A gloss from the Liber de Ferculis Malis

A fascinating description of a complex dish

Ad S(cot)o(r)um [prandium?] recipe de carne vaccarum, bene tunde et distemp[e]ra cum ovis [last two words crossed out by a different hand]. Manu abluto fac bullae ad assandum super carbones. Ut bene assati, panes similia implene cum eis et mostardum, et cipparum cucumerarumve minutis rotulis, et cum lactucas [lacuna in text]. Aliqui caseum superponunt. Mitte ad tabulam et eduntur manis solis.

For a Scottish dish (or: for Scotsmen), take the meat of cows, pound it well and mix it with eggs (the last two words were later crossed out). Shape balls (or roundels) with washed/moistened hands to roast over coals. When they are well roasted, fill white wheaten breadrolls with them and (with) mustard, and with small rounds of onion and cucumber, and with lettuce (and… – the text has a gap here). Some put cheese upon it. Send it to the table, and they are eaten solely with the hands

Gloss to the Vatican MS of the Liber de Ferculis Malis, unknown hand, probably late 13th or early 14th century.

This is a very odd recipe and it has been suggested that it is related to the sanbusaj sandwiches of the Middle East. However, the compound manuscript in which it has been preserved most likely was brought to Avignon from Scotland from the household of either Angus Og of Islay or his brother Alasdair Og Mac Donmaill, Lord of the Isles, possibly in the context of a diplomatic mission or pilgrimage. It dates tentatively to the last quarter of the thirteenth century, though the gloss may have been added as late as the 1320s. Its first edition, taking the gloss to be an addition by papal scribes, emends the damaged initial word as Scotorum – Scotsmen – but French scholar Raymond Croque, who believes the gloss was added in Scotland, suggests it should read Saxonum which in this context would mean northern Germans from the Elbe estuary. Either way, the origins remain as mysterious as the dish itself. The subsequent, verybadly damaged recipe for piscis Aprilis (ad Francorum) seems to be equally unprecedented in the Latin corpus of culinary texts.

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