Pray forgive me for answering a couple of different messages at once,
and also if someone else has already posted this information -- I'm a
few days behind, and trying to catch up...
> From: "Elizabeth Walpole" <ewalpole@...>
> Subject: Re: Re: Question about SCA Cooking for Newcomers
> Well potatoes are theoretically possible once the Spanish started colonising
> South America, but I don't think they were particularly popular until after
I've found potato recipes in a couple of the late English sources (post
1590-ish, more on that below), but there are only a couple, and nothing
resembling either french fries or mashed potatoes.
> So far as I understand Potatoes were considered dangerous for quite
> a while because of their resemblance to deadly nightshade.
I wish I had a reference on this ... I once saw a television program
that showed how potatoes are grown in the Andean villages in South
America. They told about how the "older" varieties of potato are so
alkaline that in order to render them edible, the villagers basically
stomp on them to break them open, then leave them sitting in the fields
for a year (or at least over the winter) so that they freeze-dry. I
wish I could remember the name of the program or even what it was really
about, so I could find some more information on this. I wonder if it's
possible that these are the sorts of potatoes the Europeans first
encountered, and nobody told them about the importance of the
freeze-drying step? It would explain why people might have thought they
were poisonous, at least at first; then, when they found other varieties
that didn't have this problem, they were more receptive to using them as
Something to dig into in my "spare time". Yeah ....
I've no idea
> about battered fish, it doesn't feel right to me but I might be wrong.
Well, I've seen lots and lots of recipes for fritters -- they seem to
have battered and fried just about everything, including batter. ;) In
fact, Le Menagier has a recipe that works out to be a lot like fried
cheese sticks. But I don't remember seeing much in the way of meats or
fish in the fritter pan.
> Just off the top of my head, I recall that Gerard commented that while
> potatoes were edible, they were better fodder for beasts than for men.
> (I've got the facsimile of the 1604 edition of the "Herball.")
Actually, I'm remembering that that quote was about maize ... ah, here
it is, in the Culinary Gleanings from Gerard's Herball on Cindy
Renfrow's website (http://members.aol.com/renfrowcm/gerardp1.html)
"...Turky wheat doth nourish far lesse than either wheat, rie, barley,
or otes. The bread which is made thereof is meanly white, without bran:
it is hard and dry as Bisket is, and hath in it no clamminesse at all;
for which cause it is of hard digestion, and yeeldeth to the body little
or no nourishment... a more conuenient food for swine than for men."
Of potatoes, Gerard says,
Virginian Potatoes -- ""Battata Virginiana, siue Virginianorum, &
Pappus. Virginian Potatoes.
The temperature and vertues be referred vnto the common [sweet]
Potatoes, being likewise a food, as also a meate for pleasure, equall in
goodnesse and wholesomenesse vnto the same, being either rosted in the
embers, or boyled and eaten with oyle, vinegar, and pepper, or dressed
any other way by the hand of some cunning in cookerie."
Sweet Potatoes -- "Sisarum Peruvianum, siue Batata Hispanorum. Potato's.
The Potato roots are among the Spaniards, Italians, Indians, and many
other nations common and ordinarie meate; which no doubt are of mighty
and nourishing parts... being tosted in the embers they lose much of
their windinesse, especially being eaten sopped in wine. Of these roots
may be made conserues no lesse toothsome, wholesome, and dainty than of
the flesh of Quinces: and likewise those
comfortable and delicate meats called in shops Morselli, Placentulae,
and diuers other such like.
These Roots may serue as a ground or foundation whereon the cunning
Confectioner or Sugar-Baker may worke and frame many comfortable
delicate Conserues, and restoratiue sweete meates.
They are vsed to be eaten rosted in the ashes. Some when they be so
rosted infuse them and sop them in Wine; and others to giue them the
greater grace in eating, do boyle them with prunes, and so eate them.
And likewise others dresse them (being first rosted) with Oyle, Vineger,
and salt, euerie man according to his owne taste and liking.
