Gode Cookery Table of Contents


A Word from the Cook


A Boke of Gode Cookery

Medieval Recipe Translations

Gentyll manly Cokere

A Renaissance Cookery Book

Recipes from A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

Incredible Foods, Solteties, & Entremets

Illusion Foods

Byzantine Recipes

The Historical Cookery Page

17th Century English Recipes

Modern Recipes for Beginners

All Gode Cookery Recipes

Glossary of Medieval Cooking Terms


A Chaucerian Cookery

Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum

How to Cook  Medieval

Messe it Forth

An Elizabethan Dinner Conversation

The Cockentrice - A Ryal Mete

Coqz Heaumez - A Helmeted Cock

Medieval Gingerbread

In the Pursuit of Venison

The Kitchen of Mirth


Gode Cookery's Latest Feast

Feasts Within the SCA

Alabama Renaissance Faire


A Feast For The Eyes

Tacuinum Sanitatis


Gode Cookery Bookshop

The Merchants Page

Boke of Gode Links

Gode Cookery Selected Site of the Month

Gode Cookery Awards and Site Reviews

Gode Cookery Discussion Group


The Gode Boke Ring

The Medieval & Renaissance Cookery Webring

Gode Cookery Bibliography


A Boke of Gode Cookery

Medieval Recipe Translations

Gentyll manly Cokere

A Renaissance Cookery Book

Recipes from A Newe Boke of Olde Cokery

Incredible Foods, Solteties, & Entremets

Illusion Foods

Byzantine Recipes

The Historical Cookery Page

17th Century English Recipes

Modern Recipes for Beginner

A Chaucerian Cookery

The Cockentrice - A Ryal Mete

Coqz Heaumez - A Helmeted Cock

Medieval Gingerbread

Feasts Within the SCA

Alabama Renaissance Faire

All Gode Cookery Recipes

Gode Cookery Table of Contents

Gode Cookery

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The Gode Cookery Bookshop

Medieval Cookery Books for sale at the Bookshop!

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The Recipe Site Review - European Recipe Sites

A Boke of Gode Cookery. This is a beautiful Medieval cooking site full of illustrations, attractive text, and interesting recipes. Nearly all the recipes have the original text, a translation, and an adaptation to modern cooking ingredients and techniques. The recipes are organized in food categories (i.e., beverages, meats, poultry, etc.). Check out the rest of the site, too; there is a Medieval/Renaissance image gallery, more recipes (not quite as authentic), a section of stories from the middle ages, and more.

DBE in Louisiana News

Saturday January 6, 2001... Chaucer Chapter's Twelfth Night Feast

Several years ago, the Louisiana DBE (Daughters of the British Empire) Chaucer chapter began holding their "Holiday" Party in January - a pleasant interlude in between New Year and Mardi Gras! This year, with the help of a fascinating website, the theme was a medieval twelfth night feast. The invitation was sent out...

With the help of - and in particular, the section called "Feasts Within the Society for Creative Anachronism", a wonderful menu of traditional and authentic medieval dishes was served:

Mushroom Pasties & Wortes

Saffron Rice & Spinach Balls

Moroccan Chicken Breasts, Rich Chicken Stew, & Almond & Fruit Pastries

These photos do not really do justice to how good the "feast" tasted - and there were lots more dishes I didn't get to photograph! This website has really delicious recipes - it's a great resource! Do go and surf through their many pages:

Réseau des Médiévistes Belges de Langue Française

A Boke of Gode Cookery. Un site historique consacré à la nourriture et aux fêtes du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance. Surtout intéressant pour la belle série d'images qu'il propose. Pour les gourmands.

The Electronic Canterbury Tales - The Cook's Tale

James L. Matterer's very impressive online A Boke of Gode Cookery has assembled everything from soup to nuts: medieval recipes, new versions of old recipes, articles, links, and a happy stew of other historical foods materials. See especially A Chaucerian Cookery  & The Historical Cookery Page. For those who might like to set up a medieval feast, this is your site.

Cedarburg High School - English

Pilgrims Passing To and Fro

This site is essential for understanding the reasons for Chaucer’s grouping of the pilgrims and learning who ranked the highest to lowest based on the class system of the times. Read Part One through Part Four of Pilgrims Passing to and Fro. The Introduction also has a list of links to topics such as Medieval cooking, recipes, and food facts (A Boke of Cookery), the Black Death (see The Pestilence Tyme), the Clergy, Food and Drink, Daily Life (see Tales of the Middle Ages), and just for fun, see Medieval Macabre.

The Cincinnati Post: Celebrate Ginger in All its Goodness
Oct. 6, 2003

Medieval Gingerbread at Gode Cookery

If you're a purist and would like to know how gingerbread was prepared in the 14th and 15th centuries, Gode Cookery is happy to help you out. Not only do they include the ancient recipes, they also show readers how they've been adapted to life in the year 2003.

Websites on the Middle Ages/Medieval Life for Teachers and Students

Gode Cookery

A huge site on food and cooking in medieval times. Sections include: A Boke of Gode Cookery; A Chaucerian Cookery; An Elizabethan Dinner Conversation; A Feast for the Eyes; A Word from the Cook; The Cockentrice – A Ryal Mete (check this out!), Coqz Heaumez – A Helmeted Cock (similar); Byzantine Recipes and much more. Note: There is more than food featured on this site. Check it out. Excellent.

Computer Tips and Techniques: Amanda's Cool Site of the Day
April 11th, 2003

A Boke of Gode Cookery

I know you are sitting there going "what the heck kind of a title is that?" Well, I thought the same thing. Welcome to a site about medieval recipes for your 21st century kitchen. This one is definitely a keeper.

There are tons of recipes on this site, from medieval to renaissance cooking, and little something thrown in for you gentlemen chefs. You definitely want to check out the section "A Word from the Cook" to get up-to-date info and current news on the site and the cook. I’m off to the kitchen now to make dowcetts (A delicious sounding tart!).
The internet organized by personality

A Boke of Gode Cookery: Medieval recipes

Yes, you too can get medieval on dinner! Whip up a few of these recipes, invite over a few friends, sing a few hymns, it will be fun. (I've made the seed cake. It's fab with cardamom.)

The Observer-Reporter
Washington, PA. March 13, 2003

By Hayley L. Bykens

Jousting, knights, sword fights and damsels in distress went by the way of the Middle Ages. Or did they? 

A devoted group of people from the Washington-Greene county area have embraced this period of history so passionately that they have brought this time period back to life through their involvement in an international organization called Society for Creative Anachronism. 

"We're a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to researching and recreating the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period," said Scott Thompson of Scenery Hill, also known as Donnchadh Dubh Ghlas, Seneschal of the Incipient Kings Crossing. 

SCA evolved in 1966 in the state of California, where a group of science fiction and fantasy fans attempted to create a theme party with medieval recreation and re-enactment. The group slowly expanded and evolved into a game that now has more than 24,000 playing members in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy, Greece and Japan, among others. 

"When I was in high school, I became interested in costumes, and in college I was shown an article about the SCA and the Pennsic War (an annual festival for SCA members at Coopers Lake near Butler)," said Jim Matterer of Mt. Morris. "In March of 1979 I found an SCA group in Morgantown, W.Va., and I started to learn different trades, like cooking." 

Members study individuals or the specific skills the people of the Middle Ages used. Some people choose to study fencing and fighting, while others choose crafts or making period clothing. 

Locally, the shire (a group that has at least five paid members) from Washington and Greene counties functions under the name of Kings Crossing, which comes from the intersecting of two interstate highways that most of the kings will travel to the Pennsic Wars. 

Letters were sent to see if there was enough interest among several smaller groups around the area. After about two years, Kings Crossing took form and became an official group recognized as the Incipient Shire of Kings Crossing as of July 2002. 

For SCA members, Pennsic War is their largest event of the year. The festival is a two-week event for members to display and sell their crafts, fight in the Pennsic War and meet people from around the country and the world with similar interests in the culture. 

"Pennsic War is a huge festival that is not open to the public," said Matterer. "We go to the festival for our own enjoyment, and we share our interest with others." 

Although the Pennsic War serves as a festival, an actual battle takes place between the Middle Kingdom and the East Kingdom. Each side will have about 1,000 "warriors." Fighters are "killed" through an honor system. A decent blow to the body and the head and torso being an automatic kill. If the blow felt like it would penetrate and arm or leg, the fighter would lose use of that limb. 

"Heavy weapon fighting is a full-contact martial art," Thompson said. "As with all sports, injuries can and sometimes do happen. The SCA has an extensive armor standard list that every fighter must meet," he said. 

Each fighter is inspected before fighting begins. Also, each fighter must learn the rules of the List, which are governed by the ideals of chivalry and honor. "This also helps increase the safety on the field," Thompson said. 

Armor can be one of this hobby's more expensive costs. Prices range from $200 to more than $2,000, depending on how well protected one chooses to be. 

Heavy weapons are constructed from rattan, a fibrous vine wrapped in duct tape and strapping tape for safety and then used as swords. 

SCA provides an active learning environment. Rather than drill members with a lot of information, the group allows members to choose and research a specific area that interests them. 

While the SCA recreates the Middle Ages, a few modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing, are not far from the battle. One thing the SCA has not recreated are the plagues of the Middle Ages. 

SCA membership is $35 per year for the first family member and $10 for each additional member. Also, no one is required to participate in any event or practice, but it is required if one wishes to be a king or queen. 

Kings Crossing can be found practicing battles at Washington Mall. Fencing practice is held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, and heavy weapon practice is held at the same time and place Fridays. 

"We armor up and then start at it," said Thompson. "We start at half speed to warm up and then run single bouts in a 'Bear Pit' style in which the winner holds the field and the loser steps out and is replaced by the next fighter. This will continue until everyone is tired and decides to take a break." 

Kings Crossing welcomes people to join them during practice and experience the excitement firsthand.

Fortean Times
The Journal of Strange Phenomena

Gode Cookery - A wonderful collection of mediaeval-themed sites, containing a wealth of obscure forteana. 

From mythical trees to legendary fish, supernatural imagery to the Alphabet of Death, this will keep you occupied for hours. Beware the Pestilence Tyme!
Your Independent Source of News from the Current Middle Ages

Scripps Howard: AEthelmearc's Master Huen Interviewed for Medieval Food Article 

In an article on the Scripps Howard News Service, which owns the Food Network, reporter Lance Gay discusses medieval food with experts including Aethelmearc's Master Huen. According to Lance Gay, the Victorians and Hollywood movie makers got it wrong. Medieval cooking was not all roast meat thrown to the dogs, but a rich variety of foods cooked in interesting and creative ways. Gay looks at medieval cooking in an article published February 11, 2003 which includes interviews with experts Vickie Ziegler, director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Penn State University and Pennsylvania chef Jim Matterer, known in the SCA as Master Huen. Matterer also manages the website 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
February 17, 2003

Research reveals Medieval diet was more than meat and gruel

(This is essentially the same article written by Lance Gay for the Scripps Howard News Service which appears immediately below.)

Scripps Howard News Service
February 11, 2003

Appetites haven't changed much in past millennium
By Lance Gay

How did our ancestors eat in the days before there were supermarkets, fast food restaurants, refrigerators or temperature-controlled stoves and ovens? And what did the dinner table look like before the discovery of the New World brought back to Europe staple foods ranging from turkey to tomatoes and the humble potato?

The Victorian view was that medieval food was a disgusting slop of thin gruels and roast meat. Hollywood added its own touches of festive diners throwing bones to dogs in the dining room, or wiping their greasy hands on the dog's fur.

But recent historical and archeological research is providing a much different and richer picture, concluding that much of the food served on the medieval dinner table would be recognized and enjoyed today, and pointing out that even medieval etiquette frowned on unsanitary dogs at the dinner table.

"I think it would be very recognizable to one today, with the same tastes," said Bridget Ann Henisch, a medieval scholar and author of several books on medieval cooking. "It was more adventurous. Even the keenest foodie would not be so adventurous today."

The medieval diet seems also to have been far more varied than the goods that can be found in a modern supermarket.

Among things eaten were starlings, vultures, gulls, herons, talks, cormorants, swans, cranes, peacocks, capons, chickens, dogfish, porpoises, seals, whale, haddock, hedgehogs, cod, salmon, sardines, lamprey eels, crayfish and oysters. Turnips, parsnips, carrots, peas and fava beans were common vegetables, and use of onions and garlic was common. Whatever the meal, it was well spiced. The Roman conquest brought nutmeg and cloves to Northern Europe, and cinnamon was used before that.

There is ample evidence many ate well.

Inventories prepared for the 6,000 guests invited to the daylong 1467 installation ceremonies of Archbishop Neville of York in England, show they were provided with 300 caskets of ale, 100 caskets of wine, 1 large bottle of wine sweetened with sugar, nutmeg and ginger, 104 oxen, 6 wild bulls, 1,000 sheep, 304 calves, 400 swans, 2,000 geese, 1,000 capons, 2,000 pigs, 104 peacocks, over 13,500 other birds, 500 stags, bucks and roes, 1,500 venison pies, 608 pikes and breams, 12 porpoises and seals, 13,000 dishes of jelly, cold baked tarts, custards and spices, sugared delicacies and wafers.

At the other end of the social spectrum, peasants survived on broths thickened with barley or other grains, and oatcakes cooked in the ashes of fires or on heated stones. It was common throughout Europe to leave a stockpot on the fire embers during the day into which greens or other foods foraged were added, and then thickened before eating. 

"There may be some tiny meat," Henisch said.

Vickie Ziegler, director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Penn State University, said that during periods of plenty, everyone from lord to peasant seems to have eaten well. But periods of famine that accompanied changes in the weather known as the "Little Ice Age" beginning in the 13th century were particularly harsh for those tied to the land and without money to buy food.

Ziegler's center operates a medieval garden at the State College, Pa., campus to demonstrate what sort of plants and herbal medicines might be grown in backyards of the time. Most of the plants are familiar today, including carrots, beets and cabbages, but medieval tastes favored some vegetables that have gone out of favor in modern kitchens like sorrel and leeks.

Meals could be very complicated. In an instruction book for his 15-year-old bride, an elderly Parisian in the 1390s indicates that meals of 24 to 30 dishes were not uncommon. In the expectation he would die before his wife, he left detailed accounts of how she should run the household, with recipes for common dishes.

Some, like his recipe for Cinnamon Soup, are surprisingly spicy: "Cut up your poultry or other meat, then cook in water and add wine, and fry. Then take raw almonds with the skin on unpeeled, and a great quantity of cinnamon, and grind up well, and mix with your stock or with beef stock, and put to boil with your meat: then grind ginger, clove and grain, etc., and let it be thick and yellow-brown."

Other 15th century recipes are for tarts or quiches. "Parboil onions, and sage, and parsley, and cut them small, then take good fat cheese, and grind it, and add eggs, and temper it up with them, and add butter and sugar, and currants, and powdered ginger, and cinnamon, mix all this well together, and put it in a crust, and bake it uncovered, and serve it forth," the recipe says.

But the rich sauces of French cooking are a 19th century invention, as is spaghetti. In the Middle Ages, Italians relied on polenta.

Jim Matterer, a Pennsylvania cook who started the medieval food Web site while recovering from a back injury, said spices weren't used to disguise rotten food, but to improve flavor.

"They had the same instincts as we have now about rotten meat," he said. "Mankind then and now knew what tasted good."

Matterer, who has turned his interest in medieval cooking into a business that caters medieval and renaissance fairs, said there are records showing it wasn't all home cooking in medieval times.

"Cook shops were prevalent in cities. People didn't want to cook in their houses because it was dangerous," he said. He noted the British poet Chaucer refers in Reeve's Tale to the daughter of the reeve being sent off to buy a loaf of bread and a goose when a visitor dropped by the house.

He said there also was considerable trade in food, with evidence of ships bringing goods from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe and Russia. A recent archeological dig concluded that bananas were available in 16th century London.

Diet was dependent on seasonal influences, and the winter months were times of scarcity. Wild animals were hard to find in winter, and preparations were made in October and November for winter months. Pigs were cured in the chimneys and beef was salted down for winter. 

There also were religious influences. Church ordinances decreed that no meat should be eaten on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, or during Lent. These became "fish days" and historians say the diet was kept strictly with dried or salted fish sold in inland markets, or in some cases transported live in barrels of water.

