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Online medieval cookery course to teach about 12th century sauces

A five-day virtual cookery course which revisits the collection of 12th-century sauces discovered and analysed by a team based at Durham University and McGill University in Canada in 2013, is being staged from 4-8 October 2021.

The interactive course, organised by Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle and Durham University’s Institute of Medieval & Early Modern Studies (IMEMS), will take delegates on a journey from spiced ginger sauce to herb relishes, and from pepper and garlic condiments, to accompany all manner of meat, fish and vegetables, to a medieval spiced wine.

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The recipes used are from the earliest known culinary recipe collection from medieval Europe and pre-date the famous Forme of Cury by around 230 years. These short but intriguing recipes date to c.1170 and were from Durham Cathedral Priory. 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.

Academic experts will take people through the history of the period and reveal just how much we can know about the past through its food. And with the help of professional chefs from Blackfriars Restaurant, they’ll get top tips on how to prepare the dishes, cooking techniques, and balancing flavours. At the end of the week, delegates will be given a set of recipes for a dinner party or medieval banquet that they can cook at home.

Photo courtesy Blackfriars Restaurant / Eat Medieval

Before the course starts, delegates will receive a code to access the website, www.eatmedieval.com. The first code will unlock their shopping list, and some substitutes for the more unusual ingredients so they can buy the necessary food they’ll be cooking at home. The second code will unlock the pre-recorded films – from chefs and scholars, as well as suggested reading and other online resources.

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There will be a live Zoom introduction on the first day plus regular Zoom Q&A’s throughout the week to answer any questions. The daily introduction and summaries, short academic films, films of the chefs cooking, recipes and other resources will be available for 4 weeks so plenty of time to get to grips with the course material.

Professor of High Medieval History at Durham, Giles Gasper, who will co-host the course, commented “I’m thrilled and delighted to revisit these intriguing recipes once again. 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.

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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.”

Photo courtesy Blackfriars Restaurant / Eat Medieval

Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars, adds ‘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. A virtual online course seems like a natural progression. We love to share our passion for eating medieval with as many people as possible. We are incredibly excited by this new course 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 course costs £125 and takes place from 4-8 October. Click here to book onto the course and for more information visit www.eatmedieval.com

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