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Clarissa and the King's Cookbook

2 x 1/2 hr

The King’s Cookbook is a culinary journey through medieval history; reawakening recipes that have lain dormant for centuries and offering up a feast of flavours that 700 years later may still excite our modern taste buds.

Every year we buy millions of cookbooks and treat our celebrity chefs like royalty. But where did it all begin? In this documentary indomitable one-fat lady and self-confessed medieval foodie, Clarissa Dickson Wright tracks down Britain’s first ever cook book – The Forme of Cury a 700 year old scroll commissioned by King Richard II and compiled by his army of master cooks – and wonders how this ancient manuscript may have influenced the way we eat today.

Clarissa’s journey begins as she tracks down The Forme’s original manuscript - an ornate parchment hidden in the vaults of the British Library - and gets to grips with the colourful Middle English in which it’s written. We quickly discover the word ‘cury’ has nothing to with Indian cuisine, but is in fact the Middle English word for ‘cooking’ – the work’s full title literally translating to “A Method of Cooking”.

A medieval buff like Clarissa takes great delight in preparing them all, but how will they stand up to a taste test and the modern palette of today? To find out, Clarissa invites a group of hungry food critic s to her medieval hall to sample her wares. For one night they will dine like King Richard, but what will they make of the bizarre combination of meaty, spicy and sweet flavours? And just how different are the flavours, textures and ingredients to the food we eat today?

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Optomen for BBC TWO, UK




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