Thursday, March 14, 2013

Le Menagier de Paris and Cameline Sauce for the Birds

1480 Netherlandish brass plate–– a popular joke of a woman spanking a man MMA Collection.

Le Menagier de Paris is a favorite book of mine (written 1392-4). I wrote about it a little bit HERE when I shared a delicious, so-good-you-want-to-drink-it rose-scented orange and wine sauce for duck –– an early bigarade that was mentioned in Le Menagier’s recipe section.

The book has a sizable collection of menus and 380-odd recipes – recipes that are more like sketches than what we are used to. It is mostly a book written by an old man instructing his very young wife about how to take care of her new household and husband. In a recent translation of The Good Wife's Guide (Le Ménagier de Paris): A Medieval Household Book Gina Greco and Christine Rose say that the book, “… advances from dictating the inner life of her soul to dictating her outward behavior, and thence to the manner in which the wife’s household reflects her regulated nature, which in turn reflect well on the husband. However genial the narrator’s tone may be in places, his moral and domestic tuition infantilizes the woman and reifies her as a sort of domestic animal in need of obedience training and surveillance…” In truth, a man could punish or kill his wife for displeasing him in any way. She was no better than his horse or dog.


The 1480 spanking plate was a brassy irony to the facts of the sexual politics of the age (brass plates were used for decoration and serving and emulated the gold of royal courts and were prized by the “middling classes” –- imagine this one on your dining room sideboard –– quite a conversation piece).

Sir Galahad is welcomed to the Round Table, 1380-85

Men have longed for Stepford wives forever, haven't they –– Stepford wives that can entertain well. Cringe-making womanly instructions aside, there is a great section of shopping lists for large parties (you can read a translation of the food section of the book HERE). The lists give a remarkable insight into the life of the times. It’s a bit hard to say how many guests they are shopping for. This is hard because a party for “20 bowls” means nothing now. There was a thought that 2 people shared a bowl and that the huge amount of food (20 each of geese and capons, 50 each of chickens and rabbits 5 kids, legs of beef, veal and venison, 10 dozen loaves of bread) would have been for more than one meal that day and would have served additional guests and servants and aids.

14th and 15th century fabrics from the V & A collection (although tables were covered in white cloths then as now)

It does tell you there were to be “linens for six tables… you will need two big copper pots for twenty bowls, two boilers, four drainers, a mortar and pestle, six large kitchen towels, three large clay pots for wine, a large clay pot for soup, four wooden bowls and four wooden spoons, an iron pot, four large buckets with handles, two trivets and an iron spoon. And also they will shop for pewterware: that is to say, ten dozen bowls, six dozen small plates, two and a half dozen large plates, eight quart pots, two dozen pints, two alms pots.”

Jacob's wedding-feast in a Bible Historiale (KB 78 D 38 I, fol. 31r), c. 143

For the high table –– the fancy guests would be served a higher class of dishes, “The job of the butler is to provide salt-cellars for the high table; goblets, four dozen; goblets, covered, gilded, four; ewers, six; silver spoons, four dozen; silver quart mugs, four; alms pots, two; candy dishes, two.”

“At the grocer's: ten pounds of almonds, forty deniers a pound. Three pounds of blanched wheat, eight deniers a pound - One pound of columbine ginger, eleven sous. - one quarter-pound of mesche ginger, five sous - A half-pound of ground cinnamon, five sous. - Two pounds of ground rice, two sous. - Two pound of lump sugar, sixteen sous. - A quarter-pound of cloves and seed of garlic, six sous. Half a quarter-pound of long pepper, four sous. - Half a quarter-pound of galingale, five sous. - Half a quarter-pound of mace, three sous four deniers. - Half a quarter-pound of green laurel leaves [bay leaves], six deniers. - Two pounds of tall thin candles, three sous four deniers the pound, making six sous eight deniers, - Torches at three pounds apiece, six; smaller torches at one pound apiece, six; that is to say a cost of three sous a pound, and six deniers less per pound on the returns.”

