The Medieval Cook

February 2009
19 black and white illustrations
256 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Boydell Press

The Medieval Cook

Bridget Ann Henisch

eBook for Handhelds
The figure of the medieval cook revealed, in the context of time and circumstance.
`Stylish and racy... An excellent book and a delight to read, written with panache and entirely convincing.' Professor PETER COSS, Cardiff University.

This book takes us into the world of the medieval cook, from the chefs in the great medieval courts and aristocratic households catering for huge feasts, to the peasant wife attempting to feed her family from scarce resources, from cooking at street stalls to working as hired caterers for private functions. It shows how they were presented in the art, literature and moral commentary of the period (valued on some grounds, despised on others), how they functioned, and how they coped with the limitations and the expectations which faced them in different social settings. Particular use is made of their frequent appearance in the margins of illuminated manuscript, whether as decoration, or as a teaching tool.

Table of Contents

The Cook in Context
The Cottage Cook
Fast Food and Fine Catering
The Comforts of Home
The Staging of a Feast
On the Edge: the Cook in Art
Select Bibliography
A Selection of Medieval Recipes
Suggestions for Further Reading


Bridget Henisch has tackled an enormous subject, the cook in western Europe, and expertly marshalled evidence throughout the medieval period. MEDIUM AEVUM
It is an attractive piece of work, beautifully illustrated, making the subject highly approachable for the general reader. [...] A useful and highly entertaining introduction to the study of the necessity and artistry of cookery in the Middle Ages. THE RICARDIAN
This admirable book is based on a much wider field than the art of the period. It shows a remarkable range of literary and historical sources. SPECULUM
An accessible overview of medieval culinary practice that will entertain and inform the general public. [...] The general audience will be seduced by the lively medley of cooks and kitchens the book presents. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW
Pour reprendre les termes du professeur Peter Cross de l'Université de Cardiff, l'ouvrage de l'historienne américaine Bridget Ann Henisch est écrit avec panache et conviction. Elle entraîne notamment le lecteur dans l'univers multiforme des cuisines médiévales. L'auteure visit aussi bien celles fonctionelles et propres de la haute aristocratie que celles souvent frustes et sales des classes socials moins élevées. HISTOIRE ET IMAGES MEDIEVALES