Protected foods feast
Think of some of Europe’s most amazing food and produce and there’s a fair chance that it’s protected by a PDO.
From cheeses to ham and pies to wines the European Union’s Protected Designation Origin ensures the areas these foods are from are the only ones that benefit from making it.
I spent a day with Chef Jun Tanaka talking about some of the most famous examples and then whipping up a lunch.
In the UK perhaps the most well-known foods with a PDO are Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbary Pork Pies and Jersey Royal Potatoes, but Jun wanted to chat about Continental produce.
There were also experts on hand to advise from the various producers being showcased – at the Ateliers Des Chefs cookery school and general food nerd emporium.
For our main course we cooked up a chicken breast containing two special PDO ingredients.
Per portion take four slices of Parma Ham and lay out slightly overlapping on a board. Then grate your lovely Parmesan (generously) on top of the ham, followed by the zest of quarter of a lemon and a few fresh thyme leaves. Grind some black pepper on a good sized free-range chicken breast and place that on top of the ham. Then carefully roll it into a parcel and put aside. On a different board peel and chop into small cubes some carrots, celeriac, whole garlic cloves and swede, toss them in a deep baking tray in some honey, olive oil and fresh thyme.
Place the chicken in ham on top of the vegetables and roast in an oven (200C – gas 6) for 35-40 minutes.
Also Jamie does an amazing salad using Parmesan and Parma Ham.
While this was cooking it gave me a chance to talk to Parmesan expert Simone Ficarelli from the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. He told me that the best way to tell if a Parmesan is young or mature is to look at the white flecks in it. These are crystals which give it a lovely chalkiness and the more mature the cheese, the more of these white spherical crystals there are and the bigger they are.
Elke Fernandez of the Parma Ham Consortium agreed that the same chemical process occurs in the ham – whatever the science, the results create a mature product in both which has a more intense flavour than its younger cousins.
We followed up the chicken with fruits baked in parchment (or en papillote), while not containing any PDO ingredients, it was to complement the amazing port wines being tasted.
Cut crunchy pears into cubes and add grapes and blackberries to make a fist-sized mound in the middle of a square of baking parchment. Add half a stick of cinnamon, a star anise, a small knob of butter, a shot of crème de cassis and a drizzle of honey. Scrunch up the corners to make a parcel and pop in an oven tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 200C (Gas 6) and serve hot with Chantilly cream (Crème Fraiche whisked with fresh vanilla seeds and a spoonful of sugar).
This went so amazingly well with the Tawny Port, a Portuguese speciality aged in oak and with its own PDO.
These ingredients need protecting, there is no doubt, and while some are not happy with having to call their produce by alternative names if they are not producing in the right area – such as the infamous Feta Cheese debate when manufacturers outside of Greece who had been producing it for many years had to drop the name Feta in favour of Feta-style or Greek-Style cheese – it is a good and very delicious thing!
Protected foods feast - Recipes
Food has been central to social life throughout human history. In the classical world it was part of occasions from religious rites to ostentatious parties. There is plenty of information available on what the ancient Greeks and Romans ate and drank – in written texts and in archaeological finds – which can help us bring their gastronomical creations to life in the 21st century.
Here we have compiled a few recipes from the ancient world, which you can recreate at home to make your own classical feast! These recipes are from The Classical Cookbook, by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger, which uses Greek and Latin texts to create dishes from Homeric Greece to the Roman Empire.
Starters, sides and snacks
1) Cabbage the Athenian way (vg)
‘Cabbage should be sliced with the sharpest possible iron blade, then washed, drained, and chopped with plenty of coriander and rue. Then sprinkle with honey vinegar and add just a little bit of silphium. Incidentally, you can eat this as a meze.’– Mnesitheus, quoted in Oribasius, Medical Collections 4, 4, 1
This is a popular recipe among Greek and Roman writers. Oribasius (4th century AD), a well-known doctor of the late Roman Empire, borrowed it from a much older book of dietary advice by Mnesitheus, a medical writer from Athens who lived in the 4th century BC.
Doctors were interested in this dish because it was said to cure headaches and was good for stomach upsets. Pliny claimed if taken before a meal it prevented drunkenness, and if taken after drinking it could cure a hangover!
Whatever its medicinal value, Mnesitheus was quite right about cabbage in honey vinegar being delicious as a starter or side dish and it’s simple to make.
Substitute honey for maple syrup to make this recipe vegan.
• 1 small white cabbage
• 2 heaped tsp chopped fresh green coriander in oil
• 2 tsp chopped fresh or dried rue (you can use a bitter a bitter herb or spice such as fenugreek seed as a substitute)
• 2 pinches asafoetida powder (you can use garlic or onion powder as a substitute)
• 120g honey
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
First make the honey vinegar. Boil the honey and skim it, add the vinegar and reduce a little. Store until needed. Finely slice the cabbage, wash and drain it. Toss with the herbs and 3 tablespoons of honey vinegar and sprinkle with the asafoetida powder and a little salt.
2) Very garlicy garlic cheese (vg)
‘First, lightly digging into the ground with his ﬁngers, he pulls up four heads of garlic with their thick leaves then he picks slim celery-tops and sturdy rue and the thin stems of trembling coriander… He splashes a grass-grown bulb with water and puts it to the hollow mortar. He seasons with grains of salt, and, after the salt, hard cheese is added then he mixes in the herbs. With the pestle, his right hand works at the ﬁery garlic, then he crushes all alike in a mixture… So he sprinkles in some drops of Athena’s olive oil, and adds a little sharp vinegar, and again works his mixture together. Then at length he runs two ﬁngers round the mortar, gathering the whole mixture into a ball, so as to produce the form and name of a ﬁnished moretum.’– Moretum 88–120
This ﬁery moretum (garlic cheese) is not for the faint hearted! If we take the recipe at face value, it may include ﬁfty cloves of garlic, a pretty potent mixture! But surprisingly good with a fresh warm loaf of bread and a few olives. This is a simple rustic meal, which ordinary farmers would likely have eaten.
The poem Moretum is sometimes attributed to Virgil, author of the Aeneid.
Greeks and Romans used a mortar for grinding and mixing sauces. In this case the farmer would have used a large, coarsely made bowl with a grainy texture that helped to break down the ingredients. If you have a food processor, the effort required to produce the dish is minimal. If, on the other hand, you have to (or want to!) grind by hand you will need a large pestle and mortar.
• 2 heads (20–25 cloves) garlic
• 225g Pecorino Romano cheese
• 1 large handful of coriander leaves
• 2 heaped teaspoons chopped fresh celery leaf
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp olive oil
Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Grate the cheese. Roughly chop the herbs. If you are grinding by hand, start with the garlic and salt break it down to a pulp, then add the cheese and herbs. When you have a smooth mixture add the liquids and mix well. If you are using a food processor, add all the solid ingredients and process until the mixture is smooth in texture, then add the liquids. Gather the mixture together and chill. Serve with a crusty loaf as a snack.
