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Shakespeare's Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook [Hardcover]

Francine Segan , Patrick O'Connell , Tim Turner
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 14 2003
“Shakespeare’s Kitchen not only reveals, sometimes surprisingly, what people were eating in Shakespeare’s time but also provides recipes that today’s cooks can easily re-create with readily available ingredients.”
—from the Foreword by Patrick O’Connell

Francine Segan introduces contemporary cooks to the foods of William Shakespeare’s world with recipes updated from classic sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cookbooks. Her easy-to-prepare adaptations shatter the myth that the Bard’s primary fare was boiled mutton. In fact, Shakespeare and his contemporaries dined on salads of fresh herbs and vegetables; fish, fowl, and meats of all kinds; and delicate broths. Dried Plums with Wine and Ginger-Zest Crostini, Winter Salad with Raisin and Caper Vinaigrette, and Lobster with Pistachio Stuffing and Seville Orange Butter are just a few of the delicious, aromatic, and gorgeous dishes that will surprise and delight. Segan’s delicate and careful renditions of these recipes have been thoroughly tested to ensure no-fail, standout results.

The tantalizing Renaissance recipes in Shakespeare’s Kitchen are enhanced with food-related quotes from the Bard, delightful morsels of culinary history, interesting facts on the customs and social etiquette of Shakespeare’s time, and the texts of the original recipes, complete with antiquated spellings and eccentric directions. Fifty color images by award-winning food photographer Tim Turner span the centuries with both old-world and contemporary treatments. Patrick O’Connell provides an enticing Foreword to this edible history from which food lovers and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike will derive nourishment. Want something new for dinner? Try something four hundred years old.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

