The History of Coqz Heaumez

In the Middle Ages, one of the more fanciful culinary creations was the famed Cockentrice, made by stitching together a suckling pig and a capon, this creating a "new" animal. (Please visit The Cockentrice - A Ryal Mete for further information.) Serving almost as a sort of companion to the Cockentrice is the Coqz Heaumez, or Helmeted Cock, another fantastic combination of pig and fowl, which appears in the Medieval French Cookbook of Guillaume Tirel, known today as Le Viandier de Taillevent:

196. Coqz Heaumez. Mettez cochons rostir, et poulalaille comme coqz et vielles poulles, et quant le cochon sera rosty d'une part et la poulaille d'autre convient farsir la poullaille - sans escorcher, qui veult; et la convient farsir de paste batue aux oeuf; et quant ell'est doree la convient mettre a chevauchons sur le cochon, et fault ung heaume de papier colle et une lance fichie a la poittrine de la dicte poullaille, et les fault couvrir de fueil d'or ou d'argent pour les seigneurs, ou de feul d'estain blanc, vermeil ou vert.

Le Viandier de Taillevent is available today in an edition by Terence Scully, who translated each of the cookbook's Medieval French recipes into contemporary English, including Coqz Heaumez:

196. Coqz heaumez: Helmeted Cocks. Roast piglets and such poultry as cocks and old hens; when both the piglet and the poultry are roasted, the poultry should be stuffed - without skinning it, if you wish; it should be (glazed) with an egg batter. And when it is glazed it should be seated astride the piglet; and it needs a helmet of glued paper and a lance couched at the breast of the bird, and these should be covered with gold-or-silver-leaf for lords, or with white, red or green tin-leaf.

Guillaume's recipe, as it appears in the four surviving original versions of Le Viandier, is the only known receipt for Coqz Heaumez, while instructions for Cockentrice are extant in many period manuscripts; Cockentrice, as a whole, were therefore more well known & common at feasts & banquets in the Middle Ages than the Helmeted Cock. Still, Guillaume's creation is a wonderful example of the kind of novelties invented by Medieval cooks, and the combination of pig as noble steed & chicken as knight-errant has the same amusing connotations now as it did then.

Coqz Heaumez is described by Terence Scully as being an "entremets;" that is, a dish that was meant to be served between the main courses. Imagine, then, the delight of the Medieval feaster who has just finished a scrumptious course of delicacies and tender morsels, and is offered this magnificent presentation dressed in colors that honored the lords present - not as another course, but simply as a snack between meals!

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Coqz Heaumez - A Helmeted Cock is © 2000 James L. Matterer jlmatterer@godecookery.com

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