Library

An index of books on hand spanning different regions and periods with the pro’s and con’s of each book as per my opinion.

Sooooo….at Pennsic, I was shopping at the book tent.  Three times in an hour.  My shopping buddy, was busy getting a belt to fit himself and took over an hour.  That meant “Hey I’m going to check out the books while you get your belt.” “Cool, see you in a few.”.  20 minutes later and $80, I go in search of said companion.  “Oh, it’ll be another 20 minutes.  The belt is being tailored for me while I wait.” “Ok, I had a couple of other books I had my eye on…I’ll be right back!”.  20 minutes and another $45, I again go in search of my friend. “It’ll be another 15 minutes.” “Omg!!  I can not go back to the book tent! I’m going to spend EVERYTHING on books if I do!!!”  So I spent the next 20 minutes, in withdrawals trying NOT to go back to the the book tent for another 3 books I had my eye on.  White knuckled chewing commenced.

The upside to the second round of shopping is that I indulged in a very secret guilty pleasure.  I bought a book that brings to life the foods from A Game of Thrones.  C. Monroe-Cassel and S. Lehrer, in their book A Feast of Ice & Fire, do a fantastic job of bringing most of the foods described by George Martin to life.

A view of the book

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook

I know I know!  I can hear you now going “That is soooo not period!”.  Weeeell yes and no.  George Martin states he is not a foodie, couldn’t cook if his life depended on it.  The fine ladies who do the book though are cooks.  And they do a very nice job in period research for most of the recipes, tying the food described to both period recipes and to modern recipes.  So for each recipe, a reader gets the period recipe and a modern equivalent.

Now the part I don’t like about this book is that the period translation is in the original language, either old English (which I can handle) or the original Latin/German with out an English translation (which I do NOT like).  Each recipe also has the corresponding period book/information per recipe.  Very nice!  I disappointed that the ladies who do this book did not look into the Middle Eastern recipes for some of the Dorne recipes.  But that is a very small issue over all.

This book is probably one of the best I have come across for people new to period cooking and who want to start by dipping their toes into the warm saucy ocean of period goodness. An A+ for cooking and a B- for period recipe listing (only because I wanted to read the original German recipes in English).   If unsure, if cooking is right for you, this is THE book to start with.  Great recipes, easy to play with the redactions (you do not have to follow their measurements at all) and beautiful presentation.

 

 

I don’t do a lot of period Italian cooking.  That will change soon!  I adore this book.  The Opera of Barolomeo Scappi (1570) Translated by T. Scully, is the compilation of recipes by Bartolomeo Scappie (the cook to the popes).

 

The translations are awesome.  The breadth of recipes is incredible!  From breem to turkey to peacock.  Each main ingredient is treated with respect and clear directions on how to cook and serve.  This is THE Italian period cookbook to get if you have to get just one.  This book is an A+ all the way through.

 

This book is as period as you can get with out actually going back a few centuries or so.  Yet it is one of my least favorite books.  Now this isn’t because the recipes are period…it’s because I have issues with reading regular English that Ye Ole Inglysch plays havoc with my brain.

The book I had hoped to purchase instead was Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books: however being out of print, Curye on Inglysch was the one I had to settle on.  The book Two Fifteenth-Century, or books bound into one, actually were based or/and have basis from Curye on Inglysch.  Making CoI the protozoa of English medieval cookbooks.

This book requires knowing and understanding old English to get any sort of comprehension of what and how to do one dish.  This book is very good as a reference and to start biting into original period recipes…but don’t try this one with out a few other recipes/books under your belt first.  This is NOT a beginners book.  Period wise  this book is awesome…cooking wise, I’m going to have to say D-.

 

 

This is a Roman cookbook written by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger.  Sally Grainger is noted for having written and published Cooking Apicus.  I can not tell if she wrote the later half of Classical or if she was the one who did the modern redactions…all I can is she has some areas that are more pronouncedly hers then her partners.

Evaluation:

This book has incredible pictures for those researching and needing dinning scenes or period serving dishes.  Dates and materials included in this pictorial information wonderland. This is an awesome part of the book!

The recipes range from writing between friends or stories about famous (infamous) dinners.  This is one of my favorite aspects as the recipes aren’t just another rendition of Apicius.  There are Apicius recipes but I truly enjoy the fact that new recipes/descriptions are given.  This is second favorite aspect.

The only thing I am not fond of in this book is the brief nature of the entire book.  I had hoped for a book dense enough to swat a charging bull elephant.  The book boasts a modest 141 pages…  Not bad, but more would have been awesome!  The original recipes are included for every recipe though the Roman name is not.  There is an attempt to include modern redactions, though as usual I suggest experimenting and not just following by rote some one else’s ideas on how to cook Roman.  Overall for both recipes and research I give the book an A-.

 

 

 

 

I had thought I had made a post on all my cookbooks, however I find that the several, many, few books I do have have not had a listing or commentary.  So here goes!

Roman Cookery by Mark Grant.

