In Mulieribus (the Latin phrase meaning “amongst women”) is a female vocal ensemble dedicated to the promotion and enrichment of community through the art of music with a focus on works written primarily before 1750. In partnership with Portland’s Culinary Workshop they presented a medieval cooking class, produced by Nancy Pole Wilhite, and led by the Workshop’s Susana Holloway. I’ve never known much about how my ancestors cooked and ate prior to AD 1500 so I signed up and eagerly awaited the coming event. I could not have foreseen how much I would enjoy the people, the sumptuous feast, and the wonderful serenade from In Mulieribus at the end of the day.
In the 1400s ones position in society would dictate what foods were available. Nobility no doubt had their pick of meats and rare seasonings but people of lesser means had access to healthy foods such as fish, fowl, grains, and vegetables as well. Potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers were not on the menu since they were native to the not yet explored New World. The big surprise to me was that many of the dishes we enjoy today on special occasions were being served six hundred or more years ago.
After a little Knife Skills 101 review, Susana helped us with the prep work for our meal. Many hands make light work and we quickly had lamb braising, pork roasting, and pears poaching. Here are the Medieval Kitchen Recipes. Do try them, they are all very good.
Caramelized Leek and Saffron Soup – Leeks, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and a pinch of saffron made for a simple and savory soup. This would be a terrific first course at any meal.
Braised Lamb – Lamb shoulder, cubed. Dried apricots, onion, red wine, herbs, stock. Brown the lamb, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for about two hours.
Roasted Root Vegetables – Beets, rutabagas, carrots, yams, cubed. Roast with a little oil and salt. It could not be easier and the dish was delicious.
Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Herbs and Nuts – Mushrooms, garlic, nuts, herbs, wine. Butterfly a pork loin, spread the stuffing mixture evenly over the surface, roll it up, and tie it. Roast at about 375° for approximately an hour.
Pears Poached in Mulled Wine – Red wine, apple cider, cinnamon, orange zest. Peel and seed the pears. Poach for about 20 minutes and serve with whipped cream.