Although I already have enough cookbooks to choose from, my original plan was to go to the library and take out Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking. (Some of you already know this, having read my post, Potluck, and to you I offer my apologies for being repetitious.) The book was already taken out, so I asked the reference librarian to put me on the list for it. But I did find a couple of other cookbooks, some culinary library loot which seemed right for the Spice of Life Challenge. I could have gone crazy in the library, surrounded by such an impressive array of cookbooks, but instead I checked out only two books, The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black, and a huge one called The Way to Cook by Julia Child (not the one I wanted, but still Julia Child).
For this post, my second for the Spice of Life Challenge, I'll focus on The Medieval Cookbook, which was published in 1992, and which attracted my attention for a few different reasons. I liked the idea of learning about the cookery of a past era, namely the Middle Ages. Also, when I was in college, my school held an annual Medieval Feast which I enjoyed greatly, a lavish, six-course extravaganza, complete with costumes and skits. This cookbook also has reproductions of Medieval art, as well as recipes from manuscripts written in Old English (followed by modern English). It features Medieval fare such as Roast Pheasant, Civey of Hare, Grilled Quail, and Sweet-sour Spiced Rabbit. Since I don't eat pheasant nor hare nor quail nor rabbit, I was pleasantly surprised to find a recipe for Lasagne Layered with Cheese in this cookbook. It actually sounds delicious enough to try.
Here it is, from the book, in Old English:
"Losyns. Take good broth and do in an ethen pot. Take flour of paynedemayn and make therof past with water, and make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeth it in broth. Take chesrucryn grated and lay it in dishes with powdour douce, and lay theron loseyns isode as hoole as thou myght, and above powdour and chese; and so twyse or thryse, & serue it forth. (CI. IV. 50.)"
Maggie Black also writes out the recipe in modern English, and lets us know that we can use ready made lasagne noodles (how about the no-boil kind?). This recipe, which is basically lasagne noodles layered with grated cheddar cheese, calls for a pinch of ground mace and cardamom or cinnamon, and white pepper, which sounds interesting, and seems very easy. The author suggests that this would have been an ideal last course in the Middle Ages, " to 'seal' in the alcohol so often imbibed too freely by the young".
What about you? What kind of cookbooks appeal to you and why? I look forward to hearing from you.