Medical influences also prevailed. By the 11th century, a medical school in Salerno, Italy, devised diets that could adjust the tempers of man. Hot-tempered men, for example, were to skip spicy foods like onion, but the lethargic were to add more. Onion also was regarded as an ingredient crucial for averting baldness.

To eat the food, there were spoons and knives. Two-pronged forks appear in Venice in the 11th century, apparently brought back from the Middle East, and the first etiquette books detailing how to act properly at the table appear a century later, since bowls were shared around the table between two people.

Among the 13th century table manners, one book tells diners not to pick their teeth with their knives, and to "refrain from falling upon the dish like a swine while eating, snorting disgustingly and smacking the lips."

Making Light
October 20, 2002

Posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden

I've messed around some with medieval recipes over the years, enough so that I regard "tyl it be y-now" as a normal cooking instruction, and I'd gotten to thinking I pretty much knew the basic corpus of surviving medieval recipes. I'm delighted to report that I was not only wrong, but that the material that gives me the lie is extravagantly and gloriously weird. It's collected together on the Incredible Foods, Sotelties, and Entremets page. 

They've got all the classic medieval solteties and bizarreries I expected to find when I went to check out the page: cooked peacock re-clothed in its skin and feathers, check; fruited meatloaf made to look like a giant peasecod, check; roasted chicken dressed in helmet, shield, and lance, riding on a roasted pig, check; three recipes for cockatrice, check check check. 

But making the re-feathered peacock breathe fire--now, that's a new one on me. So's a clever (if hazardous) use of unslaked lime to power fireless cooking. 

There are directions--unkind, but it must have been very funny if the gag came off--for treating a live plucked chicken so it looks and acts like it's been roasted, until such time as it wakes up and takes off across the dinner table. I don't know, maybe it'll run past the fire-breathing peacock that's cooked but looks like it's alive. That'd be weird. It would be even better if you served both of them at the same time as the roast chicken that sings. That would give you one edible bird out of three, since the live chicken can't be eaten, and the method for making the roast chicken sing involves stuffing the neck cavity with sulphur and quicksilver. 

But for my money, the real showstopper is the recipe for decorating a perfectly good roast "That flesh may look bloody and full of worms, and so be rejected by smell-feasts"--a smell-feast being a schnorrer, someone who always shows up at dinnertime looking hopeful. This jolly trick, it turns out, is from How to drive Parasites and Flatterers from great men's tables, the thirteenth chapter of Giambattista della Porta's Magia naturalis: 
How to make good meat appear rotten: 

Boil Hares blood, and dry it, and powder it. Cast the powder upon the meats that are boiled, which will melt by the heat and moisture of the meat, that they will seem all bloody, and he will loath and refuse them. Any man may eat them without any rising of his stomach. If you cut Harp strings small, and strew them on hot flesh, the heat will twist them, and they will move like Worms.

Most ingenious! Which is just about right for that period; medieval Europe was full of gifted techies. It's just that most of them weren't real big about writing it down.

USA Today
August 2, 2002

Web Guide Hot Sites

Reached the point where even ethnic foods have become tongue-numbingly routine? Why not turn your skillet to meat pies, beef barley soup, and other mouthwatering fare from the medieval age? A Boke of Gode Cookery reaches back into times long past to offer recipes for medieval dishes, updated for the modern cook.

Mrs. Ward's History Web Site

Yes, people in medieval Europe had to eat, too. This site gives recipes for a bevy of tasty morsels and makes a point of being historically accurate. It lists the recipies in both Middle English and contemporary English with modifications for today's kitchen.

Rivers Edge Gamers

From the Desk of Gary Kett

An excellent site for those interested in adding some flair to a gaming evening with some medieval dishes. It is also a useful playing aid for those evenings at the Inn or feast at the Lord's table. This site offers a number of great links and even allows one to go to for medieval book purchases (My first time there, I spent 118.00 US on medieval cooking and fashion books!).

Tìm hieu các món an thoi trung co

Ban dã phát ngay voi nhung món an thuong ngày. Hãy tìm den nhung mieng bánh nhân thit, súp lúa mach thit bò và nhung món an ngon lành khác tu thoi dai trung co. Trang web A Boke of Gode Cookery dua nguoi xem quay tro lai nhung ngày xa xua và thuong thuc nhung món an kì la, hap dan cua nguoi dân song trong thoi ky cách chúng ta nhieu the ky.

Harvest Book Company

Medieval-style cooking. Perhaps you just want to cook like Beowulf or King Arthur. Then try Gode Cookery, a site on cooking medieval-style. Menus, recipes, essays, images. Learn how to make Buttered Wortes. (Mmm!) Learn how to make Almond Milk. (I didn't know they had udders!)

History Teacher's Association of Victoria

History Hot Spots

For a confirmed foodie like myself - this site is a winner. A fantastic web site that lists medieval recipes, food and history facts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. Just don't let your students near the Mead recipes.

The Web Bohemian: Tuesday, April 2 (2002)
by Rod Paul

MEDIEVAL COOKERY – In the medieval years cuisine in Europe had its own reputation. This particular web site (It’s called Godecookery-dot-com) puts great emphasis on the history of feast and food from those Middle Ages of long ago. What we have here is a collection of instructions for preparing authentic feasts, hundreds of recipes, image collections, a Medieval cooking discussion group, graphics, photographs, and history resources.

