Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Edited text (by me) from “Forme of Cury” discussing Sugar and Spice used during their period and previously. Some interesting points, made as far as I can tell, by Samuel Pegge in the 18th Century (which was published in the forward of the cookbook):

“Honey was the great and universal sweetner in remote antiquity, and particularly in this island, where it was the chief constituent of
mead and metheglin. It is said, that at this day in Palestine
they use honey in the greatest part of their ragouts. Our cooks had a method of clarifying it, which was done by putting it in a pot with whites of eggs and water, beating them well together; then setting it over the fire, and boiling it; and when it was ready
to boil over to take it and cool it. This I presume is called clere honey. And, when honey was so much in use, it appears from Barnes that refining it was a trade of itself.

Sugar, or Sugur, was now beginning here to take place of honey;
however, they are used together. Sugar came from the Indies,
by way of Damascus and Aleppo, to Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, and from these last places to us. It is here not only frequently used,
but was of various sorts, as cypre named probably
from the isle of Cyprus, whence it might either come directly to us,
or where it had received some improvement by way of refining. There is mention of blanch-powder or white sugar. They, however,
were not the same. Sugar was clarified sometimes with wine.

Spices. Species. They are mentioned in general, and whole
spices, but they are more commonly specified, and are
indeed greatly used, though being imported from abroad, and from so far as Italy or the Levant (and even there must be dear), some may wonder at this: but it should be considered, that our Roll was
chiefly compiled for the use of noble and princely tables; and the
same may be said of the Editor’s MS. The spices came from the same part of the world, and by the same route, as sugar did. The spicery was an ancient department at court, and had its proper officers.

As to the particular sorts, these are,

Cinamon. Canell. Canel, Editor’s MS. Kanell, ibid. is the Italian Canella. See Chaucer. We have the flour or powder, See Wiclif. It is not once mentioned in Apicius.

Macys, Editor’s MS. 10. Maces, 134. Editor’s MS. 27. They
are used whole and are always expressed plurally, though we
now use the singular, mace. See Junii Etym.

Cloves. Dishes are flourished with them, Editor’s MS.
10. where we have clowys gylofres, as in our Roll. Powdour gylofre occurs. Chaucer has clowe in the singular, and see him v. Clove-gelofer.

Galyngal, and elsewhere. Galangal, the long rooted cyperus,
is a warm cardiac and cephalic. It is used in powder and was
the chief ingredient in galentine, which, I think, took its name
from it.

Pepper. It appears from Pliny that this pungent, warm seasoning, so much in esteem at Rome, came from the East Indies, and,
as we may suppose, by way of Alexandria. We obtained it no doubt, in the 14th century, from the same quarter, though not exactly by the same route, but by Venice or Genoa. It is used both whole, and in powder. And long-pepper occurs, if we read the place rightly.

Ginger, gyngyn. 64. 136. alibi. Powder is used, 17. 20. alibi. and
Rabelais IV. c. 59. the white powder, 131. and it is the name of a
mess, 139. quÃlre whether gyngyn is not misread for gyngyr, for see Junii Etym. The Romans had their ginger from Troglodytica [109].

Cubebs, 64. 121. are a warm spicy grain from the east.

Grains of Paradice, or de parys are the greater cardamoms.

Noix muscadez. nutmegs.

The caraway is once mentioned and was an exotic from Caria,
whence, according to Mr. Lye, it took its name: ‘sunt semina, inquit, carri vel carrei, sic dicti a Caria, ubi copiosissimè nascitur.’

Powder-douce, which occurs so often, has been thought by some, who have just peeped into our Roll, to be the same as sugar, and only a different name for it; but they are plainly mistaken, as is evident from where they are mentioned together as different things. In short, I take powder-douce to be either powder of galyngal, for see Editor’s MS II. 20. 24, or a compound made of sundry aromatic spices ground or beaten small, and kept always ready at hand in some proper receptacle. It is otherwise termed good powders or powder simply. White powder-douce occurs, which seems to be the same as blanch-powder, called blaynshe powder, and bought ready prepared, in Northumb. Book. It is sometimes used with powder-fort for which see the next and last article.

Powder-fort, 10. 11. seems to be a mixture likewise of the warmer
spices, pepper, ginger, &c. pulverized: hence we have powder-fort of gynger, other of canel. It is called strong powder, and perhaps may sometimes be intended by good powders. If you will suppose it to be kept ready prepared by the vender, it may be the powder-marchant found joined in two places with powder-
douce. This Speght says is what gingerbread is made of; but Skinner disapproves this explanation, yet, says Mr. Urry, gives none of his own.

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