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Friday, July 13, 2018


Little Chef Makes Waffles
Photo from: Colleen Proppe
sobrecoch, long white apron worn by cooks. It became mandatory for cooks in the in the Aragonese court in 1344 to wear one. At that time Pedro IV issued an ordinance regulating the duties in rituals relating to food, the preparation of it and the ceremony of serving it. [Alonso Luengo. 1994:41:49; and Martínez Llopis“Prólogo” 1982:11]

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Rolling out Kneaded Dough
Photo by: Lord-Williams

ablandarloOCast souarlo,Eng.to knead it, soften it, to add lard it, oil or dough during the kneading process. Actually this means dipping hands in grease when kneading dough.

Granado, in Libro del Arte de Cozina(1599), gives several recipes for meat and fish pastries. His pastelof meat in "oxaldre" has a bottom crust of flour and water, kneaded for half an hour until it is firm, and a top crust of leaf-pastry. 

[Anón/Huici 1966:146:409:410 etc.; Granado. 1971; Ibn Razīn/Granja.1960:1:19:60:22:86:23; Medieval Spanish Chef. “cobertor.” Feb 27, 13;Nola. 1989.xliii-2:xliiii-3:lxx-1 etc; “Flatbread,” Feb 6, 17; “hallulla.” Jan 30, 15; “hoz” :27 Apr 15; etc Nola/Iranzo. 1982:171; and Sas. 1976:590]
[Medieval Spanish Chef. “cobertor.” Feb 27, 13; Ibn Razīn/Granja.1960:1:19:60:22:86:23; Nola/Iranzo. 1982:171; and Sas. 1976:590]

Monday, July 9, 2018


Little Bustard
Photo from: Peter Beesley

OCast. seysón, sysón, susón,L. Tetrax tetrax, Eng. little bustard. These are medium size birds, about 40 cm long or 16” long. The top of the head is black with pale rusty spots, the sides of the head, throat and chin are reddish white with some dark spots. The male’s neck is black with a white collar. The back and wings are a red with brown spots and irregular little black lines. Underneath, the body is white as well as the outer edges of the wings. Eighteen feathers make up the tail. The two outer sides are white with irregular black bands, while those in the middle are tan. 

The female is smaller and has no collar. She lays three or four eggs in June. The chicks follow her around like those of hens until they start flying in mid-August. 

They are residents of Iberia, northern Morocco, central and southern France, Italy and Sardinia. In Spain, they are most frequently seen in Estremadura, the Sierra de Guadarrama (Madrid), the Coto Donana (Huelva), Daimiel National Park (Ciudad Real) and Moncayo in the Ebro River Valley (Zaragoza) where Francisco Goya, the painter, was born. As per Villena, they were abundant in Aragon during the 15 C.

In summer, some may visit northern areas such as England, Ireland, Scandinavia, the Baltic States and Poland. They prefer open areas like pastures, meadows, steppelands or cultivated fields where alfalfa, clover or cereal crops are grown. There they eat seeds, herbs and insects. They are very timid but crafty. When they sense danger, they will fly close to the ground about 100 yards and then run swiftly. 

Little bustards are faster on foot then men. As the great bustard, they are considered exquisite being tastier than chicken or peacock but as they are "near threatened species today, they not eaten. In Great Britian they were found in the moors of southern and eastern England, northern Wales and southern Scotland but became extinct along with beavers for man’s gluttony in those areas. Villena instructs that they should be carved in the same manner as the partridge. See avutarda, castor  and perdiz. 

[ES: Bewick. Nov 14, 00; ES: COMM/DGENV. Mar 5, 03; ES: “Little Bustard.” Nov 1, 2003; Black. 1998:11; and Villena/Calero. 2002:101:22a:28a]

Friday, July 6, 2018


Pouring Syrup
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Ar.sharab  (wine or other beverage), Eng. syrup, a thick sweet liquid concentrated solution of sugar in water with fruit, in accordance with the time of the year, boiled until thickened. Syrups were made in Persian style, known as efshurjwhich were boiled three times, as juwarish, a fruit paste or others times known as faludajor dried fruit paste. They were used as preservatives and sweeteners in cookery and confections, as a cold drink or for purging. 

Avenzoar gives recipes for various syrups for digestive purposes and to regulate the humors. Hispano-Arab syrups were original as they contained flowers such as roses The Anon Al-Andalusprovides two recipes for flowers as well as many others that include aloes and citron leaves. Avenzoar’s provides recipes calling for roses and lilies. See almíbar, jarabe and arrope. 

[Anón/Huici.1966:50:40:490:269:492:270 etc; Delgado. 1994:207; Zuhr/García Sánchez1992: 101-109; and OXF Eng Dict.1989:XVII:Su:945]



½ lb borage leaves
½ lb mint leaves
½ lb citron leaves
½ lb sugar
1 tbsp aloe stems
1 tbsp Chinese rhubarb
1 tbsp Chinese cinnamon
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cloves


Cook leaves covered with water until tender. Add sugar. Pound aloe stems, Chincese rhubarb, chinese cinnamon, cinnamon and cloves until coarse. Put them in a cloth bag and tie well. Place this in a pot and macerate it svral times until the flavor comes out and the liquid takes on the consistency of syrups. Then add three cups of hot water for every ½ lb of leaves. 

