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Culinary verbs in Middle English


Magdalena Bator

This study examines the range of culinary verbs found in the English culinary recipes of the 14th and 15th centuries. Altogether over 1500 recipes have been collected and over 100 verbs were selected for the research. They have been divided into three major semantic groups, i.e. verbs of cooking, cutting, and preparing. The analysis comprises such aspects as the origin of the verbs, rivalry of synonyms, context of usage and other criteria.
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Chapter Two: Medieval food and drink


After the Norman Conquest, the aristocracy enjoyed “a sophisticated cuisine based on that of Norman France, which had been inherited from the Roman era and modified through the centuries under Gothic and Frankish influence.” (Wilson 1991: 237ff). However, food historians generally agree that medieval food did not differ much from what we eat today (see for instance Hammond 2005, Scully 1995). The variety of foodstuffs available in Medieval England comprised meat, such as beef, pork and lamb16; fish; fruit and vegetables; grain products such as bread or ale; and a wide range of spices.

Some foods served at the Medieval table, such as fruits and vegetables, were season dependent. Others, such as meat, fish and cereals, were present on a daily basis (Brears 2008). Even if some meats or fish were out of season, they were available in a preserved state (smoked, salted, dried, etc.). An important factor determining the food served at a particular time was religion; different dishes were served during Lent, for instance, when meat was forbidden, than at other times of the year. This has been reflected in the recipes, giving rise to dishes such as ‘Leche frys in lentoun’ (FC_166), ‘Loseyns in fyssh day’ (FC_132) or ‘Hattes in lentyn’ (OP_113), or including variants of a particular dish, e.g.:

(…) and do þerto gode broth; and aray it as þou didest caboches.If þey be in fyssh day, make on the same manere with waterand oyle, and if it be not...

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