[Sca-cooks] medieval caviar

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Sun Mar 4 19:25:23 PST 2007

A couple of translations from Martino:

How to Make Lenten Pottage

Take some good caviar, making sure it is not rancid, and remove the outside
part; the crush well in a mortar, and when it has been well crushed, to make
eight servings, take half of the caviar and then crush it in a mortar with
twenty-five almonds that have been well blanched and an ounce of bread
white; thin with a little cool water and pass through a stamine, adding more
water with the almond milk so there will be enough for eight servings.  Then
place over a flame and add a bit of good oil and some herbs, that is to say,
marjoram, mint and parsley that have been finely chopped.  Then bring to a
boil with milk.  Then add the caviar to the milk after first thinning it
with a bit of the milk in the mortar.  Then put all these things in the pot
and give it a stir with a spoon.  Add a bit of saffron and pepper; and once
you have stirred it, remove.  Then take some and serve in bowls, topped with
sweet spices.  Similarly, you can make this with pike roe, but it must be
well crushed and passed through a stamine.  You can also make it with
sturgeon roe.

How to Prepare Sturgeon Roe Caviar and Cook It As Well

Take some bread slices and toast until slightly browned, and slice the
caviar the same size as the bread slices, but a little thinner, and lay them
on top of the bread;  place the bread slices on the tip of a knife or a fork
suited to this purpose and expose to the air around the flame until the
caviar hardens like a slightly browned crust.  Likewise, you can prepare it
in any other way by first washing in lukewarm water so that it is not so
salty; take some good, small herbs that have been finely chopped, grated
bread white with a bit of finely chopped and gently cooked onion, and a bit
of pepper, to which you add a cup of water; mix all these things together
with the caviar, and shape into one or more fritters, and fry as you would
with eggs.

To make the caviar, take some sturgeon roe, during the season and period
when sturgeon are best, remove from the roe all the nerves inside, and wash
with some good white vinegar or with good white wine.  Place on a table and
allow it to dry; then put it in a pot, adding salt to taste; stir well with
your hands, but carefully so as to crush as little as possible.  And once
this has been done, take a white sack made of rather loose canvas, and toss
in the caviar for a day and a night so that the water it purges will be
strained out.  Once this has been done, put the caviar back in a pot, well
pressed and thick, in other words by pressing it down with your hands.
Three or four small holes at the bottom of the pot will allow moisture to
escape in case the caviar was not properly strained.  Keep the pot well
covered and you can eat the caviar as you wish.

(As presented in Ballerini, Luigi, editor, Parzen, Jeremy, translator, The
Art of Cooking:  The First Modern Cookery Book, Composed by the Eminent
Maestro Martino of Como...; University of California Press, 2005.)

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