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Chef cooks up 900-year-old dishes after historic recipe discovery

Recipies of old: Samuel Woods, Jacqueline Pankhurst, Samantha Ellis, Lydia Harris, Andy Hook, chef Daniel Duggan and Dr Giles Gasper.

Recipies of old: Samuel Woods, Jacqueline Pankhurst, Samantha Ellis, Lydia Harris, Andy Hook, chef Daniel Duggan and Dr Giles Gasper.

A TASTE of history will be on the menu thanks to the discovery of recipes almost 900 years old.

The newly-found 12th-century recipes from a Durham priory manuscript have been found to pre-date the earliest known ones by 150 years.

Now, Durham University will be putting the recipes to the test by trying to recreate the dishes.

The Latin manuscript, now held at Cambridge University, mainly consists of recipes for medical ointments and cures. It was compiled and written at Durham Cathedral’s priory in about 1140.

The work was recently re-examined and found to contain the food recipes, which experts believe are among the oldest in the western medieval culinary tradition, preceding the previously known examples from circa 1290.

Dr Giles Gasper, from Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, said: “Some of the medical recipes in this book seem to have stood the test of time, some emphatically haven’t.

“But we’re looking forward to finding out whether these newly-discovered food recipes have done so and whether they also possess what you might call a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ – or ‘quidditas’, to use the Latin.”

The food recipes were found by Professor Faith Wallis, who edited and translated them before sending them to Durham food historian Caroline Yeldham to interpret the instructions with a view to recreating them.

Dr Gasper said: “The recipes are for sauces to accompany mutton, chicken, duck, pork and beef. There’s even a seasonal version of the chicken recipe, charmingly called ‘hen in winter’.

“The sauces typically feature parsley, sage, pepper, garlic, mustard and coriander which I suspect may give them a Mediterranean feel when we recreate them.”

The recipes will form part of a cookery workshop for students of modern languages, history, English and archaeology from Durham University who will attempt to recreate the dishes for the first time in hundreds of years.

 

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