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15th c. French cooking manuscript translation review

Poster: "Garrett, William" <WGarrett@sierrahealth.com>

Submiited for your consumpton:

> Terence Scully. <i>The Vivendier: A Critical Edition with English 
> Translation</i>.  Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 1997.  Pp. vi + 
> 129.  $24.00 (pb)  ISBN: 0907325815.
>    Reviewed by Constance B. Hieatt
> 	University of Western Ontario (emerita)
> 	constance.hieatt@yale.edu
> Terence Scully's edition of the <i>Vivendier</i>, a mid-15th-
> century French culinary manuscript, makes a significant 
> contribution to our knowledge of medieval French cookery.  Only a 
> very few medieval French culinary collections have survived, and 
> this one nicely complements the others which have been found and 
> edited in recent years.  That is, the two long-known major 
> collections, the <i>Viandier</i> and the <i>Menagier</i>, 
> primarily represent the cooking of Paris and, insofar as they are 
> clearly related to earlier, less extensive collections, such as 
> the <i>Enseignemenz</i>, continue a basic 'central' courtly 
> tradition.  Carole Lambert's <i>Recueil de Riom</i> (1988) gave 
> us one from the Auvergne, well to the south, and Scully's edition 
> of Chiquart (1985/1986) one from about as far south but from the 
> extreme eastern edge of what is now France.  The 
> <i>Vivendier</i>, as Scully ably demonstrates, emanates from the 
> far north, and is equally removed from the central 'Paris' 
> tradition: as witness its lavish use of dairy foods, especially 
> butter.
> Its publication supplies a bracing corrective to earlier 
> conclusions that butter was considered unworthy of the upper 
> classes at this time -- see, e.g., Jean-Louis Flandrin, "Et le 
> beurre conquit la France," <i>L'Histoire</i> 85 (1986), 108-111.  
> While it is true that the <i>Vivendier</i> is a comparatively 
> late text, its witness suggests that the use or rejection of 
> butter was more a regional matter.  (Butter is never mentioned in 
> the somewhat later <i>Recueil de Riom</i>, and milk is called for 
> there only once.)
> Nor is this sort of thing the only way in which the 
> <i>Vivendier</i> provides us with exciting new information.  It 
> contains recipes unrecorded elsewhere, with often baffling 
> titles.  Anyone interested in early culinary history will find 
> this work indispensable -- including philologists, who will have 
> their work cut out to penetrate further than Scully has into the 
> meaning of some of the unheard-of terms here, such as the titles 
> "La brehee" and "Pignagosce":  Scully's attempt to suggest a 
> meaning for the latter is pretty unconvincing, but the only 
> alternative I can suggest is that it may have originally had 
> something to do with pine nuts -- which, however, are not 
> mentioned in the recipe.
> As an edition, it is quite satisfactory, well researched, with a 
> full introduction, helpful commentary, and useful appendices.  
> The appendix listing ingredients does not indicate recipe numbers 
> where these ingredients appear, but they can easily be located by 
> consulting the glossary; presumably that is why a separate index 
> is not provided.  Nor is a truly comprehensive bibliography: 
> Scully lists only the texts he cites most frequently, referring 
> the reader to Bruno Laurioux's <i>Le regne de Taillevent</i> 
> (also 1997) for further up-to-date bibliography.  But it is a 
> little hard on the reader when Scully makes a later short 
> citation without referring the reader to an earlier note where 
> full information about the work cited was included -- as is the 
> case with note 57.3 on page 80, which could have been cross-
> referenced to note 6 on page 3.
> Laurioux's <i>Le regne de Taillevent</i> includes, in an 
> appendix, a transcription of the same manuscript; his readings, 
> made from a microfilm, often differ from Scully's.  Since his 
> transcription is not a full-fledged edition, there is no 
> discussion in this section of what Laurioux thinks is meant by 
> odd titles and terminology, although a few of these dishes are 
> briefly discussed earlier in the book.  I do not have access to 
> the manuscript, or a microfilm of it, so I cannot confirm any of 
> the variant readings, but on the whole Scully's often seem to 