Lobotomy Land

Tonight was the first anniversary of the International Dinner Group and we celebrated in good style. The food was tasty. Pullet Broth with Prunes--quite delish. My minced meat pie consisted of small cubes of good steak, pork tenderloin, small bits of bacon, currants, raisins, figs, whole pearl onions and mushrooms with port wine and beef broth gravy and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and black pepper. It was well-received. We also had an onion pie (kind of like a quiche), mustard sauce, rustic bread, poached pears and the piece de resistance--hot apple soup. Oh man, that soup was sooo good! Sweet, savory, oniony, smooth. Mmmmm. If you're interested, go to (I'm too lazy to look up how to link it properly here). It's a great website for medieval and Renaissance cooking. Great stuff.

New York Daily News Online Edition
Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Donna Daniels Gelb | Digital Digest

A Feast for the Eyes is only one of the topics you can click on at, a member of the Medieval and Renaissance Cookery Webring. This particular site (run by James Matterer), a gallery of photos and art, features richly colorful illustrations of the period, depicting Feasts and Feasting, Foods and Foodstuffs, Dining and Eating, Kitchen, Cooking Equipment and more. You can search for particular images and be amazed (and informed) when, for example, an inquiry on fish leads you to Fantastic Fish of the Middle Ages. Clicking on "Salmo," you'll learn that the fish we know as salmon "must be in a fresh river where he may play up and down at his pleasure." The text appears in Middle English and in a modern English translation, accompanied by a picture of a smiling salmon cheerfully hopping upstream. The next entry, one sentence on a fish called Salpa, says it is a "foul and useless fish, for it will not die in any way until it has been beaten with large hammers and staves."

Other sites at this link offer recipes, humor and many hours of virtual culinary time travel.

Another Bite
A Community Newsletter of Tasty Tips, Quips, Recipes, and Ruminations on Food and Cooking
Volume II, Number 12, December 2001

If you ever feel as though you’d just like to chuck modern life and beam yourself back to a more peaceable time, spend an hour or two at, the Web site for all "gode thyngs" Medieval. You can get lost here, wandering the site just as Chaucer’s pilgrims meandered toward Canterbury. The site is vast, encompassing contributions from members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, from academic Medievalists, and from others who simply love to study Medieval life in minute detail. 

Especially the food — presented both in archaic language and interpreted for the modern kitchen. For instance, all of the food mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is described, from "ale" to "ypocras" (the author is working on Z). Even though Chaucer himself used food in his writing mostly as props for the characters, we can get a good idea of the "feeste and cheere" enjoyed by society of the time.

A festive Medieval meal usually started with foods considered easily digestible (light meats, soups and broths, moist fruits such as peaches, and greens and herbs. Spices were believed to warm the stomach and "open it" to other foods. Cheese, recommended by physicians for good digestion, was often eaten before, during, and after a meal. 

Heavy foods (dark meats, "dense" fruits like pears and chestnuts) and fancy or exotic items) came later, served in small portions. Fish was usually paired with nuts, also thought to aid digestion. Wines and ales were served throughout, and sweets were saved for last, often made with spices such as ginger (again, for digestion). The courses were often separated by intervals of conversation, music, and entertainment. 

If you’d like your own holiday meals to resonate with Medieval touches, will give you lots of good ideas. You may even decide to make your own ypocras.


Ypocras, also called Hippocras (after the famous Greek physician Hippocrates), was a popular Medieval beverage. A sweetened, spiced wine, it was made by combining "ypocras powder" (a blend of spices) with sugar and/or honey in wine. Here is the modernized recipe, found in "Chaucer’s foods" at

  • 1 bottle (750 mL) of sweet red or white wine
  • 1 to 2 cups honey, or 1-1/2 cups sugar, or a combination
  • 1 tablespoon each ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and caraway seed
  • cheesecloth for straining
Bring the wine and honey or sugar to a boil; if using honey, skim off the scum that arises. Taste for sweetness. Remove from heat, stir in spices, and allow to sit, covered, for 24 hours. The spices will form a thick residue on the bottom. Using a ladle, transfer the wine to another container, straining it through 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth to remove pieces of spice. Do not disturb the residue at the bottom of the pot. Make at least a month before serving. The older it is, the better.

[Note: A Medieval Home Companion, edited by Tania Bayard, which gives a marvelous glimpse of household life in 14th-century France, has a similar recipe for ypocras, but does not mention storing it for a month.]

Christian Science Monitor
from the October 12, 2001 edition

Jim Regan |

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA - Feeling like spicing up your fall menus? How about some Pokerounce, Blaunderellys, or a nice Sugared Capon? "A Boke of Gode Cookery" shows you how to get Medieval in your kitchen.

Launched in 1997, the Boke of Gode Cookery demonstrates through a collection of authentic period recipes that, in many ways, the Medieval diet was not that different from our own. (Though some dishes, such as Puddyng of Purpaysse --Porpoise Pudding-- seem to have lost a bit of their popularity.) The design of the site, while attractive, is low-tech, basic HTML --translating into quicker downloads and fewer incompatibility headaches-- and while visitors will encounter occasional broken image links, they don't take too much away from the appeal of the site.

After a few words in favor of the Medieval diet, the Boke presents its extensive Table of Contents. The first section, "Recipes and Cookery," includes the "Boke of Gode Cookery Recipes," and other collections "translated and adapted for the modern cook." Translation in this case involves presenting the recipes both as originally published ("Serge hem florwe a Sefe in-to a potte") and in the modern vernacular ("pass it through a strainer into a pot"). Selections include everything from the basic Meat Pie and Gyngerbrede, to Apple Muse, (apples, almond milk, and honey) Funges (Mushrooms in broth and spices) and Makerouns (a dish of noodles and cheese, which in another time might have been called Krafte Dinnre). A trio of complete menus, such as 14th century instructions for "Servise on a Flesh Day," are also included.

