[Sca-cooks] Myth of Spoiled Meat

David Walddon david at vastrepast.com
Fri Nov 20 22:51:30 PST 2009

There is a pesce Cane recipe in Martino that uses agliata and mustard sauce
to "dress' the fish. A detail description of the recipe can be found in
Oxford Symposium Papers 'fish Food from the Waters".

The last line of the recipe is relevant to this discussion. Here is the line
and the footnote from the paper. "But dress it well, as it shall not ever be
good when its nature is unpleasant[1]".

[1] When humoral theory is applied to the final phrase of this recipe it
becomes clear Martino was telling his reader that garlic sauce and mustard,
which are both hot and dry in nature, will balance the natural cool, wet
tendency of the fish. For an in-depth discussion of humoral theory consult
The Medieval Health Handbook; Tancuinum Sanitatis edited by Luisa Cogliati
Arano, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, Tempering Medieval Food"
(included in Food in the Midddle Ages), Mixing it up in the Medieval Kitchen
(included in ACTA Vol. XXI by Terrance Scully. Ep.1598 translates the entire
final phrase as "But dresse it in what sort you will, it will never bee good
as being naturally of no good taste".


On 11/20/09 8:54 AM, "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"
<adamantius1 at verizon.net> wrote:

> On Nov 20, 2009, at 11:37 AM, Euriol of Lothian wrote:
>> Well there was at least one spice that was readily available throughout most
>> of Europe to just about everyone, I suspect, and that was mustard. Two of the
>> three species of mustard plants are native to Europe according to The Penguin
>> Companion to Food. Most of the pre-17th century culinary texts I've looked at
>> have at least one recipe for mustard sauce.
>> One of the things I struggle with is the concept that a cook of these time
>> periods would be trying to "cover the flavors" of other ingredients. Yes,
>> certainly herbs (fresh & dried) were used but when I've looked at a 16th
>> century herbal it discusses the humor of the particular herbs. I think it was
>> far more about, in the cook's mind, balancing the humors of the food to the
>> person and situation in which is being served.
> If you look here for an earlier article by Terry Nutter on this question, it
> mentions the (I think 14th or 15th century) Opusculum de Saporibus ("A Little
> Book On Sauces") which goes into some detail on the role of humoral balance in
> matching sauces to foods and diners' humoral states. "And if salted, the sauce
> shall be mustard..." ;-)
> [Okay, that's actually from the Einseignements...]
> http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/sca-cooks-ansteorra.org/2008-March/015535.ht
> ml
> Adamantius
> "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 bellies."
> -- Rabbi Israel Salanter
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