Liber Cure Cocorum - Parallel Transcription from the Sloane MS 1986 by Richard Morris & Modern English Translation with Notes by Cindy Renfrow.pdf

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Copied and Edited from the Sloane MS. 1986
Liber cure Cocorum
A Modern English Translation with Notes,
Based on Richard Morris' transcription of 1862.
Richard Morris
Author of "The Etymology of local Names",
Member of the Philological Society
by Cindy Renfrow
Published for the Philological Society
A. Asher & Co., Berlin
{ Morris' printed transcription was transcribed by David Tallan, It was proofread by Cindy Renfrow, and
additional markup was done by Greg Lindahl. The thorn character is
represend by "Þ" and "þ"; this character is incorrectly rendered by some
Macintosh web browsers. The yough character is represented by "3".
Comments by David Tallan and Cindy Renfrow are enclosed by {} curly
brackets. }
This translation is based on Liber cure Cocorum , as copied and edited from the
Sloane MS. 1986 by Richard Morris, author of "The Etymology of Local
Names", member of the Philological Society. Published for the Philological
Society by A. Asher & Co., Berlin. 1862. This translation is intended to be read
in conjuction with Morris' work, and has left uncorrected many of the errors
found in that work. A printable facsimile copy of Morris' text may be found at
The following curious poem on Cookery is now first printed from a
transcript of the Sloane MS. 1986, where it occurs as an appendix to the
"Boke of Curtasye" 1 . It is written in a Northern dialect of the XVth
century, probably not much earlier than the time of Henry VI. The author
of the poem furnishes us with an appropriate English title in the opening of
the work, where he speaks of his subjects as "The Sly3tes of Cure", or, as
expressed in more modern English, "The Art of Cookery".
This translation is copyright 2002, Cindy Renfrow. You may use this digitized
translation for non-commercial and scholarly purposes only without further
permissions, provided that this header is included and proper citation is given.
Though the poem professes to be somewhat comprehensive, and treats of a
great variety of dishes under the titles of Potages, broths, roasted meats,
baked meats, sauces and 'petecure', it is still far from containing an account
of all the ancient dishes, upon the preparation of which the cooks of old
prided themselves so much, as may be seen upon comparing this poem with
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the tracts upon Old English Cookery contained in Warner's 'Antiquitates
Culinariae' and in the 'Collection of Ordinances and Regulations for the
government of the Royal Household' . 2
This portion of Sloane MS. 1986, transcribed for us by Richard Morris in Liber
cure Cocorum (1862), is a cookery book in verse, written in a Northern English
dialect circa 1420 - 1440. While not original or important as a cookery
manuscript, in the sense that the recipes may be found in other contemporary
collections (such as Thomas Austin's Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books , the
Forme of Cury , and A Noble Boke Off Cookry ), the use of dialect and verse
make this work quite interesting. LCC is frequently cited as an early source, and
often the only source, of many obscure words and dialectical spellings in such
reference works as the Oxford English Dictionary and The Electronic Middle
English Dictionary.
Some knowledge of the composition of these dishes is rendered necessary
by the constant allusions to them in our early English Metrical Romances,
which give the poem an Archaeological as well as Philological value.
From internal evidence it would seem that the author of this poem was a
native of North-West Lancashire, for we find the same pecularities which
have been pointed out by Mr. Robson in the Romances edited by him for
the Camden Society, viz. the plurals of Nouns in -us and passive participles
in -ud , or -ut , to which may be added the forms schyn , schun (= shall) and
wyn , wynn , (will) which I have not met with elsewhere.
Why did the author trouble to rhyme a cookery book? Did he intend his verses
to be a mnemonic aid, since verse is more easily learned than prose? If so, then
the intended reader must have been a professional cook with prior experience in
preparing the basic recipes, for in many cases our author has sacrificed the
length and clarity of his cookery instructions in order to force a rhyme.
Similarly, necessary steps or ingredients are omitted and many quaint,
meaningless phrases are added, making this work quite difficult to use alone as
a cookbook.
The usual Northumbrian grammatical forms occur, as tas for takes ; tone
and tother for that one and that other ; -s as the ending of all the persons
(Singular and Plural) in the Present Tense Indic. Mood, and as the sign of
the 2nd Person, Imperative Mood; and -and as the termination of the
Present Participle.
In translating this work into modern English, I have attempted to remain as true
to Morris' transcription as possible. Sadly, due to changes in pronunciation and
spelling over time, it has not been possible to clearly express the meaning of the
piece and maintain the original rhyme scheme and meter. (For example, "then"
rhymes with "bren", but since "bren" has changed to "burn", the rhyme is lost.)
The line breaks, punctuation, and (for the most part) capitalization given here
follow Morris' transcription, but the word order within each line may have been
altered for the sake of clarity. Thorn has been rendered [th]. Yogh has been
rendered [3]. Except where noted, all other words found in brackets have been
added by me.
For all words enclosed in brackets I alone am responsible. No alteration has
been made in the text of the MS. without some acknowlegement in a foot-
July 31, 1862
This translation is intended to be read in conjuction with Morris' work.