(In addition to translations and metric conversion tables, the Boke also offers helpful substitution suggestions for those hard-to-find ingredients. If, for example, you just can't find a nice fresh porpoise for your Porpoise Pudding, the Boke recommends a large salmon, trout, or any other whole fish. Of course, after reading the entire recipe, you may just decide to have a nice peanut butter sandwich instead.)

Cooks more interested in the atmospheric than the authentic can peruse a selection of "Modern Recipes for Beginners," which includes such dishes as Honey Cakes and Beef Barley Soup. While not collected from Medieval sources, the Modern Recipes still have the "flavour" (sorry about that) of the real thing.

At the other extreme are the genuine dishes collected within "Incredible Foods, Solteties, and Entremets," where things get much more exotic, if not palatable. In addition to such cliche classics as Boar's Head, and less familiar but catchy alternatives like the "Trojan Hog," (whole pig stuffed with small birds and shellfish) Incredible Foods also offers helpful serving tips; how to make your dish appear to breathe fire, how to make a roasted chicken "sing" at the table, and how to discourage Smell-feasts (moochers looking for a free meal) by using Harp strings to make your meat appear worm-infested.

Closing out the Recipes section is a "Glossary of Medieval Cooking Terms," and if you'd like to backtrack to a specific fare, all the recipes are accessible through a keyword search engine that recognizes both old and new English terms.

After the recipes, interested visitors can investigate food in its historical and cultural context, through a collection of "Articles on Cookery." Essays include a examination of food as a literary device in The Canterbury Tales, "An Elizabethan Dinner Conversation," ("The meat marreth; where have you tarried so long?") and "Messe it Forth" - the preparation of a feast according to the Four Humour System (Melancholy, Choler, Phlegm, and Blood). "Images" offers "A Feast For The Eyes" (a clipart collection of more than 270 period images) and "Tacuinum Sanitatis," with text and images collected from Medieval health handbooks. Other offerings include related "Resources" and some information about the Society for Creative Anachronism (the people who populate the Renaissance Faires).

Speaking as someone who doesn't cook anything unless it comes from a Tinne, a Freezre, or an Easye Open Pouche, I don't expect to make any practical use of the information contained here, but even for a casual visitor, the Boke has a definite edutainment value. For the more adventurous --and skilled-- these pages represent a genuine opportunity to shake up the personal diet.


Recipes From The Olde Days

Internet Update 10/17/01 MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S.A., 2001 OCT 17 (NB) -- By Wendy Woods, Newsbytes. The era may not evoke images of fine dining, but the medieval years were awash in unique cuisines and customs in Europe, and specializes in the history of feasts and food from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. Find instructions for preparing authentic feasts, hundreds of recipes, image collections, a Medieval cooking discussion group, graphics, photographs, and history resources. For instance, among the many curious dishes of the time were those that combined two different animals in a theatrical-looking meat concoction, with such names as Cockentrice, and Helmeted Cock.

Medieval Yummies 
Posted: 1/29/2001

Back in the old days of Europe, the Celts were cooking up a storm in Ireland. Wouldn't it be nice to recapture some of that honest-to-goodness goodness? Well, one might think that using an old recipe (we're talking ancient), a person would have to know how to read a foreign language! Well, fear not, my budding bakers!!!

There is a website called "A Boke of Gode Cookery" (or for modern people, this would be "A Book of Good Cookery"). Contained within are hundreds of medieval recipes. Some require "out-there" ingredients like rosewater or elderflowers but if you really want to thrill with your culinary expertise, you can find them or order them from the guy who runs the site. If you're not interested in going to all that trouble just for a measly cookie, then I suggest you check out the recipe for CELTIC SHORTBREAD.

This recipe contains THREE INGREDIENTS. Yes, only three! Plus, they are very easily assembled, and you can even buy the ingredients at your local grocery store. You might even have them in your cabinet right now!!

The recipe calls for:

1 cup of butter (softened)
3/4 cups of dark brown sugar (use dark brown or they won't have the right taste)
2 cups of flour

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour, 1/3 cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed. (Do not overbeat!) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until rounds are just firm to the touch. 

This makes about 16 cookies depending on how big you make them. Be prepared! They won't be VERY sweet, but they are yummy! My friend Brittany and I made them to take to a medieval feast we attended (we made several batches), and they were a HIT! We came home with an empty basket and thousands of compliments!

For more medieval recipes, visit

While this site offers an abundance of information regarding medieval food preparation, we are more concerned with the Tacuinum Sanitatus, under the Images heading, and Messe it Forth, found under Articles on Cookery. The Tacuinums were illuminated medical manuals, and the site examples are taken from those of Paris, Rouen, and Vienna. Watermelons and cucumbers were found to cool fevers and purify the urine; roses could soothe an inflamed brain. Messe it Forth (Serve it) deals with the nutritional issues of the Middle Ages, when physicans based their views on the four humors. It is interesting to compare the order in which food was served then and now, and to note that medieval diners also looked forward to something sweet at the conclusion of a meal.

Site Preview: The Pestilence Tyme. Known as the Black Death or bubonic plague, the terrible pestilence of the Middle Ages that began in China swiftly killed thousands of people throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Medieval doctors didn't understand or know how to stop the spread of this fatal illness, which many believed was God’s punishment for mankind’s sins. This site, which focuses on the Plague’s devastation of England, does a good job of describing the cause of the disease, the manner in which it was transmitted throughout the world, its effects on its victims, and the way people in Britain responded to the epidemic.

What's Here: A description of the Plague and its ravaging effects on England in the mid-14th century (1300s).

