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Friday, April 12, 2013


Cleaning Mushrooms
Photo by: Lord-Williams

Norm-Fr coquus, coquinarius, cook. Until the 14 C. in Spain and England, cooks were experts as pork butchers and in roasting meats. They were not permanent members on the staff of nobility. Nobles kept different cooks at different estates until the commencement of Humanism at the end of the 14 C. Prior to that, Then the cook became the most valued member of the staff as Christians demanded more refined food, cooks became permanent and more professional. They traveled with the household when it moved from one estate to another for without a satisfied stomach no other paraphernalia of the courtly abode could please the lord. Still there were complaints about the food served on certain estates of Henry VI of England, who continued to keep different cooks at his various estates during the second quarter of the 15th century.

There were exceptions, however, such as Richard II of England’s cooks who were famous for their gourmet cuisine at the end of the 14th century. Generally, cooks and sauce-makers (see salseros) were paid with money or in kind. Fabrics and jewels were given to them in appreciation for their services.

Frying Mushrooms and Wild Parsley
Photo by: Lord Williams
The Arabs were the first to have culinary manuscripts. Those and others later had little circulation prior to the invention of the printing press in second half of the 15th C. Too most cooks were illiterate. In Spain and England, their performance came to be an intellectual exercise based on intuitiveness and experience. Further, the physical demands on cooks cannot be overlooked during this period as he also had to butcher animals almost every day due to lack of refrigeration. This in itself eliminated the possibility of women holding this position. In 15th C. Spain, he wore a large white apron and covered his head to prevent any hairs from showing. See cofiina and sobrecoh. [Alonso Luengo. 1994:41; Gázquez. Cocina. 2002:58-59; Henisch. 1976:68-70:94-95; Serrano. 2008:370, and Warner. 1791:xii:xvii]



Mushrooms with a Drizzle of Honey
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 lb mushrooms[1]
1 handful lovage[2]
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp garum[3]
1 drizzle of honey


Wash and scrape mushrooms until clean. Slice them vertically. Wash the lovage and chop the leaves.

Warm a frying pan. Add olive oil. When hot, add the remaining ingredients, except the honey, and sauté until the mushrooms are done. Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.

[1] The recipe calls for stems but the entire mushroom was used.
[2] Lovage is also called mountain celery or wild parsley. Common parsley was used as lovage could not be found.
[3] See blog titled almorí published Aug 26, 11 for recipe.


  1. If you can't find lovage, celery leaves (off a good dark green head of celery, like from the farmer's market) would be a better substitute than parsley, tasty though the parsley version would be.

  2. My gut reaction is excellent idea.
    It would be interesting to actually find lovage (which I have been unable to do as of to date) and compare the taste to parsley and celery leaves to find out how off or on we are taste-wise.