Medieval culinary glossary: frumenty

Here’s another excerpt from my encyclopaedic glossary of ingredients, equipment and culinary terms that appear in Richard II’s cookery treatise, Fourme of Cury (c.1390); it includes a medieval recipe!

frumenty furmente. A kind of porridge made, at its most basic, by boiling hulled wheat in water, but served in elite households as an enriched pottage to accompany meats such as venison and mutton, or, as in Fourme of Cury, porpoise (recipe 68). As the recipe below shows, an enriched frumenty would have made use of ‘good broth’ (likely beef or capon), cow’s or almond milk, egg yolks, and saffron. This undoubtedly would have been the type of frumenty, accompanying venison, served to Richard II at the feasts laid on by Baron Thomas de Spencer (see CI, p. 39). The frumenty for porpoise, using water instead of broth, and only almond milk to enrich it, would have been appropriate for Lent.

A full recipe for frumenty is not actually provided in the Rylands copy of Fourme of Cury, though it seems very likely that the intent was to include one at some point, perhaps just before the frumenty with porpoise dish; this can be seen by the allusion to such a recipe in the phrase ‘make frumenty as before’. Some later and fragmentary versions of the Fourme of Cury text do include a recipe, but this may well have been borrowed from the extremely similar recipe that is found in the collection known as Diuersa servicia, dated to around 1381.

The frumenty recipe, as it appears in the edition of the Fourme of Cury text by Hieatt and Butler (CI, p. 98, no. 1), is reproduced here, along with my translation:

To make frumente. Tak clene whete & braye yt wel in a morter tyl þe holes gon of; seþe it til it breste in water. Nym it vp & lat it cole. Tak good broþ & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it þerwith. Nym ȝelkys of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast þerto; salt it; lat it nauȝt boyle after þe eyren ben cast þerinne. Messe it forth with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.

To make frumenty. Take clean wheat and crush it well in a mortar until the hulls come off; simmer it in water until it bursts. Take it up and let it cool. Take good broth and sweet cow’s or almond milk and temper it with these. Take and cast in yolks of raw eggs and saffron; salt it; let it not boil after the eggs have been cast in. Dish it up with venison or with fresh fat mutton.  

Previous: ears

Next: grains of paradise

If you would like to support my independent research and creative work, you can do so via the Buy me a coffee tab. Or you can become a monthy Premium Content subscriber. Thank you.

Image of wheat grain at top of the page: this has been cropped; the licence is available here.

Published by Christopher Monk

Dr Christopher Monk is creating Modern Medieval Cuisine

10 thoughts on “Medieval culinary glossary: frumenty

      1. I’ve just looked back at my post to remind myself. It was almost four years ago. I wrote that it reminded me a bit of fried rice, so I probably cooked it too long after the egg yolk went in.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: