[Sca-cooks] Feast at Mategrifon

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 2 12:57:31 PDT 2012

Hello the list,

For an A&S challenge in November, I am presenting some dishes that might have been served at high table for King Richard I's Christmas feast at the fortress of Mategrifon, which was outside of Messina, Sicily. He was holding the feast for King Philip I of France, who he was on Crusade with, and Sicily's King Tancred of Lecce, who had signed a truce with him. 

Now, I know Richard's men were obtaining food from the locals, especially bread - but I am assuming Richard and Philip had their own cooks for the voyage, and Richard's cook would have been in charge of the feast. I'd like to think he'd be using recipes that would have pleased Richard's Aquitanian tastes, and not overly Arabized "local" cuisine, nor letting local cooks take charge of high table dishes. 

Incidentally, I've already poked around in the Florilegium. Some intriguing things in there, but not the answers to my questions.

So...first, is there an English version of recipes in the 13th century Liber coquinaria? With Latin, I am just guessing, based on my Italian. It's about 100 years later but it's from Southern Italy, and associated with Charles II of Anjou, so I'd be interested in taking a look at it and pondering it.

Is there a medieval version of the Sicilian farsumagru, a huge roll of beef stuffed with sausage, hardboiled eggs, prosciutto, bread crumbs, and cheeses? I have heard all sorts of theories of the origin of this dish, and the most plausible is that it's based on French cuisine. I'd like to see how far back it could possibly go. 

I'm already planning on having a dish of stuffed "songbirds" (in this case, teeny-tiny squab). I also plan to make a version of cuccia, a frumenty-like dish, with honey sweetened ricotta cream. Also honey and sesame seed candy. I'm willing to give a nod to Sicilian cuisine, with its Arab and Greek influences, with the sweets. ;-)

But I'd like another meat dish; preferably beef. The idea of the beef rolls appeals to me because with Richard's soldiers occupying the area, even a king's cook might have had a difficult time obtaining large enough amounts of meat in wintertime for a feast. Taking a tough piece of an old cow, pounding the hell out of it to tenderize it, flattening it out and stuffing it with a variety of tasty things would make it fit for a king's table. The whole hardboiled eggs, when the roll is cut into, look like slices of sun, a nice allusion for a Christmas feast. The dish is plausible. But is it remotely period?

I could always make a pork roast with green garlic sauce, but ... am trying for the uncommon here.

And I do know about the two Anglo-Norman recipe manuscripts, except Richard was far more French in his outlook than English. 

I can't make a pasta dish like cresees because it will be sitting around for the display, and will congeal hideously.

Any suggestions, tips, books, manuscripts, etc. would be helpful. 

Adelisa Salernitana

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