[Sca-cooks] Search for an Iberian Recipe

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sun Jun 10 16:58:46 PDT 2012

I looked into this one about 15 years ago and came up dry.  What piqued my 
interest was a reference in Trager's The Food Chronology, which I 
incorporated into a review of the book.  I will say that Trager has an 
uneven quality as a reference, does not provide sources, and has a shallow 
presentation that may not present a full picture.  I'm happy to see a 
Namban-ganshi recipe from the Namban trade period.

"1543 -- Japan gets her first European visitors as some Portuguese from a 
Chinese ship land on the island of Taneko off Kyushu.  The Namban, as they 
are called, introduce baked bread to the Japanese.  They will also bring in 
tomatoes, maize and other Western Hemisphere foods, but initially just as 
curiosities.  Dutch visitor will introduce sweet cakes, which the Japanese 
will call "castella" (from Castile) and will continue to bake at Nagasaki 
for more than 4 1/2 centuries."  -- Trager, The Food Chronology, 1995.

The Portuguese that arrived in 1543 were shipwrecked and the trade was 
fairly limited until 1571 when Nagasaki became the trade port for the 
Namban.  The first Dutch vessel (piloted by Englishman, Will Adams, and the 
basis for Clavell's Shogun) arrives in 1601, which is about in the middle of 
the period where the southern Netherlands was held by the Spanish.  Since 
the recipe dates to 1641, the source could either be Portuguese or Dutch. 
The name is obviously from the Portuguese.

I have found no  Spanish or Portuguese that match the Japanese recipe, but 
someone more familiar with the corpus may spot it.  If the recipe is from 
the Dutch, locating a copy of Koge-bog (1601) might prove enlightening.

IIRC, there is a similar recipe in Markham (1615), but I need to do some 
digging to check.


> This was posted on another list.  I thought that somebody here might have 
> an answer.  I put the questioner's address at the end of the post in case 
> someone wants to respond to him directly. Posted with permission:
> I have been coming up empty so far, not having had much experience with 
> period cookery, however, I recently finished reading Eric Rath's excellent 
> Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, which discusses a group of 
> Portuguese-imported recipes collected in a Japanese source dating to 1641.
> One of the recipes is for kasutera, also known as Pao de Castela or Bread 
> of Castile, and Rath mentions the existence of this sweet bread 
> (consisting of eggs, sugar and flour) in Japan as early as the 1570s, when 
> a Japanese Christian opened a shop which made and sold the novelty sweet.
> I would love to find evidence of a surviving recipe in a Portuguese or 
> Spanish source for comparison. Rath's translation from the Japanese is as 
> follows:
> "Knead together 10 eggs, 160 momme (600 grams) of sugar and 160 momme of
> wheat flour. Spread paper in a pot and sprinkle it with flour. Place the 
> dough on top of this. Place a heat source above and below to cook. There 
> are oral instructions." (Note the heat-above-and-below instructions: oven 
> baking was unknown in Japan at the time, so baking this confection 
> involved placing a second pan filled with coals on top of the first, not 
> unlike Dutch oven camp cooking.)  After a couple experimental batches, 
> this recipe works nicely with 6 Grade A Large eggs, otherwise your "dough" 
> turns into cake batter and the bread rises too much. We also discovered 
> that several-day-old kasutera (read "stale") turns from a chewy dense 
> bread into something more like biscotti.
> Many thanks,
> Saionji no Hana
> West Kingdom
> L Joseph <wodeford at yahoo.com>
> -- 
> Elise Fleming
> alysk at ix.netcom.com
> alyskatharine at gmail.com
> http://damealys.medievalcookery.com/
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/8311418@N08/sets/

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