1500 pipkin, London,V&A Collection

“For chamber-spices [goodies served in the drawing-room or dressing-room (JH)], that is to say, candied orange peel, one pound, ten sous. - Candied citron, one pound, twelve sous. - Red anise, one pound, eight sous. - Rose-sugar (white sugar clarified and cooked in rose-water (JP), one pound, ten sous. - White sugared almonds, three pounds, ten sous a pound.”

1590 pottery cup,V&A Collection

“Of hippocras [that I wrote about HERE], three quarts, ten sous a quart, and all will be needed.”

They also had to make the plates –– out of bread (the metal and pottery pieces were for mostly for serving). “Item, two bread-slicers, of whom one will crumb the bread and make trenchers and salt-cellars out of bread, and will carry the salt and the bread and the trenchers to the tables, and will provide for the dining-room two or three strainers for the solid leftovers such as sops, broken breads, trenchers, meats and such things: and two buckets for soups, sauces and liquid things.” The bread was specific too “Trencher bread, three dozen of half a foot in width and four fingers tall, baked four days before and browned, or what is called in the market Corbeil bread.” Interesting, right? It took 4 days to harden the bread.

13th century pottery,V&A Collection

There were also vast amounts of eggs (300!) and cream and cheese for the meal as well as a multitude of beasts and birds.

One of the interesting notes on the text came about the birds served at the dinners, and bird cookery is where I’m heading. “As birds were often taken by falconry, they appeared on the table minus the portions which were the right of the hunting-bird. The head of the partridge and duck, the thigh of the crane, etc., belonged to the hunting-bird, What was at first the result of the habits of falconers became later an absolute rule of culinary etiquette...I do not remember ever having seen the tails of birds taken in the hunt being at some time the subject of a falconry right. However the lords could reserve the tail of the heron or other birds, but perhaps also they would leave the tail on the bird when the feathers were brilliant and would produce the best effect at table.”(JP)

The right of the hunting bird, now that is something I’ve never thought about when I’ve seen them on leather gloved arms with their wonderful hoods (I just recently saw one eye to eye on the arm of a man in my park, it was an amazing and HUGE creature, and I knew if I was smaller, I would be toast–– it is a raptor with killer eyes). Why would they kill for their masters without a reward?

1450 Brass Plate, V&A Collection

As I said, Le Mangier de Paris has recipes, lovely recipes. One of them, and the reason for the visit, is Cameline Sauce –– I've wanted to try it for years and just have never gotten around to it –– until now. It was sort of the ketchup and barbeque sauce of the Middle Ages. Before tomato and New World pepper-based sauces there was Cameline, a cinnamon-based bread and vinegar sauce used on everything from fish to boar.

Like any great sauce, there are many versions and varieties. Some have red wine, others white wine, some only vinegar and some verjus. Sometimes bread is toasted, other times it is not. The spices used vary as well but all have cinnamon since cinnamon is the heart of the sauce. My recipe is inspired by many of the recipes that I have found. Use the amounts given as a guide. Taste as you go to get the sauce you want. It is always better to make it a least a few hours before to let all the flavors get to know each other. The sauce can be cooked or not (it seems the winter version was cooked and the summer version was not) and served warm or not.

This is one of the ancient sauces in my sauces series that joins the great Sauce Madame (a tangy fruited sauce that I wrote about HERE). I decided I wanted to try it with squab, lovely D'Artagnan squab (they have it in 3 forms HERE) that I worked with before with perfect results (thanks to a genius Ming Tsai technique). This sauce is so good, you will want to go Medieval and dive into it with succulent bits of squab and a lot of exuberant finger-licking. Then as now it would be good on a million things –– even a hamburger or sausages or pork chops. It's also a breeze to make with modern machines (a little harder with a mortar and pestle).

