Transcription of Medieval Documents, or, What an Online Resource!

As I mentioned, albeit briefly, in “A Hastiness of Cooks”: A Practical Handbook for Use in Deciphering the Mysteries of Historic Recipes and Cookbooks, For Living-History Reenactors, Historians, Writers, Chefs, Archaeologists, and, of Course, Cooks, transcription is one of those things that makes all the difference when you’re trying to recreate historic recipes or analyzing historic cookbooks.

One very useful tool is the internet, where you’ll find all manner of sites helpful in your quest. Many, many sites, to be exact, more than could be included in the handbook.

One site, which is basically the Walmart of medieval paleography, is this:

Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL)’s quite comprehensive listing of sites devoted to some aspect of medieval writing, compiled by Kathleen Walker-Meikle:

Transcribing Medieval Manuscripts and Archival Material

One click leads to another and you could end up looking at Latin tutorials that help you brush up on your high school Latin, for example, at Latin: In-Depth Guides for Learning Latin. If you’re interested in culinary manuscripts or books written in Latin, you’ll be thrilled. The best part is not having your teacher hovering  over you, extolling the virtues of Virgil in the original!

Monks at Table (Illustration by Courtney Nzeribe)

Note: The image of writing in this post comes from Jean Bockenheim’s “The Register of the Kitchen”, written sometime between 1431 and 1435. His recipe for an apple omelette for “pimps and prostitutes” begs the question as to why he deemed it necessary to name the recipe thus. Apparently he ended each recipe with a note as to whom the recipe would appeal. I wonder if the apple aspect was in any way connected to Eve and the Garden of Eden story?

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