Ever cooked an authentic dinner from a 200 or 300+ year old recipe? How was it?

Just curious if anyone has ever cooked a fairly complex, completely authentic multi-course dinner from a very, very old recipe (say a few hundred years old). How did it turn out?

Not by myself, but I have helped prepare multi-course dinners from medieval or Renaissance recipes, in the SCA. Usually turned out well, taking into account changes in Western food culture over the years. One problem with really old recipes is that they often don’t include precise measurements, and sometimes include items that are hard to identify.

A mate of mine worked in the Haggis Hatchery for a while. I assume it was an old recipe – they always attempted to make their haggis as authentic as possible. Due to health regulations they would leave out the lungs.
The results? Yum!!

About six or seven years ago, the New Yorker ran Paganini’s recipe for ravioli. Like every other person who saw the teaser, I thought, “Hey, neat! I’ll make Niccolo Paganini’s ravioli!”

Turns out the ingredients list read something like this:

1 lb. beef
1 lb. pork
1 lb. veal
1 lb. venison
1 lb. brains
A noodle

I don’t recall exactly, but it was something along those lines. I doubt that many people actually made it; I certainly didn’t.

You could have won $ 100 from me in a bar bet with that one j_sum. I would sooner have believed that you had seen Sasquatch singing “Sweet Little Buttercup” in the soft moonlight of a forest glen, than believe that a place called the “Haggis Hatchery” ever existed.

The thing about haggis (ok, one of the things) is not to think too hard about its constituents and where they came from. I guess the owners thought somehow that by implying that the stuff came out of the bum end of a bird, they could make it more appealing.

BTW, the Haggis Hatchery still exists. And they hold the world record for the largest haggis. I forget the stats, but they used all four stomachs of a very large bull and it was har more than one person could lift alone.

Doubters can look up Guinness.

I was going to try this 350-year-old recipe once, but I ran out of dodo bird.

Typing thumbs got tangled. That should be far, not har.

Never tried it, and it is “only” 100 years old, but there is something called Burgoo


Just curious-- why are the lungs in haggis any less healthy than any of the other foul ingredients?

I dunno. Might be that large surface area and exposure to air gives them the head start on breeding bacteria.
Foul ingredients?? Bah!!

First, everything is clean. Intestine is not used. (Not as far as I am aware.)
Second, the haggis is more than half oats.
Third, most offal (bad name I know) has quite subtle flavours, but they do come as a bit of an assault if that’s the only thing in your mouth (Much like eating spices straight). They also have weird textures. In haggis they are minced up and boiled to death which fixes the latter problem. And the former problem is fixed by getting the proportions right.

How do you determine how old recipes are, if they’re not from a book? The ones my family makes on Jewish holidays must be pretty darn old, in which case we’ve made a meal like that dozens of times, and it’s always delicious. Yay for traditional foods!

Other than that, my high school choir did a Madrigal Dinner every other year. We didn’t do the cooking, but it involved things likee plum pudding with brandy sauce, roast hunks of meat, etc. which as far as I know are also pretty darn old recipes. You can’t get much more basic than a hunk of roasted meat.

Well this isn’t quite 200-300 years old but I once made a cake from my grandmother’s cookbook, which dated from about the 1940s. It was awful. Apparently cake wasn’t supposed to be sweet back then.

My brother makes this cake from one of my grannies old recipies as well ruadh and my reaction was the same as yours. He loves it though. It’s not sweet at all, and it’s very heavy.

I’m pretty sure the basics of bread haven’t changed much for at least a few hundred years (flour, water, yeast).

To echo what Baldwin wrote, multi-course banquets from several hundred year old recipes are fairly common in the SCA, but in order for most modern cooks to make use of the recipes they need to have been redacted / adapted, both for figuring out reasonable quantities and proportions, and in some cases for finding substitues for unavailable ingredients.

One of the classic books in this vein is Take a Thousand Eggs or More, which contains fully adapted versions of 15th century recipies.

Having not cooked this way, but having noshed on a goodly number of SCA feasts where I know the cooks have been as authentic as possible, I say that speaking very generally, the food is pleasant, edible and perhaps a bit bland by modern western standards, and is rather more savoury (as opposed to sweet) than we are used too.

(Bearing in mind regional differences – I find most US food to be sweeter than NZ food, and “period” food tastes less sweet than I am used to).

And then there was that terrible instance of the Cheese Soup

I too have tried my hands at cooking an authentic medieval feast. As Apollyon mentioned some of the dishes tend to be on the bland side, so I’ve taken some liberties with the blends and intensity of spices.

If done right, it can be a treat for your guests and an interesting experience for you as a cook.

When I was last in Philadelphia, I was fortunate enough to visit City Tavern and pick up a cookbook after the (delicious) meal. The cookbook contains recipes from circa the Revolutionary War. At various times I have used recipes for scones, orange bread, rosemary bread, various sorts of cookies, and honey-glazed, pecan-crusted ducklings.

All were excellent, except for the ducklings, because I couldn’t find duck and used chicken instead. Not a good idea. Apparently I’m not ready to cook without a safety net yet.

The oatmeal raisin cookies never even get the chance to cool when I cook them at my parents’ house. Most people are disappointed that it’s not a chocolate chip batch, but they’re soon won over.

I once had what was supposed to be a pretty authentic Roman banquet. It was pretty tasty, even if it did lack pickled dormice and roast flamingo.