[Sca-cooks] New? Book: The Medieval Cook

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Fri May 1 04:49:06 PDT 2009

I was asked offlist what bothered me as to this volume.
I can report that although the publisher is describing The Medieval Cook
as a book where "Particular use is made of their frequent appearance in 
the margins of lluminated manuscript, whether as decoration, or as a 
teaching tool"
the actual number of illustrations is a rather paltry 19.

In fact her volume Fast and Feast which appeared in 1976 contained at 
least 44 illustrations.
So this volume has less than half the number of illustrations found in 
that book. Her volume The Medieval Calendar Year which appeared in 1999 
has more than 100! What bothers me about the lack of illustrations in 
this volume is the fact that I know Henisch has been tracking 
illustrations of medieval dining and cookery since the early 1980's.
I have a conference proceedings from 1984 which contains a paper that 
she presented on the topic. It was titled 'Unconsidered Trifles: the 
Search for Cookery Scenes in Medieval Sources.' It seems to me this 
volume should have included more illustrations or provided a list of
illustrations and manuscripts to explore on one's own.
(I suspect that the increased fees for illustrations may be playing a 
role here. Non-profit university presses are sometimes also able to get 
better deals on fees.)

Here's the Contents--
1 	   	The Cook in Context
2 	   	The Cottage Cook
3 	   	Fast Food and Fine Catering
4 	   	The Comforts of Home
5 	   	The Staging of a Feast
6 	   	On the Edge: the Cook in Art
7 	   	Select Bibliography
8 	   	A Selection of Medieval Recipes
9 	   	Suggestions for Further Reading

The selection of medieval recipes relies on the 1928 Eileen Power 
translation of The Goodman of Paris, so nothing new.
Last but not least, one of the papers that she doesn't cite or mention
is one of Constance Hieatt's. In this case I am left wondering why

Hieatt, Constance B. 'A cook of 14th-century London : Chaucer's Hogge of 
Ware'. In Walker, Harlan (ed.), Cooks & other people : proceedings of 
the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 1995 (Totnes: Prospect Books, 
1995), 138-43.

would not have been included.

So while I'll recommend the volume because yes there is a lot in it that 
society cooks will enjoy, it comes with some questions and reservations.


Johnna Holloway wrote:
> I am doing a review even as we speak.
> She did Fast and Feast. I think it's worth having although it's a bit 
> strange.
> Will post the review once I have it and the new Hieatt done.
> Johnnae
> lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:
>> I don't recall if this book has been discussed on the list. My 
>> current e-mail set-up is problematic and i'm not sure how to fix it. 
>> That means i haven't been posting much (you lucky listees, you!)
>> The Medieval Cook
>> by Bridget Ann Henisch
>> 200 pages
>> Boydell Press
>> February 2009
>> ISBN-10: 1843834383
>> ISBN-13: 978-1843834380
>> Anyway, Amazon (US) "recommended" this book to me (can't imagine why 
>> :-). So far no one has rated it or reviewed it. So i wondered if 
>> anyone here has spent some time with it.
>> Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
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