3) Olive Relish (ve)
‘How to make green, black or mixed olive relish. Remove stones from green, black or mixed olives, then prepare as follows: chop them and add oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue, mint. Pot them: the oil should cover them. Ready to use.’– Cato, On Agriculture 119
The recipe from Cato dates to about 200 BC, but olives provided relish and ﬂavouring all through ancient times. The olive tree had been under cultivation in Greece for a thousand years, if not longer, when the Iliad and Odyssey were composed (around the 8th century BC). At classical Greek banquets olives were served in brine, and sometimes, no doubt, they were served as relishes like this.
Cato’s recipe uses cumin, but it can overpower the herbs, so it is listed as optional below. Fennel leaf will not be easy to ﬁnd unless you grow it yourself, so the chopped root will serve as a substitute. To make life easier buy good quality pitted olives.
• 120g black olives
• 120g green olives
• 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 1 heaped tsp chopped fennel leaf or ﬁnely diced fennel root
• 1/2 level tsp ground cumin (optional)
• 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
• 2 tsp dried or chopped fresh rue (you can use a bitter a bitter herb or spice such as fenugreek seed as a substitute)
• 2 heaped tsp dried or 3 tsp chopped fresh mint
Chop the olives roughly and pour on the vinegar and olive oil. Prepare the herbs, chopping them ﬁnely if fresh, and add to the mixture. Place the olive relish in a sealable container and pour a little olive oil over the top. At this stage it can be eaten, as Cato ﬁrmly says, but it does improve with a few days’ marinating. Try it with pitta bread, accompanied by a sharp sheep’s cheese such as feta.
4) Honey glazed prawns
This recipe is adapted from various ancient sources – a poem attributed to the Greek poet Philoxenus of Cythera talks about shrimps glazed with honey being served at a banquet, but it does not help in recreating the dish! Fish sauce (for its salt) and olive oil would undoubtedly have been among the ingredients, along with the honey. Oregano is suggested as the Greeks used it in seafood dishes.
• 225g large raw peeled prawns
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp ﬁsh sauce
• 1 tbsp clear honey
• 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
• Black pepper
If using frozen prawns, ensure that they are well defrosted and drained. Place the oil, ﬁsh sauce and honey in a saucepan and add the prawns. Sauté them gently in the sauce for 2 or 3 minutes until they are tender. Remove with a perforated spoon and keep warm. Continue to cook the sauce until it has reduced by half. Add the chopped oregano and pour the sauce over the shrimps. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve as a ﬁrst course with a crusty loaf of bread and a simple salad.
5) Roast lamb or kid
‘Marinated kid or lamb: 1 pint milk, 4 oz honey, 1 oz pepper, a little salt, a little asafoetida. For the sauce: 2 ﬂ oz oil, 2 ﬂ oz fish sauce, 2 ﬂ oz honey, 8 crushed dates, half pint good wine, a little starch.’ – Apicius 8, 6, 7
This recipe is from Apicius, a Roman cookery book of different recipes thought to have been compiled in the 1st century AD. This recipe is one of the few in the book that gives quantities, which has led some to believe that this might in fact be an old ancient Greek recipe.
The recipe is particularly good with kid if you can ﬁnd it but otherwise you can use lamb.
• Shoulder of kid or 1.25 kg leg of lamb
• Olive oil
• 570ml milk
• 120g clear honey
• 1 tbsp pepper
• 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder or 5 drops asafoetida tincture (you can use garlic or onion powder as a substitute)
• 8 crushed fresh or dried dates
• 280ml red wine
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp clear honey
• 4 tbsp ﬁsh sauce
• A little cornﬂour (corn starch)
For best results, you’ll want to marinate the meat overnight. Combine the marinade ingredients and leave the meat overnight in the marinade, turning it occasionally to ensure full absorption. At the same time, soak the fresh or dried dates in a little red wine. The next day remove the meat from the marinade, pat it dry, and then roast it in an oven pre-heated to 200°C/gas mark 6, well-seasoned and with olive oil. The timing should be 20 minutes to each 1lb (450g) and 20 minutes in addition. When the meat is nearly ready, pound the dates to a pulp and add to the remaining red wine, honey, ﬁsh sauce and oil. Bring to the boil in a saucepan and cook out brieﬂy and then thicken with cornﬂour (corn starch, you can mix with a little water to avoid lumps). When the joint is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving thick slices and serving with a little of the sauce on the side.
6) Squash/marrow Alexandria style
‘Gourd Alexandrian fashion. Drain boiled gourd, season with salt, arrange in a dish. Crush pepper, cumin, coriander seed, fresh mint, asafoetida root. Moisten with vinegar. Add caryota date, pine kernel crush. Blend with honey, vinegar, ﬁsh sauce, concentrated must and oil, and pour the whole over the gourd. When it has boiled, season with pepper and serve.’– Apicius 4, 2, 14
This dish is the sort of simple dinner that Romans would likely have had in bars and restaurants where you could easily while away an evening. We have substituted the gourds that the Romans grew for marrow or squash.
Substitute the fish sauce for soy sauce to make this recipe vegetarian.
• 1 small young marrow or yellow squash
• 4 fresh dates, soaked in a little wine
• 2 tbsp pine kernels, soaked in a little wine
• 2 level tsp ground cumin
• 2 level tsp ground coriander
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
• 2 tsp chopped fresh or 2 tsp dried mint
• 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder or 5 drops asafoetida tincture (you can use garlic or onion powder as a substitute)
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp defrutum (reduced red grape juice) (you can use 2 tbsp of red wine as a substitute)
• 3 tbsp ﬁsh sauce
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Slice the marrow or squash and boil until al dente (still ﬁrm). Arrange the slices in a baking dish and sprinkle with a little salt. You will need a pestle and mortar for the sauce. Remove the stones from the dates and put the ﬂesh in the mortar with the pine kernels. Mash them down to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the cumin, coriander, pepper, mint and asafoetida and mix well. Scrape down the mash and add the honey, defrutum, oil, ﬁsh sauce and vinegar. Stir into a smooth emulsion and pour over the marrow or squash. Cover with a lid or foil and reheat thoroughly in a pre-heated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4. Serve sprinkled with freshly ground pepper.
