Roasted Swan for Dinner? Oldest English Cookbook Reveals 200 Meals Fit for a King

Roasted Swan for Dinner? Oldest English Cookbook Reveals 200 Meals Fit for a King

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Richard II King of England

Richard II King of England

Pears in Confection

 6 large firm cooking pears, peeled, cut in half, and cored

2 cups water or red wine

½ teaspoon red sandalwood powder [turns pears dark read and gives them a pleasant flavor]

1 1/8 cups good-quality Muscatel, Vernaccia, or any sweet heavy wine

½ - ¾ teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (or more for a thicker syrup)

garnish: pomegranate seeds


1.            Boil pears in the water or red wine and sandalwood in a covered pot about 15 minutes or until soft but still firm.  Drain.

2.            Combine sweet wine, ginger, and sugar.  Bring to a boil and cook until syrup is slightly reduced and thickened.

3.            Pour syrup over pears.  Serve warm or cold, garnished with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 6.

Top image: King Richard II, enjoying a grand meal. (

By Kerry Sullivan


Bailey, Ian, and Leah Hunt. "Oldcook: Forme of Cury and Cookery Books in English." Medieval Cookery Books. Medieval Cookery Books, 2016. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

Glynn, Fred. "To The King's Taste (The Forme of Cury)." Cookbooks A La Carte. Cookbooks A La Carte, 2009. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

The Master-Cook of King Richard II. "The Forme of Cury - Pygg in Sawse Sawge." The British Library. The British Library Board, 14 Aug. 2006. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.

The Master-Cooks of King Richard II. "The Forme of Cury." Forme of Cury. Project Gutenberg, 1390. Web. 02 Oct. 2016.


Cindy Renfrew published a pair of cookbooks for people interested in this type of cooking called 'Take A Thousand Eggs' and there has been a group of people online working with these recipes since way back in the USENET days, many of the email conversations are archived at which is also searchable.

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