Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: The Medieval Cookbook

Sometimes you need to go back and take a second look at a book.

I first came across references to The Medieval Cookbook sometime around 1998. At the time I was seriously getting into research and what I really wanted was access to unedited medieval sources. I wasn't especially interested in other people's interpretations of medieval recipes, and so I basically ignored this book. It simply didn't have what I needed.

Fast forward to the present. I now run a website devoted to medieval European cuisine which gets a huge number of hits from folks who are looking for authentic medieval recipes or basic information about cooking in the middle ages. Very few of them have experience in working from medieval sources, especially those written in languages other than modern English.

With that in mind, The Medieval Cookbook suddenly looks very different. It's a perfect starting place for someone with little to no background in medieval cooking. There are eighty recipes, all with their original source, and all worked out with modern measurements. The book is also broken into sections, like "Chaucer's Company", each with a section of text to help put the recipes into context.

Finally, there are lots of beautiful, full-color images taken from medieval manuscripts and paintings to illustrate the myriad aspects of medieval life and food. All of this is bound in a beautiful, high-quality book - the kind that bibliophiles like me love to hold.

The Medieval Cookbook
Maggie Black
J. Paul Getty Museum
ISBN: 9781606061091

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