[Sca-cooks] "blue" blackberry sauce?

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Feb 25 05:57:26 PST 2008

On Feb 25, 2008, at 8:43 AM, Johnna Holloway wrote:

> This may well vary according to the type of berry chosen and that  
> might
> account for the color.
> The new translation of this Martino recipe by Jeremy Parzen (The Art  
> of
> Cooking)
> calls for "Take some wild mulberries that grow in thickets..."
> Gillian Riley in the new Octavo CD-ROM version titled Maestro Martino
> Libro de Arte Coquinaria translates the recipe as:
> A sky blue relish for summer*
> Take the wild berries that grow on brambles and
> mix them with some pounded blanched almonds
> and a little ginger. Thin with verjuice and pass
> through a sieve.
> The note for the recipe reads:
> *Platina’s recipe has been translated as “A Heavenly relish in  
> Summer”;
> caelestinum can mislead, for although this relish might well be  
> heavenly,
> it is azure or sky blue.
> Millham in her Platina translation calls for "mix pounded
> blackberries..." or "Moro ex rubo
> tunsa tritis amygdalis admiscebis."
> So as the recipe was recopied and published and moved into Northern
> Europe in other cookery
> books in the 16th century, the question arises as those "wild berries
> that grow on brambles" might have been.

It may involve either a certain license on the part of the original  
author, or slightly different interpretations of color (i.e. oranges  
being described as golden, red being a shade of brown or vice versa,  
etc.), or even some assumptions made by either the period author or  
the modern reader as to the default meaning of "celestial" as a term  
denoting color; it occurs to me that there's all sorts (or at least  
can be, under the right circumstances) of shades of purple in the  
twilight, night, and pre-dawn sky, which of course is visibly full of  
celestial bodies. I guess it's conceivable that this is what the sauce  
is being compared to.

I also remember something from some work a friend of mine did with  
mawmenny; to the effect that there's a range of colors from what  
amounts to chemical reactions, presumably between almond products and  
acids like wine or fruit juice.

Basically, I don't think we've established fully that this is never a  
blue sauce, or what the original author may have meant if he or she  
describes it as celestial.


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