Geek Food: 16th Century Spanish Menu

I’m not as geeky about historic food as some people. Detail oriented history buffs will readily point out plenty of anachronisms on Thursday’s 16th century Spanish menu*. Nonetheless it’s neat just to know that we know what people were eating in the 1500’s (and earlier). And, exploring really old food is a fun way to happen upon new flavors or preparations. For this blog post, then, I’m going to give some links to interesting information on Very Old Food in case you want to play around too:

The menu of what we served for the 16th Century Spain night is linked here, and I’ve updated it with some more descriptions of each dish (like what I gave at the table) so you have a better sense of the food and flavors. 

If you look nowhere else for interesting food history tidbits, look at this website: It’s assembled by research librarians, so you know it’s good. You can hear an interview with one of the creators on this episode of the radio show A Taste of the Past.

For another compendium of documents, including text from cookbooks (or, scrolls) that date back to the 13th century, try the blog Feast of the Centuries

This BBC Food Chain segment “Spice and Status” discusses the Forme of Cury – an ancient recipe scroll. 

The Financial Times has an occasional column The History Cook

Paula Marcoux wrote a cookbook Cooking With Fire that contains recipes from all over the world starting from the very beginning of putting flame to food (seriously, the very beginning – check out this excerpt posted on The Splendid Table). Here’s a video from her publisher, Storey, explaining the book.

If you’re going to get a cookbook, the Mitsitam Cafe cookbook discusses food of the Native Americans. I have a permanent image of ancient streets lined with taco carts tickling my mind thanks to this book. Here are some sample recipes posted on NPR several Thanksgivings ago.

This Gastropod episode reveals ice cream as a Very Old food delight.

There are certainly more out there, but I think these links are a sensible start – they’re what I was listening to / reading while preparing for last week. But now I’m on to Morocco . . . more soon. . .

 Peacock Sauce - Not pretty, but it was tasty. Obviously the chefs of the Middle Ages weren't thinking about instagram.

Peacock Sauce – Not pretty, but it was tasty. Obviously the chefs of the Middle Ages weren’t thinking about instagram.

*Anachronism example: peacock was represented by chicken, which was a non-heritage breed and therefore not the sort of chicken found in the 1500’s . . . in fact, nothing like it (there’s an abundance of information on the emergence of modern chicken at this website Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?). 

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