Original recipes from De honesta voluptate:
Mushrooms are considered of cold and damp nature and for this reason have the force of poison....It is allowed in cooking, when it pleases the gluttonous, to use certain recipes. They have to be cooked with that juicy part of the stalk by which they cling to the earth, first in water with bread crumbs and then with pears and the shoots and stems of pears. Some put in garlic, which is thought to counteract poisons. Boiled and salted, they are fried in oil or fat. When fried they are covered with a green sauce which is called sauce or with garlic sauce. Some even cook then with the skin removed or with the upper cap filled with salt and oil, upside down on the coals, and eat them sprinkled with pepper or cinnamon. Cooked any way you want, even though they satisfy the palate, they are considered the very worst, for they are difficult to digest and generate destructive humors. (Milham, 409)
Pine kernels are drawn from pine nuts, which hold resin when they are separated, and when eaten in food generate the best of humours, settle thirst, take away the imbalance of humors of the stomach and purge the urine. (Milham, 177)
Modern recipe: Mushrooms and Fungi
Per serving nutritional information:
120 Calories; 10g Fat (69% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium
Notes on the recipe:
Parboiled and then fried was one popular method of cooking mushrooms and fungi, baked or roasted caps filled with oil and pepper or cinnamon was another. Regardless of the cooking method, it seems that there is little to recommend their consumption, despite the fact that they taste good. Platina hints at other methods of cooking mushrooms, but any way will produce destructive elements and destroy the delicate balance of a meal unless otherwise combatted.
Fortunately, Platina gives cooks the information they need to combat the ill humours throughout his text. Within the mushroom recipe he suggests that garlic is said to counteract poisons. Within the remainder of his text, there are many other items said to "counteract poisons" and still more items said to "generate the very best of humors." Finding a comfortable and tasty mix of these items would have been the challenge of the cook.
Because there is no clear recipe from Platina that appears to do the body good, we will combine elements to produce a dish that appears to balance humors through the use of the ingredients. Platina's description of pine nuts suggests their outstanding qualities may provide suitable balance to the ill humours of mushrooms.
Cooking methods and varietal choices:
Roasting will concentrate a mushroom's flavor in a way unlike any other cooking method. The mushrooms we used were plain, white mushrooms. Consider some of the meatier mushrooms such as Crimini (the immature caps of Portobelo mushrooms) or Portobelo if you have them available, as they hold up even better to oven roasting.
Garnishing and serving:
We chose to clean the mushrooms and make carved crosscuts in the tops of them, serving them whole. As they roasted in the oven, the mushrooms expanded and cooked in interesting patterns, with the crosscuts causing them to blossom slightly. Many books exist today detailing possible food garnishing techniques for mushrooms. Consider consulting one of them to enhance the appearance of this dish, perhaps even turning it into a mini subtlety. Alternatively, you may wish to serve the mushrooms cut into 1/3 slices if they are a meaty variety such as Crimini.
Additional notes on this recipe may be found at: The Coronation Feast of Dag IV & Elayna II
Milham, Mary Ella. Platina's On Right Pleasure and Good Health. University of North Carolina at Asheville: Pegasus Press, 1999. ISBN: 0866982086.
Gaylin Walli is a technical writer and editor for a multinational software company. She spends the vast majority of her personal time researching things because her friends (and people throughout the known world) torture her with comments like "Do you know anything about..."
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