HIDDEN HISTORIES: Medieval recipes for today with food historian Barbara Santich

Hidden HistoriesIn this second installment of Hidden Histories, we are traveling back in time to discover The Original Mediterranean Cuisine and delve into the recipes (and food culture) of medieval times.

Acclaimed culinary historian Barbara Santich tells the story of authentic medieval Mediterranean food, and brings to the table recipes translated and adapted for modern kitchens from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian and Catalan manuscripts.

Post written by Poppy Nwosu

I am the first to admit that I am no cook. But I do love to eat food that has been cooked for me by other people! It is one of the greatest pleasures of my life 🙂

So while I am not at all accomplished in the kitchen, I would still consider myself a foodie, and so am excited to delve into this book by Barbara Santich.

The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval recipes for today by Barbara Santich

The Original Mediterranean Cuisine, Barbara Santich

‘In Sicily you can still find a puree of broad beans essentially the same as eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the same strips of candied zuccata that once would have been offered at a fifteenth-century banquet.

The pan-Mediterranean dish of fried fish in a vinegary sauce goes back to the time of Apicius and the Roman Empire.’

 

This book has a large selection of medieval recipes recreated for the modern kitchen, including sections on meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, sauces and pasta. Yet it is not only original recipes that you will find within this intriguing book. The pages are also filled with historic artwork relating to the creation and serving of food during medieval times, as well as writing on the historical context and food culture of the period.

As Maggie Beer says, this is: ‘A book to be placed both on the history shelves and the kitchen table.’

Here are a few fascinating pictures and extracts from the book:

Harvesting saffron

Harvesting Safron, from The Original Mediterranean Cuisine by Barbara Santich

 

Different foods for those of a higher or lower status

‘It was taken as given that different foods were suited to different types of people, and that the lower orders could not appreciate (nor digest) ingredients of high quality
and value. Naturally this was seen as justifying the elite’s ‘right’ to the best food, the most sophisticated cuisine. ‘Certain foods are more appropriate to nobles and those
who lead a contemplative life,’ decreed a Latin text of the late thirteenth century:

 

‘and these are partridges and pheasants, chicken, capons, hares, kid and rabbit, prepared in various and different ways; others are more appropriate to robust, labouring types, and these include the meat of bulls and rams, salted
pork, peas and beans and coarse barley bread.’

 

Rosewater

Rosewater, from The Original Mediterranean Cuisine by Barbara Santich

Medieval Banquets

‘At first glimpse, a medieval dinner offers little evidence of forethought or rational planning, with sweet and savoury dishes jumbled together in a series of ‘services’. But first glimpses can be misleading.

The order of eating might seem unconventional by today’s standards, but by no means were medieval dinners and banquets a haphazard series of dishes.

 

Rather, they were the product of a well-reasoned gastronomic code that began with the washing of hands and seating of guests.’

Wedding Banquet etiquette, from The Original Mediterranean Cuisine by Barbara Santich

Medieval Recipes

And finally, here is one of many recipes included within the book.

Other recipes include sauces, greens, meat dishes, poultry, fish dishes, pies, pasta and desert.

Cheesecake recipe, from The Original Mediterranean Cuisine by Barbara Santich

Cheesecake recipe, from The Original Mediterranean Cuisine by Barbara Santich

The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval recipes for today by Barbara Santich

In The Original Mediterranean Cuisine, you will discover intriguing delights such as ginger and almond sauce, lamb with quinces and Platina’s herb salad. Acclaimed culinary historian Barbara Santich tells the story of authentic medieval Mediterranean food, and brings to the table recipes translated and adapted for modern kitchens from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian and Catalan manuscripts.

Barbara Santich is Professor Emeritus in the History Department and a culinary historian who initiated post-graduate courses in food history and culture at the University of Adelaide. As a food writer, Barbara has contributed to numerous Australian newspapers and magazines as well as overseas publications, and is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Bold Palates: Australia’s gastronomic heritage.

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