lunedì 10 marzo 2008

Alcoholic Drinks of the Middle Ages

Alcoholic Drinks of the Middle Ages
The intent of this writing is not to provide the reader with a recipe list, although recipes will be included in the text. What I hope to achieve is to provide a single, comprehensive source of documentation for all phases of the production of alcohol and its use in various drinks which can be used for competitions in the Arts and Sciences, or simply for personal knowledge. This type of information is often more difficult to find in our craft than it might be in many others and I hope that this will become a useful reference for all brewers and vinters.

To this end I have located what period sources that I could find (The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened and Delightes for Ladies being excellent sources, as were others), as well as many others which are authoritative on the subject. The reader will find, herein, liberal doses of direct quotations from these writings, with the original sources credited, either directly in the text, or in associated footnotes. The footnotes will usually state only the author's name, the article or book referenced and the pages referenced. This will then refer to the complete bibliography. I have included a number of actual recipes throughout this writing, all of which are period recipes with the only exception being Mistrss Priscilka's recipe for Sake. Modifications can be made in these recipes as long as the materials used are correct for the type of drink which is being prepared the results should imitate the actual period beverage to within reasonable limits. Please note that modern tastes are generally quite different than those held in period and some modifications may be made simply so that oneself and one's friends will be willing to drink the finished product. Substitutions and modifications, however, have to be carefully chosen, so as not to change too much the overall character of the finished drink.

Procedures, however, are another matter entirely. I most heartily agree with Mistress Prisilka od Cervany Kamen (aka Priscilla Kucik), who recommends the use of period recipes along with modern preparation techniques1. These techniques include cleanliness to the point of sterility and the use of non-porous airtight containers. Another point on the recipes, in the case of actual period recipes which have come down as they were originally written, I will repeat them in the same manner so that techniques, style and materials can be learned.

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