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Friday, September 19, 2014

FUMARÍA WITH 13TH CENTURY RECIPE FOR FUMATORY SYRUP


White Ramping Fumitory (Fumaria capreolata)
 - closer view of flowers. Lynmouth, Devon
Photo from: ikb
hierba de conejo,palomilla, palomina, L. Fumaria officinalis, Fr. fumeterre, Eng. fumitory, earth smoke. It is a member of the poppy family. This herb is a native of Europe and Asia having some 40 species. Although found on the British Isles, throughout Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia, it seems to prefer the Mediterranean coast.

In Spain, it rarely grows in the interior. Literally translated from Latin, it means “smoke of the earth” because it springs out of the earth like smoke. Too, that is how it smells, like (smoky) dew rising on a summer morning.

It is collected throughout the summer when in bloom. Rabbits (conejos) graze on it and it is feed for baby pigeons (palominos). It was strewn on the floor of castle halls as a disinfectant.

Dioscorides recommended drinking the root, after being boiled in water until half the water has evaporated to reduce sciatic pain and for liver and gallbladder problems. Further, he recommended drinking the oil from the seeds, mixed with hydromel to purge the stomach. Taking fumitory internally actually cleanses the kidneys and liver, which in turn reduces acne, psoriasis and eczema. Also, according to Dioscorides, it increases the urine extretion, which discharges thick humors and materials that were like “cobwebs,” and it stimulates the flow of bile.

It has been called a blood “detergent” for it was thought to purify it. One half to one spoonful of juice was prescribed three times a day for diabetes. In Book VI, Dioscorides classified it as a deadly poison, stating that the plants of the poppy family, eaten or drunk, brought on the same effects as opium.

Externally, the leaves, flowers and oil were mixed together to make a plaster to reduce scars from burns. Some home remedies were to mix the juice of the plant with vinegar and dab it on pimples, blotches, scabs and welts on the skin. The juice was dropped into the eyes of beasts of burden to clear them. Ground leaves were applied in cataplasms to ulcers to speed up heeling. Ulcers and cankers were cleansed with this. Fumitory also was used for plague, gout, choleric humors, leprosy, yellow jaundice, conjunctivitis and depression.

During the Middle Ages, the flowers were used to dye wool yellow. As it is an extremely bitter herb, it is found more in medieval superstition and medicine than in cookery. In flower language it means “ill at ease.” Superstitious Anglo-Saxons and those who practiced witchcraft burned them to ward off evil-spells and spirits. As incense, it dispelled all negative energies. It was thought most appropriate for Halloween when witches made fumitory infusions.

Prior to moving into a new home, ordinary people used to perform a ritual of purification in which fumitory was used to fumigate the abode before unpacking. To increase spiritual concentration and improve mental discipline, it was burned before church services. Finally, in 1750, John Hill recorded that for head disorders dried leaves were smoked.

There is a recipe in the Hispano Arab 13th C manuscript using fumitory to relieve the burning sensation patients have when suffering from jaundice and ringworm. See agua de palomino,
palomilla and palomina. [Anón/Huici.1966: 513:279; Castro. Alimentación. 1996:235; ES: “Fumaria.” Jan 21, 04; ES: “Fumitory.” Apr 22, 04; ES: Murcia. Apr 22, 04]

A BENEFICIAL SYRUP TO RELIEVE BURNING PRODUCED BY JAUNDICE AND REPUGNANT RINGWORM ADAPTED FROM HUICI'S ANÓN, AL-ANDALUS TRANSLATION #513 JARABE QUE APROVECHA CONTRA LOS ARDORES DE LA ICTERICIA Y LA TIÑA REPUGNANTE[1]  

Ingredients
Lengua de buey (alkanet)
 Photo from: Teresalaloba

½ lb fumitory 
½ lb  endives½ lb alkanet
1 lb sugar 
1 lb myrobalan rind 
1 ½ c milk

 

Preparation

Cover the greens with plenty of water and boil until half the water has evaporated. Remove from heat. Press the greens to extract the juice. Clarify it and add sugar.

Boil the myrobalan rind in enough water to cover it and cook until it falls apart and becomes a syrup.

Combine the syrup with the fumitory mixture and drink 3 oz. of this in fresh milk.
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[1] With the exception of endives, the greens are almost impossible to find. Further, it is not known if fumitory is a black market item.  The Medieval Spanish Chef did not even attempt to find the ingredients to try the recipe.

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