For many years I have wondered how medieval recipes could call for verjuice as a year-round pantry staple. The season for immature grapes from which you can get any amount of juice is maybe 3 weeks or so, right about now. Moreover, and far more importantly, once you squeeze them, they begin to oxidize and if you try to keep it any length of time, they inevitably grow mold. This happens in the fridge too. So last week I was at Acquiesce winery in Lodi, and they were thinning the vines and I asked if I could take some cut clusters. Two big shopping bags, nearly enough to fill my huge stockpot. Crushed by hand and left - here's the key - to FERMENT. There's enough sugar in them to maybe get 5-10 percent alcohol. It smells magnificent. And is wonderfully sour. So I am expecting, as often happens with historical cooking experiments, that if you really do exactly what would have been done in the past, it should work. In this case the alcohol should make it shelf stable. In the meantime there are some recipes in the Livre fort excellent de cuysine I simply must try. I should be done with my half of the translation by the end of the week. To be published by Prospect Books.
Food Historian at the University of the Pacific.
Author of Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award) and Pancake. A cookbook with Rosanna Nafziger THE LOST ART OF REAL COOKING.
Coeditor of The Lord's Supper with Trudy Eden and Editor of A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance.
Co-editor with Lisa Heldke of the journal Food, Culture and Society.
Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia (4 vols.) Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican and Chinese recently won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best Foreign Cuisine book in the World. The Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies is in print.
A sequel to the cookbook - entitled THE LOST ARTS OF HEARTH AND HOME.
Coming soon: Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food from Oregon State U Press, a little book on Nuts from Reaktion and a Food History Reader from Bloomsbury. Not to mention THE BEAST: The Food Issues Encyclopedia for Sage. Still in the works.