7) Pancakes with Honey and Sesame Seeds (vg)
‘Let us find time to speak of other cakes, the ones made with wheat ﬂour. Teganitai, as we call them, are made simply with oil. The oil is put in a frying-pan resting on a smokeless ﬁre, and when it has heated, the wheat ﬂour, mixed with plenty of water, is poured on. Rapidly, as it fries in the oil, it sets and thickens like fresh cheese setting in the baskets. And at this point the cooks turn it, putting the visible side under, next to the pan, and bringing the sufficiently fried side, which was underneath at ﬁrst, up on to the top, and when the underneath is set they turn it again another two or maybe three times till they think it is all equally cooked. Some mix it with honey, and others again with sea-salt.’– Galen, On the Properties of Foods 1, 3
It’s amazing how little food changes from one millennium to the next. When reading the Roman physician Galen’s description of making pancakes, it is hard to remember that he is writing 1,800 years ago! The early Greek poet Hipponax had written of pancakes ‘drugged with sesame seeds’. This was likely a breakfast meal and one that was possibly sold on the streets of ancient Athens from portable braziers. These pancakes are thicker than the crêpe-style pancakes familiar to us (more like a blini, or even thicker) and they are served with honey and toasted sesame seeds.
Substitute honey for maple or date syrup to make these vegan.
• 120g ﬂour
• 225 ml water
• 2 tbsp clear honey
• Oil for frying
• 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Mix the ﬂour, water and one tablespoon of honey together into a batter. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying-pan and pour a quarter of the mixture in. When it has set, turn it two or three times to give an even colour. Cook three more pancakes in the same way. Serve all four pancakes hot with the remainder of the honey poured over and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
8) Cheesecake (vg)
‘Libum to be made as follows: 2 lb cheese well crushed in a mortar when it is well crushed, add in 1 lb bread-wheat ﬂour or, if you want it to be lighter, just half a pound, to be mixed well with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot ﬁre under a brick.’ – Cato, On Agriculture 7
Libum means ‘cake’ in Latin. There were many types of Roman cakes from sacriﬁcial cake, offered to household spirits, to farmhouse cake, served hot, and delicate honeyed cake that was served at the very end of an elaborate Roman dinner. The poet Ovid, writing of Roman religious festivals, tells us some tantalising details. He talks of a libum infused with clear honey – and he traces the origin of these cakes all the way back to mythology, and to the discovery of honey by the god Bacchus.
This recipe is inspired by Cato’s recipe but uses honey to make it sweet. You can make a savoury version without the honey by using a salted cheese, such as feta.
• 90g plain ﬂour
• 250g ricotta cheese
• 1 egg
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tbsp clear honey
Grease a baking tray and place two large bay leaves in the centre. Beat the cheese until smooth, add the egg and beat again to incorporate it. Sieve the flour, and add two tablespoons to the cheese mixture one at a time, stirring gently and slowly between each addition until they are incorporated. Gather the remaining ﬂour and sprinkle over the mixture and on to the hands before gathering up the soft dough and very gently forming it into a round ball. Do not knead or in any way attempt to blend all the ﬂour fully into the mixture. Place the ball directly onto the bay leaves. You can cover the cake in an earthenware vessel for authenticity or bake it as it is in a hot oven (200°C/gas mark 7) until golden brown and ﬁrm to the touch for 20–25 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately score the cake across the centre and pour the warmed clear honey into the gap. Serve at once before it begins to cool.
9) Delian Sweets (vg)
‘On Hecate’s Island,’ says Semus in Deliad II, ‘the Delians sacriﬁce what they call basyniai to Iris, goddess of the dawn. It is wheat dough, boiled, with honey and the so-called kokkora (which are a dried ﬁg and three walnuts).‘ – Athenaeus 645
‘Another sweet: Take durum wheat ﬂour and cook it in hot water so that it forms a very hard paste, then spread it on a plate. When cold cut it up in lozenges, and fry in best oil. Lift out, pour honey over, sprinkle with pepper and serve.’ – Apicius 7, 11, 6
This recipe is from the Greek island of Delos. The recipe from Athenaeus is sketchy and difficult to interpret. Were the dried ﬁg and the walnuts ingredients in basyniai, or were they a separate offering to the goddess? Here we have assumed that they were separate – you can serve the figs alongside your Delian Sweets. The second recipe, quoted from Apicius, is a little clearer as to the method of making he sweets.
Pepper was once very common as a seasoning for sweets. It is surprisingly good with honey. Nutmeg has commonly replaced pepper in desserts and sweet cookery, but nutmeg was practically unknown to the classical Greeks and Romans.
Substitute honey for maple or date syrup to make these vegan.
• 170ml water
• 60g plain (all-purpose) ﬂour
• Olive oil for deep-frying
• 2 tbsp honey
• Poppy seeds or freshly ground black pepper
Bring the water to the boil and add the sifted flour in one go, beating vigorously to incorporate. Cook out for a few minutes and turn out on to a large plate, or a marble slab if you have one. Allow to cool completely. Heat the olive oil in a deep-fryer or pan. Cut the paste into cubes – it will be ﬁrm but still a little sticky. Test the oil for temperature with a little of the mixture – if it rises and colours, the oil is ready. Drop the cubes in the oil, 2 or 3 at a time. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until golden-brown and lift out on to kitchen paper. While they are still warm, garnish with a little warmed honey over the fritters and sprinkle them with either poppy seeds or freshly ground pepper.
These recipes and more can be found in The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger, published by The British Museum Press. Find out more and buy the book here.
We would love to see your ancient feasts – send us pictures of your creations on Twitter and Instagram using @britishmuseum
If you’ve been inspired to get cooking, our range of kitchenware may help – we’ve got everything from plates and ceramics to aprons and tea towels. Browse our online shop here.
Discover more about life in the classical world in our historical city travel guides to 1st century AD Rome and 5th century BC Athens.
The schemes were introduced by the European Union, while the United Kingdom was a member, in 1993.  From 2012 they were governed by Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, in part to overhaul and regulate the protected status system.  Spirits, fortified wines and aromatised wines, described by the European Commission as "spirit drinks", were governed by a separate regulation, Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. 
As a result of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, the schemes are now governed by UK law, albeit that registration remained the responsibility of the EU until the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021. 
The UK employs three different protected status schemes, which provide differing levels and types of protection:
- Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): this designation covers products that are "produced, processed and prepared" in a specific area, using a particular, usually traditional, method. 
- Protected Geographical Indication (PGI): this designation covers products whose "production, processing or preparation" takes places in a specific area. 
- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG): this designation covers products with a "traditional character" or "customary names", distinguishing them from similar products. Unlike PDO and PGI, these products do not need to be connected to a specific area or method of production.  In order to be considered for TSG status, a product must demonstrate that the materials and methods used in its production has been consistent for a minimum of 30 years. 
The categorisation below is based on the format used in the Database of Origin and Registration and E-Bacchus databases.  
