[Sca-cooks] Cookbooks for Beginners

Doc edoard at medievalcookery.com
Mon Jun 2 08:15:14 PDT 2008

--- Liz Wilson <ewilson618 at tx.rr.com> wrote:

> I recently received a small gift certificate to
> Barnes and Noble.  I think
> I can use it on line and in the store.
> As a beginning period cook, what are 3 to 5 of the
> best period cookbooks
> (in print, not outrageously priced, preferably under
> $50) for beginners, 
> or cooking library "must haves" for those just
> starting out?

For medieval English cooking, I'd recommend either of
the following.  

Curye on Inglish  ($34.00)
Constance B. Hieatt (ed.), Sharon Butler (ed.)
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0-19-722409-1

Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books 1430-1450 
Faulke Watling (ed.), Thomas Austin (ed.)
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0-85991-849-1

They're both primary sources, are squarely within SCA
period, and are treasure-troves of medieval recipes.

If you're looking for a book that has original source
along with some recipes worked out, then Renfrow's
"Take a Thousand Eggs or More" ($27.00) would be a
good choice.  It has the text from "Two Fifteenth
Century Cookery Books" along with recipes she worked

For medieval French cooking, there are the following
primary sources (with translation).

The Viandier of Taillevent  ($21.60)
Terence Scully (trans.)
University of Ottawa Press
ISBN: 0-7766-0174-1

The Vivendier: A Fifteenth-Century French Cookery
Manuscript  ($22.95)
Terence Scully (trans.)
Prospect Books
ISBN: 0-907325-81-5

The Goodman of Paris (Le Ménagier de Paris)  ($27.95)
Eileen Power (trans.)
Boydell Press
ISBN: 1-843-832224

All three of the above are primary sources either in
English or with English translations.  Again, if you
want something more geared to the beginner, Scully's
"Early French Cookery"  ($26.95) is an excellent
choice (though it doesn't have a huge number of
recipes).  Then again,  any of Terrence Scully's other
books is worth buying - he's just plain awesome.

> Are there any
> cookbooks that beginners should definitely avoid?

I'm sure that many here will speak up about "Fabulous
Feasts" - suffice it to say it's pretty much worthless
in terms of doing research and re-creating.

I'm personally not thrilled with Maggie Black's
edition of "The Good Housewife's Jewel" - she rather
mangled it in editing, and it's especially not worth
buying since there's a beter version online for free.

Similarly, I'd pass on both "Sallets, humbles &
Shrewsbery cakes" and "Dining with William
Shakespeare".  Both of these are more "show" books, ok
for the dabbler, but neither has the depth necessary
to make them worthwhile in the long run.

- Doc


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