Features: Interesting period illustrations depict scenarios of the Plague and a short bibliography provides sources for further research.

Hot Tips: Most of the chapters in this article are one page or so, so don’t be put off by the fact that there are nine of them.

A Chaucerian Cookery: this wonderful and whimsical site is both well documented and well researched, providing links to other sites of equally human interest. Good discussions of medieval cooking and recipes with images.

BBC Online Webguide:

A wonderfully eccentric site presenting recipes from the middle-ages, adapted for the 21st century cook. Extremely well-researched, and also nicely illustrated, selections are typically meaty, with venison and piglet both favourites.

Ménestrel - Histoire des sciences et des techniques:

Le site Gode Cookery de James L. Matterer offre de nombreuses ressources sur la cuisine anglo-saxonne médiévale et du début de l'époque moderne. Il est davantage axé sur la "reconstitution culinaire" que sur l'étude savante des textes anciens, c'est là son intérêt principal, en particulier à cause du grand nombre de recettes traitées.

Marlene McCarty for e-This! History:

For anyone interested in medieval cookery, A Boke of Gode Cookery is an on-line, one-stop shop sure to delight and detain historical culinary researchers. Whether it's dinner for two or a complete medieval Christmas feast, this site will fascinate and educate readers in all aspects of medieval cookery. A wide array of recipes compiled by James Matterer includes a complete glossary of medieval cooking terms as well as recipes for the beginner. All recipes are adaptable for today's kitchens.

Another wonderful addition to this site is "A Feast For The Eye" a simply amazing gallery of clip art depicting scenes of cookery, feasting, kitchens, banquets and much, much more. Over two hundred images--some stunning black and white images as well as many in brilliant colour make this gallery a feast in itself.

Visitors to "A Boke of Gode Cookery" will also find a wide range of beautifully illustrated cookbooks all available at There are also links to many, many more clip art sites as well as to other sites of interest to medieval researchers. Historical writers will also find this site to be a wonderful tool for researching and writing authentic medieval cooking scenes.

All topics and categories are arranged for maximum ease of navigation with text accompanied by beautiful illustrations. "A Boke of Gode Cookery" is well worth a visit--and a bookmark.

Guardian Unlimited, September 29 2000:

As the cold weather sets in, you'd be forgiven for fancying a spot of pottage of an eve, or perhaps even a whole roast hog. So this handy medieval cookery page is just the thing, complete with recipes, hints and Chaucerian references, courtesy of James L Matterer.

Pros: All recipes are shown with both their original and modern spellings. There's a calorie counter, a glossary of terms and a range of dishes, including stewed hen and ricotta and elderflower pie.

Cons: Unobtainability of ingredients. Thankfully Matterer suggests modern alternatives. In the absence of a porpoise, for example, Puddyng of Purpaysse could be made with a large salmon or trout.

Julie McMeikan, editor and indexer:

This is an extraordinary site devoted to Medieval food and its surrounding context. It is compiled by a true enthusiast with a scholarly background. It contains "diverse facts on food and feasting... and other historic culinary items." The extensive table of contents includes articles on Chaucerian cookery, clipart, resources, a glossary, and much more in an ever-expanding array of topics. A good example of a page in this extensive, self-contained site is Recipes from a newe boke of olde cookery. The site is almost over user-friendly with its lavish use of cross references and headings all in gothic script. But such attention to detail speaks of the commitment the author brings. Care is taken to make the recipes accessable to the modern cook. The site is ideal for people of all ages.

The Good Web Guide:

James L. Matterer has been interested in medieval cookery for around 20 years and his site seeks to enthuse the rest of us through meticulous research, high academic standards, and a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour. The graphics and design are brilliant, and the text is fascinating. Speed is good, and even the huge image gallery comes up reasonably quickly. Matterer makes clear what is authentic and what is not, and the recipes are printed as originally published, followed by a translation, then a version of the dish written inmodern recipe style. It can be a little confusing, though, as there are many overlapping sections and some seem to have more than one name; for example, the Image Collection is also called A Feast for the Eyes.

Special Features:

Modern Recipes for Beginners: Medieval in style, rather than strictly authentic (although some recipes are). It's designed as an easy introduction to the flavours of the period, so ingredients are readily available and cooking techniques are simple. Some recipes also come with a nutritional analysis.

A Boke of Gode Cookery Recipes: Matterer's comprehensive archive of annotated recipes from the medieval period, complete with literary and contemporary cooking translations. Some include rare, strange-sounding ingredients, others are remarkably like what you ate last time you had friends over for dinner.

Chaucerian Cookery: An exploration of food as a literary device in The Canterbury Tales. A biography, Chaucerian feast menu, and recipes complete the study.

How to Cook Medieval: Advice on which ingredients are appropriate for authentic medieval cooking. Actually, it's not hard to figure out, unless you're American: anything native to the New World was unavailable in Europe during the Middle Ages. Consequently, the website's motto is 'No turkey legs'.

Image Collection: Around 200 authentic images in six galleries are available for downloading, which is great but, given that there are so many, a more meaningful categorisation would be useful.

Links: Hundreds of sites are listed on related topics - not just food but medieval and renaissance literature, music, clothes, castles, mail-order retailers and so on.

Other features:

The Newe Boke of Olde Cokery is written by another scholar, Rudd Rayfield, and the Historical Cookery Page is a contributory section including articles from experts on food in other time periods.

Verily, this site is so well put-together one could become greatly interested in medieval cooking.

