The 14th-century Ménagier de Paris is a didactic treatise written by a Parisian bourgeois for the instruction of his young bride in all manners of contemporary morality and household management. The author of the Ménagier transcribes numerous recipes directly from an earlier French cookbook collection, the Viandier. In so doing, the author inserts judgments about his source text and the cuisine it represents. By omitting certain recipes, denigrating some, and adapting others, the author of the Ménagier dramatically demonstrates not only that cookbooks were read, but that they were read critically and not always ‘au pied de la lettre’.
The Ménagier de Paris, the Viandier, and Du fait de cuisine are three of the best-known medieval cookbooks. This paper will argue that all three are in conversation with one another and that these connections reveal the interactions between bourgeois and elite culinary culture. A number of recipes are shared among these three texts. The influence of the Viandier on the Ménagier has long been noted; in places, we see the author of the Ménagier directly commenting on his source. We also find mistakes in the Mazarine copy of the Viandier that suggest reliance on a copy of the Ménagier and broaden our understanding of its impact. Finally, Du fait de cuisine may shed light on some of the unusual elements of the Ménagier and how these relate to its social context.
The Christian Arab physician Ibn Jazla (d. 1100) gained fame in the West through the translation (1280) of his medical manual Tacuini aegritudinum. However, this was preceded by a lesser known Latin (partial) rendition of another key work, a dietary treatise, not long after the author’s death. This translation introduced a number of recipes for dishes from the earliest Arab culinary tradition to medieval Europe, and in the early 15th century, served as the basis for an anonymous German translation. Based on the various manuscripts, the paper will discuss the dissemination and impact of the text and recipes.