Symposium J-12 My Sweetest Choice
After a roundtable about « Between Reenactment and Inspiration” in the morning. We have the pleasure to announce you the second thematic of the day : “My sweetest Choice” in which Rafal Hryszko and Véronique Pitchon will be speaking about confectionary in medieval culinary manuscripts
Recipes for sweets play an important role in a better understanding of old confectionery. Given the fact that the sphere of sweet making had been linked to pharmacy for many centuries, in its analyses it is necessary to refer to pharmaceutical sources. In the Latin world, these primarily included the books with recipes for the creation of compounded medicines called antidotarii, such as Antidotarium magnum, Antodotarium Mesue, or Antidotarium Nicolai. Such books created in the late Middle Ages should also be taken into consideration. The most famous of them is Saladin d’Ascoli’s Compendium aromatariorum, while the work of Quirico (Domenico) de Augustis entitled Lumen apothecariorum published in Turin in 1492 is an example of less-known books of this kind. This pharmacopoeia, which was printed many times at the turn of the 16th century and in later centuries, became one of the basic sources of apothecaries’ knowledge in the area of manufacturing both medicines and sweets in modern times.
Taking into consideration that already in the late Middle Ages sweets were manufactured by apothecaries (called by an Italian name speziari), Quirico (Domenico) de Augustis, being both a practicing doctor and apothecary, in his book not only collected the knowledge of his predecessors but also shared his own practical experience. Moreover, in Lumen apotecariorum sweet making is presented in a separate section for the first time. De Augustis put the recipes for different types of sweets in a separate chapter, which he entitled De artificio zucchari. The 31 recipes include recipes for different types of candies, candied fruit, jam, marzipan, and jelly. He also listed detailed instructions on how to colour sugar to various colours and how to mould sugar mass into specific shapes, e.g. people, animals, and objects.
The aim of the presentation will be to outline the content of this part of Quirico (Domenico) de Augustis’ work both with regard to individual products and his practical solutions related to the processing of sugar mass. This issue will be discussed against a broad comparative background. Earlier pharmaceutical and culinary literature, mainly from Italy but also from other countries, will serve as a reference point. The impact of the recipes on other works from the area covering pharmacy, medicine, and culinary art will be discussed next. Such a perspective will allow a better understanding of the origins of the art of confectionery on the threshold of modern times and its impact on later periods.
It was around the third century BC that Indian and Persian merchants began importing sugar to the shores of the eastern Mediterranean, to Arabia and Egypt. It is the Arab conquest that promoted the entry of sugar being on in wester Mediterranean countries. The culinary exploitation of sugar in medieval Arab culinary treatises is remarkable, and there are hundreds of recipes using it in culinary creations, each more desirable than the last. This new culinary element allowed the development of pastry and confectionery, in particular candied fruit and other jams. This art, already ancient among the Arabs, developed itself in Spain and we find in the 15th century, a singular treatise, Libre de totes maneres de confits i.e. “The book of different kinds of confectionery”, written in catalan language around 1380 by an anonymous author. It presents 33 recipes for candied fruit and other sweets. Could it be that they are original creations totally detached from an ancestry with Arab-Andalusian sweets?
We have translated into French two culinary works Libre de totes maneres de confits, cited above, and a culinary receiver of “De la rencontre de l’amoureux avec les mets fins et parfums capiteux” which is the translation of a book of medieval Arabic cuisine written in the 13th century. This overview of recipes from these two culinary books constitutes a good basis for comparison in order to determine what is common to both cultures and what is truly original to each.
The analysis of these two cookbooks reveals that techniques for candying fruits and vegetables are very different geographic areas. To go further, we have analyzed a larger corpus of Eastern and Western texts which will be explained during the conference. The surprising results show that one cannot directly conclude that there is an Arab origin of the Andalusian art of making candied fruits and vegetables. Could it be that Andalusian sweets are original creations totally detached from Arab ancestry?