Sauces formed their own part of a town’s food commerce. Medieval cooks would be shocked at seeing how we think it’s okay to serve a roast turkey or roast beef plain, with a mere broth-sauce on the side. Meat and many other dishes came with sauce. While castle cooks made their own sauces, the profession of “Saucer” was viable in large cities.

One standard sauce was called Cameline Sauce. Medieval suggests modern measurements to give you an idea of what this sauce was like:

3 slices white bread
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 Tbsp. sugar
pinch saffron
1/4 tsp. salt

The bread was soaked thoroughly, then strained out. It served as the thickening agent when the sauce was boiled. Cameline sauce was one of the most typical flavors poured over meat, or served with meat floating in it. It could also be poured over rissoles (gingery/cinnamony meatballs that might even contain chopped fruit).

Some standard sauces were known by their colors. Here’s Medieval’s idea of “Verte Sauce.” You can see where the green color came from:

4 slices bread
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup vinegar
1 cup white wine
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. pepper
pinch saffron

Ginger and saffron are both yellow, while mint and parsley are green. White wine and vinegar kept red hues out of the sauce.

Yellow sauce was another standard one, clearly flavored mostly with ginger and saffron. Another way to thicken sauces was to stir in crushed hard-boiled egg yolks; it’s likely that yellow sauce used egg yolks either this way or mixed in raw then boiled to thicken.

It’s strange for modern eyes to realize that spices were associated with meat, not dessert. Here’s a third sauce, turned up and adapted by Medieval, for a sauce intended to serve with pre-cooked wild duck:

2/3 cup verjuice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (cassia)
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. mace
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ginger

Spicy sauces were so strongly associated with meat that during the Lenten fast, cooks could fool their diners’ palates by serving fish with sauces that normally meant “venison.” I suppose it is like our strong association between sage and turkey, due to the usual seasoning of Thanksgiving stuffing. If cameline sauce normally covered venison, then diners felt a roast fish covered in cameline sauce tasted something like venison.

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