"Wortes or other herbes tymes ofte" - The Clerk's Tale

Buttered Wortes. Take al manor of good herbes that thou may gete, and do bi ham as is forsaid; putte hem on the fire with faire water; put ther-to clarefied buttur a grete quantite. Whan thei ben boyled ynough, salt hem; late none otemele come ther-in. Dise brede small in disshes, and powre on the wortes, and serue hem forth.

- Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

When Chaucer speaks of wortes, he is referring to fresh herbs & greens; he has his Chanticleer in The Nun's Priest's Tale dream of a sly "col-fox," hiding in a bed of herbs:

"And in a bed of wortes stille he lay."

But to the medieval cook, wortes were more than just the plants used for seasonings and spices, and included such vegetables as cabbage leaves, spinach, beet greens, borage, parsley, leeks, etc. Namely, any combination of greens and members of the onion family.

Cover greens with water; add butter and bring to a boil; add salt. Reduce heat & cook until tender; drain. Place croutons in serving bowl and cover with cooked greens.

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©  James L. Matterer

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Book II. A Chaucerian Feast Part 1 | Part 2

Book I. A Chaucerian Cookery Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3