Le Ménagier de Paris
Le Ménagier de Paris (often abbreviated as Le Ménagier) is a French medieval guidebook from 1393 on a woman's proper behaviour in marriage and running a household. It includes sexual advice, recipes, and gardening tips. Written in the (fictional) voice of an elderly husband addressing his younger wife, the text offers a rare insight into late medieval ideas of gender, household, and marriage. Important for its language and for its combination of prose and poetry, the book's central theme is wifely obedience.
The book was made available in English translation in its entirety only in 2009, published by Cornell University Press; until that publication, the most complete translation in English was Eileen Power's 1928 The Goodman of Paris. Since earlier translations and editions have focused mainly on the recipes, the book is often incorrectly referred to as a medieval cookbook or an "advice and household hints book," and mined for the history of medieval cuisine.
The book contains three main sections: how to attain the love of God and husband; how to "increase the prosperity of the household"; and how to amuse, socialize, and make conversation. Like many medieval texts, the argument relies heavily on exempla and authoritative texts to make its point; included are selections from and references to such tales and characters as Griselda and the tale of Melibee (known in English from Chaucer's "The Clerk's Prologue and Tale" and "The Tale of Melibee"), Lucretia, and Susanna.
The second section of the book, article five, contains the cookbook. Like most of the original resources on medieval cuisine (that is to say, books and manuscripts actually written in the medieval period), its many recipes include information on ingredients and preparation methods, but are short on quantifying anything; most ingredients are given without specifying amounts, and most cooking methods are listed, without specifying amount of heat and time of cooking.
Since this is a standard limitation on references of this type, modern scholars will often attempt extrapolation or trial-and-error experimentation to produce a redaction of the recipe. When working with cookbooks, a "redaction" is generally a recipe, using the methods and ingredients of the original, that the modern author/scholar believes will produce a faithful (and, it is to be hoped, edible) reproduction of the product the original cook would have produced.
As is common, for cookbooks from early historical period authors, many of the recipes are provided as remedies for common complaints. This is due to the crossover, in medieval works, between herbalism, medicine, and cooking; at times, there appears to be no real difference between them, as books for cooking will include information on herbalism and medicine, and vice versa, to the point where it is hard to determine, at times, which of the above was the primary purpose of the book.
Le Menagier includes a variety of different types of recipes; soups, preparations for meats, eggs, fish, sauces, beverages, pastry, tarts, and so on. Despite the popular conception of medieval food being merely "meat on a stick," Le Menagier shows us a staggering variety of foods available to the medieval eater.
One should remember, however, that extant cookbooks of the period will not generally illustrate what was eaten by the very poor, who may have had a much more limited diet.
Other important medieval books about european gastronomy
- Plouvier, Liliane, "La Gastronomie dans le Viandier de Taillevent et le Ménagier de Paris"; Sabban, Françoise, "Le Savoir-cuire ou l'art des potages dans le Ménagier de Paris et le Viandier de Tailleventin"; and Saly, Antoinette, "Les Oiseaux dans l'alimentation d'après le Viandier de Taillevent et le Ménagier de Paris," in Menjot, Denis (1984). Manger et boire au moyen âge, I: Aliments et société; II: Cuisine, manières de table, régimes alimentaires; Centre d'Etudes Médiévales de Nice: Actes du Colloque de Nice (15-17 oct. 1982). Paris: Belles Letts. pp. 149–59, 161–72, 173–79.
- Rose, Christine M. (2002). "What Every Goodwoman Wants: The Parameters of Desire in Le Menagier de Paris/The Goodman of Paris". Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: an International Review of English Studies 38: 393–410.
- Brereton, Georgine E. (1958). "Titres et termes d'adresse dans le Ménagier de Paris". Romania 79: 471–84.
- Ferrier, Janet M. (1977). "A Husband's Asides: The Use of the Second Person Singular in Le Ménagier de Paris". French Studies 31 (3): 257–67. doi:10.1093/fs/XXXI.3.257.
- Greco, Gina L.; Christine M. Rose (2009). The Good Wife's Guide: Le Ménagies de Paris, A Medieval Household Book. Ithaca: Cornell UP. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-8014-7474-3.
- Krueger, Roberta L. (2005). "Identity Begins at Home: Female Conduct and the Failure of Counsel in Le Menagier de Paris". Essays in Medieval Studies (West Virginia University Press) 22: 21. doi:10.1353/ems.2006.0009.
- London: Routledge, 1928; repr. London: Boydell, 2006. For an overview of all partial translations into English, see Greco and Rose 4 n. 5; for an overview of manuscripts and (French) editions, see Greco and Rose 1-4.
- Delahoyde, Michael. "Le Menagier de Paris". Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Ferrier, Janet (1979). "Seulement pour vous endoctriner: the author's use of exempla in Le Menagier de Paris". Medium Aevum (Cambridge) 48: 77–89.
- Rose, Christine M., "Glossing Griselda in a Medieval Conduct Book: Le Ménagier de Paris," in Krygier, Marcin (2008). The Propur Langage of Englische Men. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. pp. 81–103. ISBN 978-3-631-57534-5.
- "Prologue" (Greco and Rose 49-52).