Medieval culinary glossary: hippocras

Image: ‘Pur fayre ypocras’ (‘To make hippocras’), Fourme of Cury, Manchester, John Rylands Library, MS English 7, folio 87r.

We have arrived at the letter h in the excerpts from my glossary of ingredients, equipment and terminology found in Richard II’s cookery treatise, Fourme of Cury (c.1390). H is for hippocras:

hippocras ypocras. Spiced and sweetened wine, either red or white or both; typically drunk at the end of a meal with wafers (fine pastries; see wafers, below). The recipe for hippocras in Fourme of Cury (no. 189, chapter 5), the only one in the collection to be written in Anglo-Norman, is really just a list of the quantities of spices – eleven in total – that are to be ground into the powder that flavours the drink. There are no instructions on how to proceed beyond ‘de toutes soit fait poudour et cetera’, ‘from all one must make a powder, etc.’. In this way, it is strikingly similar to another late fourteenth-century recipe from an English medical collection, though the latter lists sugar – or, ‘if sugar runs out’, honey – as the sweetener, and there is some variation on the spices used (CI, p. 148-49). Detailed recipes for making hippocras are found in the fourteenth-century Old French work Le Ménagier de Paris (see the commentary in chapter 5) and the fifteenth-century poetic work on manners by John Russell (Russell, pp. 125-28).

Previous: grains of paradise

Next: jelly

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Published by Christopher Monk

Dr Christopher Monk is creating Modern Medieval Cuisine

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