Making a Fine Spice Powder

by al-Sayyida Anahita al-Qurtubiyya bint 'abd al-Karim al-Fassi
(since named Urtatim - err-tah-TEEM)
March 2004

A. Introduction

Recipes in surviving cookbooks from the Late Medieval and the Renaissance periods, besides specifying individual spices and seasonings, often call for the use of particular spice blends. These blends have a number of names and generally serve different purposes. Among them are:

Poudre Douce=Sweet Powder
Poudre Blanche=White Powder
Poudre Forte=Strong Powder
Poudre Fine=Fine Powder
Gode Pouder of Spycery=Good Spice Powder
Salsa Commun=Common Seasoning

The blend known as Fine Spices or Fine Powder is perhaps the most common of these spice blends. There are, however, very few actual recipes or lists of spices for such a powder. Fine Spices or Fine Powder is used in a wide range of dishes, from soup to meat to vegetables, and occasionally in dishes we in the 21st century would consider dessert (see Le Viandier, Form of Curye, Le Menagier de Paris, Libro de Guisados). Generally the exact blend is not specified and only a few cookbooks include recipes or ingredient lists for any of these spice blends. For example, all editions of Le Viandier call for "Fine Spices", but he never gives a recipe or listing of just which spices he means, although he does include a list of necessary spices for the kitchen.

Further, Medieval and Renaissance cookbooks, both handwritten and printed on a press, since they were often compendia of recipes from more than one source, were not always consistent in their terminology for spice blends. For example, the Vatican manuscript of Le Viandier calls for "Spice Powder" in the first part and for "Fine Powder" in the second, yet these terms appear to be used to indicate something similar if not the same. Unfortunately, no version of Le Viandier has a recipe for either of these spice powder blends.

While doing my research, I located seven recipes either for Fine Spice Powder or for a similar spice blend. I noted similarities and differences among the recipes. All seven include ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, six include pepper, and four included saffron and nutmeg, although in different proportions. There are an additional six ingredients used in only one to three recipes: coriander, galangal, grains of paradise, long pepper, mace, and sugar. Even though they did not all share the same name, they seemed to have more in common than just their ingredients. They appeared to be used similarly.

Then I found that food scholar and linguist Barbara Santich noted the similarities in spices and in usage among the Salsa ffina in Libre de Sent Soví, Specie Fine in Libro de cucina del seculo XIV, the salsa communa in Libre del Coch, and the salsa comun in Libro de cozina de Ruperto de Nola (Santich, 1984, p. 134) 1.

For these reasons, I am including seven recipes for spice blends that, while not all named "Fine Spice" or "Fine Powder", serve the same purpose within a given cookbook. These come from cookbooks covering over 200 years and from several different cultures within Western Europe, and are presented in Section B. in temporal order.

It is not surprising that the spice blends show considerable variation, even when they serve a similar purpose. First, spice blends could be purchased ready made (as noted in Le Menagier de Paris) or made at home. According to food scholars, such as the Scullys (p. 55), apothecaries or spicers selling such blends, households, and cooks probably each had their own personal, and thus different, blends. This can account for the differences among blends, while changes in expected taste over time, and regional differences also come into play.

Second, the seven recipes I have found date from 1324 to 1607. Three are from the 14th c., three from the 16th century, and one from the very early 17th c. I find it odd that I could find no surviving recipes for Fine Spice Powder from the 15th century. In the interests of completion, I have included an eighth, intriguing recipe from 1652, by which time cuisine has become Early Modern.

Third, the recipes I found come from Iberia (in both Catalan and Castilian), France, and Italy. Cookbooks calling for "Fine Spices" or "Fine Powder" come from these geographic regions as well as England, which may reflect Norman French influence in noble English cookery, although I could find no English recipe for Fine Spice Powder.

These recipes specify a list of spices and their quantities and say, "make into powder". Whether each spice was powdered individually or all were ground together is not specified. Based on my knowledge of Late Medieval and Renaissance kitchens, their staffs, and cooking techniques, as well as the vastly different sizes and shapes of spices, I think the spices were powdered separately then blended, since this would be easier than trying to grind them together in one mortar at one time.

On a final note, the meaning of "Fine" is not entirely clear. Does it mean "finely ground"? Or does it imply a refined or special blend superior to a less complex spicing in a dish? See my Notes included with Recipe 6, for a possible answer.

B. The Recipes

The recipes included here in temporal order are:

  • Salsa ffina. Libre de Sent Soví (1324) - Catalan
  • Specia fine a tutte cosse. Libro de cucina del seculo XIV (14th c.) - Venetian, not necessarily the city of Venice
    This book is also known as the Anonymous Venetian Cookbook, Libro di cucina and Libro per cuoco.
  • Pouldre fine. Le Menagier de Paris (very late 14th c.) - Paris, France
  • Salsa Communa. Libre del Coch, Ruperto de Nola (original Catalan edition, 1520)
  • Espicias de salsa comun. Libro de Guisados, Ruperto de Nola (Castilian edition 1529)
  • Menues espices. Liure fort excellent de cuysine (1555) 27 verso - France
  • La poudre en usage pour les potages et les sauces. Le Thrésor de santé (1607) - France

I give all the recipes in their original languages, English translations - many by me, variant translations where applicable, and comments, interleaved with the recipes. I have also made a chart in which all the recipes are compared, on page 6. And I included a French recipe from 1652 which appears to continue the tradition of "Fine Spice Powder" into the Early Modern Period.

1. Libre de Sent Soví (1324)

Original and translation from Catalan courtesy of Tom and Cynara McDonald (Master Thomas Longshanks and Mistress Aelfwynn Gyrthesdohtor, Barony of Caer Mear, Kingdom of Atlantia) via personal e-mails, between Feb 28-Mar 4, 2004.

Capitol ccxviiii que parla con sa deu ffer la resepta de salsa ffina - a vna liura Si vols ffer salsa que sia ffina ffes la axi per vna liura Primerament tu pendras gingebre que sia bo vii oz Canella que sia ffina i oz e mige Pebre i oz Giroffle i oz Macis vn quart Nous noscades vn quart Seffra i oz e mige E tot aso picaras E pessar ho as per sadas [Translators' note: "oz" has a line over both letters, as an abbreviation for "hunsa"]

Section 219 which speaks of how to make the recipe for Fine Seasoning (one liura) If you wish to make spice that will be fine you make it in this way for one liura. First you will take ginger that is good 7 ounces, cinnamon that is fine 1 ounce and a half, pepper 1 ounce, cloves 1 ounce, mace a quarter, nutmeg a quarter, saffron 1 ounce and a half, and all this you will pound, and you have to pass it through a sieve.

2. Libro de cucina del seculo XIV

edited by Ludovico Frati, 1899, from reprint 1970, p. 40, and quoted on p. 221 (translation) & 255 (original) in The Medieval Kitchen, by Redon, Sabban, & Serventi, and trans. by E. Schneider)

Specia fine a tutte cosse. Toy una onza de pevere e una de cinamo e una de zenzevro e mezo quarto de garofali e uno quarto de zaferanno.

Fine Spices for all foods. Take one ounce of pepper and one of cinnamon and one of ginger and half quarter of cloves and one quarter of saffron

My Notes
(1) This book is also known as The Anonymous Venetian Cookbook, Libro di cucina and Libro per cuoco.

(2) Frati's transcription into modern Italian is webbed at:

(3) Louise Smithson has translated Frati's book into English; it was webbed it at:

3. Le Menagier de Paris (very late 14th c.)

p. 54, Early French Cookery, found on p. 247 in Pichon edition (pub. 1846) and Section 314 in Brereton & Ferrier edition
Pouldre fine. Prenez gengembre blanc 1° .3, canelle triee 3°, giroffle et graine de chascun demy quart d'once, et de succre en pierre 3°, et faictes pouldre.


A. My translation
Fine Powder. Take white ginger 1 ounce 1 drachma, selected cinnamon 3 ounces, clove and grains [of paradise] of each half quarter of ounce, and of rock sugar 3 ounces, and make powder.

B1. Janet Hinson translation, in Friedman, vol. 2, page M-50
FINE POWDER of spices. Take (probably: Ed.) an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, (probably: Ed.) a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and (probably: Ed.) a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

B2. Eileen Power translation, in The Goodman of Paris, page 298
FINE [SPICE] POWDER. Take of white ginger an ounce and a dram, of selected cinnamon a quarter, of cloves and grain [of Paradise] each half a quarter of an ounce, and of lump sugar a quarter and reduce them to powder.

My Commentary

The differences among these translations are due to the interpretation of "3°". The superscript "o" means "ounce". But the sign represented here by a "3" (actually an apothecary's sign like a yogh) generally means a drachma. Hinson follows Powers - both interpret "3°" to mean "quarteron" (a quarter of an ounce), whereas Brereton/Ferrier interpret this as truly meaning 3 ounces, pointing out that a quarteron was commonly written "iiii°" (see Johnna Holloway, on page 9, below).

There are a number of additional problems to consider in interpreting this recipe. Most of the recipes I have found are given in ounces and thus can be interpreted as "parts by weight". However, in this recipe, the ginger, which is given as an ounce and a drachma. First, the weight of the drachma, the ounce, and the pound were not necessarily the same then as they are now. Second, in the Medieval and Renaissance periods, their weights varied with geographical location and over time. Third, there is more than one weight system operative in Paris during the life of Le Menagier de Paris - Apothecaries' Weight (also known as Troy Weight) and Avoirdupois. And fourth, while it is likely that the spices were sold by Apothecaries'/Troy weight, what weight did the cook use in the kitchen?

The French livre as a pound of 16 ounces was standardized in 1350 to equal approximately 1.079 pounds avoirdupois (the standard US weight) or 489.5 grams. The drachma (now dram) in Apothecaries' weight is 60 grains, which equals 1/8 of an ounce. In Avoirdupois weight the drachma is 27.13 grains = 1/16 of an ounce.

The Paris avoirdupois drachm of the time of Le Menagier was about 1.912 grams, while our modern measure is 1.772 grams. The modern Troy drachm is about 3.888 grams. Some people pondering this question have commented that if this recipe is using avoirdupois weight, the 1 drachma will not make a significant difference in taste, whereas the apothecaries' weight which is 1/8 of an ounce could well be tasted. This makes me wonder why the weight of the cloves and grains of Paradise are given as half a quarter of an ounce, i.e., 1/8 ounce, if this equals 1 drachma?

Additionally, because spices were generally expensive, they were often dispensed to the cook by the Clerk of the Wardrobe or the Steward based on the daily menu. It is possible, but not certain, that the spices were purchased from apothecaries using the apothecaries' weight system, and disbursed by the Clerk also using apothecaries' weights.

I have reached no definitive conclusion. But for practical purposes, I am interpreting the drachma following Apothecaries' weights as 1/8 of an ounce in this recipe.

4. Libre del Coch, Ruperto de Nola (original Catalan edition, 1520)

In her translation of the Libro de Guisados (for details, see Recipe 5), Robin Carroll-Mann footnotes her recipe for Common Spices:
"The Libre del Coch and the 1525 Libro de Cozina call for 4 oz. ginger, 3 oz. cinnamon, 1 oz. pepper, 1/2 oz. each of cloves, nutmeg, and mace, and 1/4 oz. saffron."

5. Libro de Guisados, Ruperto de Nola (Castilian edition 1529)

The original recipe is in neither Carroll-Mann nor Cuenca. I own a facsimile copy of the 1529 edition which says:

Folio xv.
Epicias de ala comun. Enmendado.
CAnela tres partes: clauos dos partes: gigibre vna par
e: pimienta vna parte/y vn poco de culantro eco bien
molido/y vn poco de açafran i quieres ea todo bien mo=
lido y cernido.


A. Translated by Vincent F. Cuenca, p. 16
Common Spices - Cinnamon three parts, cloves two parts, ginger one part; pepper one part and a little cilantro dried and ground well and a little saffron if you wish. and all should be well ground and sifted.

