When I was 18, I worked at an ice cream shop in my hometown. I was notorious for licking my fingers after making any sundae, which got me in trouble more often than I should probably admit. Each time my boss was reminding me of all the health codes I was violating (which, to be fair, I was, but I swear I was also a notorious hand-washer), I would always think of what the Servingman says towards the end of Romeo and Juliet: “Marry, sir, ‘tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.” So really – they should have considered my violation as a compliment.
Today was one of those days, though. Everything I ate was finger-licking good (ugh, even KFC would be delicious to me today) – which is why I couldn’t find the self-control to start writing this until 11:30 PM. Today I was Falstaff and Liz Lemon in one person. It was destructive. It was beautiful. It was chocolatey. And gluten-free! (My one secret wish in this world is to find a wheat-conscious early modern recipe book someday.)
So, I spent my day interchanging between actual modern-day recipes and actual early-modern recipes. I devised a real menu and a fantasy menu. I really recommend you do the same. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while (especially in this black hole where the unemployed live). What I found in my research is that early moderns had a preference for sweet flavors over savory flavors. For this I love them even more.Recipe for a Rabbit Fricasse, Sarah Longe’s Receipt Book Recipe for a Gooseberry Foole, Elizabeth Fowler’s Receipt Book, 1684
What I actually had for dinner was brinner: complete with pancakes, apple-cinnamon sausage, scrambled eggs, and orange juice. My early modern dinner? Well, a Lamb Pye, Rasberry Wine, and a clere Jelly! This website is incredible for looking through some medieval and early modern recipes in receipt books at the time. I am definitely going to attempt making a recipe one day and will make sure to document the experience! Though, I must admit, this pigeon pie probably won’t make the cut.
So, feed your birds some herbs, stay away from coffee and chocolate, and let’s get cooking – early modern style!Just another reason why I love this period. In this pamphlet, the author believes one reason coffee is bad for men is because it causes them to become impotent due to its “drying” effects. Bravo.
P.S. And just for us, how much would Shakespeare love these cookies?
“Unquiet meals make ill digestions” – The Comedy of Errors
“Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?” – Twelfth Night
“Truly, thou art damned like an ill roasted egg, all on one saide” – As You Like It
“He hath eaten me out of house and home; he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his” – Henry IV Part 1