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The Middle English culinary recipes in MS Harley 5401: an edition and commentary

cooking medieval foodThe Middle English culinary recipes in MS Harley 5401: an edition and commentary

Constance B. Hieatt

Medium Ævum: Vol. 65 Issue 1 (1996)

Abstract

The culinary manuscripts of the Middle Ages are increasingly a concern of those interested in social history — among others;(1) yet a significant impediment to research on Middle English culinary matters remains in the remarkable fact that there are still at least six sizeable collections of recipes that have never been edited and/or printed at all, as well as about a dozen more that have been only selectively collated in editions of material taken primarily from other manuscripts. Most of the collections in the latter category are probably not worth editing in their entirety since they are largely copies of collections which have been competently edited, and this is no doubt true of some in the first category — for example, London, British Library, MS Add. 5467, which appears to contain substantially the same collection as the manuscripts printed or collated in Thomas Austin’s Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books.(2)

There are also a number of manuscripts containing only a handful of recipes, or an isolated specimen or two. These, as well as the unprinted recipes in those manuscripts that have been used only for purposes of collation, must be transcribed at least in part, along with those that have not been printed at all, before we shall possess a body of material on which to base reliable analysis and comparative work. Since some of the unprinted collections are very extensive, this work cannot be completed very soon, but I propose to make at least a start with an edition of one of the shorter and more unusual collections. This is the one found in London, British Library, MS Harley 5401.

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