[Sca-cooks] New 'invention' of medieval food?

Daniel Myers dmyers at medievalcookery.com
Fri Aug 19 07:10:55 PDT 2011

> -------- Original Message --------
> From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at jeffnet.org>
> Date: Fri, August 19, 2011 8:48 am
> On 8/19/2011 5:23 AM, Craig Daniel wrote:
> > Actually, I have seen references to Middle English uses of the word
> > "alegar" (albeit only in secondary sources about brewing; haven't
> > chased down any references) - but I'm quite certain it was more
> > commonly referred to as a vinegar, even back then.
> Really? Any idea where it might appear in period texts, if it does? It 
> could just as likely be a modern construct to make the differentiation. 
> I've not been able to find anything in any of the language works I have. 
> And I did point out to him that 'aigre' does not necessarily become 
> 'gar' as he seems to suggest it would if 'Anglo-saxonized'. After all, 
> 'gar' in Anglo-Saxon is spear. Not sour. :-)

Alegar is/was a real word, referring to malt vinegar (cider vinegar was
called aisel).  I suspect that most of the time the different types of
vinegar were just called "vinegar" though.  Here are the English
references I can find on a quick search.  There are a bunch of
references in Koge Bog, but those may have translation issues.

Alegar is a real medieval ingredient.  "Ale-Gar" as this dork has
"invented" (e.g. something more like balsamic vinegar) is not.  Neither
the recipe for alegar, nor that for "Ale-Gar" have been lost for
hundreds of years - malt vinegar has always been available in grocery
stores, and "Ale-Gar" was recently made up by a pompous ass.

- Doc


FOR TO MAKE NOUMBLES IN LENT. C. XIIII. Take the blode of pykes oþer of
conger and nyme the paunches of pykes. of conger and of grete code lyng,
& boile hem tendre & mynce hem smale & do hem in þat blode. take
crustes of white brede & strayne it thurgh a cloth. þenne take oynouns
iboiled and mynced. take peper and safroun. wyne. vynegur aysell oþer
**alegur** & do þerto & serue forth.
[Forme of Cury, (England, 1390)]


.Cxij. For to make nounbles in lent. Take the blode of pykes other of
coungur and nyme the paunches of pikes, of congur & of grete codlyng &
boyle hem tendur & mynce hem smale & do hem in that blode take crustes
of white brede & strayne hit thorow a cloth & than oynouns y boyled & y
mynced, take peper & safroun, wyne, vyneger other aysel other **aleger**
& do ther to & serve hit forth.
[Fourme of Curye [Rylands MS 7], (England, 1390)]


To torne Wyne to Vyneagyr or Ale to **Aleger** or syder to Aysell. Take
a pott and fyll hit Full of wyne Asell or gode Ale And stoppe well the
mowth that no thyng cum yn nor owte And do hit in A vessell full of
water and set the vessell on the fyre And let the pot of wyne boyle in
the same A long while tyll hit be turnyd.
[Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047), (England, ca. 1500)]

[**Note that the above is 15th century instructions for making alegar**]


Cxvij - Sauge. Take Gyngere, Galyngale, Clowys, and grynde in a morter;
than take an handfulle of Sawge, and do ther-to, grynd wyl to-gederys;
take Eyroun, and sethe hem harde, nym the 3olkys, grynde hem with the
Sawge and with the spycis, and temper it vppe with Venegre or eysel, or
with **Alegere**; take the whyte of the Eyroun, and sethe hem, and mynce
hem smal, and caste ther-to; when it is y-temperyd, take Brawn of hennys
or Fyssches, and ley on dysschys, and caste thin mete a-boue.
[Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, (England, 1430)]

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