[Sca-cooks] Medieval Food Presentation

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed Apr 22 05:19:15 PDT 2009

On Apr 22, 2009, at 7:49 AM, Jenn Strobel wrote:

> All,
> I have been looking around and didn't see much on how a medieval cook
> would have presented/plated the food that they made.  Does anyone know
> anything about this?

Usually individual recipes will say when there's a strong preference  
on presentation: serve vert de syr on one side of the platter,  
alongside a similar serving of blanc de syr; garnish this dish with  
pomegranite kernels, this one with spice powder only, this one with  
fried onions, this one with fried almond shreds.

And then there's very general stuff like fried foods being dusted with  
sugar, and foods being garnished with candied spices, which are for  
both aesthetic and medical reasons. There are also strict rules for  
carvers on what portions of the bird or other animal were put on the  
plate for whom, and how much of each, depending on station and the  
number of people eating off the plate. This is only partially an  
aesthetic matter, but it does contribute pretty consistently to the  
overall look in a fairly predictable manner; form following function.

Clearly there's enough references to this sort of thing to demonstrate  
that it was something period cooks, carvers, and servers paid  
attention to. I'm not sure there are a lot of collective period  
sources for garnishes, though.


"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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