The Forme of Cury
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page from late 14th century manuscript[a]
|Author||The master cooks of King Richard II|
|Publisher||King Richard II|
The Forme of Cury (Method of Cooking, cury being from Middle French cuire: to cook) is an extensive collection of medieval English recipes from the 14th century. Originally in the form of a scroll, its authors are listed as "the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II".
The name The Forme of Cury was given to the manuscript by Samuel Pegge, who published an edition of it in 1780 for the curator of the British Museum, Gustavus Brander. This name has since come into usage for almost all versions of the original manuscript even though they differ from each other. It is one of the best-known medieval guides to cooking, along a french manuscript known as Le Viandier.
The scroll was written in late Middle English (c. 1390) on vellum and contains about 200 recipes (although the exact number of recipes varies slightly between different versions) with many of the same recipes as Ancient Cookery (Diversa Servicia).
In the preamble, the authors explain the recipes are meant to teach a cook how to make both common dishes as well as unusual or extravagant banquet dishes. They also note that the recipes were written with the advice of the best experts in medicine and philosophy.
It's possible that The Forme of Cury was written partly to compete with Le Viandier of Taillevent, a French cookbook created around the same time. This supports the idea that banquets were a symbol of power and prestige for medieval lords and kings.
Compared to Viandier, The Forme of Cury uses much more sugar; about 31% of the recipes use sugar (49% including fruit), compared to only 6% of recipes from the Viandier (8% including fruit).
The Forme of Cury is the first known English text to mention certain ingredients such as cloves, olive oil, mace and gourds in regards to the preparation of British food. Many recipes contain what were at the time rare and valuable spices, including nutmeg, caraway, ginger, pepper and cardamom. There are recipes for preparing many different types of animals, including as whales, cranes, curlews, herons, seals and porpoises. There are about 10 vegetable recipes, including one for a vinaigrette salad, which indicates influence from Portugal and Spain as France rarely used vegetables in their cooking.
There are also several pasta dishes, which are evidence of Italian influence.
Some recipes in The Forme of Cury appear to be influenced by the Liber de Coquina, which contributed the Arabic cuisine mawmenne (mamuniyya Arab). The confectionary-like payn ragoun confirms the connection with Sicily (which had been Arab, Catalan and Norman), as it's created using the arabic technique of cooking in soft ball syrup.
The following is an example of a recipe taken from Pegge's 18th-century edition of the roll:
- SAWSE MADAME. XXX.
- Take sawge. persel. ysope. and saueray. quinces. and peeres, garlek and Grapes. and fylle the gees þerwith. and sowe the hole þat no grece come out. and roost hem wel. and kepe the grece þat fallith þerof. take galytyne and grece and do in a possynet, whan the gees buth rosted ynouh; take an smyte hem on pecys. and þat tat is withinne and do it in a possynet and put þerinne wyne if it be to thyk. do þerto powdour of galyngale. powdour douce and salt and boyle the sawse and dresse þe Gees in disshes and lay þe sowe onoward.
In modern English:
- SAUCE MADAME. 30.
- Take sage, parsley, hyssop and savory, quinces and pears, garlic and grapes, and stuff the geese therewith, and sew the hole that no grease come out, and roast them well, and keep the dripping that falleth thereof. Take meat jelly[b] and dripping and add in a posset; when the geese be roasted enough; take and smite [cut] them into pieces, and that that is within, and add in a posset and put therein wine if it be too thick. Add thereto powder of galangal, powder-douce and salt and boil the sauce and dress the Geese in dishes and lay the sauce onward.
The Café at the Rylands, in Manchester's John Rylands Library, cooked Tart in Ymber Day, Compast, Payn Puff, Frumenty and Gingerbrede, accompanied by Piment (spiced wine), for invited guests in 2009.
- Medieval cuisine
- Le Viandier - a recipe collection generally credited to Guillaume Tirel, c 1300
- Liber de Coquina - (The book of cooking), one of the oldest medieval cookbooks
- Apicius - a collection of Roman cookery recipes
- The page offers recipes for Drepee ("Take blanched Almandes grynde hem and temper hem up with gode broth take Oynouns a grete quantite parboyle hem and frye hem and do þerto. take smale bryddes parboyle hem and do þerto Pellydore and salt. and a lytel grece." and Mawmenee ("Take a pottel of wyne greke. and ii. pounde of sugur take and clarifye the sugur with a qantite of wyne an drawe it thurgh a straynour in to a pot of erthe take flour of Canell. and medle with sum of the wyne an cast to gydre. take pynes with Dates and frye hem a litell in grece oþer in oyle and cast hem to gydre. take clowes an flour of canel hool and cast þerto. take powdour gyngur. canel. clower, colour it with saundres a lytel yf hit be nede cast salt þerto. and lat it seeþ; warly with a slowe fyre and not to thyk, take brawn of Capouns yteysed. oþer of Fesauntes teysed small and cast þerto.").)
- Sauce or jelly of meat juices
- "The Forme of Cury". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- "Thys fourme of cury ys compyled of þe mayster cokes of kyng Richard þe secund ... by assent of Maysters of physik and of phylosophye".--"Things sweet to taste: selections from the Forme of Cury". 1996 ISBN 0-86373-134-1
- Wright, Clarissa Dickson (2011). A History of English Food. Random House. pp. 46, 50–52. ISBN 978-1-905-21185-2.
- Bouchut, Text : Marie Josèphe Moncorgé. Translate : Ian Bailey, Leah Hunt. Web page : Jacques. "Oldcook : Forme of Cury and cookery books in English". www.oldcook.com. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
- "The Forme of cury - Pygg in sawse sawge". British Library. The Master-Cooks of King Richard II. 1390. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- As cooked by Clarissa Dickson Wright on the BBC Four show Clarissa and the King's Cookbook
- "Oldest English recipes cooked up at John Rylands". Manchester University. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
- The Forme of Cury at Project Gutenberg, a transcription
- page images of the 18th century edition
- Text, links and modern versions at the Foods of England project
- Pygg in sawse sawge (British Library)
- index to the images of Forme of Cury (English MS. 7), scanned and put online as part of the Rylands Medieval Collection; John Rylands Library
- English MS 7, Forme of Cury; John Rylands Library