[Sca-cooks] galingale/galanga/galangal

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 11 03:51:50 PST 2007

On Jan 11, 2007, at 12:37 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> I received this message today, which I will be placing in the
> Florilegium. However, I was under the impression that "galingale" was
> the same as "galanga or galangal", probably from, as Jason mentions,
> comments from this list.
> So can any one clarify this or refute one assertion or the other?

As I'm understanding them, there are no mutually exclusive assertions  
being made, and no refutation needed. There are plants found in the  
far East, rhizomes related to ginger, used as a spice, known  
collectively as galingale, distinguished as Greater and Lesser  
galingale, used in the cookery of China and Southeast Asia,  
particularly Indonesia, under names like galanga, kencur and laos. To  
me, they taste a little like ginger and a lot like eucalyptus. This  
is the galingale generally referred to medieval English recipes,  
clearly seen as a spice (IOW, a flavoring to be used in small  
quantities) and listed both in recipes and shipping records with  
other valuable Eastern imports.

The sedge often referred to as galingale is indeed a European plant  
that is edible, but as far as I know, its edible portion is more  
tuberous and starchy. I believe this is the wild vegetable known in  
English as galingale, but in French as souchet and amandes de terre.  
It's used as food, yes, but although aromatic, not as a spice, and  
not in the same way as the medieval English cook's galingale. I'd be  
very interested in seeing evidence indicating that souchet is the  
galingale referred to in, say, The Forme of Cury, because there's at  
least a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that it is not; the  
only evidence I have seen that suggests it might be is the mere fact  
that this European plant exists and is called by a similar name  
(maybe because the tubers look vaguely like the rhizomes); I'm  
certainly not aware of any recipes that instruct the cook to go and  
dig up some galingale from the kitchen garden, while there are  
probably at least a hundred that list it in the same category as  
ginger, pepper, grains of paradise, etc.

FWIW, the 1985 "American" edition of the Larousse Gastronomique has  
an article about galingale, the sedge  (I pulled it out because I  
recalled it having a neat little picture of it and everything, but  
apparently I was mistaken on the photo thing; I know I've seen one  

Hope this helps...


> I am copying him on this message. Please remember that he is not on
> this list so copy him on any replies. I will try to remember to
> forward any replies to him, however.
> Bear, you seem to be rather good at solving these kinds of puzzles,
> so I'd especially like to hear your comments on this.
> Thanks,
>    Stefan
> <<<
> From: 	  jason at grazecatering.com
> Subject: 	Galingale
> Date: 	January 10, 2007 4:59:08 PM CST
> To: 	  stefan at florilegium.org
>   First,
> Thanks for providing a forum to exchange information about all things
> medieval.  I would like to point out what seems to be a very glaring
> (although understandable) error that is being taken as fact on your
> site.  I am a chef  of a small catering business specializing in
> globally-inspired hors d'oeuvres.  As a result, I have a tremendous
> assortment of spices from all over the world, and always doing
> research to find new "unusual" or "unknown" ingredients.  Lately I
> have been doing a lot of research on medieval cuisine and cooking
> techniques, which lead to my quest for galingale.  Many contributors
> to florilegium are saying with authority that the spice "galingale"
> mentioned in so many medieval recipes is the same as the spice
> "galanga or galangal" used in southeast Asian cooking.  However, my
> research indicates otherwise.  Galanga (kaempferis parviflora) is a
> rhisome related to ginger, while galingale (cyperus longus) is a
> sedge or type of grass native to the UK and other parts of Europe,
> the root of which has been used for medicine and cooking for
> centuries, if not millenia.  [See www.killerplants.com ]
> I would be interested to hear what others think about this and if
> anyone knows of a source for dried galingale.
> Sincerely,
> Jason Bartis  >>>
> --------
> THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
>     Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas
> StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
> **** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org  
> ****
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