The Middle Ages: Refinement and Concentration

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

We don’t know much about cooking in Europe between the time of Apicius and the 14th century, the period from which a number of manuscript recipe collections survive. In some respects, sauce making hadn’t changed much. Medieval sauces often contained many spices, the mortar and pestle still pounded ingredients—now including meats and vegetables—and most of the Roman thickeners were still used. Bread was most common, toasted to provide additional color and flavor, while pure starch was no longer used, and cream and butter still weren’t.