B. Translated by Robin Carroll-Mann,

Spices for Common Sauce - Three parts cinnamon, two parts cloves, one part ginger, one part pepper and a little dry coriander, well-ground, and a little saffron if you wish; let everything be well-ground and sifted.

My Commentary

First, Medieval/Renaissance food scholar Barbara Santich believes that Iberian "Common Spice" and "Fine Spice" blends serve pretty much the same function, and I agree, which is why I have included this recipe.

Second, the title of the recipe: Cuenca writes "Common Spices" while Carroll-Mann writes "Common Sauce". The word "salsa" was, in fact, often used to mean "seasoning", besides meaning "sauce". So either interpretation is possible. I would say "Spices for a Common Seasoning".

Third, Cuenca and Carroll-Mann do not agree on the part of the coriander plant to be used. Cuenca says, "cilantro dried", which implies the dried herb. This seems to me unlikely, first, because cilantro does not dry well. Second, in SCA-period Iberian cooking it is nearly always used fresh for its distinctive flavor and green color. Carroll-Mann says, "dry coriander". This leaves the interpretation to the reader, but to me implies coriander seed. In the Arabic corpus both the fresh green herb and the seed of coriander are used frequently and the seed is referred to as "dry coriander".

6. Liure fort excellent de cuysine (1555) 27 verso

(p. 247 in Wheaton, Savoring the Past.)

Menues espices
Prenes Z iiij de Gingembre Z iii de canelle Z ii de poyure rond Z i de poyure long ij de noix muscade Z i de cloux de Giroffle Z i de Graine de paradis Z et i de Garingal le tout mis en pouldre et passes par lesset.

My translation
Take 4 oz of ginger, 3 oz. of cinnamon, 2 oz. of round pepper (i.e., black pepper), 1 oz of long pepper, 2 nutmegs, 1 oz of cloves, 1 oz of grains of paradise, and 1 oz. of galangal. Make all into powder and pass through a sieve.

My Notes
(1) "Menu" is a synonym for "fine" (it also means "thin" and "small"). This points to a possible interpretation of "fine" in "fine powder" as meaning finely ground.

(2) The "Z" here is the sign for an ounce.

7. Le Thrésor de santé (1607)

Footnote 6, in Pichon and Vicaire edition of the Bibliothèque Nationale MS of Le Viandier, published 1893, p. 26 via James Prescott (SCA: Thorvald), in private e-mail communications, who noted that "Thrés. de sant." is Thrésor de santé, 1607 edition, and that the length of a league was different then than it is today.

The footnote reads:
(6) Taillevent parle souvent de la poudre d'épices mais sans dire de quelles épices se composoit cette poudre. Le Thrés. de sant., p. 395, donne la composition de plusieurs poudres, suivant qu'elles doivent servir l'assaisonnement de tel ou tel mets. Voice de quoi se composoit la poudre en usage pour les potages et les sauces: "Gingembre, quatre onces; canelle, trois onces et demie; poivre rond, une once et demie; poivre long, une once; muscade, deux onces; clous de girofle, une once; graine de paradis, garingal, de chacun une once." L'auteur ajoute: "Toutes ces pouldres se gardent un mois, voire quarante jours sans se gaster. On les doit tenir en des sacs de cuir, pour ne s'esventer, ne l'estans ja que trop par la longue traite de leur apport. Car on compte depuis l'Espagne jusques a Calicuth oû on débite le poivre et le gingembre quatre mille lieuës par mer, & de l jusques aux isles Moluques & autres qui n'en sont fort esloignées, rapportans le girofle et la muscade, deus mille lieuës."

My translation
Taillevent speaks often of spice powder but without saying of which spices this powder is composed. The Thrés. de sant., p. 395, gives the composition of several powders, according to that which they serve as seasoning for such or such a dish. Here is that which composes the powder used for soups and sauces: "Ginger, 4 ounces; cinnamon, three ounces and a half; round pepper, one ounce and a half; long pepper, one ounce; nutmeg, two ounces; cloves, one ounce; grains of paradis, galangal, of each one ounce." The author adds: "All these powders keep one month, nay, in truth forty days, without spoiling. One must keep them in leather sacks, so not to go stale, even though already much [faded] by the long stretch of their bringing in. For one counts from Spain to Calicut where they sell pepper and ginger four thousand leagues by sea, and from there to the Moluccan Islands and others which are quite remote, bringing back cloves and nutmeg, 2 thousand leagues."

My Commentary
To simplify, here is the recipe extracted from the text above:
Ginger, 4 ounces; cinnamon, three ounces and a half; round pepper, one ounce and a half; long pepper, one ounce; nutmeg, two ounces; cloves, one ounce; grains of paradise, galangal, of each one ounce.

C. Comparing Recipes and Additional Analysis


Spice - in ounces
except as noted
Sent Soví
14th c.
c. 1395
Le Menagier
me- -Hinson
de Nola
de Nola
Liure Fort
Thrésor de Santé
Number of Recipes
in which spice is used

Ginger1-1/2 13 - - - 1/43333-1/27
Cinnamon711 oz + 1 dr41447
Round Pepper11--1121-1/26
Nutmeg1/4----1/2--2 nuts24
Saffron1-1/21/4--1/4a little----4
Grains of Paradise----1/8----113
Long Pepper----------112
Sugar----3 - - - 1/4----1--1
Coriander Seed--------a little----1

127557688<-----Total spices per recipe

As can be seen, the blends are quite variable. In the recipes I have chosen, there is a total of twelve possible ingredients, but no recipe uses more than eight and none uses fewer than five. All seven recipes use ginger, cinnamon, and clove, six of them included pepper, four include nutmeg, and four include saffron. Seven other ingredients are used infrequently. Even those with the same or almost the same ingredients use them in rather different proportions. Additionally, different flavors predominate. In three (possibly four) recipes the dominant spice is ginger, in one (possibly two) cinnamon, and in one they are equal and coequal with pepper. Clove plays a varied role, ranging from 2nd strongest flavor to a relatively small amount.

I further note that in a number of modern recipes for Medieval/Renaissance spice blends, by both SCA and professional authors, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomun) is substituted for grains of paradise, also known as Melegueta pepper (Aframomum melegueta). There is, however, some ambiguity here. Cardamom and grains of paradise are botanically related (being in the family Zingiberaceae (ginger family)), although they do not taste the same. Nonetheless, they may have been used interchangeably in Medieval/Renaissance cooking (see note from Terry Decker).

Scholars believe that different spicers and apothecaries - who also supplied spices - as well as different households and cooks, each had their own blends. (Scully & Scully, p. 55) There are also, no doubt, some regional differences, as exemplified by the unique use of coriander seed in the Castilian version of de Nola. Coriander was a common spice in Moorish Andalusian cooking and rarely appears in recipes in polities outside the Iberian Peninsula. It is difficult to know, however, whether most of the differences among the recipes reflect the tastes of the times, the region, or the cook.

There has been discussion among cooks and food scholars on the SCA-Cooks e-mail list about whether or not it makes some difference in Medieval/Renaissance spice blends if the spices are ground separately or together. The general consensus was that there was no noticeable difference in flavor either way. Because it is easier to grind spices evenly if they are ground one at a time, I have done it this way.

D. My Process

I made all seven recipes, including two variations of that in Le Menagier, for a total of eight spice powders. I bought all spices in whole form, except mace and galangal which I was able to get only already ground. I ground the whole ingredients separately in an electric grinder. I intended to sift them through a fine wire sieve to remove any large pieces, but unfortunately stuff happened and i was unable to do this. Finally, I mixed the ground spices together, creating one blend at a time. I made approximately one ounce of each blend.

