Harleian MS. 279 (ab. 1430) - Gaylede - Rice Porridge with Figs & Honey

Harleian MS. 279 (ab. 1430) - Gaylede - Rice Porridge with Figs & Honey
It would be easy to pass over this recipe if you were looking for one of the more exciting period dishes, but to do so, would be a disservice. Gaylede is one of a number of almond milk and rice flour based recipes that you can find in the pottage section of Harleian MS. 279. The completed dish is very pretty; the sandalwood adds a very pretty pink color to the recipe, while the ginger and galingale provide a warm spice. Ideally, the medieval cook would serve this at the beginning of a meal because it fit in with the ideology that foods which were easily digestible, along with sugar and warm spices would prepare the stomach for the important job of digestion. Most of us would probably want to start our days with this cereal like dish. Either way, I encourage you to try it. 

This dish is interesting in that it calls for either sugar or honey to be used as a sweetener and it is the first time that I have seen this references in the Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 by Thomas Austin--which does not mean that similar recommendations were not made in other period cookery books. We know that sugar arrives in Europe in the early 1100's, and that prior to that honey was the main sweetener that would have been used in dishes. We are also given multiple suggestions on how to serve this dish, either with figs, raisins, or hard bread that has been diced.

When sugar first arrived in Europe it was used as a medicine, and would have been restricted to those households that were able to afford it. By the 1600's it would have been more readily available. Prior to sugar, honey was the universal sweetener and its usage is as old as written history itself. One of the earliest mentions of honey is 2100 BC, where it is mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian writings.  However, there are cave paintings in Spain dating back to 7000 BC that may depict individuals gathering honey and engaging in possible bee keeping activities.  Legend states that Cupid would dip his arrows in honey before shooting them into unsuspecting lovers!

.Ixxxv. Gaylede. — Take Alraaunde Mylke & Flowre of Rys, & do ])er-to Sugre or Hony, & Powder Gyngere & Galyngale ; |ieu take figys, 'an kerue hem a-to, or Eoysonys y-hole,' or hard Wastel y-dicyd^ and coloure it with Saunderys, & sethe it & dresse hem yn.

.lxxxv. Gaylede - Take Almaunde Mylke & Flowre of Rys, & do there-to Sugre or Hony, & Powder Gyngere & Galyngale; then take figys, an kerue hem a-to, or Roysonys y-hole, or hard Wastel y-diced and coloure it with Saunderys, & seethe it & dresse hem yn.

85. Gaylede - Take almond milk and rice flour and add sugar or honey, and powder ginger and galyngale; then take figs, and cut them in two, or raisins whole, or hard Wastel (bread), diced, and color it with saunders, and boil it and dress them in.

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                     Serve 1 as main, 2 as side

1 c. almond milk
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 tbsp. sugar or honey
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. galingale
1 figs, or 1 tbsp. raisins, or 1/8 c. diced bread
2 tsp. sandalwood

Bring the almond milk to a simmer and add the sandalwood. Let steep ten minutes or until desired color is reached. I used sandalwood bark that I purchased from Amazon, and you will want to strain the bark out from the almond milk--it's just not pleasant biting into a piece of bark. Trust me on this! Once the milk has been strained, add the sugar or honey, ginger, galingale and rice flour. Cook this until the rice flour has cooked thoroughly and almond milk has thickened. Top with figs, raisins or diced bread and enjoy!

Pretty and pink! That is what I thought when I completed this dish that I am ashamed to say I did not share with anyone. I ate it all myself and I do believe this will become a regular dish on my table. It's too bad the pictures don't do the color of this porridge any justice. The sandalwood turned the almond milk a very pretty rosy pink. The ginger and galingale was a perfect complement to the figs that I used. This was a very comforting dish that I could see being used for a breakfast, especially on a cool camp morning! I have convinced myself that cream of rice cereal might be a very good substitute for the rice flour--mostly because the rice flour I have made is not smooth like wheat flour and I would miss its texture in any dish that I have added it to.