in Spanish for asphodel, an herb of the lily family baring small white or yellow flowers that is abundant in the regions where the cheese is made in El Cornión Mountains in the western part of Picos de Europa, Asturias.

During spring and summer, nomadic livestock graze in the pastures of these highlands. The cheese is made only when the herds are in these mountains, i.e. from May through September. Unlike most other blue cheeses except cabrales cheese, this is made from a mixture of the morning and evening milking’s of cows, ewes and goats. The measurements do not depend on cups, but the yield of the animals.

El Quesu Gamonéu
Photo form: Desdeasturias.com

The next morning as much whey as possible is removed from the curds produced from acid coagulation. The whey is expelled after pressing for several consecutive days. Coarse salt is then sprinkled on the cheeses and they are left for two to three weeks on wooden racks to air and absorb the smoke from ash trees inside the hut where the herdsmen live. During this time the cheeses acquire a toasted chestnut color.

Then they are taken the natural eaves or caves in the mountainside facing north and having a constant temperature of 12-15° C and 90-95% humidity for two months. Here Penicillium roqueforti, the principal agent for maturing, takes over until the rind has developed a thick coat of variegated grayish-greenish-reddish moldy down.

Gamoneo del Valle
Photo from: Martñi Vicente 

The cheeses are cylindrical shape and weigh two to five kilos. When cut, the cheese is crumbly but dry and has a slightly piquant flavor. It is a soft cheese spread on bread or beaten with cider. There are so many uses for cheese. There is no one recipe. In medieval times, it was fast food carried in saddlebags along with bread and sausages while riding on horses and mules throughout Spain. See cabrales. [Garcí
a del Cerro. 1990:182; González de Llano. 1990:141; Inventario. 1996:264-265; and Misc. Conversations. Concha de Tielve. 4-5 Jun 03]