I like this book.  The recipes have an English name as well as the Roman original i.e. Carthaginian Porridge or Puls Punica.  The citing of who wrote the original such as Cato On Agriculture (who and in what writing) as well as the original Roman translation.  Grant breaks down the recipes as he views the translation.  His failing, in my opinion, is that he uses modern ingredients such as cheddar cheese instead of trying for a sheep cheese i.e. feta – which can be a bit dry, or a Manchego which is milder, and a bit moister, in flavor then Parmigiana.  Over all a B+ for both research and cooking content.

A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa (Translated by Anna Kerklotz)

I like this book very much.  The recipes have the original translation in Latin, then English translation. The sourcing of recipes seem to be mostly from Apicius instead of a variety of authors that Grant lists.  For example Pork Stew with Citron on page 95 is from Apicus 169.  The book does not give the Roman name for the dish; however  I can live with this as the attempt is made to use as much authentic period ingredients as possible given location, availability, seasonality and not extinct.  Overall an A for both cooking and research content.

 

Around the Roman Table by Patrick Faas.

This book is really really good.  The author has the original translation in Latin with the English translation underneath.  The recipes seem to come from Apicus as the notations for who and where are listed as (Ap. 340) as seen in most of the recipes.  Again period ingredients are used.  The author does not try to interject their opinion as a “must do it this way” more of this, then that followed by X Y and Z.  This I feel gives the reader better wiggle room to try their own thing for redacting a recipe to their taste and not just the author’s taste.  An added bonus is the amount of work that the Faas has done with giving historic information from the different eras, table manners, wine as a drink and for cooking and the cooks with their kitchen. Overall an A+ for both cooking and research content.

 

Apicius The Roman Cookery Book translated by Barbara Flower and Elizabeth Rosenbaum.

This is a GREAT research book.  One of the few that is probably as close to the original cookbooks in Latin as we will see (with the English translation).  Notations are made by the translators on different aspects such as ingredients however the original recipe is faithfully copied with the original Latin on the opposite side of the page.  A bit difficult in this form to follow and there are no measurements listed.  This is a pure research/redaction fun for attempting Roman cooking.  This book is NOT for the faint of heart who need measurements and direction.  For straight 100% cookbook a C for historic research book on Roman cooking an A-.

Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome Edited and Translateb by Joseph Dommers Vehling.

This is another great book for a reference.  There are no recipes in Latin listed just straight up translation of recipes.  The historical information is good but there is a bit of opinion entered into the these sections.  This really is an in your face bare bones, straight from the Roman cook(s) to you.  For straight 100% cookbook a C- for historic research book on Roman Cooking an A-. You can’t get more straightforward this this book.

Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today by Sally Grainer.

I both like and loath this book.  This book has some good takes on period ingredients for sauces.  I like the recipes chosen.  There are NO historical recipes either in the original Latin or in English.  All the recipes are listed as period but there is barely a nod towards the original.  Apicius is written as areference but finding which of the many versions of Apicius used will be an interesting task.  If this book is to be used at all for historical cooking, the original recipe would need to be looked up in an Apicius then pared with this book.  Combining the two books, with the original in your face Latin translation and a cook’s opinion on how to make a dish would work.  This is a secondary resource at best.  For a straight up Cooking book this is an A+ for historical research this is a D.

 

 

 

This is a bit of a rambling prelude for a really neat book.

I have a friend who believes that meat appears mysteriously in the store wrapped in plastic.  She’s only half joking.  She doesn’t want to know that the adorable chick you see in commercials or on Easter, will turn up in parts or in whole on the dinner table once full grown.  Those cows in the field are pets, they are not “A feast on hoof”.  Or leather armor on hoof, or a BBQ waiting to happen.  Nope the animals on TV and in the fields are well kept beloved pets.  I had to laugh.

In reality though, today’s meat eater is rather more spoiled then in previous years.  Our grandparents grew up eating the non “prime” meats such as tongue.  I remember when my grandmother would make tongue for tongue sandwiches.  I always thought they went better with may/horseradish spread then ketchup myself.

Period wise, meat was a luxury.   Meat was expensive.  Several Roman physicians thought that vegetarianism was the way to go and extolled on the virtues of a non meat diet.  This is noted in the book Around the Roman table by P. Faas.  Medieval Middle Eastern diets and cooking vegetarianism wasn’t really an option.  In the research done in Medieval Arab Cookery, there is a notation that meat was a gift from Allah.  Meat was just as expensive in the Medieval Middle East as any where else yet eating vegetables was not a mindset by either royalty, physicians or even the lower class.  So meat, no matter what part, was considered a blessing.

I picked up a book the other week called “Odd Bits; How to cook the rest of the Animal“, by McLagan.

The book offers great choices on how to select the various weird things from brain, to tongue and trotters.  How to look for the freshest kidneys for kidney pie or grilled kidneys.  The book gives cooking times for intestine as well as the 3 or 4 different type of intestines.  How to use pig ears and utters.  This is a extremely useful when doing any of the period cooking.

