Alabama Renaissance Faire: The 2005 Feast
October 15th, 2005

Gode Cookery in Alabama, 2005:
James Matterer, Lisa Holcomb-Blair,
& Darell McCormick
Assisted by Lin Wilson & John Iaria

This year's very special menu has been composed by Lisa Holcomb-Blair & is an Italian Renaissance Feast in honor of the four seasons. The main primary sources for the menu are:

De honeste voluptate by Bartolomeo Sacchi, called Platina, late 15th c., Italian
Four Seasons of the House of Cerruti, a medieval health manual, 14th. c., Italian

Festività Delle Quattro Stagioni

In Italy, the Renaissance was the period of rebirth, sparking the revival of classical arts and societal customs. Along with the renewed aesthetic focus came the innate interest in science and medicine. With this, the rebirth of the classical kitchen was in full swing. Now it was the cook's job not just to prepare food for sustenance and pleasure, but for its health generating properties as well. The long forgotten tomes of Galen and Hippocrates were once again consulted, and their theories prescribed for health and vitality in daily life.  This ancient system, known as the humoral theory, assigned common elements, such as earth, air, fire, and water, and qualities like dry, moist, hot, and cold, to all living things. In short, the humoral qualities of foods were once again brought to the foreground and consumed for optimal health and balance within the seasonal cycle.

With the newfound focus on health, many noble families consulted artists and doctors alike to produce manuscripts of instruction on optimal health.  One of the most beautiful and thorough of these text is the Tacuinum Sanitatis in Medicina, The Four Seasons In the House of Cerruti. This 14th century Northern Italian manuscript contains extensive information and detailed illuminations illustrating the gathering and preparation of foodstuffs and medicinal herbs and preparations according to seasonal availability. The original copy now resides Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. Along with the recipes of Platina's Dehoneste Voluptate, Gode Cookery is honored to present the Festività Delle Quattro Stagioni... The Feast of the Four Seasons.


Autumn, from the Tacuinum of Vienna

We will begin our journey into the culinary history of the House of Cerruti with Autumn. When the sun enters Libra, thus begins Autumn and the grape harvest. Fruits and nuts have also reached their peak at this time. Stores and preserves were prepared for the winter and feast tables were elegantly dressed in seasonal finery and baked goods reflecting this time of abundance.

PANE E BURRO (Bread & butter)

(Onions in strong sweet broth)

Beef broth and sautéed onions thickened with a few bread crumbs.

Ingredients: Onions, strong broth, pepper, and white grape juice.

Source: Platina
The onion is also cooked under ashes and coals until the rawness is steamed out of it; when it has cooled it is chopped finely and put in a dish with salt and oil and defrutum, or rolled in must. There are those who also sprinkle the onion with pepper or cinnamon.

RISUM IN QuO IVS IVRE (Rice in the juice you please)
Rice baked in an almond broth.

Ingredients: Rice, chicken stock, almond milk, salt, saffron, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon.

Source: Platina
Enough has been said about simple things; but cooks now call me to preparations once again. Spelt meal is cleaned and rinsed, cooked in juice of chicken for a long time; when it has cooked transfer part of it into a deep dish. To this, when it has cooled a little, add the yolks of three eggs with some saffron and return it to the pot and sprinkle with spices.

Prepare rice in the same manner as the meal. Some leave out the eggs. It is done according to your choice.

PVLEVS IN ACRESTA (Chicken in verjuice)
Chicken stewed in verjuice, herbs, & spices.

Ingredients: Chicken, verjuice, parsley mint, saffron, salt, pepper.

Source: Platina
Cook down a chicken with some salt flesh; when it is half-cooked, put into your pot grapes with the seeds removed. Add parsley and finely chopped mint, pepper and saffron powdered together. Put all these into a kettle. When the chicken is cooked, fill the plates.

PATINA DE COTONIA (Quince and Walnut Pastries)
Quinces are combined with apples and pears, stewed with walnuts, and baked in a delicate pastry.

Ingredients: Quince, apples, pears, walnuts, raisins, sugar, flour, lard, water, salt.

Source: Cerruti
Since they first graced the opulent tables of the Roman Empire, quinces have been a mainstay on the European table. The best quinces are large and full. They cheer the heart and stimulate the appetite. They often cause colic, but this is easily remedied by preparing them with honey.


