Wednesday, 4 April 2012

To Broil a Unicorn

A high status lady serves the unicorn's head to table
Readers of this blog may remember my recent posting on the fraudulent cookery manuscript in the Wellcome Library. Well, it looks like this kind of thing could be the flavour of the month. On the 1st April this year, a long lost medieval cookery manuscript was discovered in the British Library by Professor Brian Trump. Alleged to have been compiled even earlier than The Forme of Cury, a collection of recipes from the kitchens of Richard II dating from the 1390s, this remarkable book appears to have been written by one Geoffrey Fule, cook to Philippa of Hainault, Queen of England (1328-1369). What is extraordinary about this volume are its marvellous marginal illuminations, particularly those relating to barbecuing a unicorn and serving the said dish at table. This makes it the only English illustrated medieval cookery book. You can see a more detailed article on the British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog  Now that we have a recipe for unicorn, I hope to include the dish in my Roasting and Broiling Course later this year. However to fit it into the programme, I am going to have to drop the spit-roasted basilisk. Apologies to all who have already booked on the course and were looking forward to sampling the basilisk. I am sure the unicorn will be a great substitute.

The left-overs are distributed among the poor

The unicorn is put down to a good bright fire

My thanks to Gillian Riley, Alastair Johnston and Foo Ling Yoo (no relation to Geoffrey Fule) for drawing my attention to this wonderful tome. Not to forget the remarkable Professor Trump, the Indiana Jones of gastronomic historical research and his dedicated team at the BL.  All illustrations courtesy of the British Library.