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

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Sat Aug 20 08:45:43 PDT 2011

MED on aisel or aisel (n.) Also aisil, aicel, eisel, asel, azel, esil,  
ezil seems to hedge its bets

(a) Vinegar (made of the juice of fruit, esp. grapes); (b) red ~,  
white ~, red (white) wine vinegar; ~ squillin, vinegar spiced with  
squill; (c) ~ vessel, cruet.
Vinegar made of fruit other than grapes.
56:  Take peper and safron, wyne, vynegur, aysell, oþer alegur & do  
therto. Form Cury (Add 5016)
aisel and galle (atter), the `bitter' drink offered to Christ on the  
cross; also fig.
I'm home again and catching up on the list and mail. I cannot figure  
out why Coxon didn't start with C. Anne Wilson as alegar and vinegar  
are explained in her Food and Drink in Britain. Enough clues there to  
make the research not take 10 years. Wilson even includes a paragraph  
that points out that alegar takes over for vinegar as simply malt  
vinegar. Of course in this country we have our traditions of cider  
vinegars and malt vinegar is reserved for fish shops and restaurant  

Vinegars of the World sources De Rerum Naturis (9th century) for a  
description. Balsamic is sourced to a mention in Acta Comitissae  
Mathildis in the 12th century. As Alan Davidson pointed out in the  
Oxford Companion to Food, vinegar didn't have to be invented, "as it  
makes itself without difficulty."


On Aug 20, 2011, at 10:27 AM, Daniel Myers wrote:

> I know this borders on blasphemy, but the OED isn't perfect.  Look at
> the first sentence in the following recipe.
> 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.
> [MS Pepys 1047, (England, ca. 1500)]
> - Doc

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