Protected foods feast - Recipes
Food has been central to the social life of humans for thousands of years and, in medieval Europe, food consumption ranged from everyday sustenance to extravagant feasts.
The diet of the rich and poor was very different. While the upper classes and their households enjoyed fresh and imported foods, the rest of the population had to live off what the local land could produce which, at the end of winter or in times of shortage, might be very little!
Diet wasn’t just affected by the seasons, religion also played a part in what people ate. Fridays (and, in the earlier period, Wednesdays and Saturdays) were obligatory weekly fasting or ‘fysshe’ days, when it was prohibited to eat meat. There were also annual fasts such as Rogation Days, Advent and Lent, which restricted diets. Medieval cooks invented creative recipes for wealthy diners during fast periods – including mock hard-boiled eggs made of coloured almond paste inside blown shells for Lent, when dairy was prohibited!
A huge amount of preparation went into the creation of feasts. When the whole royal court assembled, hundreds of people could be sitting down to eat. For the two great feasts at Easter and Christmas, preparations had to start months ahead, when preserves were ordered and made. Fasting took place in the Advent period, meaning four weeks of lean eating to prepare for the feast.
We have compiled 11 of our favourite recipes from the Middle Ages, which you can recreate at home to make your own medieval feast! And while meat is clearly a feature, there are a surprising number of vegan and vegetarian dishes, so there’s something for everyone.
These recipes are all from The Medieval Cookbook, by Maggie Black and published by British Museum Press, which includes more than 80 recipes adapted for the modern cook. Buy the book here.
Starters and snacks
Mixed pickles (vegetarian, can be made vegan)
Take rote of persel, of pasternak, of rafens, scrape hem and waische him clene. Take rapes & caboches, ypared and ycorue. Take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire cast all thise therinne. Whan they buth boiled cast therto peeres & perboile hem wel. Take alle thise thynges vp & lat it kele on a faire cloth. Do therto salt whan it is colde, do hit in a vessel take vyneger & powdour & safroun & do therto, & lat alle thise thynges lye therein at night, other al day. Take wyne greke & hony clarified togider take lumbarde mustard & raisouns coraunce, al hoole, & grynde powdour of canel, powdour douce & aneys hole, & fenell seed. Take alle thise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe, & take thereof whan thou wilt & serue forth.
Curye on Inglysch, IV. 103
This recipe creates the perfect accompaniment to your Christmas cheese and crackers. Pickling was an important way of preserving vegetables in the Middle Ages, and still is.
The French Medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris (the Goodman of Paris) had recipes for pickling walnuts and various vegetables and fruits grown on the fictional writer’s farm, but he soaked the whole lot in honey – probably ruining the teeth of everyone in his household! This recipe is not quite as sweet and is more like modern recipes.
Swap the honey for sugar to make this vegan.
- 900g mixed parsley roots, carrots, radishes and turnips
- 450g white cabbage
- 450g hard eating pears
- 6 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1⁄2 tsp dried saffron strands
- 425ml white wine vinegar
- 50g currants
- 575ml fruity white wine
- 6 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tsp of French mustard
- 1⁄8 tsp each of ground cinnamon and black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp each of anise and fennel seeds
- 50g white sugar
Wash and peel the root vegetables and slice them thinly. Core and shred the cabbage. Put the vegetables into a large pan of water and slowly bring to the boil. Peel, core and cut up the pears and add them to the pan. Cook until they start to soften. Drain the contents of the pan and spread in a 5cm layer in a shallow non-metallic dish. Sprinkle with the salt, ginger, saffron and 4 tbsp of the vinegar. Leave, covered, for 12 hours. Rinse well, then add the currants. Pack into sterilised storage jars, with at least 2.5cm headspace. Put the wine and honey in a pan. Bring to simmering point and skim. Add the rest of the vinegar and all the remaining spices and sugar. Reduce the heat and stir without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring back to the boil. Pour over the vegetables, covering them with 1cm of liquid. Cover with vinegar-proof seals and store.
Cabbage chowder (vegan)
Take caboches and quarter hem, and seeth hem in gode broth with oynouns ymynced and the whyte of lekes yslyt and ycorue smale. And do therto safroun & salt, and force it with powdour douce.
Curye on Inglysch, IV. 6
The French Medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris (the Goodman of Paris), has quite a lot to say about cabbages, from the small spring sprouts for salads to the frostbitten winter leaves. However, the recommendation to boil cabbages all morning is best ignored! This recipe could be made as a starter, or as a main course if you add small pieces of toast and small strips of fried bacon – both well-known medieval additions.
- 600g firm-hearted cabbage or 700g open-hearted cabbage or spring greens
- 225g onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 225g white part of leeks, thinly sliced into rings
- A tsp of dried saffron strands
- 1⁄2 tsp of salt
- 1⁄4 tsp each of ground coriander, cinnamon and sugar
- 850ml chicken or vegetable stock
If using a firm-hearted cabbage cut it into eight segments and remove the centre core. If using an open-hearted cabbage or greens, cut off the stalks and cut the leaves into strips. Put into a large pan with the prepared onions and leeks. Stir the saffron, salt and spices into the stock, adjusting the quantity of salt if required, then pour the mixture over the vegetables. Cook gently, covered, for about 20 minutes or until segments of firm cabbage are tender.
‘Departed’ creamed fish
To make mortreux of fisch. Tak plays or fresch meluel or merlyng & seth it in fayre water, and then tak awey the skyn & the bones & presse the fisch in a cloth & bray it in a mortere, and tempre it vp with almond melk, & bray poudere of gynger & sugre togedere & departe the mortreux on tweyne in two pottes & coloure that on with saffroun & dresch it in disches, half of that on & half of that other, & strawe poudere of gyngere & sugre on that on & clene sugre on that other & serue it forth.
Curye on Inglysch, III. 26
Mortrews was a type of pottage or paté that contained either fish or meat, mixed with almonds. ‘Departed’ just means that the dish is ‘parted in two’ different colours. The Medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris (the Goodman of Paris) suggested a chicken liver or meat mortrews, but this fish option would be a good substitute on ‘fysshe’ days when eating meat was forbidden.
