New Cookbook Presents Recipes of Our Ancestors

New Cookbook Presents Recipes of Our Ancestors

Food & Drink

New Cookbook Presents Recipes of Our Ancestors


We’ve all seen the images of King Henry VIII of England chomping on a big ol’ turkey leg. But what other culinary delights did the folks enjoy eating back 500 years ago or more?

Peter Ross, principal librarian at the Guildhall Library in London, tries to enlighten us on this subject with his new work, “The Curious Cookbook,” set to hit bookstores next month.

Ross researched recipes dating back centuries and discovered some pretty wild delicacies that were served back in the Middle Ages and other historical eras.

Some of the dishes served up by our ancestors included things like sparrows on toast, live frog pie, barbecued otter and sautéed tortoise.

Mmmm, that’s eatin’ good in the neighborhood, circa 1500.

Ross, who has studied historic cookery for 25 years, said: “I have always loved learning about what we ate in the past. It tells us about how people lived in a way that almost nothing else can. Researching the book, I looked at thousands of recipes.”

During his research, Ross discovered that our ancestors turned to different sources of protein during tough times, such as starlings, sparrows and rooks.

Other curious recipes he found were chopped brain fritters, cod’s head and shoulders, imitation entrails and fishy minced pies. A recipe for curried kangaroo tails tells cooks to ensure the “tail and tongue are the only parts of the animal that are eaten.”

Ross said he hopes his cookbook inspires modern-day chefs to be creative with their own dinner parties, but advised against cooking up now-endangered species.

Well, that would probably be illegal, would it not? Although a roasted spotted owl might be rather tasty. (Kidding!)

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