ossamenta: Radcliffe Camera and Brasenose College, Oxford (Oxford)
The data on Merton College's food purchases are finally copied to a spread sheet. Well, only for the financial year 1488-1489 - it was the only year with a complete set of records (technically complete-ish: one week is missing). I'm working on the translation - the records are written in Latin mostly, with the occasional Middle/Early Modern English thrown in. Consistent spelling is optional. There are frustratingly many items where the dictionaries at the university library fail me. I think most of them are fish, but I'm not always certain.

There is also one regularly occuring item where the translation bugs me: "gullatts", translated as neck. The records mention type of food, but rarely what cut is purchased. Exceptions include marrow bones, calves' feet and sheep heads. Gullatt is a Sunday food, together with beef, mutton, suckling pig, calf, chicken, squab, goose and rabbit*. It's clearly something special, but "neck"? Why not just include that cut at species level, like the rest of them? Or does it have specific significance? I think my next step is looking at medieval cook books, and see if any of them mention gullatt. Most online cookbooks were written in the vernacular, so the next practical step is probably to contact people working with medieval food and cooking.

*: venison is not mentioned at all in the records since that seem to be something the college got from its own lands and not the town butchers.
ossamenta: Radcliffe Camera and Brasenose College, Oxford (Oxford)
Since I wrote the bone report for the Queen's College kitchen excavations in 2009 or thereabouts, I had in mind to research college diets for an article. Previous work has been done on differences in diet between different groups in Medieval British society: rural, urban, elite and ecclesiastical*, but from what I could see in the QC assemblage college diet seem to be a fifth group. Bearing in mind that there are only two universities in Medieval Britain: Oxford and Cambridge, so the sample size is a bit small... I was all set up for some serious library time this weekend, checking all I could find on the historical sources - naturally not found in any single book (because that would be easy), but hidden here and there in old records (thankfully most of these would be transcribed and/or translated into modern English). And then Friday struck me down with a cold. :-( So I guess it will have to wait until next weekend.


*: see N.Sykes, 2007. "The Norman Conquest: A Zooarchaeological Perspective", Archaeopress; Oxford, and N.Sykes, 2006. From cu and sceap to beffe and motton: the management, distribution and consumption of cattle and sheep AD 410-1550, in "Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition" (eds C.Woolgar, D.Serjeantson and T.Waldron), Oxford University Press; Oxford, pages 56-71.

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