Utilis Coquinario is an English cookbook written in Middle English at the turn of the fourteenth century. The title has been translated as "Useful for the Kitchen". The text is contained in the Sloane collection of manuscripts in the British Library and is numbered Sloane MS 468.
The author's name is unknown. It has been theorized that he was "the high-ranking chef of a large kitchen," though not one as large as that of Richard II (for example, compare this text to The Forme of Cury). It is accordingly assumed that he was a man. The resemblance of some of the author's recipes to early French recipes indicates the author may have had a reading knowledge of Middle French. The author's references to "fyssh day" and Lent indicate that the author cooked for a Christian household.
The manuscript contains recipes for things such as butter of almond milk, roasted duck, a meat pottage, and a sweet-and-sour fish preparation, among others.
The manuscript has been described as loosely organized and having "no real system" beyond a basic grouping of recipes for cooking birds, for blancmange, and for fruits and flowers.
It has been suggested that the text was not intended as a cookbook for the layperson since the level of lay literacy at the time was still relatively low and distribution of manuscripts was a "patchy affair." Several alternative purposes for its creation have been proposed, including: serving as testimony to the author's culinary skill, presenting and influencing trends, securing the status of the chef as a professional, and serving as a tool for professionals (e.g. doctors and lawyers) aspiring to raise their class status by learning about higher-class meals. The latter theory has been proposed in part due to the text's location in the Sloane collection of manuscripts, where it is placed in a selection of medical recipes described as "utilitarian".
The text is notable to both culinary historians and linguists, containing several examples of unique recipes and vocabulary.
Of historical interest, the work contains the only references to recipes such as pyany (a poultry dish garnished with peonies) and heppee (a rose-hip broth). The text was written in the time of Chaucer and provides insight into the types of food Chaucer may have eaten and written about. As was the case with most late medieval cooking, the author did not associate colors with specific flavors, but he did occasionally use color to denote contrasts in flavor. For example, one of the included fish recipes uses saffron in part of the dish flavored with sugar and ginger (giving that part a reddish, saffron color), and leaves the remaining part of the dish white to denote that it is flavored with sugar only.
Of linguistic interest, it contains the only known references in fourteenth-century English texts to cormorants and finches. Additionally, it contains the only references to woodcocks, botores (bittern), pluuers (plovers), and teals in fourteenth-century English cookbooks, though all are found elsewhere in menus of that era.
- Hieatt 1985.
- Notaker 2017, p. 89.
- Kernan 2016, p. 64.
- "Entry for "Cookery Recipes in BL MS Sloane 468" in Middle English Compendium HyperBibliography". quod.lib.umich.edu. Univ. of Michigan. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
- Carroll 1996, p. 48.
- Carroll 1996, p. 46.
- Carroll 1996, pp. 47, 50.
- Matterer, James L. "Medieval Recipe Translations - Botere of almand melk". www.godecookery.com.
- Matterer, James L. "Malardis". www.godecookery.com.
- Matterer, James L. "Medieval Recipe Translations - Chauden for potage". www.godecookery.com.
- Matterer, James L. "A dauce egre". www.godecookery.com.
- "MS BL Sloane 468". www.medievalcookery.com.
- Carroll 1996, p. 47.
- Kernan 2016, pp. 13-14, 64-65.
- Kernan 2016, pp. 64-65.
- Matterer, James. "Chaucer and Food". Food in the Arts. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
- Woolgar 2017, pp. 18-19.
- Carroll, R. (1996). Utilis Coquinario and its Unnamed Author. Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 1995. pp. 45–51. ISBN 0907325726. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- Hieatt, Constance B. (April 18, 1985). Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century. Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0197224090.
- Kernan, Sarah Peters (2016). “For al them that delight in Cookery”: The Production and Use of Cookery Books in England, 1300–1600. The Ohio State University. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
- Notaker, Henry (2017). A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries. Univ. of California Press. ISBN 9780520294004. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
- Woolgar, C.M. (November 21, 2017). "Medieval Food and Colour". Journal of Medieval History. 44 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1080/03044181.2017.1401391. Retrieved 30 July 2018.