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First


This is an excerpt from Le Menagier de Paris
(France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)
The original source can be found at David Friedman's website

First, when you grind spices and bread for any sauces or soups, you must grind the spices first and remove them from the mortar, for as you grind the bread it will gather up any spices remaining; thus you do not lose any speck which would be lost otherwise. Item, sauces and thickening agents for soups should never be strained, whereas for sauces they should be so that the sauces be clearer and also more pleasing.

Item, you should know that it is unlikely for peas or beans or other soups to stick to the bottom of the pot, if the burning logs do not touch the underside of the pot while it is on the fire.

Item, before your soup sticks, and so that it will not stick, stir the bottom of the pot often getting your spoon down to the depths, so that the soup does not lump there. And note that as soon as you see your soup is sticking, do not stir it at all but take it immediately off the fire and put in another pot.

Item, note that commonly any soup which is on the fire will boil up and over on to the said fire until you add salt and grease to the pot, and then it will not.

Item, note that the best soup there is, is cheek of beef washed in water two or three times, then boiled and well skimmed.

Item, you can tell if a coney is fat by feeling a tendon in the neck between the two shoulders, for there you can tell if it has much fat by the large tendon; and if it is tender, you can tell by breaking one of the hind legs.

Item, note that there is a difference between sticking and larding, for the first is with cloves and the other with bacon.

Item, with pike, the soft roe is better than the hard roe, unless you want to make rissoles, as you use the hard roe for rissoles, ut patet in tabula. With pike, we speak of "lanceron", the smallest, "pike" in the middle, and then "quarrel", the biggest.

Item, shad comes into season in March.

Item, carp must be well-cooked otherwise there is danger in eating it.

Item, plaice feel smooth to the hand, sole do not.

Item, in Paris the goose-sellers fatten their geese on wheat-flour, not the finest flour nor bran, but that which falls between the two, namely fine or double-milled: and to this flour they add an equal amount of oats, and mix it together with a little water, and this holds together like a paste, and they put this food in a four-legged feeding-trough, and nearby, water and litter fresh each day, and in fifteen days they are fat. And note that the litter enables them to keep their feathers clean.

Item, to age capons and hens, you should bleed them through their beaks and immediately put them in a pail of very cold water, holding them all the way under, and they will be aged that same day as if they had been killed and hung two days ago.

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