Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Unicorn Recipe Discovered In Lost Medieval Cookbook Found In British Library

By Stephen J. Gertz

Detail of a unicorn on the grill in Geoffrey Fule's cookbook, England,
mid-14th century (London, British Library, MS Additional 142012, f. 137r).

"Taketh one unicorne," marinade with cloves and garlic, roast over an open fire, and serve.

So begins a recipe found in a long-lost 14th century medieval cookbook recently discovered in the British Library.

"We've been hunting for this book for years," said professor Brian Trump of the Medieval Cookbook Project. "The moment I first set my eyes on it was spine-tingling."

A lady bringing the unicorn's head to the table
(London, British Library, MS Additional 142012, f. 137v).

It is believed that the cookbook was compiled by Geoffrey Fule, Royal Chef to Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward II and Queen of England 1328 - 1369.

In addition to roast unicorn, recipes for preparing tripe, herring, blackbirds, codswallop (a popular medieval fish stew), and gobsmack (a succulent gravy prepared with the boiled phlegm of royal pheasants), are found within the lushly illuminated manuscript. 

Scholarship strongly suggests that Fule's recipe for blackbirds forms the  basis for the traditional English nursery rhyme, "Sing a song of sixpence / A pocket full of rye / Four and twenty blackbirds / Baked in a pie."

The remains of the unicorn
(London, British Library, MS Additional 142012, f. 138r).

"Taketh one unicorne..."

But from whereth?

House of Meats, Tampa, FL.

Booktryst  made inquiries regarding  unicorn meat  to a sample  of American  purveyors  of fine animal protein.

House of Meat, Hamilton, NJ.

"We don't get as many calls for it as we used to," said one. "Fans appear to have taken it on the hoof because of PETA and pressure from the unicorn lobby," he continued. "It's unfortunate because, when braised, unicorn falls off the bone and is really quite tasty, a festival on the tongue. And when it hits the colon it's carnival time. It's cutting-edge carne, a fantasy come true for carnivores with intestinal fortitude."

The Meat House, all over the place.

 "Being on the Apocryphal Species Act list hasn't helped matters," an anonymous dealer, who wishes to remain under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's radar, said. "I've tried very hard to imagine smuggling one in but, no matter what the hallucinogen, I can't. The Dream Police at work.

"It's weird," he went on, "because even though it's impossible to get a hold of a unicorn, tricorns are a dime a dozen.

"Have you ever had tricorn chowder?"

Read the full story at the British Library here. It was originally posted on April 1, 2012. Draw your own conclusions. 

Illuminated images courtesy of the British Library, with our thanks.

 Apologies and thanks to the Homes of Meat for the images.

N.B.: The Law Offices of Codswallop & Gobsmack are pleased to announce the expansion of their practice to include two new partners, and will henceforth be known as Codswallop, Gobsmack, Hornswoggle, & Hoosegow.

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