> make better sense.  However, in the following comments to that 
> effect, I do not mean to reflect unfavorably here on Laurioux's 
> very learned and important book: since he was NOT doing an 
> annotated edition, it may not have always occurred to him to 
> double- (or triple-) check his readings.  As an experienced 
> editor, I know that one frequently sees one's errors in 
> transcribing a manuscript of this period only when one realizes 
> what a more sensible reading might be.
> One difference between the two transcripts is the numbering of 
> recipes; this is, of course, an editorial decision, and of little 
> consequence, but I think I would have decided, as Scully did, 
> that the detailed lists of ingredients with, surprisingly 
> exact, quantities appended to two recipes are part of the 
> foregoing recipes, not to be numbered separately.  More important 
> are such different readings as Scully's "Votte lombard," where 
> Laurioux reads "torte lombarde."  Scully points out that 'votte' 
> is, according to Godefroy, a variant spelling for 'volte,' an 
> omelet or crepe, and that is what this recipe would produce, not 
> a tart.  It is identical to one of the variants of an English 
> recipe called 'voutes' (or 'Faltes,' in the manuscript which has 
> the variant closest to the <i>Vivendier</i>'s recipe: see 
> Hieatt, <i>An Ordinance of Pottage</i>, p. 78).
> Another case where an English parallel may confirm Scully's 
> reading is the recipe for "Souppe de cambrelencq," where Laurioux 
> reads "souppe de carubrelencq."  This recipe is identical to a 
> frequent English recipe entitled "Soupes Chamberlayn" in one 
> manuscript, variously spelled (and misspelled) in a number of 
> others.  Other cases where Scully's readings are the more 
> attractive are "Vermiseaux de cecille," glossed as "Sicilian 
> Vermicelli," as against "Vermiscaux de cocille," which Laurioux 
> admits finding baffling, and "Brouet de hongherie," which Scully 
> glosses as "Hungarian Broth," as against "Brouet de hongheue," 
> which Laurioux does not try to gloss.  This latter recipe is meat 
> in a thick, spiced broth which is to be made as red as blood: 
> perhaps we have here an ancestor of Hungarian Goulash?
> A case in which I cannot chose between the two is Scully's 
> "Lyemesolles sur tout bon grain," vs. "Hemasolles sur tout bon 
> grain."  While Laurioux gives no suggestion as to what the latter 
> might mean, Scully's gloss of 'snails' is questionable when no 
> snails are, apparently, called for, and, unlike Scully, I find 
> it difficult to see that this dish would end up looking at all 
> like snails.  (Further, Scully confuses the reader by suggesting 
> several times in the introduction that a recipe for snails
> appears in this collection.)
> Both editors agree in reading one recipe as "Soupe crotee," which 
> Scully glosses as 'Lumpy Sops,' and tentatively links to 'crud.'  
> I think, however, that 'crotee' is more likely to be related to 
> English 'clot,' German 'Klotz': lump or dumpling.  Perhaps the 
> present editors, or someone earlier in the transmission of the 
> recipe, misread an <i>l</i> as an <i>r</i>?  In this case, 
> however, the cooked lumps of cheese might in effect be much like 
> a modern cheese fondue, and could (possibly) be better compared to 
> 'clotted cream.'
> About the only point on which I find Scully to be clearly in 
> error is his note on page 38 saying "In all likelihood this 
> <i>pouldre</i> is a scribal error for <i>sale</i>": in fact, the 
> two words are synonyms.  English recipes usually call salt meat 
> or fish 'powdered';  see, e.g., Austin's glossary to <i>Two 
> Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books</i>, p. 141.
> Finally, a shopping tip for any North Americans who have 
> difficulty finding a copy of this book (my local bookstore 
> couldn't locate it).  It is stocked by the Food Heritage Press, 
> P.O. Box 163, Ipswich, MA 01938-0163; telephone 508-356-
> 8306; email foodbks@shore.net.  If you want to know what else 
> they have, their Web address is http://www.foodbooks.com.  Anyone 
> interested in this area ought to want this book, so I hope I may 
> be excused for including what may seem to be a "commercial": the 
> bookstore did not ask me to, or bribe me in any way, I assure 
> you, nor do I have any connection with it.
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