Friday, January 11, 2013

Today's research snippet. Frumenty and spoons.

The dish known as Frumenty was a favourite medieval staple food, traditionally eaten with venison and porpoise.  It takes its name from frumentum, the latin word for corn (and corn in the UK refers to any cereal crop). It was made from whole threshed wheat from which the outer layer of bran had been removed and was then gently stewed until it became gelatinous.  Same thing happens to porridge these days. It's first mentioned as a dish in the medieval cookbook The Form of Cury  written in the late 14th century, but is thought to be much older, as in going back thousands of years.  Even  now it is still made in parts of Yorkshire at Christmas time.  It's a good method of turning hard, wild grain into easily digested comfort food.
The Medieval method of preparation was to put the grains in a stone mortar, sprinkle with a little water and pound with a wooden pestle to remove the bran but leave the grains intact. Once prepared, the wheat was rinsed, boiled slowly until the individual grains burst.  Then they were gently simmered in milk or light stock flavoured and coloured with saffron and finally thickened with egg yolks.  If being served with fish, the milk and stock was replaced with almond milk or hazelnut milk, and the eggs were omitted.
If cooking it today you need 150g of whole wheat grains, 150ml of milk or almont milk, half a teaspoon of salt and a large pinch of saffron.  Add other or different flavourings to suit.

Of the spoons in the picture below, only the middle one is likely to have been dipped in frumenty. Those to right and left were more likely used for display purposes.  The middle spoon is a very early example of pewter work being dated circa 1250.  Pewter objects don't begin appearing on the scene until around this time.   Click to enlarge

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Elizabeth,
What would be the most useful resource for medieval food and recipes that you've come across? Have you noticed much variation across Wales and Scotland from England in food preparation, taste and style?