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Cameline Sauce, Three Ways

Introduction

Cameline sauces were popular throughout the 14th and 15th century, and were found in every French cookbook of the time. Cameline sauce could even be purchased from a saucemaker by those who did not care to make their own. Though these sauces shared a name, and a signature ingredient (cinnamon) they varied in many other ways. From a comparison of the various recipes, it is apparent that the flavor of the sauce varied both regionally and temporally.

These sauces were part of my 2007 Atlantian Pentathlon in Persona entry at the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival.

Original Recipes

Due to the number of recipes compared here, I include only the English translations of these recipes – the original French is available elsewhere.

“On veal and goat, cameline. Macerate bread in vinegar and wine, and ginger and cinnamon.” – Le Recueil de Riom (my own translation).

“For the salmon and for the trout, the cameline: to give understanding to the sauce-maker who will make it, take his white bread according to the quantity of it which he is making and let him put it to roast on the grill, and let him have good claret wine of the best which he can have in which he should put his bread to soak and vinegar in good measure; and let him take his spices, that is cinnamon, ginger, grains of paradise, cloves, a little pepper, mace, nutmeg and a little sugar, and this is mixed with is bread and a little salt; and then dress it as you will. – Du Fait du Cuisine

“Note that at Tournais, to make cameline, they grind together ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg: soak in wine, then take out of the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not toasted, moistened with cold water and grind in the mortar, soak in wine and strain, then boil it all, and lastly add red sugar: and this is winter cameline. And in summer they make it the same way, but it is not boiled.” – Le Menagier de Paris 

“Unboiled Sauce called Cameline. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, grains of paradise, darkly toasted bread, sieved, distempered with verjuice, wine and vinegar.” – Le Vivendier 

 

“To make Cameline Sauce. Grind ginger, a great deal of cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, mace and, if you wish, long pepper; strain bread that has been moistened in vinegar, strain everything together and salt as necessary.” Le Viander de Taillevent

Discussion

Looking at the above recipes, the recipes all sound very similar – the basic procedure is to take cinnamon and other spices, grind with bread and mix with a flavorful, grape-based liquid. However, the differences become more obvious when charted:

Recueil
Chiquart
Menagier
Menagier 2
Vivendier
Taillevent
Cinnamon yes yes yes yes yes yes
Ginger yes yes yes yes yes yes
Nutmeg no yes yes yes no no
Mace no yes no no no yes
Pepper no yes no no no no
Long Pepper no no no no no yes
Grains of Paradise no yes no no yes yes
Cloves no yes no no yes yes
Saffron no no yes yes no no
Sugar no yes yes yes no no
Salt no yes no no no yes
Bread unspecified “roasted” “white” “white” “darkly toasted” unspecified
Liquid 1 vinegar wine wine wine verjuice vinegar
Liquid 2 wine vinegar water water wine
Liquid 3 vinegar
Boiled unspecified unspecified yes no no no

As shown, different cameline sauces can vary wildly. I have chosen to redact the first three recipes (Recueil, Chiquart, and Le Menagier), as they show the most variation between versions. These three redactions vary tremendously in their proportions, yet they all make cameline sauce.

This sauce would have been eaten with a variety of dishes, including roast or boiled vension, roast piglet, veal, kid, lamb or mutton, and a variety of fish. This pairing was based on both medieval food preferences and humoral theory.

One key to bread thickened sauces such as these is proper straining – using a fine wire mesh strainer and forcing the bread puree through the strainer removes any graininess that might appear in the sauce.

Redaction – Cameline from Le Recueil

Ingredients

  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 5 tsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 5 tsp ginger (ground)
  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)

Procedure

Soak bread in vinegar. Add spices, force through fine strainer. Add wine and/or additional vinegar as needed to balance flavor and adjust consistency. Serve immediately – if allowed to stand, sauce will thicken significantly.

Redaction – Cameline from Chiquart

Ingredients

  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 5 tsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 tsp ginger (ground)
  • 15 cloves (whole)
  • 2 tsp Grains of Paradise (whole)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (ground)
  • 2 tsp black pepper (whole)
  • 1 tsp mace
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine (Pinot Noir)

Procedure

Soak bread in vinegar. Add spices, force through fine strainer. Add wine and/or additional vinegar as needed to balance flavor and adjust consistency. Serve immediately – if allowed to stand, sauce will thicken significantly.

Redaction – Cameline from Le Menagier

Ingredients

  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 5 tsp cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 tsp ginger (ground)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1½ cups red wine (Pinot Noir)

Procedure

Grind saffron, mix spices and ½ cup wine in small saucepan. Soak bread in remaining wine, force through strainer into saucepan. Mix, then heat gently until thickened. DO NOT boil, or allow to heat rapidly – if sauce overheats, sauce will attain the texture of glue. Remove from heat just before sauce reaches desired thickness, add sugar.

 

Sources

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