• 600g skinned cod fillet
• A pinch of sea salt
• 125g ground almonds
• 2 tsp rice flour or corn flour
• 3 tbsp deep yellow saffron water or food colouring
• 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
• 3⁄4 tsp white sugar
Poach the fish fillet in about 575ml of salted water until cooked through. Drain off the cooking liquid into a measuring jug. Pour 275ml of this liquid over the almonds in a bowl. Press the ﬁsh under a cloth or kitchen paper to squeeze out excess moisture, then flake it. Strain the almond ‘milk’ into a jug, stirring to separate the free liquid from the almond sludge in the strainer. Put the liquid into an electric blender, followed by the flaked fish, and process until smooth. If the mixture is too stiff to process easily, add a little more fish cooking liquid. Turn the mixture into a bowl. In a small saucepan, cream the rice flour or cornflour with 3 or 4 tbsp of fish cooking liquid, then heat the mixture gently until it thickens. Stir this ‘cream’ into the fish mixture and season with salt. Put half the mixture into a separate bowl and tint it deep gold with the saffron water or food colouring. Combine the ground ginger and 1⁄4 tsp of the sugar and mix into the golden fish, reserving a little of the mixture for sprinkling. If you like ginger, increase the quantity. Serve the mortrews in six small bowls or plates, putting a coloured and a plain spoonful of mixture side by side in each. Chill until needed. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining ginger/sugar mix on the gold portions and the remaining 1⁄2 tsp plain sugar on the white portions.
Spit-roasted or grilled steak
To make Stekys of venson or bef. Take Venyson or Bef, & leche & gredyl it vp broun then take Vynegre & a litel verious, & a lytil Wyne, and putte pouder perpir ther-on y-now, and pouder Gyngere and atte the dressoure straw on pouder Canelle y-now, that the stekys be al y-helid ther-wyth, and but a litel Sawce & then serue it forth.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books, Harleian MS 279, p. 40
• 6 fairly thin beef steaks
• Oil or fat for grilling
• 2 tsp red wine vinegar
• 1–2 tbsp Seville orange juice
• 4 tbsp red wine
• Pinch each of ground black pepper and ginger
• Sprinkling of ground cinnamon
The original recipe calls for ‘verjuice’, a popular medieval condiment made from specially grown or (in England) unripe grapes. But another recipe from the Medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris (the Goodman of Paris) suggests using the juice of Seville oranges. If you can get these in season and freeze them, you can use their juice as a substitute for verjuice – it makes a delicious sauce. Nick the edges of the steaks and grease them. Mix the sauce ingredients in a jug, adjusting the proportions if you wish. Then grill the steaks as you prefer. Warm the sauce and sprinkle a few drops over the meat while grilling it. Serve the steaks lightly sprinkled with cinnamon and any remaining sauce.
Mushroom pasties (vegetarian, can be made vegan)
Mushrooms of one night are the best, if they are small, red inside, and closed at the top: and they should be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled, and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and spice powder.
The Goodman of Paris, trans. E. Power
This recipe is from the Medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris (the Goodman of Paris). At home it is likely that the fictional narrator of the book, who kept a well-furnished table, would serve a large double-crust pasty or plate pie – but on his journeys to and from the farm, small ones probably seemed more suitable.
• 450g home-made or bought shortcrust pastry, thawed if frozen
• 450g button mushrooms
• Pinch of salt
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
• 1⁄2 tsp salt
• 1⁄8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1⁄4 tsp dry mustard powder
• 1 egg, beaten
To make this recipe vegan use vegan pastry, omit the cheese or use vegan cheese, and use soy, rice or almond milk instead of the egg to seal the pastry.
Use two-thirds of the pastry to line small, deep pans. Chill while making the filling. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Trim off and discard the bottoms of the mushroom stems, then dip the mushrooms in boiling salted water, holding them in a sieve. Drain them, pat dry, then chop or slice them. Put them in a bowl and mix them with the oil, cheese and seasonings. Fill the mixture into the pastry cases. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to make lids for the pasties. Seal the lids with beaten egg. Decorate the tops with pastry trimmings and brush with the remaining egg. Make a small crosscut in the centre of each lid. Bake the little pies in the oven for 15–18 minutes. Serve warm.
Lamb or mutton stew
Take veel other[wise] motoun and smyte it to gobettes. Seeth it in gode broth cast therto erbes yhewe gode won, and a quantite of oynouns mynced, powdour fort and safroun, and alye it with ayren and verious: but let it not seeth after.
Curye on Inglysch, IV. 18
• 900g boneless stewing lamb or mutton
• 425ml chicken stock
• 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 tbsp chopped parsley
• 1/2–1 tsp each fresh rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, and savory or marjoram leaves, bruised in a mill (use less if using dried herbs)
• 1/4 tsp each ground ginger, cumin and coriander
• Salt to taste
• 225ml white wine
• 2 eggs
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
Cut the meat into 5cm cubes. Put the stock into a stewpan and bring to the boil. Add the meat and bring back to the boil. Skim if needed, then add the prepared onions, herbs, spices, salt and wine. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook gently until the meat cubes are cooked through and tender (1–1 1/2 hours). Beat the eggs with the lemon juice until blended, then take the pan off the heat and stir the egg mixture gradually into the stew to thicken it slightly. Do not re-boil.
Haddock in tasty sauce
Shal be yopened & ywasshe clene & ysode & yrosted on a gridel grind peper & saffron, bred and ale mynce oynons, fri hem in ale, and do therto, and salt: boille hit, do thyn haddok in plateres, and the ciuey aboue, and ghif forth.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books, Laud. 553, p. 114
This dish is a type of civet, which is a form of stew, usually made with meat of game. In old dishes the cook is usually told to ‘drawe’ a fish, animal or bird, so this recipe interprets ‘yopened’ to mean that the fish or meat should be cut open and boned. It could then easily be cut in pieces and eaten with a spoon. Oil could be used by strict (and wealthy) dieters for frying food in Lent, but poor people would probably use butter, and omit the costly saffron, as we’ve done here as it’s still costly!
- 900g haddock fillet
- 75g onions, peeled and finely chopped
- Oil or butter for frying
- 1⁄4 tsp ground white pepper
- 75g fine soft white breadcrumbs
- 125ml brown ale
Skin the haddock fillet and cut into several pieces. Put enough salted water into a shallow pan to cover the fish and bring it to the boil. Put in the fish and simmer for a moment or two, then cover the pan and remove from the heat – the fish will continue to cook in the hot water while you make the sauce. For this, fry the onions in the fat until just beginning to brown. Mix the pepper with the breadcrumbs and add them to the onions with the ale and 225ml of the water used to cook the fish. Process until smooth in an electric blender, then simmer for a few minutes to reheat.
While simmering, drain the remaining water from the cooked fish and put the pieces on the grill rack. Brush them with a little melted fat, then place them under a hot grilling flame until they are just beginning to glaze. Cut them into bite-sized or serving portions and spoon some sauce over them. Serve the rest separately. If you don’t like ale or beer you can use cider instead.
Cherry pottage (vegetarian)
Tak cheryes & do out the stones & grynde hem wel & draw hem thorw a streynour & do it in a pot. & do therto whit gres or swete botere & myed wastel bred, & cast therto good wyn & sugre, & salte it & stere it wel togedere, & dresse it in disches and set theryn clowe gilofre, & strewe sugre aboue.
