[Sca-cooks] OT: Gruesome Cakes

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Wed Oct 24 18:47:05 PDT 2012

There are a number of recipes for this sort of disguised stuffe.
It's part of the those activities that fall under table magic.

Porta, Giambattista della, 1535?-1615.

Natural magick by John Baptista Porta, a Neapolitane ; in twenty books ... wherein are set forth all the riches and delights of the natural sciences. , London : Printed for Thomas Young and Samuel Speed ..., 1658.

(which is the English edition of a work titled Magia Naturalis)

"THE FOURTEENTH BOOK OF Natural Magick: I shall shew some choice things in the Art of Cookery.

That flesh may look bloody and full of worms, and so be rejected

by smell-feasts. Boil Hares blood, and dry it, and powder it; and cast the powder upon the meats that are boil'd, which will melt by the heat and moysture of the meat, that they will seem all bloody, and he will loath and refuse them. Any man may eat them without any rising of his stomack. If you cut Harp-strings small, and strew them on hot flesh, the heat will twist them, and they will move like worms." Page 327
The Liber Cure Cocorum Sloane [MS 1986 dated c1420] as transcribed and put into modern English by Cindy Renfrow
offers these--

1. Now arts of cookery will I preach, 8 [fol. 29] 
How some meat shall seem raw I teach; 
Take hare's blood, or kid's full fair, 
And dry it in[to] powder and keep it from air; 
When flesh or fish is served very hot, 
Cast on the powder of hare I know; 
It is so soluble9, it will run 
And melt as sugar, by very good skill 
And make the flesh to seem, truly, 
As it were raw, and yet it is not. 
And though you seethe it all day, 
It would seem raw by any kind [of] way. 

2. Another sotelty I will tell. 
Take harp strings made of bowel, 
In [the] breadth of [a] straw10, you cut them then; 
Cast them on fish or flesh, I know, 
That seethed is hot or roasted, truly, 
That will seem worms, so have I bliss. 

. 8 Page 5. Paragraph 1. This, and the next two "recipes" are practical jokes. According to Adamson, these are similar to recipes found in German and Latin collections. The desired effect in this one is to make cooked meat appear to be raw. (See recipe #23 Rose, where this powder may be being used to dye the dish red.)

9 Page 5. Paragraph 1. Line 7, "Hit is so frym, ren hit wylle". Morris glosses frym as "strong", but the C.O.E.D. gives several meanings: vigorous, flourishing; juicy; abundant, rich; or easily melting, soluble. It is this last definition that fits the usage of the blood powder best, and agrees with the next line, "And melt as sugar". The blood powder will dissolve and run as sugar does when it is melted.

10. Page 5. Paragraph 2, Line 3, "In brede of stoe, thou cut hom [th]enne". The e-MED conjectures that stoe is a scribal error for stre; in fact it is a transcription error. The passage means "in [the] breadth of [a] straw, you cut them then". (The expression "a straw's breadth" can be found in other 15th-century texts, and strey is used to mean straw in recipe #133.) These are directions to cut bowel or gut into thin slices, the width of a piece of straw. These false "worms" are then cast upon cooked fish or meat before service, so that the dish will appear wormy. Thorndike (cited in Adamson, p. 184), says that the heat of the dish makes the "worms" move. A recipe for "worms" made from extruded pea mush appears in Welserin (recipe #40).  


On Oct 24, 2012, at 7:44 PM, Sharon Palmer wrote:

>> I really like the maggots in the cupcakes.
>> Johnnae
> Rumpolt has two dishes that look like maggots, made by pushing food through a strainer.
> Zugemüß 70.  Take fresh eggs/ beat yolk and white through each other/ salt it/ and pour in a hot boiling milk/ stir around/ until it is cooked/ pour it on a strainer/ and press it through a strainer into a dish/ so it looks like maggots (maden)/ when you will give it on a table/ then sprinkle it with small comfits/ and fair (or clarified) white sugar/ like this one calls it a maggot pottage.
> Zugemüß 71.  Take egg yolks and salt in it/ pour a little milk in it/ stir though each other/ and let strain through a hair cloth/ make it sweet with sugar/ and toss into milk when it boils/ stir around/ that it does not scorch/ pour it into a bowl/ that has holes/ or in another mold/ let cool off in it/ that the curdled milk comes away from it/ turn over on a vine leaf/ and sprinkle Driet (sugar and spices) over it/ or well nothing at all/ since it already sweet. Thus one makes the egg cheese.  You can also make from this a maggot pottage.
> Ranvaig
> _______________________________________________

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