The choicest cuts of meat from a cow, pig or even the chicken use to be reserved for nobility.  They were the ones who could afford these parts.  Every one else who had spare coin or trade made due with the less then choice bits.  From these parts came both flavor and protein.  So when looking at a recipe do more then see pork loin or steaks, check and see what else might have been used or search out for those really odd recipes that we overlook as being to “different”.

 

This is a listing of books that I think are great supporting research books for food.  Now what I mean by this is the history of some of the basic food items i.e. banana’s, chicken, olives.  Items we don’t really think much of yet consume vast quantities of.  These books give great documentation on such things as the different types of pears that were available to Romans, or Apricots from Armenia.

History of Food. Toussaint- Samat: This book is a must have.  Great references with fun little tidbits thrown in.  I really like this book.  It is one of my go to for information concerning an ingredient.

75 Exciting Vegetables for your Garden.

75 Remarkable Fruits for your Garden.

75 Exceptional Herbs for your Garden.

These three books were written by Staub.  Easily found on Amazon.com and definitly fun useful information present in short bites.  When first perusing these books I had a hard time not turning my entire back yard into a historical garden with the non standard every day plants found in Rome, Persia, Armenia and China.

Here are the books that are a must for your Medieval Middle Eastern collection of cookbooks.

Medieval Arab Cookery by Rodinson, Arberry & Perry.  This book will be your bible for research and recipes.  The recipes are translation.  There are few measurements.  Yet the information is incredible.  This is THE mainstay for historic Middle Eastern recipes.

Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Zaouali. This book has translations with few measurements as well.  At the end of the book are recipes given for by the author of their rendition for some of the period recipes.  I didn’t agree with some of the given recipes as they seem to be only loosely based on the period translation.  I like the original historic part and have used the given recipes as a secondary source for reverse redactions.  This also has great historical references and research.

A Baghdad Cookery Book by Perry.  This book is Perry’s idea of going back to the recipes he redacted for A Medieval Arab Cookery and updating/correcting a few of the translation.  Minimal history and some duplication from Medieval Arab Cookery.  Useful.

I’m on a kick to get a posting of my cooking books into some semblance of order.  We have gone from English to fuax Middle Eastern.  I had planned to do all the Middle Eastern books that are the core for my redactions however today’s post will be a bit short as I have a few books that I think are worth mentioning first.

Le Viandier de Taillevent. This book is based on the Vatican Library Manuscript .  The recipes are translated from the originals (a good thing if you don’t read old Italian).  There are no offered measurements so lots of redaction is necessary.  An excellent resource!

Recipes from Banquet dels Quartre Barres.  (I have the 2nd edition copy).   This booklet, per the forward, is based from the Valencia manuscript, and the Barcelona manuscript.    This are a 15th century cookbooks.  The recipes are written with the original old Spanish and an English translation.  The author has done a bit of redaction himself and gives suggested measurements.  This book is definitly worth owning!

Painter & Food Renaissance Recipes (Italian)- Does not have any original recipes, what it does have are little tidbits of how period cooking occurred and some fairly interesting period paintings.   Good for a general look.

So I have a handful of books that aren’t good for primary sources of documentation.  This does not mean they aren’t with out merit.  While the books do not cite the original recipe, each one has either really great historic pieces of information, GORGEOUS pictures, or a really great idea to point in the right direction a period recipe may be hidden at.

Arabic Recipes & History for Medieval Feasts (Middle Eastern)- Good ideas but no original recipes.  I would use this as a secondary source at best.  Great references though for original recipes and historic facts.

A Taste of Persia (Persian) – I like this book just for the modern recipes.  There are no original period recipes and the history is more of a 1st cooking view, however the recipes are wonderful. I like the description of the rice dishes.  One of my favorite!

The Legendary Cuisine of Persia (Persian) – This book has no original period recipes…what it does have are great modern recipes that point the way on how things might have been cooked and a break down of a period Persian kitchen.  Good for historical kitchen and cooking points, not so much as a primary reference.

The Emperor’s Table (Indian/Persian) – I adore this book.  The period art piece pictures are worth the price alone.  The recipes are close to period; however there are no original recipes listed so again a good secondary cook book but not good for a primary reference.  If you are looking for period pictures on women wearing choli tops with bare midrifs, this is your book!  The cook portions are exacting for how to prepare dishes that do show up in period manuals even though these recipes do not quote original historic documentations.  Thumbs on this one!

A Drizzle of Honey – The lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews (Spanish/Moorish)- This book has really good historical references not only to the cities, political events, but the size and reason for how things were used and cooked, i.e. the size of a pat of butter was the size of a coin suggested in X recipe.  This book does not have original period recipes yet it contains some very excellent historic information for Spanish and Moorish cooking adapted by the Jewish people.

From Persia to Napa. I like this book, but not for the recipes at the end.  This book as excellent Persian painting photos, great for costumers.  This book has great period Persian poetry and history of wine.  This book is great for costumers and those interested in Persian history of wine and cooking with wine.  However if this is not a period book by any imagination for cooking.

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