Friday 15 February 2013

A curious piece of pottery

The book 'Fêtes gourmandes au moyen age' is a delicious book. Not only for its recipes, but also for the eye (e.g. a gilded boars head!). All the dishes are visually presented in the correct medieval pots, plates and glasses, together with the correct table utensils. Not the replicas, but the real stuff, dug up by archaeologists and glued together. This makes the book not only a good reference book for recipes (well, if you read French), but also for what kind of tableware you should have as a re-enactor. The book contains many sidesteps discussing particular pieces of tableware.

One of the photos in the book (see above) shows a curious beaker with rings four sides. What was this type of beaker used for? Why the rings? The note in the book, alas, gives no clue; only that it is 'gres de Beauvais' (the place of manufacture in northern France and the clay type) of the 15th century. The beaker did inspire Anne, who is doing a pottery course at the moment, to make her own ringbeaker.

A re-enactors still life. The ring beaker is in the middle. From left to right: a pewter jug, a glass maigelein, a wooden plate (teljoor), a dripping pan (also by Anne) and a pewter spoon.

 Two views of the ringbeaker made by Anne.

Saulse Cameline


The recipe that goes with the photo is that of the Sauce Cameline, a very popular sauce during the 14th century:

Pour faire une saulse cameline, prenez pain blancq harlé sur le greil, sy le mettez temprer en vin rouge et vinaigre. Passé parmy l'estamine canelle assez, et gingembre, clou, graine, macis, poivre long, et saffren un poy, et sel. Faictez bouillir ou non bouillir, comme vouldrez. Aucun y mettent du chucquere.
Vivendier, ms. Kassel,  gesamthochschulbibliotek, 4e med. 1. fol. 154 verso.
20 cl red wine
5 cl verjuice
20 g bread
2 teaspoonfuls  ground cinnamon
1 teaspoonful rasped ginger
3 cloves
half teaspoonful grain of paradise (Guinea pepper), a popular substitute for black pepper in the 14th and 15th century)
half teaspoonful ground mace
1 long pepper spike
4 treads of saffron
one pinch of salt
1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar

Rasp the ginger. Mix and grind the other spices in a mortar. Add them to the wine and verjuice and let them macerate. After one hour, filter through a cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Toast the bread, cut it into small dice and add them to the sauce. Mix until smooth. You may cook for better smoothing. Add salt and sugar to taste. (Contrary to the Italians the medieval French did not add sugar to the sauce.) The cameline sauce can be given with fish, meat and game dishes.

Book: 'Fêtes gourmandes au moyen age' by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Carole Lambert. Imprrimerie nationale Editions, Paris 1998. ISBN 2-7433-0268-2. The book has much to offer, even if you do not read French.


  1. Our local potter for reenactment supplies thinks the rings are for getting the attention of the bar staff. Hold up the beaker by the base and juggle it. The rings give a jangle which the bar staff here, and they come to give a refill.

    I've seen it work in the tavern at big medieval festivals.


  2. I am an italian reenactor and I love woodworking. I think this is a great blog but I quite sure it's SavoNaRola.. not SavoRaNola ;)

  3. I'm sorry, I've commented the wrong post.. my previous comment was referred to the "Savoranola folding chair" :(

  4. Thanks Riccardo. I always seem mix up the correct name of the chair. I have corrected the error.