[Sca-cooks] How old is barley water?

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Thu May 17 10:01:58 PDT 2007

  Volker Bach asked the question.

	Barley water is called tisane (L. tisana or tisanam) in Apicius. His recipe sounds like a soup as he adds onion, herbs and probably parts of trotters. We know through Hartley that Scottish reapers drank barley water to prevent dehydration but this was replaced by salted oatmeal. 
	The Spaniards call it tisana or ordinate. Although the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy defines ordinate as a drink the recipes in Sent Sovi and Nola are thicker. In one of Sent Sovi's barley flour is boiled in chicken broth until it becomes a heavy cream and then mixed it with almond milk and sugar. The other calls for whole grain. Nola's recipes are similar. He uses ground barley and adds cinnamon as well as almond milk and sugar. 
	In Spain barley water as a beverage or cream was very popular from the 14th to the 18th centuries not only for the sick but especially among peasants in rural areas where it was served very cold. Its popularity declined in the middle of  the 18th century but it did not disappear entirely as it still can be found today.  
	Certainly the Scots plain barely water sounds awful. Doctoring it up like the English, French or Spanish versions make it sound like a really novel non-alcoholic drink prefect for camp demos.    

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list