Monday, November 14, 2016

Lady Elinor Fettiplace and Her Receipt Book

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
The original book itself (which I have not seen, unfortunately) is bound in leather and written on fine paper, with the Poole coat of arms stamped in gold on the cover. I do have Ms. Spurling’s book. The recipes are by month in her work, which illustrates the seasonality of food in that time. The recipes included some that appear to have been accumulated from times past (it was not unusual for a mother’s book to be copied and given to her daughter or daughters at the time of her marriage, then added to) as well as contemporary recipes. Spices were used differently than in medieval tradition, with a lighter hand. Citrus fruits were used, and lemon juice appeared. More vegetables were used, including imports such as the sweet potato. (I always envisioned lots of bread and meat, but not so many vegetables.) The recipes also indicated a level of knowledge of techniques that surprised me. Lady Fettiplace’s recipe “To Make White Bisket Bread” involves sugar, a small amount of flour, beaten whites of eggs and some crushed aniseed, combined together, formed into “coffins” (crusts) and baked; this is a recipe for meringues, which were not supposed to have been known (at least in England) in 1604. Clearly Elizabethan cuisine was more sophisticated than many people believed. Ms. Spurling included suggestions for modern cooks and tried many of them successfully, as have others. Some of the more exotic ingredients such as rose water and ambergris are available (although not necessarily at the grocery store) and make it possible at least have an idea of what these foods might have tasted like. I plan to have a go myself. (Read more.)

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