[Sca-cooks] Silly Siense Season...

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Jul 29 06:26:53 PDT 2008

Hullo, all! Yeah, I misspelled it.

Over the weekend, in connection with the previous thread on pulled  
sugar, I was looking at BL MS Add. 32085, which is "MS A" in Constance  
Hieatt's Speculum article entitled, "Two Anglo-Norman Culinary  
Collections," based on manuscripts originally dating from the late  
thirteenth century (I think).

In it, there's a recipe for luce (which is a pike-like fish) in soup.  
The fish is parboiled and then fried, finished in a sauce, and poured  
into a serving dish which may or may not contain some sort of sops or  
toasts (hence the "soup", as opposed to simply "pottage"). One  
instruction caught my eye, in connection with various discussions  
we've had here over the years as to exactly how fish was fried in  
period -- pan-fried, deep-fried, floured or not, etc.

Taillevent, for example, says cuttlefish is fried in an iron pan  
without flour, which suggests that some people fried some fish with  
flour. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot else out there in the way  
of specifics on the process.

So, in the middle of the twelfth recipe in this MS Add. 32085, is the  

"e tut manere de pessons, ke bon seit in ceste manere, com ci orrez  
coment, serrunt fris saunz gresse: pernez le moel de l'oef ou deus, e  
oingnez la paele dekes autant ke ele face semblaunt de sure; e ke la  
paele seit bien sué de un drap, e ke la paele seit bien gardee ke ele  
ne seit trop chaude ne trop freide, e metez un poi de sel, ou de  
sucre; si cum vos metez chescun aprés autre desus un plater, ke nul ne  
apruce autre"

Hieatt's translation of this passage is:

"and all kinds of fish, for best results, should be fried without  
grease in the manner here described; take an egg yolk or two and rub  
the (hot) pan until it appears to sweat; the pan should be quite black  
and wiped thoroughly with a cloth, and it should be carefully watched  
lest it become too hot or too cold; sprinkle a little salt or sugar on  
(the surface of) the pan; [fry the fishes] as you would serve them on  
a plate, putting in one after the other without letting them each other"

In Hieatt's notes on this recipe, she says, among other things, that  
"It is not the egg yolk which gives the appearance of 'sweating,' but  
the cholesterol left behind when the coating of yolk is wiped from the  
pan with a cloth."

I just thought that was really cool. Doesn't it look a lot like  
instructions for seasoning an iron pan and pan-broiling a steak  
without any fat?

Adamantius (as previously noted, easily amused)

"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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