Mnesitheus, quoted in Oribasius, Medical Collections 4, 4, 1
This cherry pottage was a genteel dish, being made with wine and white bread, and called for the use of precious white sugar! Soluble gold gouache can be used to gild the tops of whole cloves, but don’t eat them as they are very strong – they’re just for decoration here.
- 900g fresh ripe red cherries
- 350ml red wine
- 175g white sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- 225g soft white breadcrumbs
- Pinch of salt
- Flower heads of small clove pinks or gilded whole cloves (according to season)
- Coarse white sugar for sprinkling
Wash the cherries and discard the stems and stones. Purée the fruit in a blender with 150ml of the wine and half the sugar. Add a little more wine if you need to. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the fruit purée, breadcrumbs, remaining wine, sugar and salt. Simmer, stirring steadily, until the purée is very thick. Pour into a serving bowl, cover and leave to cool. When quite cold, decorate the edge of the bowl with flowers or whole cloves, and sprinkle coarse sugar over the centre.
Cream custard tart (vegetarian)
Doucetes. Take Creme a gode cupfulle, & put it on a straynour, thanne take yolkes of Eyroun, and put ther-to, & a lytel mylke then strayne it throw a straynour in-to a bolle then take Sugre y-now, put ther-to, or ellys hony forde faute of Sugre, than coloure it with Safroun than take thin cofyns, & put it in the ovynne letre, & tat hem ben hardyd than take a dyssche y-fastenyd on the pelys ende, & pore thin comade in-to the dyssche, & fro the dyssche in-to the cofyns & whan they don a-ryse wet, teke hem out, ee serue hem forth.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books, Harleian MS 279, p.50
- Pulverized dried saffron strands
- Shortcrust pastry made with 225g flour, 65g butter, 40g lard, and cold water to mix (use butter instead of lard to make this vegetarian)
- 6 egg yolks
- 350ml double cream
- 125ml milk
- 65g white sugar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp water until the water is deep gold in colour. Add the pastry to a 20cm pie plate or cake tin with a loose bottom, with a depth of 5cm. Bake ‘blind’ in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15–20 minutes, then remove the filling of dried beans and return the case to the oven at about 160°C for 6–8 minutes until dried out and firm. Remember a cake tin is deeper than a pie plate so the case in it may need longer baking than usual. Beat the egg yolks lightly in a bowl, then beat in the cream, milk, sugar, saffron water and salt. Pour the custard into the pastry case. Bake it at 160°C for about 45 minutes or until it is just set in the centre. Serve warm. Make small tarts if you prefer. The full recipe quantity of pastry will make 36 tarts, using a 7.5cm cutter. You will need two thirds of the filling for them.
Rose pudding (vegetarian)
Take thyk milke sethe it. Cast therto sugur, a gode porcioun pynes, dates ymynced, canel, & powdour gynger and seeth it, and alye it with flours of white rosis, and flour of rys. Cole it salt it & messe it forth. If thou wilt in stede of almounde mylke, take swete crem of kyne.
Curye on Inglysch, IV. 53
- Petals of one white rose
- 4 level tbsp rice flour or cornflour
- 275ml milk
- 50g caster sugar
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 575ml single cream
- Pinch of salt
- 10 dessert dates, stoned and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped pine nut kernels
Take the petals off the rose one by one. Blanch the petals in boiling water for 2 minutes, then press them between several sheets of soft kitchen paper and put a heavy flat weight on top to squeeze them dry. (They may look depressingly greyish but blending will improve the dish’s colour.) Put the rice flour or cornflour in a saucepan, and blend into it enough of the milk to make a smooth cream. Stir in the remaining milk. Place the pan over low heat and stir until the mixture starts to thicken. Put in a (non-medieval!) electric blender, and add the sugar, spices and rose petals. Process until fully blended, then add and blend in the cream and salt. Turn the mixture into a heavy saucepan, and stir over very low heat, below the boil, until it is the consistency of softly whipped cream. Stir in most of the chopped dates and pine nut kernels and stir for 2 more minutes. Turn into a glass or decorative bowl and cool. Stir occasionally while cooling to prevent a skin forming. Chill. Just before serving decorate with the remaining dates and nuts.
Piment or medieval mulled wine (vegan)
Pur fait ypocras. Troys vnces de canell & iii vnces gyngeuer spykenard de Spayn, le pays dun denerer garyngale, clowes gylofre, poeure long, noiey mugadey, mayioyame, cardemonii, de chescun i quarter donce grayne de paradys, flour de queynel, de chescun dm. vnce de tout soit fait powdour &c.
Curye on Inglysch, IV. 199
Piment was the general name for sweetened spiced wines in the Middle Ages. The first recipes for spiced wine appeared at the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century. The recipe above is for Hypocras, another type of spiced wine but it contains long pepper (poeure long), the grains of paradise (grayne de paradis), spikenard (spykenard), which are very hard to get hold of today.
The drink became extremely popular and was regarded as having various medicinal or even aphrodisiac properties. Spices were among the most luxurious products available in the Middle Ages.
- 2 ltr red wine (check the label to ensure that ingredients are vegan if you want to make this recipe vegan)
- 175g white sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp each ground cloves, grated nutmeg, marjoram (fresh if possible), ground cardamom, ground black pepper and a pinch of grated galingale (if available)
Warm the wine until it just begins to steam. Add the sugar and allow to dissolve. Mix all the spices and herbs together. Stir half this mixture into the wine, then taste and slowly add more until you achieve a flavour you like (you will probably need most, or all, of the mixture). Simmer your ‘mix’ very gently for 10 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag (which may take some hours). Bottle when cold, then cork securely. Use within a week.
These recipes and more can be found in The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black, published by British Museum Press. Find out more and buy the book here.
We would love to see your medieval feasts – send us pictures of your creations using @britishmuseum on Instagram and Twitter. Happy cooking!
25 Regional American Foods You Might Not Know (But Should)
Regional food pride is one thing that nearly every American connects with—at least one food staple will trigger memories from home or the place a person grew up. From childhood Nilla pudding served at cookouts to cod fish packed in lye on Christmas day, our palates and love for food are hugely defined by the places we have lived and what we were eating while there. Regional food always has a story that says something about the place and its history.
As we’ve said before (and many other have argued before us), there are few better ways to understand the 50 states than through their local food traditions. Though we have all heard of Chicago deep dish and Texas BBQ, there are lesser known delicacies like goetta and Gerber sandwiches to be discovered. Here are 25 regional dishes that you might not know by name, but probably should.
How many have you tried? We think it should be every American’s goal to eat ’em all one day.
The robust flavor of a variety of spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala bring warmth and heat to the biryani, while the saffron and milk add color and aroma.