Notwithstanding howsoeuer they bee dressed, they comfort, nourish, and
strengthen the body, procuring bodily lust, and that with greedinesse."
Of course, Cindy's using the 1633 edition of Gerard, but I'm remembering
that the book of extracts I had from the 1597 edition said much the same
thing about both vegetables. (Unfortunately, said book is buried to
deeply for me to dig out at the moment.)
> > Well potatoes are theoretically possible once the Spanish started
> > South America <snip>
and Eirene said:
> Yes, they were known, but we can only prove that they were eaten by
> beings other than peasants, prisoners, or pigs in period if we find a
> period document that says that they did. There *is* a recipe for
> potatoes in the just-out-of-period corpus, but scholars believe that
> it is for sweet potatoes or yams. Other than that, IIRC, Rumpolt
> (very late German) has a recipe or recipes for potatoes - sweet or
> white, I don't know. In any case, potatoes are anything but typical
> of the cuisines of western Europe, and certainly not before 1537.
The closest I could come, scanning the ones I could find online, are
from John Murrell: A new booke of Cookerie; London Cookerie. London
A Marrow toast.
MJnce colde parboyld Ueale, and Suit very fine, and sweet Hearbs each by
themselues, and then mingle them together with Sugar, Nutmeg, Sinamon,
Rosewater, grated bread, the yolkes of two or three new layd Egges: open
the minst meat, and couer it with the marrow. Then put your toast into
the Pipkin with the vppermost of some strong broth: let it boyle with
large Mace, a Fagot of sweet hearbs, scum them passing cleane, and let
them boyle almost drye. Then take Potato-rootes boyld, or Chest-nuts,
Skirrootes, or Almonds, boyled in white Wine, and for want of Wine you
may take Uergis and Sugar.
To boyle a Capon.
TAke strong broth of Marrow-bones, or any other strong broth, put the
Marrow into a Pipkin with Salt: boyle your Capon in the Pipkin, and
scumme it cleane, before you be ready to take it off, put in your Salt.
Take a pinte of white-Wine in a Pipkin, for one Capon, if you haue more,
you must haue more Wine: halfe a pound of Sugar a quarter of a pound of
Dates sliced, Potatoes boyled, and blauncht, large Mace, Nutmeg sliced:
if you want Potatoes take Endiffe, and for want of both, boyle Skirrets
& blaunch them: boile all together, with a quarter of a pint of Uergis,
and the yolkes of Egges, straine it and stirre it about, and put it to
the Capon with the strong broth.
I thought I remembered that there was one in Hugh Platt, too, and maybe
one or two others, but that's not all online yet, and I don't have the
time to go digging it out just now. Sorry.
1615 *is* post-period, though given the fact that right about that time,
people (like Hugh Plat) were going around and collecting older recipes
and publishing them, I'd say that there's at least a possibility that
these recipes, or variations on them, were used in England prior to 1600
... but probably not much prior. Maybe 1590's. If you wanted to serve
one of the above recipes at an Elizabethan feast, you could make a case
But I agree with Eirene -- they were not typical of European cuisine,
and especially not before 1550.
> From: "Rosine" <nothingbutadame@...>
> Subject: Re: Re: Question about SCA Cooking for Newcomers
> I'm afraid that I'm so wimpy I use potatoes...as a substitute for
> turnips. I do cook the occassional small batch of whatever it is with
> turnips in it, but frankly - I hate the taste of them.
That's probably because nobody's ever told you the secret to cooking
turnips. Here's what you do: Start two pots of water boiling. Toss
your turnips in one of them and boil for five or ten minutes or so.
Drain and rinse. Toss them into the other pot. Give them another 5 or
10. If you're really being fanatical, do it again.
The purpose of this is to get rid of the nasty-smelling-bitter-tasting
chemicals, leaving you with yummy turnips. Even a single boiling
helps. Try it sometime. You might be surprised.
Barony of Caerthe, Outlands