Bone Marrow

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bone marrow the soft, nutritious substance found in the internal cavities of animal bones, especially the shin bones of oxen and calves. The French term is moelle.

The spinal marrow of oxen and calves is sometimes known as ‘ox pith’. Pieces of it, or of the same thing from sheep, are commonly called amourettes in French. Since BSE, spinal marrow is not available in Britain.

Medieval and early modern European recipes make clear how generally marrow was valued on its own (a dish of marrow bones accompanied an array of thirteen other beef dishes laid out as the first course of a magnificent dinner in Barbados described by Richard Ligon in 1657), and as an enrichment to stews, ragouts, and, especially, tarts and pies both sweet and savoury, the most famous early modern English example being Tart de moy (so called after the French moelle). When marrow was served on its own, it was roasted and presented in its bone from which it would be removed with a special silver marrow scoop.