Ground beef gets mixed with an abundance of deep, earthy spices like black pepper, cinnamon and sumac and grilled on wood skewers, making for a wonderful main dish accompanied with rice, hummus and salads.
Padma Lakshmi's Crispy Chicken Thighs with Creamy Polenta
What could be more comforting than a plate of of creamy polenta topped with crispy chicken and a simple pan sauce? Dried herbs and spices and preserved lemon punch up the flavor in this satisfying recipe.
Seared Rack of Lamb with Pistachio Tapenade
For perfect lamb, first cook the chops for roughly two minutes per side on medium-high heat, until each side is gorgeously caramelized, then roast it — and slather it with a tapenade of capers, pistachios and olives.
Lemony Chicken Thighs with Couscous and Spinach Salad
Inspired by the classic Moroccan pairing of lemon, chicken and olives, this dish is salty, tangy and bright with a pleasant chewiness from the couscous. Serve the chicken with the couscous salad as is or make it a day ahead and shred the chicken into the couscous with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Spiced Chicken with Lebanese Couscous
Shawarma spices flavor the chicken in this one-pot, low-and-slow djej b finden with moghrabieh. The moist, tender chicken shares the stage with pearl onions and cremini mushrooms, all finished with fresh herbs, butter and white wine sauce over Lebanese couscous.
Zaɺtar, Sumac and Lemon Grilled Chicken with Eggplant and Tahini
Marinate juicy chicken thighs in olive oil, lemon juice, zest, za'atar, sumac, garlic, salt and black pepper, grill 'em up and and serve 'em with fire-roasted eggplant, tahini sauce, herbs and flatbread.
Pita Stuffed with Meat (Arayes)
Arayes, pita bread stuffed with a mixture of beef, lamb and spices and then grilled, are popular throughout the Middle East. Here, the dish is served with a refreshing herb salad and creamy tahini sauce.
Al Roker's Slow-Cooker Lamb Shank and Couscous
Al Roker's slow-roasted, braised lamb has an incredible umami flavor that's brought out by his secret ingredient: anchovies. This dish is perfect because you can prep in the morning, spend time with the family and then have a finished meal waiting for you eight hours later.
Cauliflower Steaks with Lime Yogurt
Bring thick, steak-like pieces of cauliflower to life with amchur (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander and a zesty yogurt topping.
Short Ribs with Spiced Couscous and Raisin Salad
Spiced couscous provides a fluffy bed for tender braised short ribs, while the sweet and spicy raisin salad adds brightness to this succulent dish. It's definitely a showstopper.
Sumac-Dusted Chana Masala
The spices in this recipe are not just belly-warming and flavor-enhancing but also help the digestibility of the legumes, which can be challenging for some. This dish improves over time so always make extra.
With just a little advanced prep you can serve up this Middle Eastern classic in just a few minutes. This packs such a flavor punch, and the spice blend is so versatile.
They'll never know just how many veggies you've packed into these Hidden-Veggies Scalloped Potatoes. Bake them in this table-ready white baking dish and place them front-and-center.
If you're looking for red and green holiday feast recipes, look no further than this Red Pepper, Spinach and Goat Cheese Dip. Plated in a pretty fluted pie plate, this dip is a decoration all on its own.
10 Eid al-Fitr Foods from Around the World
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, so the exact period Ramadan takes place varies year to year, but this year it will end on June 4. That means Eid al-Fitr begins at sundown on June 3. As it marks the end of a month of fasting, Eid al-Fitr is indeed a celebration — and a celebration that revolves heavily around food.
“After a month of fasting, grand celebrations are encouraged with lots of food with family and friends,” says Nazneen Hamilton of the blog Coffee and Crumpets. Eid al-Fitr is the ultimate feast and eagerly awaited.
The Sweetest Treat
Like Christmas dinner, what you’ll find on families’ tables varies, but one dish that doesn’t is the traditional warm sweet vermicelli milk called sheer kurma. Sweetened with dates and raisins and spiced with cardamom and saffron, it’s a treat that many wait all year for. “It’s on everyone’s Eid table for dessert. In fact, I’m so particular about only eating it on Eid that I won’t eat it any other time and get a bit annoyed when people make it for iftar!” says Hamilton.
Read More About This Drink: Eid and the Scent of Toasted Vermicelli
The Rest of the Feast
“For us, the feast starts with eating a date,” says Kaif Khan of the blog Maison de L’Amour. Dates symbolically mark the end of the fast. “We then proceed to have a dinner of biryani and meat curries, all shared with friends and family.”
Others bring a mix of different cultural dishes to the table: “Sometimes our friends all get together for a potluck and then everyone brings a festive traditional dish from their native countries. We get couscous, tagines, curries, and trifle — a great variety of food,” says Hamilton.
Whatever the choice of food, it is common to enjoy tea at the end of the meal. “Green tea, cardamom tea, or pink Kashmiri tea usually ends a meal,” says Sumayya Usmani, author of the cookbook Summers Under the Tamarind Tree. Kashmiri tea, which is also called Noon Chai, is a special tea that is brewed with a specific tea leaf similar to green tea. The addition of baking soda actually causes a reaction that gives the drink a pink hue. Milk gives the tea creaminess, but what’s really interesting is that salt is added instead of sugar, which makes for a warm, salty tea that’s then topped with pistachios and almonds.
10 Eid al-Fitr Foods from Around the World
- Dahi baras: Lentil fritters topped with cool yogurt, tamarind chutney, mint, coriander, and chaat masala (India and Pakistan).
- Kokoretsi: Lamb or goat intestines wrapped around offal, like sweetbreads or kidneys, and grilled (Turkey).
- Haleem: A slow-cooked stew of meat, bulgur wheat, and lentils (Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia).
- Meat Pullaos: A rice and meat dish cooked in a flavorful broth (Southeast Asia and India).
- Nehari: A slow-cooked stew typically made with beef or lamb (India and Pakistan).
- Beef Rendang: A spicy beef dish stewed in a coconut curry sauce (Malaysia).
- Sheermal: A sightly sweet, saffron-flavored flatbread (Iran, Bangladesh, and India).
- Ras malai: Sweet cheese dumplings soaked in chilled cardamom- and saffron-spiced milk (India and Pakistan).
- Klaichi: A pastry filled with dates and flavored with rosewater (Iraq).
- Lokum: A sticky, sweet candy also known as Turkish delight (Turkey).
Senior Contributing Food Editor
Sheela is the Senior Contributing Food Editor at Kitchn and the author of Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian.
Teachers First - Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers
Food makes any lesson more memorable. The end of a Shakespeare unit, Shakespeare's birthday (April 23rd), or the end of the academic term are all great occasions for an Elizabethan feast -- or as much of one as you care to create.