E. Epilogue - A Mid-Seventeenth Century Spice Blend

Finally, I found it interesting that in the middle of the 17th century, which is considered to be the Early Modern Period, and by which time cookery has changed enormously from Late Medieval and Renaissance periods, La Varenne had, in Le Pâtissier françois (1652), the following recipe, so much like a fine spice powder, although I'm not sure what he used it for. (from Wheaton, p. 253)


Episse douce des pâtissiers.
Prenez doux parties de gingembre, par example, doux onces, et une partie, c'est à dire, une once de poivre battu en poudre, mêlez les ensemble, ajoûtez-y de clou de girofle battu, de la muscade rapée bien menu, et de la canelle battuë, de chacun une once ou environ, pour une livre de poivre, plus ou moins, comme il vous plaira, et conservez toutes ces choses mêlées ensemble dans une boëte.

Remarquez q'on peut garder separément quelque sorte d'episse doans des petites bourse de cuit, ou dans une boëte divisée en plusieurs tiroirs.

Remarquez aussi qu'il y a plusieurs personnes qui n'emploïent que du poivre seul au lieu des autres épisses; qui que l'épisse composée soit plus douce que le poivre seul.

Episse salée.
Faites secher deu sel, puis vous le mettrez en poudre, et vous en mettrez autant pesant qu'il y aura d'épisse, gardez-la dans un lieu qui ne soit pas humide.

My translation

Sweet Spice for Pastry Cooks
Take two parts of ginger, for example, two ounces, and one part, that is to say, one ounce of pepper beaten into powder, mix them together, add therein of beaten clove, of nutmeg finely grated, and of beaten cinnamon, of each on ounce or there about, for a pound of pepper, more or less, as it will please you, and conserve all these things mixed together in a box.

Note that one can keep/store separately some kinds of spice in little purses/wallets of leather, or in a box divided into multiple drawers.

Note also that there are many people who only use pepper alone in place of other spices; who that the composed spice is sweeter/milder than pepper alone.

Salted spice
Dry some salt, then you make it into powder, and you put therein as much weight as there should be of spice [blend above], guard it in a place that is not humid.


Carroll-Mann, Robin, translator (SCA: Lady Brighid ni Chiarain). Libre de Guisados, originally published 1529.

Cuenca, Vincent F. Libro de Cozina: The "Libro de Cozina" of Master Ruperto de Nola, 1529 edition. Full translation with commentary by the translator. Self-published, 2001 (Purchased from Poison Pen Press).

de Nola, Ruperto. Libro de Guisados Manjares y Potajes, intitulado Libro de Cozina. Miguel de Eguia, Logroño, 1529. Facsimile reproduced without commentary, notes, etc., by Librarias "PARIS-VALENCIA S.L.", Valencia (Spain): 1997.

Decker, Terry (SCA: Bear). Messages to the SCA-Cooks e-mail list in response to my questions to that list.

Friedman, David D. (SCA: Duke Sir Master Cariadoc of the Bow). A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks, 2 volumes. Self-published, seventh edition (1998). Has translations of Le Viandier and Le Menagier.

Harris, Mark S. (SCA: THLord Stefan li Rous), editor. The Florilegium:
A compendium of messages from a variety of SCA e-mail lists and newsgroups, organized by topic.

Holloway, Johnna (SCA: THLady Johnnae llyn Lewis) a librarian at the University of Michigan. Private e-mails.

Katzer, Gernot. Everything about Herbs & Spices: Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages
Reference information about 117 herbs and spices, plus their usage in ethnic cuisines, their history, chemical constituents and the etymology of their names, as well as numerous photos of the live plants or the dried spices.

McDonald, Tom and Cynara (SCA: Master Thomas Longshanks and Mistress Aelfwynn Gyrthesdohtor, Barony of Caer Mear, Kingdom of Atlantia). "Salsa ffina", Libre de Sent Soví. Via private e-mails.

Menagier de Paris, Le. Janet Hinson, translator. Le Menagier De Paris (Goodman of Paris, c. 1395). In Friedman.

Prescott, James (SCA: Master Thorvald Grimsson), private e-mails and messages to the SCA-Cooks e-mail list.

Redon, Odile, Françoise Sabban, & Silvano Serventi. Edward Schneider, translator. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London: 1998 (original French edition 1993).