According to food historian Segan, we inherited much of what we now think of as "American" food from the English: "The Pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock were Shakespeare's contemporaries and they brought their cookbooks from England." Updating dozens of classic Elizabethan recipes, Segan leads a culinary foray into Shakespeare's time. Each recipe is supplemented with a historical note that places the dish in context. For instance, Individual Meat Pies with Cointreau Marmalade were served by vendors catering to the theater crowd. The recipes have been adapted for the modern kitchen: all references to cauldrons have been removed. Section titles are in period English (Kickshaws instead of Appetizers, Fysshe instead of Fish, Pottage instead of Soups), but Renaissance scholars are not the only readers who will get a kick out of this book. Its playful tone, fascinating side-notes, and apt citations from the Bard's plays make this book as fun to read as it is to cook from. And for the person who spends time in the kitchen hoping to satisfy curiosity as well as appetite, recipes like Lemony Sweet Potatoes with Dates and Lobster Tails with Wildflowers are sure to appeal. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Not since Lynne Rossetto Kasper's lauded The Splendid Table (1992) introduced cooks to the world of the seventeenth-century Italian kitchen has a historical investigation turned up so many compelling recipes as has Francine Segan in Shakespeare's Kitchen. Although not a literal gleaning of recipes from Shakespeare's plays and poetry, this volume delves into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English cookbooks and makes them accessible, reproducible, and attractive. Segan presents each original recipe in its quaint, abbreviated form. Working from that sketchy data, she faithfully converts the antique into instructions that an experienced cook can understand and can reproduce either for a special party or for an adventuresome family. Although reading the original recipe and comparing it with its modern version makes the process look virtually transparent, it's clear that Segan spent hours in a kitchen testing proportions and measurements to make dishes palatable. Simple cauliflower chowder or Italian pea pottage show the Elizabethan fascination with exotic spices such as mace and anise seed. Kids will get a giggle out of the scatological association in the original name of the airy dumplings floating in a thirteenth-century Portuguese soup. Royals watchers will delight in Queen Elizabeth's Fine Cake and the spicy scones named King James Biscuits. Renaissance "Apple" and Steak Pie may serve as a spectacular focus for an elegant dinner party. Segan's appendix gives clever ideas for wording invitations to dinner parties featuring the book's recipes. Students of both history and literature may mine Shakespeare's Kitchen for inspiration for class projects and celebrations. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
British food, renowned for its lack of appeal, provokes gentle chortles of derision when mentioned in juxtaposition with a word like extraordinary. These two books disabuse readers of the notion that this has always been the case. British Food describes the glories-and the decline-of the nation's cuisine over the centuries, while Shakespeare's Kitchen translates a particular era for modern cooks. Spencer, former food editor of the Guardian and author of several cookbooks, intriguingly suggests that early modern British cooking was more influenced by Mediterranean and Arab fare than French. For example, the technique of cooking with almonds to create white dishes was the gift of returning Crusaders. Spencer traces the country's lamentable decline in cuisine through the Reformation, Puritanism, and the Industrial Revolution, noting that Britons gradually lost a knowledge of wild foodstuffs and the time in their day to gather and cook more than the most convenient foods. Modern Britons would not recognize the impressive lists of ingredients their ancestors used. Readers may, thus, find the glossary and appendixes of British edible flora and traditional dishes to be particularly valuable. Segan, a food historian and contributor to the New York Food Museum, offers a lavishly illustrated cookbook that goes beyond the usual ingredients and step-by-step instructions. Drawn in by a photograph, readers will not only encounter a tempting recipe but also an accompanying text on the provenance of the dish and how it was modernized. Better still, Segan frequently offers the original recipe from Elizabethan texts, allowing one to compare the styles of written recipes. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Contribution to Culinary History Dec 8 2003
When I opened this book, I did not expect I would have any interest in actually preparing any dishes from it. Rather, I was looking for some insight into the history of cuisine in England around 1600. I was pleasantly surprised to find things which are really interesting to cook.
The book does not strictly cover meals mentioned in Shakespeare's plays, however, it is liberally seasoned with quotes from the Bard's plays making reference to foodstuff and spirits. The recipes are taken from cookbooks of the period which are enumerated in the very good bibliography. The volumes of this period were published from between 1560 through 1650 and all but one (Italian) are written in English and appear to be directed to the English housewife rather than the court of Elizabeth or James.
The biggest surprise is the prevalence of sweet ingredients in almost all savory dishes. If not sugar itself, then sweetness from fresh or dried fruit. The book even states that the English of the period had a serious sweet tooth. The complement to this tendency is the appearance of savory ingredients such as spinach in sweet desserts.
Another common theme in the cuisine of the period was the use of pastry crusts. They used it with just about everything. The remnants of this method can be found in dishes such as beef Wellington, savory pies, and cooking fish in a pastry crust. The method of making pastry crust may be a little unusual to the casual baker, but it is in fact based on a French technique used today for incorporating butter. Instead of cutting in the butter with forks or a pastry cutter, it is 'smeared' into the dough with a kneading type of motion using, of course, very cold butter. It would be interesting to know how butter was kept cold in summer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A winning recipe Feb. 10 2004
I bought this book for my husband, who loves Shakespeare's works, history and cooking. This book is perfect for anyone with those passions (especially all together). A bit of history is included throughout, along with original recipes gleaned from Renaissance texts. Quotes from the Bard's plays are peppered about, before each recipe, etc., and most of the recipes have been beautifully photographed, just another way to whet the appetite. The recipes are fun, do-able, a little different, yet not so far out there that you'd never try them. And in the back are suggestions for parties, invitations and so on. A delight for fans of cooking, cookbook collectors and for bibliophiles with taste.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's in Love with this Kitchen Oct. 10 2003
Francine Segan's new book, Shakespeare's Kitchen, is more than a cook book. I found it vastly entertaining, as well as beautifully presented. The original recipes that Ms. Segan updates are facinating, and totally unexpected. My preconceived notions of what people ate in Elizabethan times were very inaccurate. What flavors they combined! It could put to shame many of today's innovative chefs. I am looking forward to more books by this author, who wonderfully combines the art of cooking with fastidious academic research.
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