Every now and then I come across a new source or idea that substantially changes the way I look at medieval European cuisine. Most often when this happens, it means I've got a whole new direction for research and need to learn a lot more.
A prime example of this is a book I got in the mail yesterday, "Arranging the Meal: A History of Table Service in France," by Jean-Louis Flandrin.
The common wisdom is that there is little or no method to the way foods were grouped into courses in medieval menus. Flandrin questioned this, and through a careful analysis of surviving menus he has found strong evidence that there is an underlying order to the courses in medieval French meals. Further, his research suggests a different scheme controlled what was served in England as well.
This means I'm now going to have to dig through as many medieval English menus as I can find, categorize and correlate the dishes, and see if I can work out just what that scheme was. I have no choice - it's a geek thing. If I don't then it'll constantly be bugging me.
The book was translated from French and is quite readable, though it does get a bit bogged down in details. It covers quite a bit more than just the middle ages, but is narrow enough in scope to keep it from being a general overview.