Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A Beginner’s Introduction to Common Medieval and Renaissance Ingredients

This is a guide to some terms which may be confusing to cooks who are new to SCA period recipes. The list is by no means exhaustive, and terms should be taken in context of the period that the recipe is from.

Abalana/Avellana/ - Hazelnut or filbert 

Allium – garlic or leek 

Alkanet – plants whose roots produce a red dye {*potentially toxic*} 

Almandes – almonds  

Amygdala – Almonds 

Anas – a duck or drake 

Architricoes – prepared sheep testicles

Apium – celery or parsley 

Apricocks - apricots

Aqua – water 

Artemisia – the herb mugwort, motherwort or tarragon 

Astacus – crab or lobster 

Avena – a species of oat 

Avens – a herb which has a clove-like flavour, also called Herb Bennet

Barm – live yeast found on brewing (‘working’) beer and ale

Blitum  - orrage, arrack, pot herb or possibly spinach 

Bragot/braggot – a sweet, spiced or herbed ale

Brassica – cabbage or kale 

Brawn – flesh or meat, often boar or pig.

Canelle, canel – cassia. A less expensive alternative to cinnamon

Cardamomum – cardamom [not to be confused with ‘Cardamum’: cress or nasturtium]

Cheat – bread made from whole wheat with the bran removed

Cicer – chickpea 

Clapbread- a type of bread made from barley

Clowys – cloves

Coddlings, pippins – types of apple

Coffyn or coffin – a pastry crust

Comfits – sugar coated seeds used as a palate refresher and to freshen breath. Often caraway, fennel, anise etc are used.

Costmary – mint geranium; used as a vegetable, medicine and to flavour ale

Coney, conins, cunins – rabbit 

Condio – to salt or season 

Crocus – saffron 

Cubebs, Quybibes – dried black berries used as a spice; flavour is a cross between allspice and black pepper

Curcuma – turmeric 

Damascena – plum or prune (fresh or dried) from Damascus 

Dittany of Crete – a herb which is also called Wild Basil or Stone Mint. A relative of oregano, which is a good substitute.

Dulcia: sweets or confections 

Eruca – the herb family Rocket 

Faba – bean or pulse 

Far – corn or grain or grain meal [Farina: grain meal] 

Fissile – cottage cheese 

Frumentum: grain, wheat, barley 

Garum- fermented fish sauce 

Galingale – a tuber used modernly in Asian food. It has a hot, gingery flavour

Gingiber or zingiber – ginger 

Glis or glires – doormouse /dormouse

Grated bread- breadcrumbs made with fresh bread

Graynes of Paradise – grains of paradise; a warm spice. This can be difficult to find and a mix of cardamom and black pepper can be a useful substitute. 

Great raisyns – raisins of grapes

Gum Dragon – gum tragacanth; a gum derived from Middle Eastern legumes and used for stabilising and stiffening (especially in sugar plate recipes)

Holus or olus- kitchen vegetables, often cabbage 

Horse bread- a type of bread made from pea flour, bean flour or similar

Hydromeli or hydromel – rainwater and honey boiled together to form a reduction 

Hysitium or Isicium – a hash, sausage or mince 

Jus or Ius – juice, liquor, broth or sauce 

Lactua – lettuce 

Lepus – hare 

Mace or maces – a spice made from the blade between the seed coat and the husk of the nutmeg

Mallow – marshmallow, common mallow, hollyhock

Malus – fruit tree or apple tree 

Manchet – fine wheat white bread, also Pandemaine and Cocket (less fine than pandemaine)

Mel- honey 

Mentha – mint 

Mespila – medlar fruit 

Morat – a mix of mulberry juice and honey

Morus – mulberry 

Mulsum – mead or honey wine 

Muscadine – a type of sweet wine

Mustard – mustard plants produce seeds which can be used as flavouring and as a condiment, and the leaves can be used as a salad herb

Myristica – nutmeg 

Myrtus – myrtle berry [often called, and used instead of, pepper] 

Myrtus pimenta- allspice 

Napus – turnip 

Nux – hazelnut or walnut 

Offa- a lump of meat or a meat dumpling, morsel or chop or other small meat portion 

Oignions, oygnions, ongnions or similar – onion

Oleum- olive oil 

Ormentum – caul or abdominal membrane 

Orchil or archil – a colourant derived from lichen 

Oryza or Risum- rice or rice flour 

Ostrea – oyster 

Ovum – egg 

Oxalis – sorrel plant 

Oxalme – an acid pickle such as brine and vinegar 

Oxygarum – vinegar and garum sauce 

Panis – bread 

Papaver – poppy seeds 

Pastinaca – parsnip or carrot 

Persicum – peach 

Perna – ham 

Petroselinium – parsley 

Pinioles, pignions, pynots, pynes etc. – pinenuts 

Piperitis – pepperwort, Indian pepper or capsicum 

Pipio – a young bird 

Piscis – fish 

Pommes – apples

Pomum – fruit from a tree 

Porray or porray – a dish of green vegetables

Porrum – leek 

Portulaca – the plant purslane 

Poscca – an acidic drink 

Poudre (douce/forte/fine etc) – fine powdered spice mix [spices used varybetween cooks and publications] 

Poyres – pears

Ptisiana – a grain broth or gruel 

Rapa – rape or turnip 

Raysins of Corinth – currants

Raysins of the sunne, risins, confiz – raisins 

Rosatum – flavoured with roses 

Rumex – sorrel or sour dock herb 

Ruta- rue [*potentially toxic*} 

Saccharum – sugar 

Sack – a type of fortified wine

Sal – salt 

Sanders - sandalwood

Sarda – small fish like a sardine 

Saucites – sausages 

Scandius – the herb chervil 

Soused – something that is salted or brined

Strained yolkes – beaten egg yolks

Sulsum – meat that is salted or pickled 

Tourte- bread containing husks

Uva – grape 

Vermiculi – noodles, vermicelli 

Vervex – mutton or wether (sheep)

Vinum- wine 

Wastel – a type of bread of good quality


Brears, Peter; 1999. All The King’s Cooks, Souvenir Press, London.

Brears, Peter; 2015. Cooking and Dining in Tudor and Early Stuart England, Prospect Books, London.

Dommers Vehling, Joseph(translator); Apicius – Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, Dover Publications Inc, New York.

Renfrow, Cindy; 1990.  Take a Thousand Eggs Or More, Vol 1, 2nd Ed. Royal Fireworks Press, Unionville, New York.

Renfrow, Cindy; 1990.  Take a Thousand Eggs Or More, Vol 2, 2nd Ed. Royal Fireworks Press, Unionville, New York.

Scully, Terence (translator); 2010. On Cookery of Master Chiquart (1420), ACMRS, Tempe, Arizona.


http://www.godecookery.com/glossary/glosss.htm has a short introduction to medieval cooking terms which may be helpful

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