Knight Ridder Newspapers, March 26 2000:

Internet can shed light on exotic dishes/Favorite web sites of an avid cook: Just ask Brennan Wells, a technical analyst at Oracle Corp. and an avid cook. When he wants information on common recipes, he goes straight to his Joy of Cooking. But when he wants information on hosting a medieval dinner, he goes to Gode Cookery, his trusty bookmarked Web site on Renaissance and medieval cookery. Wells, in fact, has about a dozen specialty culinary sites bookmarked for quick reference. "It's a habit for me," says Wells. "Every evening before I head home I try to remember what is left in the refrigerator that sounds good for dinner. I jump on SOAR (the Searchable Online Archive of Recipes) and do a recipe search for, say, salmon, and come up with a dozen or so recipes. I select one. Stop at the store on the way home to get other ingredients and then I'm set to fix a nice meal."

Some of his favorite Web sites besides SOAR: -- a site for Creole gumbo, soup and bisque recipes. -- Delta's Cajun Kitchen page. -- recipes, tips, etc. -- The Internet chef, with recipes, discussion forums, chats, advice. -- Danish Food & Wine site. Some of it's in Danish, but nearly 12,000 recipes are in English, all sorted by course. -- Tabasco Pepperfest site. Here's where you find products and recipes using Tabasco, including a variety of desserts. -- The Gode Cookery site, with everything you could want for medieval and Renaissance cooking, including hosting feasts, recipes, tips, and conversion/substitution suggestions. Great for that next Chaucer party.

BBC Online Webguide:

Recreate the gastronomic indulgence of a medieval banquet with this online culinary curiosity. Period sources have been used to recreate dishes from roast pig to medieval cheesecake, and adapt them for a 20th century kitchen. The site is eclectic to say the least, with sections on Chaucerian food, macabre medieval woodcuts, and the vision of a dish containing a jousting chick on the back of a piglet.

BBC Online - Fresh Food - Hot Links:

A site devoted to medieval cooking. The recipes are from period sources that have been adapted for the 20th Century kitchen. There are Facts on Food and feasting in the Middle Ages, with recipes covering every type of food from gingerbread to makerouns. You can even learn how to prepare that medieval beast for the table. Other information includes articles on medieval subjects, such as mythical plants and an extensive guide to the great plague.

Gode Cooking Was an Art : Good eating didn't waiting until the electric stove and the 20th century to arrive on the scene. Mouth-watering feasts have been around for centuries -- and some far more elaborate than what we can dream up today, as James L. Matterer's Chaucerian Cookery proves beyond doubt. The site is, of course, based on "gode cooking" as it was done in the days of poet Geoffrey Chaucer, he of "The Canterbury Tales." You can work up a modern Chaucerian feast of "mete and drynke" for a dozen or so guests, and Matterer's site guides you through the intricacies. To do it right, start with soup or broth, bread, or moist fruit such as peaches -- foods that were considered easily digestible -- followed by a meat dish of pork and chicken, or perhaps fish, then on to smaller portions of rich, exotic foods. Sweets and desserts wrap up the dinner, and wines and ales of all sorts are consumed from start to burping finish. "Divide the various dishes among two or three courses, serving each course in its entirety, and leaving time for talk, music and entertainment for guests between courses," says Matterer. And "make sure to fill your glasses in a toast to Squire Geoffrey as you enjoy a gentil pasture of good food and company."

  Education World, "Where Educators Go To Learn":

This fabulous collection of medieval recipes will have them begging for more at the next Renaissance Faire! Each historically accurate recipe is written in both Middle English and contemporary English, and each includes modifications for the modern kitchen. The only hard part will be deciding between Dragontail and  Lardy Jacks & Johnny Boys. Delicious learning!

Debbie Mazo, food journalist for Netfood Digest:

Step back in time to A Boke of Gode Cookery, a feast of a site stuffed with all kinds of Medieval culinary hints. Hosted by Cook James L. Matterer, A Boke of Gode Cookery serves up a healthy stock of Medieval recipes from period sources with modern adaptations for the 20th century. With all kinds of facts on food and feasting in the Middle Ages, this historical site has it all for those looking to dabble in the art of Medieval cookery. Whether king or commoner, the Boke of Gode Cookery has all the resources you'll ever need for your medieval cooking adventure.

Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D. Mythological Studies Department, Pacifica Graduate Institute:

This is an obvious labor of love, James Matterer's A Boke of Gode Cookery, a fabulous, handsomely designed site focusing on authentic medieval recipes (with adaptations for modern cooks, including beginners). Here you'll find over 200 recipes for festive foods; in addition, there are instructions for preparing a medieval banquet or wedding feast, history, lore, a gorgeous collection of medieval art concerning food and feasts, hundreds of links to other medieval sites (not limited to food), fine essays (e.g., Chaucer's use of food as a literary device; how medieval cooks categorized food by using the Four Humours philosophy), and much more. Jim is a warm, thoroughly engaging, generous host. Don't miss his site, even if you, like I, limit your cullinary skills to heating up a can of organic soup! (Jim's recipes for chestnut soup and carrot pudding especially appeal to me and even if I never make them, just reading about them is a treat.)

Nancy Richards-Akers, author of Wild Irish Skies and So Wild a Kiss:

A Boke of Gode Cookery is an extraordinary research site with exquisite presentation -- a feast for the surfing eye -- and an ideal place to gain exposure to Middle English. This is exactly the kind of unexpected resource that yields detail far beyond "what was served at a banquet." This compilation of Medieval recipes contains the original documented Medieval version, followed by the modern translation and redaction, along with notes and a bibliography of the period source. I guarantee you will enjoy this site, learn something, and be inspired, mayhap to cook, mayhap to write.

All reviews are © by the individual authors noted.

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