The narrator of Le Managier asks his bride to pick up Cameline Sauce at the store –– that’s how popular it was. “At the sauce-maker's, three half-pints of cameline for dinner and supper and a quart of sorrel verjuice.” But he also has a recipe to make it –– for those who have no sauce-maker to go to:

14th century pottery plate

“CAMELINE. Note that at Tournais, to make cameline, they grind together ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg: soak in wine, then take out of the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not toasted, moistened with cold water and grind in the mortar, soak in wine and strain, then boil it all, and lastly add red sugar: and this is winter cameline. And in summer they make it the same way, but it is not boiled.
And in truth, for my taste, the winter sort is good, but the following is much better: grind a little ginger with lots of cinnamon, then take it out, and have lots of toasted bread or bread-crumbs in vinegar, ground and strained.”

There were others, Forme of Cury (that I wrote about HERE) did it like this:

Sauce Camelyne

Tak raysons of corans & kyrnels of notys & crustes of brede & pouder of ȝynȝer, clowes, flor of canel, bray it wel to gyder & do hit þer to salt temper hit up wit vyneger & messe forth.

Translation: Take currants, meat of nuts, crusts of bread and powdered ginger, cloves, ground cinnamon, pound it well together and add thereto salt temper it up with vinegar and mess forth.

1450 Brass Plate,V&A Collection

From the Libro di cucina del secolo XIV, The Medieval Kitchen:

Savore camelino optimo

A ffare savore camelino optimo, toy mandole monde e masenale e collali, toy uva passa e canella e garofali e un pocho de molena de pan e masena ogni cossa inseme e distempera con agresta ed è fatto.


To make the best cameline sauce, take blanched almonds and grind them and sieve them, take dried currants and cinnamon and cloves and a little of the inside of the loaf, and grind all these together and
mix with verjuice and it’s made.

1450 Brass Plate,V&A Collection

From Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks edited by Thomas Austin

Sauce gamelyne

Take faire brede, and kutte it, and take vinegre and wyne, & stepe be brede therein, and drawe hit thorgh a strynour with powder of canel and draw his twies or thries til hit be smoth; and ben take pouder of ginger, Sugur, and pouder of cloues and cast perto a litul saffron and let hit be thik ynogh, and thenne serue hit forthe 

1450 Brass Plate, V&A Collection

To Make Cameline (from Taillevent's Le Viandier)

Take ginger, plenty of cassia, cloves, grains of paradise, mastic, thyme and long pepper (if you wish). Sieve bread soaked in vinegar, strain and salt to taste.

Squab with Cameline Sauce

4 cooked squab - available HERE (see recipe)
1 recipe Cameline Sauce (see recipe)
garnish (I used frisee & parsley)

Place the squabs on the platter with garnish and serve with the sauce

Cameline Sauce

1- 2 slices bread, crusts removed and well-toasted (about 7" x 3", 3/4" thick)
1 c red wine*
1/4 to 1/3c red wine vinegar*
2 T currants soaked in 4 T water till plump and soft
2-3 t sugar
1 T blanched almonds (optional)
2 t - 2 T cinnamon to taste ( I used 1 1/2T)
1/2 t - 2 t ginger (I used 1t)
1/2 - 1 t ground grains of paradise (optional)
Healthy pinch of cloves, nutmeg
Pinch of ground mastic (optional - if you use it remember is it very powerful so use sparingly)
1/2 t thyme
pinch saffron (in 1 T warm, red wine)
salt and pepper to taste (if you have long pepper, grind 1 in a spice grinder and add to taste, otherwise use black pepper)

Bread with wine and vinegar

Bread after soaking 1 hour

Soak the bread in the wine and vinegar for an hour till mush. Grind the almonds if you are using them, then put in bread and soaking liquid in a blender or processor and puree. Add the spices to taste (especially the cinnamon -- most recipes ask for a lot of it but you may want less - if you use less, add less ginger). At this point you can press through a strainer for a finer texture or not, mine did not, it was smooth as silk.

*You may need to add more wine and vinegar if the sauce is too stiff –– mine was not. You may want to play with the proportions for the tang you like. It will have the texture of ketchup.

