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Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxi. Tannye

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Cxi. Tannye

I have become fascinated by the array of colors that could be found in the food of this particular time period.  Here is one such example that I found in 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 Thomas Austin, which uses the simplest of ingredients to create a drink whose name is also it's color.

While doing research for this dish I ran across a very interesting book, Renaissance Colour Symbolism - By Roy Osborne.  I confess I have only begun to read it, but I have developed a much greater respect for this recipe because of it.  I did not realize how symbolic colors were in our late period and the early Renaissance.  One of the more interesting things I discovered was the fact that it was believed that God infused all of his creations with symbolism, and nowhere was this more present then in color.

Colors represented virtues.  For example,  the "seven worldly virtues" identified by  Jean Courtois (Le Blason de toutes armes et escutz-The Blazon of all Arms and Escutcheons, 1420) which identified armorial tinctures thus:

Gold (or) - wealth (richesse)
Silver (argent) - purity (purete)
Red (gules) - eminence (haultesse)
Blue (azure) - loyalty (loyaulte)
Green (vert) - happiness (lyesse)
Black (sable) - modesty (simplesse)
purple (purpure) - abundance of goods (habondance de biens)

The Church identified the colors as faith (or), hope (argent), charity (gules), justice (azure), fortitude (vert) prudence (sable) and temperance (purpure).  The seasons also were represented through color, spring as vert, summer as gules, autumn as azure and winter as sable. The planets also had representative colors:

Sun (or)
Mars (gules)
Moon (argent)
Jupiter (azure)
Mercury (purpure)
Venus (vert)
Saturn (sable)

Color symbolism was applied to humoral theory and the seven ages of man. For more information on  medieval dietary theory, which includes a very brief synopsis on humoral theory, and the application of it in creating modern feast menu's, please see my research paper located here.

Sanguine (gules)
Choleric (azure)
Phlegmatic (argent)
Melancholic (sable)

Argent (infancy, up to seven years)
Azure (childhood, up to fifteen years)
Or (adolescence, up to twenty-five years)
Vert (youth, up to thirty-five years)
Gules (maturity up to fifty years)
Purpure (elderliness up to seventy years)
Sable (decreptitude to death)

Knowing how significant color was in this time period, I wanted to know if the final product had a significance attached to it.  I was excited to find that it did.  The color tawny which leans towards white or yellow displays contrition, innocence and feigned joy, while the regular color, represented by the "Tannye" found in the manuscript should be reddish represents great courage or false valor. Geoffrey Whitney's "Choice of Emblemes (1585), has a poem "In Colores" talking about the color associations common with the dyer's craft.  In this poem we can see the name of the recipe, is actually a description of it's color.
For mourners, blacke, for the religious, white,
Which is a sign of conscience pure and free.
The greene agrees with them in hpe that live,
And eeke [also] to youth this colour wee doe give.
The yelowe next, unto the covetous wighte [person],
And unto those whom jelousie doth fret.
The man refus'd, in tannye [tawny] doth delite [delight].

.Cxj. Tannye.—Take almaunde Mylke, & Sugre, an powdere Gyngere, & of Galyngale, & of Canelle, and Rede Wyne, & boyle y-fere: & þat is gode tannye.

111. Tannye - Take almond milk, and sugar, and powder ginger, and of galingale, and of cinnamon, and red wine, and boil fair; and that is good tannye.

Interpreted Recipe 

3/4 cup almond milk (I used quick almond milk)
2 tsp. or more sugar (to taste)
1/4 tsp. ginger (or half tsp. ginger if no galingale)
1/4 tsp. galingale
Pinch of Cinnamon
1/4 cup red wine

Note: there is the possibility that your almond milk may curdle when red wine is added and the drink is brought to a boil.  Wine is acidic and adding acid to almond milk is how you make Fride Creme of Almaundys - Cold Cream of Almonds, a lenten alternative to butter or creamy cheese.  The trick is to heat all the ingredients together to just below a simmer, and then serve.  It's that easy.  If it curdles, and they bother you, strain through a strainer before serving. I am ok with it, so you can see that my tannye got a little curdled.  I let it get too warm.  This is delicious, slightly reminiscent of mulled wine with the ginger being the main spice, the cinnamon warmly following, and the almond milk making it creamy.  A must serve for a winter's revel.

More Information: 

Renaissance Colour Symbolism - By Roy Osborne


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