Santich, Barbara. "L'influence italienne sur l'évolution de la cuisine médiévale catalane." in Manger et boire au moyen age: Actes du Colloque de Nice, 15-17 octobre 1982. 2 vols. Centre d'études medievales de Nice. Les Belles Lettres, Paris: 1984.

Santich, Barbara. The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval Recipes for Today. Chicago Review Press, Chicago: 1995.

Scully, D. Eleanor and Terence Scully. Early French Cookery: Sources, History, Original Recipes, and Modern Adaptations. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor: 1995.

Taillevent. Le Viandier, edited by J. Pichon and G. Vicaire. Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. First edition, 1892. Second edition 1893. Third edition edited by S. Martinet. Slatkine Reprints, Geneva: 1967.

Taillevent. Elizabeth Bennett, translator. Le Viandier de Taillevent (14th c.), partial translation in Friedman.

Tirel, Guillaume. James Prescott, translator. Le Viandier de Taillevent: c. 1395. Alfarhaugr Publishing Society, Eugene: 1989 (2nd ed.).

Wheaton, Barbara Ketcham. Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300-1789. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

Comments? Questions?

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Date: Sun, 07 Mar 2004 00:29:14 -0500
From: Johnna Holloway
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Le Menagier Fine Powder

The Brereton/Ferrier version is found on page 270 under Miscellaneous Cooking Hints II v. 314. reads:
Pouldre fine. Prenez gingerbre blanc 1 (degree). 3, canelle triee 3 (degree), giroffle et graine de chascun demy quart d'once, et de succre en pierre 3 (degree). et faictes pouldre.

I am using (degree) for the super-imposed degree sign that I am sure will not e-mail at all well.

The note for this as found on page 329 states:
Pouldre fine... et faictes pouldre

The quantities prescribed here are difficult to interpret. The apothecary's sign 3 indicates a drachm 9cf. lines 29 and 30 where drame is spelt out), and I (degree) may be meant for one ounce. The sign 3 (degree), however, is baffling. B has replaced this by 4 (degree), presumably an abbreviation for 4 ounces. Pichon's suggestion (ii, 247 n.3) that 4 (degree) means un quarteron is weakened by the fact that the usual abbreviation is iiii (on --- written there as superscript).

{ I will note that what they reproduce in the text to the note looks like a funny bold face 3}

I suspect that if my reading of the note is correct that there may be differences between versions of the manuscript.

Eileen Power in The Goodman of Paris on page 298 gives this as:
FINE [SPICE] POWDER. Take of white ginger an ounce and a dram, of selected cinnamon a quarter, of cloves and grain [of Paradise] each half a quarter of an ounce, and of lump sugar a quarter and reduce them to powder.

I suspect Hinson stuck more closely to Power's version.

I also have at hand: Le Mesnagier de Paris which is Brereton and Ferrier's edition of Le Menagier de Paris translated into modern French by Karin Ueltschi [Librairie Generale Francaise, 1994] and the Slatkine Reprints edition of Le Menagier de Paris [or the Pichon edition](Geneve) if you think those versions might help. I can check those in the morning, but it's too late tonight to get into them.

Have you seen my article in the Florilegium---
French & Italian Herb and Spice Mixtures by THLady Johnnae llyn Lewis.
Stefan added it to the Florilegium in December.

Hope this helps---



Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 08:43:23 -0600
From: "Terry Decker"
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cardamom?

There was a lively discussion [on the SCA-Cooks list] on whether or not grains of paradise and cardamom were used for both Amomum meleguetta and Elettaria cardamomium. I think you will find it in the spice section of the Florilegium under grains of paradise.
[NOTE: in fact, I did find it there]

The OED states that cardamom has [been] used to describe both and also includes other members of both genera, but that the only cardamom included in the British pharmacopoeia is Malabar cardomom (E. cardamomium). The word appears in an English medical text as early as 1398 and is definitely identified as a spice in 1553.

Quoting the OED, "1579 Langham "Gard. Health" (1633) 122 Cardamom, or Graines of Paradise, are good to be drunke against the falling sickness." That suggests an equivalence (if not a sameness) in usage.


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