[Sca-cooks] Anchovies - what to do?

Daniel & Elizabeth Phelps dephelps at embarqmail.com
Sat Jan 30 08:59:22 PST 2010

les anchoyes au percy, oygnions et vin aigre, et la poudre par dessus

Du fait de cuisine, f. 56v

The above simple list/recipe translates loosely into English as:

anchovies with parsley, onions, vinegar and powdered over with what is 
probably "fine powder".  "Fine powder" per the Menagier de Paris is:

"prenez gingembre 1.3, canelle triece 3, giroffle et graaine de chascum demy 
quart d'once, et de sucre en pierre 3, et faictes pouldre"

It should be noted that in various versions of Menagier the proportions of 
these spices vary.  That being said this, translated into the modern, works 
out, per Scully and Scully, as:

3 tbs. ground ginger
1.5 tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. grain of paradise
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tbs. sugar

The recipe as worked out makes some assumptions.  The onions and anchovies 
need to be cooked for one thing, presumably sauted in olive oil, and the 
mixture combined with vinegar, the parsley and the spice powder.

Having reviewed Scully and Scully's recipe the following is my redaction:

Take three parts chopped onion to one part olive oil and saute the onions in 
the oil.  Take 3 parts red wine vinegar add it to the onions.   Lacking 
fresh anchovies add 3 to 4 parts anchovies canned in oil  and a equal amount 
of parsley, both of which you have chopped fine, to the mixture.  Add the 
spice powder to taste.  Serve the result as a spread on toast points.


Scully, D.E. & Scully, T., 1995, Early French Cookery, University of 
Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Caridoc, Duke & Diana Alena, Duchesa, 1987, A Collection of Medieval and 
Renaissance Cookbooks,  Privately Printed

There is also the example of Mike's lunch menus, which featured anchovies, 
that was sent to me some time back.  Here is the passage of interest sent to 
me by Christianna some time back.  Hope it is of use and she doesn't mind. 
I've thought to do a reproduction of the lunch as an A/S entry but not 
gotten around to it.

"The one real find for me was when I turned a corner tosee a small piece of 
paper in a frame on the wall, with pictures of fooditems on it. When I got a 
closer look, I was amazed! It was an envelopethat Michalangelo received in 
1518, that he had then outlined menus on forilliterate servants. Here is the 
text from the blurb on the wall next toit:"Always frugal and often dealing 
with illiterate assistants, Michalangelosketched these three menus (for two, 
four, and six people) on the back of aletter he received in 1518. His 
annotations read "Two rolls, a pitcher ofwine, a herring, tortelli; four 
rolls, a pitcher of wine, a small quarter ofa rough wine, a plate of 
spinach, four anchovies, tortelli; six rolls, twofennel soups, a herring, a 
pitcher of wine."Each item has a picture of it drawn next to it. I sketched 
the whole thing,and I wish I could post it, but don't have the technology 
right now to doit. (Yes, I stood there a really long time, came to within 6 
inches of it©but no closer, my lord got close enough for the guard to inhale 
sharply © ;)The rolls are just circles, 2,4, and 6 of them. The pitcher of 
wine has ahandle, the quarter of a rough wine ('en quartucco di bruscio') is 
a smallpitcher approximately a quarter of the size of the big one. There are 
acouple of fish outlined (herring = 'una aringa'), and a couple of bowls 
ofwhat must be salad, also a flatter plate that might be the spinach or 
thetortelli. The soup ('duo minestro di finochio') is shown in a large 
tureen(footed), with something coming out of the bowl and hanging over the 
sides(3 of them), I'm guessing it is fennel stalks used for decoration, 
andpossibly to be served with the soup. The last reference to wine reads 
'ubochal di tondo', which the book states was probably a reference to 
winefrom the Calle Tondo, a local regional wine. It is supposed that this 
lastone was added by one of Michalangelo's sculptural collaborators, 
PietroUnella (? I'm not sure of his last name), because his writing is all 
overother daily expense account records, and Michalangelo himself was so 
frugalthat the finer wine might not have been his idea.As usual, he is 
presumably talking to cooks, so he gives no preparationinstructions. I am 
guessing that the spinach would be a plate of rawleaves, perhaps dressed 
with olive oil and salt. Maybe cooked lightly? Mylord conjectures that as 
herring is a cold water fish, it might be apreserved item, bought in 
barrels, while the anchovies might be a fresh'catch of the day' from the 
Mediterranean. The bread ('pain dua', 'quatroparni', and 'sie parni'), look 
like simple round rolls.ChristiannaA photo of the 1517 letter is reproduced 
in Gillian Riley's _Painters andFood: Rennaissance Recipes_, p. 36.Ms. Riley 
selected 3 recipes from period sources (eg Platina) for StewedFennel, 
marinated anchovies and aromatic spinach (cooked). Unfortunately,Ms Riley 
does not provide the original recipe texts, nor the periodcookery 


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