Dear H-Nutrition members,
Those of you interested in Medieval nutrition and diet may be intrigued by two new papers concerning the Mediterranean in the 15th century.
Recently, the writing system of a Medieval manuscript was revealed to be proto-Romance: i.e., the ancestor to Spanish and the other modern Romance languages. In addition, it is written with a proto-Italic alphabet. It is the only known document of this kind and therefore has considerable linguistic and historic importance.
Two papers have been issued, which explain the writing system and translate a number of excerpts as examples. They can be freely downloaded from the LingBuzz website.
- Linguistic Missing Links: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/003737
- Linguistically Dating and Locating MS408: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/003808
The manuscript is filled with recipes for vegetarian foods and remedies. There are many illustraions of plants, plant products, and cooking apparatuses known as Ottoman, or Turkish, braziers. As an insight into the use of different plants to nutrify particular parts of the body according to Medieval doctrine on plant shape and characteristics, it is a rare example. Much of the manuscript deals with gestation and childbirth, so many recipes are designed to benefit the developing child and the pregnant mother. There is also a great deal of reference to olive oil and wine, which were seen as the 'holy light of god' and the 'blood of god', and therefore believed to possess divine curative powers.
The discussion question is this: Did these foods and remedies only appear to work because they resulted in providing a varied and healthy diet?
University of Bristol