[Sca-cooks] Newish Book about Medieval Cooking

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Mon Feb 1 10:18:33 PST 2010

Anything by Peter Brears is worth looking at!

My review of this book appeared in TI sometime back

In part, here's what I wrote:

"Cooking and Dining In Medieval England features some 200 plus  
historically accurate and tested recipes and variations. This  
selection covers a full range of medieval English dishes, ranging from  
meats, poultry, fish, pottages, vegetables, sauces, tarts, pies, and  
various sweets. snipped Brears provides a critical study that examines  
and reconstructs “the precise rituals and customs of dinner” in  
medieval England. The author brings an unusual architectural and  
historical perspective to the subject. He writes “Even in the last  
twenty years the lack of such knowledge has seen leading architectural  
historians publishing completely speculative, unreasoned nonsense….we  
really should expect that archaeologists should know that a boiler is  
not an oven and that food historians should know that meat is roasted  
in front of a fire, not over it, but these and other very basic  
misunderstandings are still commonplace. We should feel great sympathy  
for those involved in historical re-enactment who wish to give great  
accuracy to their work, but still find it difficult to obtain the  
essential information they require. Although later research will  
surely find faults in this book, it will at least improve the present  
situation, and hopefully fuel further useful debate.” Here we have a  
book written by a scholar that addresses the real questions raised  
when we attempt to recreate medieval English cookery.

             In addition to the recipes and text, the book contains 75  
excellent B/W line illustrations that are fully documented with source  
notes, plus two B/W cartoon panels that explain and illustrate in  
annotated sequences “Archbishop Neville’s Enthronement Feast” from  
1466 and “Serving a meal in the Chamber.” Thirty pages are devoted to  
the bibliography and separate section of footnotes.

             All in all this is a marvelous and valuable book and sure  
to become a necessary and much loved reference volume in the libraries  
and kitchens of the Society’s Cooks."

It also won the most prestigious award given for cookery books in the  

It's worth adding to your shelf.


On Feb 1, 2010, at 1:03 PM, Susan Lin wrote:

> Anyone have an opinon about this book?  I have a friend who works in a
> library and they just got it - she offered to bring it to me to look  
> at and
> I'd like to know if she should waste her time.
> Thanks.
> Shoshanna
> Cooking and Dining in Medieval
> England

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