To Cook the Squab

4 Squab from D'Artagnan (available HERE)
2 large carrots, cut into 4-6 sticks each
1 T oil
salt and pepper (you can use ground long pepper and grains of paradise if you have them)

Pre-heat oven to 500º. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and heat for at least 15 minutes.

Season the squabs inside and out with salt and pepper. Oil the carrot sticks

Remove the skillet from the oven and place the carrot sticks in the pan and the squabs on top (it keeps the bottom of the bird from burning and are delicious to eat afterwards (a Ming Tsai technique). Roast from 15 to 18 minutes till the squab reaches 120º interior temperature - you don't want squabs done to death MRare to Medium is good. Let rest for 10 minutes.


Diane said...

Interesting post and I see that Le Menagier de Paris is at Amazon for sale still. I have some squab in the freezer so maybe I will try this out. Thanks. Have a good weekend. Diane

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

WHOAH! THAT PLATE! My goodness, when you look at our ancestors and how they expressed themselves, we see they were no different in terms of young feelings and OUTRAGEOUS ideas! LOVE IT!

Oh Deana, your post is delicious this morning; I have to run off to work, but thank you again for coming by to visit me. Many hugs and enjoy a delicious weekend! Anita

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

This is one heck of a grocery list! Interesting to see that the sexual politics of Betty and Don Draper have their roots in ancient history.

Gintare @Gourmantine said...

Your recipes continue to amaze me, that sauce looks wonderful! Happy weekend!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Yes, that would be quite the conversation piece on a side board or mantel :) I was also intrigued at how small the servers are compared to those being served in both the Sir Galahad and Jacob's wedding feast pictures. Certainly a commentary on status there too!

I think I may have had squab only once in my life and I remember how little it was. What a beautiful platter of squab and the sauce was an undertaking in itself. It looks luscious.

Barbara said...

I wasn't exactly a Stepford Wife, but my generation pretty much took care of family, food and entertaining. My circle mainly, community, church, what have you. But we did have fun.
I would have loved that spanking brass charger.
The Cameline sauce sounds marvelous and I'd love it with just about anything. An interesting combo of herbs and spices. Your sauces are doable, Deana, and delicious. I am enjoying the sauce posts immensely.
And, repeating myself, your dishes are always divine. That blue. Oh my.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Now this is another sauce I haven't tried before! And now that I know more about those fascinating times (oh yes those marital instructions! :P) I would love to try this even more :D

Sarah said...

Every time I see your squab I am so envious. I need a trip to the big city one day soon. Interesting sauce.

La Table De Nana said...

I have never had squab..the research and extent to which you go to bring us back in time is exemplary:)
Cannot thank you enough:)

curator said...

I would love to have a simple little pipkin...and heap it full of candied orange peel.

Marjie said...

I'm very glad I don't have to serve 40 or more people. 25 to 30 is hard enough. Your sauce looks really good in the end, but I have real issues with soggy bread, so I'm afraid soaking the bread would leave me walking away from this recipe. Funny the things we just don't like, no matter what....

Talia Felix said...

Was looking for a Cameline Sauce recipe and yours looks great! I'm also happy to see your other Sauce posts here...

As well I see you're a fan of the Menagier -- I have been doing single-serve recipes from it and other old cookbooks, you may like to check them out.

tasteofbeirut said...

What an interesting post! I'd have never expected to see this type of scene carved on a brass plate in the Western world! `love all of your collection, especially the clay ones; the squab and sauce sound and look totally delicious, as always in your kitchen; you'd enjoy the little birds that feed on figs that are sold in Lebanon after hunting season (also frozen year-round.

Frank said...

I always learn something interesting whenever I stop by your blog, Deana! I've always wondered about those impossibly long Medieval menus you read about. How did they ever pack it in? Well, I suppose it does make sense that guests didn't eat every dish on offer. The human anatomy could not have changed that much since then...