Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I like to read. I like to eat. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I like to eat books.

Er, no--that's wrong. I like to read cookbooks, that's what I meant.

A favorite, sheerly for entertainment value (I haven't actually attempted any of the recipes) is The Medieval Kitchen, which prints recipes from medieval times, mostly from France and Italy, and then translates them into modern cookbook-speak so they can be followed.

Like my late grandmother's recipes, the originals tend to be rather vague. (My sister cleaned up many of Grandma's recipes, which tended toward "handful of this" directions.) Here's an original Italian recipe for meat ravioli:

To make ten platefuls, take a half libra of aged cheese and a little of another fat cheese and a libra of fat hog's tripe or calf's head, and cook it in water till very tender. Then chop it well and take nice herbs, thoroughly chopped, and some pepper, cloves, and ginger; and if you add the chopped breast of a capon, so much the better. And mix all these things together. Then make the dough very thin and enclose the mixture in the dough as it should be. And these ravioli should be no larger than half a chestnut; and cook them in a broth of capon or good meat, colored yellow with saffron when it boils. And let them boil for the time it takes to say two paternosters. Then serve and put on top grated cheese and sweet spices mixed together.

You can use all the nice herbs you have--I have trouble getting by the tripe and/or hog's head, which the modern version thankfully leaves out. And the timing is a bit more precise than telling you to say two Our Fathers.

Any good, interesting-to-read cookbooks you'd recommend?

Oh, and reduced posting ahead. I'm sure you'll muddle through somehow.


God Is My Codependent said...

This isn't necessarily a propos, but I can't sit around waiting for you to make the perfect post to respond with this:

TwoBusy said...

Fat hog's tripe?

It's a good thing I'm around now, because I'm WAY too squeamish to deal with medieval cuisine.

punkinsmom said...

I like the "broth of capon or good meat" line. Like if you don't have good meat, you can use the castrated rooster.

ChefNick said...

Two paternosters, huh? That's quite brief . . . let's see if I recall mine:

Holy Father, Hollowed out and stuffed with mushroom-tarragon dressing be thy name.

Thy will be well done.

Please broil my steak as it is in Heaven, and forgive us our daily hot links and other assorted foodstuffs from Hell.

And by all means, lead us not into temptation! A large fettucine Alfredo comes to mind.

But deliver us from evil McDonald's crap, please.

After all, THINE IS THE KINGDOM! The power, the glory! Prosciutto forever, amen.

Jim Donahue said...

I'm hungry.