Winter, from the Tacuinum of Vienna

In winter, if the air is too cold, one avoids the wind, especially the north wind. Regarding food, the concept of de mensa sume quantumvis tempore brume, eat as much as you want in the wintertime, holds true. It is suggested that due to the cold moist nature of the season, that food be increased and fluid consumption decreased, lest it be a hearty and robust wine. Therefore winter ushers in a shift in culinary preference toward hearty foods that are warming in nature.

IN CANABIM (Cabbage a la Romane)
A dish of cabbage cooked in seasoned broth.

Ingredients: Cabbage, pork fat, strong broth, pepper, saffron.

Source: Platina
With your hands tear up cabbage and toss it into boiling water. When it is half done, throw away the juice and transfer the cabbage into another pot and blend in finely chopped lard. Besides this, add as much rich juice as you need. Let it boil a little bit, for it does not need much cooking.

ESICvMSICvLvM (Macaroni)
A dish of macaroni, butter, cheese, & herbs.

Ingredients: Macaroni, rosewater, broth, hard cheese, butter, mild herbs.

Source: Platina
White flour, moistened with the white of an egg and rosewater, should be well ground. Roll this into slender bits like straw, stretched into the length of half a foot. With a very thin iron stylus, scrape out the middle. Then as you remove the iron, you leave them hollow. Then, spread out just so and dried in the sun, they will last for two or three years. Indeed especially if they are made in the month of the August moon.  They should be cooked in rich juice and poured into dishes and sprinkled with grated cheese, fresh butter and mild herbs.

IN PVLPAM ROMANAM (Meat in the Roman style)

(Sauce of spiced wine)

Roast seasoned pork served with an aromatic wine sauce.

Ingredients: Pork loin, fennel, salt, red wine, cloves, cinnamon, mace, black pepper, bread crumbs, strong broth.

Source: Platina & Cerruti
Platina: Cut meat into morsels not larger than the size of an egg, in such a way that none is completely severed from the other, right away, sprinkle them with salt and coriander or ground fennel, having sprinkled them, press them a little between two boards. Then pass a spit through them with pieces of lard inserted so that the pieces of meat do not touch each other. Turn them over the fire, seeing that they do not become to dry, until they are cooked. This is of great and heavy nourishment. It is also slow to be digested.

This recipe has been modified form the original by substituting modern preparation and cooking techniques. The loin roasts were filleted into flat steaks and the herbs and seasoning were dry rubbed onto the tops of each. They were then rolled, tied, browned, and roasted in a slow oven until tender.

The Cerruti manuscript suggests that older aromatic wines are better tolerated during the winter months. To incorporate this into our menu, Ius Conditum Vinum is being served with the Pulpam Romanam.

La Presentazione della Cialda Reale
The Presentation of the Royal Wafer

This year's feast wafer is in honor of Her Royal Majesty Salana, and shows a profile of Her Majesty bordered by the name SALANA and the date MMV. This original design and hand carved mold are by Darell McCormick.

Ingredients: eggs, sugar, bakers ammonia, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, & butter flavor.


Spring, from the Tacuinum of Paris

Spring commences with the vernal equinox when the sun enters the sign of Aries and ends when the sun has passed through Aries and the adjacent signs of Taurus and Gemini and reaches the solstice. This is the time, as we know, when the days are longer, the weather is changeable, and vegetation and inclinations begin to bloom. In a culinary sense, we see a shift toward lighter dishes and fresh sprouting greens and floral preparations as the days lengthen and warm.

CONDITVM PADODOPUM (A salad of several greens)
A lettuce & spinach salad.

Ingredients: Romaine, mixed greens, baby spinach, herbs, oil and vinegar.

Source: Platina
You season raw lettuce this way if it does not need washing, for that is more healthful that what has been washed in water; put it in a dish, sprinkle with ground salt, pour in a little oil and more vinegar and eat at once. Some add a little mint and parsley to it for seasoning so that it does not seem entirely bland and the excessive chill of the lettuce does not harm the stomach.

FABA IN FRIXORIO (Broad beans in the frying pan)
Small fried cakes of fava beans & onions, seasoned with sage & sweetened with dates.

Ingredients: Fava beans, onions, dates, sage

Source: Platina
Put broad beans that have been cooked and softened into a frying pan with soft fat, onions figs, sage and several pot-herbs, or else fry them well rubbed with oil and, on a wooden tablet or a flat surface spread this into the form of a cake and sprinkle spices over it.

For this recipe, we are substituting dates for figs.

(Torta of herbs in the month of May)
An egg & herb pie.