Take half a ratl each of borage, mint, and citron leaves, cook them in water to cover until their strength comes out, then take the clean part and add it to a ratl of sugar. Then put in the bag: a spoonful each of aloe stems, Chinese rhubarb, Chinese cinnamon, cinnamon and clove flowers; pound all these coarsely, place them in a cloth, tie it well, and place it in the kettle, macerate it again and again until its the flavor comes out, and cook until [the liquid] takes the consistency of syrups. Take one û qiya with three of hot water. Benefits: It profits [preceding two words apparently supplied; in parentheses in printed Arabic text] weak stomachs, fortifies the liver and cheers the heart, digests foods, and lightens the constitution gently, God willing.

Monday, July 2, 2018


Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)
Photo from: Chcuk Kime
L. silphium(Firulanarthex)Ar. anjudān, Fr.silphium, Eng. silphium. It is a Mediterranean plant also called laser and laserpitium. The Arabic “’Ūd al-raqqa” is the “mahrūth”or root of silphium from which the resin or juice is extracted. This yields asafœtida, also called Devil’s dung, fetid gum or resin. 

The Ancients used the juice medicinally for its extensive heeling properties. It was added to food in small quantities to give it a fragrant effect. Too much spoils the food. 

Romans used the powdered root is a condiment as much as liquamen. Barbara Flower recommends it for fish specially. It is thought that it was used for its aphrodisiacal effect and in food prepared for banquets especially. It was a major export from Cyrenaica as it grew in large quantities there but was extinct by Pliny’s time. Apicius provides two rcipes for Silphum Sauce.

In North Africa it was grown especially in Cyrene where it was cultivated for export. There it was used in medicine and in cooking. The Anon al Andalus calls for it in "Tabahaja," a dish of fried goat meat. Today, several Middle Eastern recipes call for asafœtida. [Anón/Huici.1966:250:149; Apicius/Flower. 1958:28-29:57; ES: Lord “Asafœtida,” posted Feb 28, 07; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02; and Pullar. 1970:242] 



dry mint
silphium root


“Dissolve silphium from Cyrenaica or Parthian silphum
in luke-warm water and mix with vinegar and liquamen; or mix pepper, parsley, dry mint, silphium root honey, vinegar, liquamen.

[1] Measurements are not indicated. 
[2] le asafoetida.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Photo by: Lord-Williams
Cat  bolets, L. Agaricus campestres, etc, Eng wild mushrooms. Essentially, these are members of the basidiomycetes group of fungi (see hongos). In Europe there are some 3,500 species including saffron milk caps (Sp. niscálo), truffles (Sp. trufas) and amanitas, poisonous mushrooms.

 As mushroom spores are not visible to the human eye, during the Middle Ages, wild mushrooms were defined as ‘spongy vegetables spontaneously born after rain in meadows and the majority produce colic.’ 

Avenzoar relates that wild mushrooms are much worse than truffles, for they when totally digested generate a chyme that is a little noxious. Mushrooms growing in manure can cause death by poison or asphyxiation. 

Although much has been learned since, mushrooms continue to contain many secrets for men. It has been found that wild mushrooms are more prolific in areas with large rat populations. Too, man has had very little success in cultivating these species. 

Sliced Mushrooms for Frying
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Of the edible fungi in this group, the same cooking rules apply for hundreds of years. They can be grilled, cooked in ashes or fried if the flesh is very soft. Boiling them causes loss of aroma and flavor. They can be served as a side dish as seen in Richard II of England’s coronation or to garnish roast meat or fowl. Sent Soví calls for a mushroom sauce with parboiled and fried mushrooms mixed with ground herbs, spices and chopped onion and vinegar and verjuice. They are added to sauces to enhance the flavor. 

The poisonous amanitas and puffballs, unfortunately have a place in history. Agrippa, Emperor Claudius’ fourth wife, had him poisoned with the death cap (Amanita phalloides) in order for Nero, her son from a previous marriage, to succeed as emperor, which turned out to be an important step in the fall of the Roman Empire. 

Pope Clemente VII was poisoned by the death cap too. It is believed that Buddha died from an unidentifiable mushroom growing underground. Still people die from puffballs or mushroom poisoning every year. 

[Anón/Grewe. 1982:CLXXXXV:165; ES: Cobos. Oct 1, 04; ES: Farabee. Jul 2, 01; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:91; and Villena/Calero. 2002:24a:39b:40b]

See blog titled "cagarria" for Sent Sovi's Recipe CXXXXV "How to Make Mushroom Sauce," published June 20, 2012 and blog titled "Hongo" published April 6, 2015 for a different version of the same recipe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Straing Made Apples and Juice
Photo by: Lord-Williams
OCast sícera(10thC.), Eng cider. Apple juice, which can be fermented or unfermented. It also varies as to the type of apples used, whether they are sweet, bitter or sour. Since the Middle Ages, Asturias has been known for its hard cider, which is drunk instead of wine. It is fermented in chestnut barrels before bottled. It was a common beverage for peasants and the middle class in northern medieval Spain. [Castro. Alimentación.1996:151-152; and Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:44:160]



4 ripe apples
¼ c sugar


Peel apples and remove the core. Mash the apples saving the juice. Add sugar to the juice. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.