Sunday, April 5, 2015

Subtleties&Stuffe Alessio


The spine on my red bound facsimile copy bears the words Alessio – The Secretes, 1558 and that’s how I choose to abbreviate the source… Alessio. More properly it is

The Secretes of the Reverende Maister Alexis of Piemount. Containyng excellent remedies against diuers diseases, woundes, and other accidents, with the manner to make distillations, parfumes, confitures, diynges, colours, fusions and meltynges. ... Translated out of Frenche into Englishe, by Wyllyam Warde. London: 1558. [The author or perhaps transcriber is often credited to one Girolamo Ruscelli.]

This work of medicinal cures, advice, receipts, and trade secrets was first published in Italy in 1555 and became a worldwide bestseller appearing in translations ranging from the Italian to Latin, French, German, Spanish, English, and extending unexpectedly to both Polish and Danish. Eventually the original volume was followed by three more volumes in English, making it an encyclopedic work of popular medicine and magical cures.

The work is catalogued as:

Medicine -- Formulae, receipts, prescriptions.
Recipes -- Early works to 1800.

This means it has been overlooked as a source of recipes for confections, but it is in fact the source for the earliest printed recipe for sugar paste in English.

So looking in THE THIRD BOKE of the original 1558 volume one finds a dozen recipes for confections of citrons and peels to a morsel from Naples. The recipe for sugar paste plus the titles of the other eleven sweet recipes are as follows:

A goodlie secrete for to condite or confyte Orenges, Citrons, and all other fruytes in syrop, whiche is a notable thinge.

The maner howe to purifie and prepare honnye and sugre for to confite Cytrons and all other fruites.

To confite Peches after the Spanyshe facion.

To make Conserue or Confiture of Quinces, called in Latyne Cotoneatum, Cydoniatum or Cydonites, as they dooe in Valence, whiche also the Geneuoyes dooe vse.

To make a paste of sugre, whereof a man maye make all maner of fruites, and other fyne thynges, with theyr forme, as platters, dishes, glasses, cuppes, and such like thinges, wherwith you may furnish a table: and when you haue doen, eate them vp. A pleasant thing for them that sit at the table.

TAke gomme dragant, as muche as you will, and stiepe it in Rose water, vntill it be molified. And for foure vnces of Sugre, take of it the bignes of a Beane, the iuyce of Lemons a walnut shell full, and a litle of the white of an egge: but you must firste take the gomme, and beate it so much with a pestel in a morter of white marble, or of brasse vntill it become like water, then putte to it the iuyce with the white of the egge, incorporating wel al together. This dooen, take iiii. vnces of fine white sugre, well beaten to poulder, and cast it into the morter by litle and litle, vntil all bee turned into the forme of paste. Than take it oute of the laied morter, and bray it vpon the poulder of sugre, as it were meale or flowre, vntill all bee like soft paste, to the ende you may turne it and facion it which way you wil. Whan you haue brought your paste to this forme, spreade it abrode with Sinamom, vpon greate or small leaues, as you shal thinke it good: and so shal you forme and make what things you wil, as is aforesaied. With suche fine knackes as maye serue a table, taking heede that there stand no hote thing nigh vnto it. At the ende of the banket they may eate al, and breake the platters, dishes, glasses, cuppes, and all thinges: for this paste is verie delicate and saueurous. If you will make a thing of moore finesse than this, make a tarte of Almondes stamped with sugre, and rose water, of like sorte that march paines be made of. This shall you laye betwene twoo pastes of suche vesselles or fruites, or some other thing as you thinke good.

To make a confection of Melons or Pompones.

To make Melons and Pompones sweete and verye delicate.

To confyte orenge pilles, whiche may be done at all times of the yeare, and chiefly in Maye, because than the sayd pilles be greater and thicker.

To confyte walnuttes.

To confyte Gourdes.

To confite cheries.

To make litle morsels as they vse in Naples, an exquisite thinge, for they be very sauorous, do comforte the stomacke, and make a swete breath.

The ende of the thirde booke.

***Facsimile: [S.T.C. 293.] The English Experience, No. 707. Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Ltd. & Norwood, NJ: Walter J. Johnson. 1975.

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