Therefore the page numbers given in this electronic edition refer to those in
Morris' transcription . I have included these so that you may more easily
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compare this text with his. I have also added the folio numbers of the original
manuscript in brackets, to facilitate reference to it. A brief glossary is appended;
additional glossary terms may be found at . Morris' glossary is available at . If all goes as planned, a transcription of
Morris' work will appear beside this translated text.
I have modified the Table of Contents from the form found in Morris to include
recipe numbers, more commonly-found spellings or the name in translation, and
a descriptive dish name in this order:
Recipe number / Morris' Table of Contents Spelling / More
Commonly Found Spelling or Translation / A brief description of
the dish / Morris' Page Number.
You will note that the Table of Contents begins with Frumenty on page 7, but
the recipes actually begin on page 5 with six "recipes" that are not listed in the
Table. According to the way Morris has presented the recipes, Frumenty is
recipe number 7. In order to reflect this, the Table of Contents has been
numbered beginning with number 7. However, it should be noted that recipe #6,
presented as one recipe by Morris, is actually two recipes; Frumenty should be
#8, and all recipe numbers s over #6 are therefore off by one from their
sequence in the MS. (Unfortunately I did not discover this numbering error in
time to correct it here. ) And since nothing is ever easy, Roo in a sew is listed in
the Table out of sequence, the recipe for Mylke of almonde is missing, Pur
verde sawce is not listed, and so forth. Therefore, the recipes in the Table have
been numbered sequentially following their appearance in Morris' book.
Recipes missing from the Table of Contents have been added in brackets. Of
Petecure has been counted as a recipe ( # 106 ) , since one may follow it as such;
but others may argue it is merely a laundry list of potherbs. As a consequence of
these corrections, our tally of recipes numbers 135, while others may have
counted only 127 recipes.
In his introductory paragraph, our author includes a promise to list each of the
recipes in a table, and to number them:
[th]o names in tabulle I schalle sete
[th]o number in augrym above, with outen lete,
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In augrim [th]at schalle wryten be,
An [th]o tytels with in on [th]o same degre.
He has marked out each new subject in the text with paragraph marks, "¶", and
the headings are indented and underlined, leaving sufficient space for the
numbers to be written in afterward. But, for whatever reason, these numbers
were never added. I have fulfilled his intention by adding recipe numbers to the
In his transcription, Richard Morris expanded the abbreviations found in the
original manuscript, but did not indicate which letters he added. He often wrote
"v" where the MS. has "u", and used thorn in many places where the MS. has
"th", and so forth. Also, Morris added the punctuation. This occasionally led
him into error, as, for example, where he inserted a comma between ote and
strey in # 133 , leading him to gloss strey as strain , when it should be read as "oat
straw". (See endnotes . ) Many important corrections, found by comparison of the
transcription with the original manuscript, have been noted, but many have not
due to time constraints. Also, it would be too tedious for the reader if I were to
list the hundreds of minor errors found in the transcription. Suffice it to say that
Morris' transcription of
Liber cure Cocorum
, and therefore this translation based
upon it, are flawed. I find it disheartening that these mistakes have gone
unchallenged and uncorrected for 140 years. I have therefore begun work on a
new diplomatic transcription of Liber cure Cocorum based on a copy of B.L.
Sloane MS. 1986, and hope to have it, and a translation with in-depth
commentary, ready for publication within the next year. The numbering error
noted above will be corrected in this new edition.
Cindy Renfrow, 2002.
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Now speke I wele a lytul more
Of craft, iwys, þat tase grete lore
In court, þat men calles cure,
Þat most be don in þrinne degre;
Þis hasteler, pasteler, and potagere,
And 3et þo scoler þat foloes in fere,
Fyrst to 3ow I wylle schawe
Þo poyntes of cure, al by rawe 1 ,
Of Potage, hastery, and bakun mete,
And petecure, I nylle for3ete.
Þo names in tabulle I schalle sete
Þo number in augrym above, with outen lete,
In augrim þat schalle wryten be,
An þo tytels with in on þo same degre.
[Page 1, not numbered]
Now speak I will a little more [folio 27]
Of craft, truly, that takes great lore
In court; that men call cookery,
That must be done in three degrees;
This meat roaster, pastry-cook, and potager, 2
And even the scholar that follows in company,
First to you I will show
The points of cookery, all by row, 3
Of Pottage, roasted meat, and bake-meat,
And small cookery, I won't forget.
The names in table I shall set
The number in algorism 4 above, without let,
In algorism that shall be written,
And the titles within on the same row.
Incipit tabula cure, primo, de potagiis:-
Here begins the table of cookery, first, the pottages: --
[left-hand column]
/ For Frumenty / Cracked-wheat pudding garnished with candy
comfits ...7
/ Amidon / Wheat starch ...7
/ Coneys (young rabbits) in gravy ...8
/ Chickens in cretoneé / Chickens in thickened, spiced,
milk-based sauce ...8
/ Meat of Cyprus / Parboiled capon or hen, pounded small,
mixed with thickened almond milk, and spiced ...8
/ Mortrews of flesh / A thick pottage of ground hen and
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