Below are links to an assortment of recipes for Elizabethan fare. Try printing out the recipes and asking for volunteer cooks (students or parents) to prepare each one. Students might also select Shakespearean verses appropriate to each dish, or even compose their own "Elizabethan" verses.
If you're looking for real authenticity, remember that:
- Guests generally sat at benches chairs were for the really important people. Common folk ate most food using wooden bowls & spoons.
- Salt was highly prized, and usually resided at the head of the table. Hence the phrase "below the salt."
- Forks weren't in common use. Fingers worked fine.
- Meat was in short supply in common homes, whose inhabitants made do with grains and vegetables.
- The nobility loved meat and sweets. When they got enough to eat, the lower classes may have had the more healthy diet. (Ask your students to compare Elizabethan fare to the things we're told are healthy today.)
If "close is good enough," try several of these contemporary recipes for dishes whose roots go back to Elizabethan days.
- - Several different versions - There should be a good roast along side. - Thousands of calories - Long-standing favorite - No meat, but they're tasty - the ultimate feast (like our picture above)!
Warning: This is a two day recipe.
For the purists: check out these sources for Medieval/Elizabethan recipes:
- , as posted at Carnegie Mellon University
- If you'd like to go straight to the source, the Medieval & Renaissance Food Page contains simple links to a variety of 15th century recipes. Most of these have been transcribed in their original form, so it can be tough to tell what and how much is supposed to go into the pot.
- The fabulous site created by senior English Literature/Composition students at Springfield (IL) High School has great information about Elizabethan food, banquets, and feasts. is a surprisingly eclectic collection of recipes and other medieval information. Strictly speaking, these recipes are a little too old, but students will get the idea! - Here's a link to A Compendium of Common Knowledge, which contains lots of information on all things Elizabethan.
Looking for more great ideas to teach Shakespeare? See TeacherFirst's Shakespeare Resources
Watch Now! Caribbean-style Beans & Rice
(you'll find dozens more videos like this inside the course)
"This course teaches you what staples to store and how long they store then gives multiple recipes for each staple. Seems each time I log in new content has been added. nice to see the course being under continual development. I am very happy with the course."
We needed this course ourselves.
In the fall of 2008 I was producing my own cooking series for television, with a full crew and a major corporate sponsor. When the banking collapse came, our sponsor told us no more payments would be coming — all expenditures were frozen.
I froze, too. I had a TV crew to pay, a huge mortgage, and a baby coming in less than six months. I got to thinking about my responsibility to feed my family, and I realized I had little of lasting substance in my pantry or freezer. It was all fresh, fancy foods, like expensive cheeses and meats. I had never even heard the word “prepper”.
The penny dropped hard, and in a panic I turned to the internet (never a great place to go if you’re already in a panic). One day I stumbled on a YouTube video of Judge Andrew Napolitano interviewing a self-described modern survivalist named Jack Spirko. I started listening to Jack’s Survival Podcast where he talked about storing food and other crazy stuff like guns, home security, water, precious metals, generators, alternative energy, permaculture, raising ducks, etc. And he was talking about all this in positive terms, as a way to improve your quality of life, if times got tough or even if they didn't.
As a proponent of the local food movement, our family was already gardening, raising dairy goats, using raw milk, making cheese, canning vegetables, etc. But my dive into the internet launched my journey into prepping. I had a lot to learn, and storing food was a logical next step.
Soon after that, I embarked on a national tour to promote my Harvest Eating Cookbook. The long trips away from home scared me even more. What if the collapse hit while I was away? What would my family eat? How would my wife and kids get by? Mulling over these questions made me even more determined to proactively build security into our lives, from food security, to home defense, and beyond. I knew that living sustainably needed to be built into our lives from the ground up.
My audience at the Harvest Eating website and podcast already included a lot of homesteaders, so it was natural to begin sharing our family’s new direction towards preparedness, and as a result, my audience grew. I knew I was onto something that a lot of people cared about.
Even though we socked away a lot of dried food in buckets, I didn’t really integrate it into our daily diet, and I knew that just having it wasn’t enough. I felt uneasy every time I walked past the stacks of buckets in our pantry and wondered what I would actually make with all those dry ingredients. It’s one thing to come up with a single meal on the fly, but another thing entirely to scramble for enough new recipes for a whole week of lights-out.
In April of 2016, I decided to put an end to my near-daily runs to the grocery store, and try to cut down our grocery bill, which was then almost $2000/month. I began cooking every day with the bulk commodity foods that we stored.
They say small is beautiful, and less is more, but I still wondered if my skills would be up for the challenge. How many great meals could I really make from prison-food ingredients?
If I missed a beat, my wife and my kids (age 14, 10, and 7) didn’t notice. They loved the simple, hearty, delicious meals coming out of our kitchen. I loved the food, too, and found that eating less meat and more low-fat carbs started making a big difference in the size of our grocery bill, it plummeted by half or more.
I had two decades as a successful chef under my belt, including a great deal of recipe development. Even so, I was apprehensive when I ventured into cooking with storage food. I imagined how completely unprepared folks in my audience might feel when opening a bucket of dry beans in the middle of a crisis. I knew I had to dive into help them… and my own family, too.
And thus, Food Storage Feast was born.
I had already written one book, and learned that I strongly prefer making videos and podcasts to writing books. But Food Storage Feast needed to be a full-featured book as well as an online course. My wife suggested calling one of our off-the-grid Montana neighbors, Noah “Darco.” He comes from a long line of pen-wielding misfits, and has proved himself handy with a typewriter before.
I was a globe-trotting tech guy trying to get off the road and spend more time on the land with my kids.
Homeschooled from a time when most people thought it was illegal, I grew up in the sprawling southern countryside and amidst my parents’ equally sprawling library, including their set of The Mother Earth News, dating back to issue #1, when it was an endearingly scruffy, self-published affair. At seventeen, wanting a term to describe my career plans, I came up with “stealth peasant”.
I later married a farm girl from Southeast Asia, who turned out to be a culinary genius. Several children later, we moved to Montana for reasons much like the Snows’, and when we met these new neighbors, our families became fast friends. My wife taught Keith some Thai dishes, and many great meals were shared around our tables.
In his podcast, Keith once made passing reference to me as the guy who “can’t even boil water.” Yep, I’m that guy. My family had, however, been experimenting with different ways to keep some extra food for emergencies, and I figured that if I couldn’t compete with my wife’s cooking on quality, I could at least find some creative ways to use our storage food.
So when Keith approached me about co-writing Food Storage Feast, I knew that I could sincerely bring the perspective of you - the person who wants to store food, but lacks the cooking skills that are just as important as the buckets of beans.