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Online course on medieval cooking to start next month

A series of interactive online medieval cookery courses is being launched by Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) and Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The first in the series, ‘Eat Medieval: A Taste of the Past’, will run over five days starting on 2 November and will feature a suite of culinary recipes originating from the 12th-century and thought to be amongst the oldest in Europe. This virtual course will show live cooking demonstrations, question and answer sessions, and pre-recorded films from professional chefs and scholars.

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The course will be broadcast from Blackfriars’ Cookery School, housed within the 13th-century former Dominican friary which has been hosting cookery classes for a number of years.

Giles Gasper, Durham University and Andy Hook, Blackfriars, launch online medieval cookery course – photo courtesy Blackfriars

“I’m thrilled and delighted by this new and exciting partnership,” says Giles Gasper, Professor of High Medieval History at Durham, and a co-host the course. “Medieval food was one of the great cuisines of the world: sophisticated and a wonderful mixture of local ingredients and spices from the caravans and traders across the Steppes, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean.

“During this week-long online course, we’ll take you on a gastronomic journey through 15 recipes from the earliest medieval recipe collection, dating from 1170, originally from the monks at Durham Cathedral Priory, and from other sources. We’ll move from spiced ginger sauce to herb relishes, and from pepper and garlic condiments, to a medieval spiced wine, the amazing digestif Hypocras.

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“With the help of professional chefs, you’ll get top tips on how to prepare the dishes, cooking techniques, and balancing flavours. This isn’t re-enactment cooking but learning how to bring a ‘Taste of the Past’ to life! At the end of the week we’ll give you a set of recipes for a dinner party or medieval banquet that you can cook at home. Our academic experts will take you through the history of the period and reveal just how much we can know about the past through its food. It is hoped it will appeal to anyone curious to find out more about a great world cuisine. With our experts guides you’ll be able to eat medieval with confidence.”

Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars added, ‘We have been working with Giles and his team at Durham University for over a decade now exploring medieval food and bringing it to life within a modern restaurant with medieval cookery classes, banquets and lectures. In this new Covid-world, a virtual online course seems like a natural progression. We experienced the wide appeal of medieval food and drink to the public at a series of talks and demonstrations we gave together at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, Napa, California in 2019. And we’d love to share our passion for eating medieval with as many people as possible. We are incredibly excited by this new partnership and I can’t wait to co-host this with Giles and his team and offer our knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to a wider audience’.

The first five-day online course will run from 2-6 November with tickets available on Blackfriars’ website from £99 per person. Details of student concessions and discounts are available from both Blackfriars and Durham IMEMS.

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Click here to learn more and to sign up for the course

See also the eatmedieval website

Top Image: 15th century image of cooking – Wikimedia Commons

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