Seeing some luncheon tables over the years only offering the same basic cubed cheese, meat, and bread, I put myself on a quest to find more historically accurate and tasty ways to feed the poulace at event lunch board. It was my intention to "dabble" with something that could be put out on a feast table (with minimum maintenance) during the day, so I went searching for particular types of relishes, breads, pasties, and sops.
Today, you will taste some of my research into relishes which are taken directly from "Book VIII, De Honesta Voluptate, On Right Pleasure and Good Health", by Platina (Bartolomeo Sacchi) 1421-1481. Platina's work dwells mainly on the humors and organs of the body which are affected when one eats. It was his conclusion that if one ate things in certain order and in certain amounts, one could gain direct health from that which he ate. The recipes below all pertain to the liver, which he states is the seat of the blood. According to Platina, it is the body's job to filter and make new blood in the liver.
It is also said by Platina, that we are prone to certain conditions of the soul during certain times of the year.As melancholy is prevalent during this time (August 6th to November 6th) according to Platina, we should be eating tart and bitter foods (relishes are good) and should work little to maintain our health. I agree on both counts, we should eat tastebud inspiring foods and get some well deserved rest before the upcoming winter!!
Below, you will find the recipes used for the relishes. I chose these relishes especially for their colors. It was my intention to perk up the senses with the color, texture, taste, and fragrance of the foods. It is my belief that the art of dining should be a sensual experience. We have to eat to survive, but should it not be a pleasure to do so?
I intend to do further study on this issue on repasts of the 14th and 15th centuries. I expect to delve into other recipes of Platina as well to create, taste test, and eventually use in its entirety all of my research at a future dayboard at a future event.
Note: The bread I made to accompany these relishes is a basic white bread recipe that I have imbedded in my brain. I can provide a recipe for this if needed. I use Platina as the souce for this as well.
Lady Andrea MacIntyre, Ostgardr
Relish which is called "Bright-Colored Sauce"
Grind together for a number of guests hard- boiled egg yolks, boiled chicken livers, and toasted almonds. When they are ground, soak in vinegar or verjuice, and strain through a sieve into a bowl, adding as much cinnamon, ginger, and sugar as will be enough. This relish ought to be cooked a little and colored with saffron. Then, it is wonderfully nourishing, helps the liver, but digests badly.
My redaction: I boiled the eggs and removed the yellows from them, I ground them and put them aside. I boiled the chicken livers, and ground them and put them with the eggyolks. I toasted whole almonds in an oven on a low heat until crunchy. I then ground them and put them in with the other ingredients. I mixed in verjuice, added cinnamon, ginger, and sugar until it tasted good. Then I mixed in saffron, to which I had added a small bit of verjuice and reheated the entire mixture in the oven.I then set it to cool in the refrigerator due to its meat ingredient until serving.
Relish from Dried plums
Crush together prunes, softened in red wine and pitted, with a few unpeeled almonds and some pieces of toasted bread, moistened with the same wine as the prunes. When they have been crushed, soak them with verjuice, red wine, must, or sugar, and strain, adding some spices, especially cinnamon. It is of little nourishment, takes away the appetite, and harms the stomach, but it represses bile and cools a hot liver.
My redaction: I soaked unpitted prunes in red wine with some almonds and some white bread that had been toasted in the oven. I crushed everything and added verjuice, red wine, and sugar. I then added cinnamon and ginger, and cooled until serving.
Grind together a little parsley, thyme, chard, and other fragrant herbs, a moderate amount of ginger, also of cinnamon, and a bit of salt. When they are ground, soak in sharp vinegar, and pass through a sieve into a bowl. If a little garlic pleases you, add more or less according to taste. This is of little nourishmant, heats the stomach and liver, and digests slowly, but opens obstructions and revives desire of eating.
My redaction: I picked all the herbs fresh from my garden (I used parsley, thyme, rosemary, and basil) and added it to the chard (bought) which I first chopped and then ground. I also added cinnamon, ginger, and salt as requested. Liking garlic, I added this as well to the mixture and chilled until serving.
Thoroughly crush cleaned almonds with crumbed and softened bread. When they are crushed, add a little ginger and cinnamon, then soak in verjuice, red wine, and juice of the pomegranate, and pass through a sieve into a bowl or serving dishes. Some add crushed dates to this. This dish is of little nourishment and delays for a long time in the stomach, but it represses bile and is good for a upset liver.
My redaction: I crushed peeled almonds with pieces of white bread. I added ginger, cinnamon, verjuice, red wine. I extracted juice from the pomegranate fruit I was lucky enough to find in season. I added this and some chopped dates to the dish, mixed and chilled until serving.
* This is my favorite of the relish recipes!
© 2002, by Lady Andrea MacIntyre
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