Ingredients: Eggs, milk, butter, parsley, marjoram, sugar, ginger, rosewater in pastry.

Source: Platina
A food, which we commonly call a torta, has taken its name from the herbs, which are twisted and cut up, from which almost all of these are made, I should think. This is what our very prosperous age has done, and therefore, whether these be Pythagorean or French, henceforth we shall call them torta.

PLACENTIS IN IVS ROSATUM (Cakes in Rose Petal sauce)
Fine cakes in a sauce of rose petal jam and cream.

Ingredients: eggs, sugar, bakers ammonia, honey, flour, rose petal jam, cream.

For the cakes, we are using this recipe:

A Ffare Bozolati da Monege
(Little Cakes of Monaco)

Libro di cucina / libro per cuoco, Anonimo Veneziano, 14th/15th c.
Take eggs that have been beaten well with a little salt, take as many eggs as you want with the wheat flour that want to make the said items. Paste the flour together with the beaten eggs without water. If you want honey, for each 10 eggs you want a good spoon of honey, if you want them with sugar instead for each 10 eggs you will want an ounce of sugar. The dough should be worked very well, and made immediately and have in mind that they should be cooked immediately so that they don't catch either wind or sun because immediately they will spoil. They should be cooked in a tart pan that doesn't heat the little cakes too much, and thus you cook them one at a time, making sure the terra-cotta pot isn't greasy, make sure it has been
well cleaned if it was greased.


Summer, from the Tacuinum of Vienna

We end our feast with summer's bounty of fresh fruits and crisp vegetables. In the summer it is beneficial to stay occasionally in a country house. The countryside provides food for the city and similarly, human life is prolonged by frequenting the countryside. Early summer is the most beneficial time for the body when the sun is in Cancer. It dissolves the excesses from the food we eat and abates the cold illness. Excessive exercise should be avoided during this time and the learned Galen suggests that pure spring water be consumed and cold beverages avoided.

CIBRIVM Ex PISO (Pottage from peas)
A dish of peas.

Ingredients: Green peas, salt pork, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon.

Source: Platina
Let peas boil in the pod one time. Having taken them out of the water, fry morsels of salt flesh, which are neither too lean nor too fat, but be sure that the morsels have been fried a little beforehand. Then add a little verjuice, a little must or some sugar and cinnamon.

CVCVRBITA IN RAFANI (Cucumbers and gourds with seasoned radishes)
Cucumber and gourd salad dressed with seasoned radishes, Platina's advice for the end of a meal.

Ingredients: Cucumbers, zucchini, parsley, and radishes in salt, pepper, vinegar, oil

Source: Platina
It will be told briefly what should be consumed as a third course, in conclusion, to seal the stomach. If it happens that you have eaten meat, roasted or boiled, according to the time of the year, eat either apples or pears, especially the sour ones, because they drive from the head the vapors of the food taken earlier. The radish root is also considered wonderfully good because, taken after food, it helps the digestion by penetrating to the depths of the stomach.

TORTA ALBA (White cheese tarts with plums)
A plum cheesecake, to end the feast.

Ingredients: Ricotta and cream cheese, eggs, butter, milk, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, purple plums in pastry.

Source: Platina
Pound in a mortar pitted sour cherries which can be called merendae. When they are pounded, mix into them well cut-up red roses, a little fresh cheese, and ground aged cheese, a bit of pepper, a little ginger, a little more sugar, and four beaten eggs. When they are mixed, cook in a well-greased pan with a lower crust on a slow fire. When they are taken off the fire, pour sugar and rosewater over them. This does not differ much from the above in force and pleasantness.

Our recipe is a variation of this original from Platina, leaving out the cut-up red roses and the rosewater, substituting plums for cherries, and making a few minor additions to the ingredients.

La Cerimonia del Re del Fagiolo
The Ceremony of the Bean King

This year's Bean King Cake also features a special design carved by Darell McCormick, and appropriately shows a medieval crown. Inside one of the Bean King Cakes has been baked a small, authentic Roman coin (in honor of our Italian feast), and the lucky one who chooses this cake during the ceremony will become the next king or queen and will reign over the feast in 2006. Good luck to all of the ceremony participants, and congratulations to the new monarch!

Ingredients: eggs, sugar, baker's ammonia, flour, raspberry flavor.

Bevande (Beverages)

Tè Dolce (Sweet Tea)

Acqua Del Limone (Lemon Water)

© 2005 Gode Cookery

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