Medieval Clams


Welcome! Today we prepare a clam dish of the 14th century, selected from the anonymous southern Italian cookbook generally called Anonimo Meridionale. This book contains original recipes and translations, with a few adjustments, of a medieval source written in Latin, Liber de Coquina (that means cookbook).
This is an easy and quick dish prepared with almond milk, spices, and fresh herbs; an amazing way to enjoy the late-medieval cooking.

500 gr clams
50 gr unpeeled almonds
½ orange
extra virgin olive oil
spices (ginger, nutmeg, and long pepper)
fresh herbs (marjoram, parsley, and mint)

Clams Medieval Recipe 1.jpg

First, prepare the almond milk. Grind the almonds finely in a mortar or using a coffee grinder, then mix it with 100 milliliters of water. Filter the liquid through a cloth or a sieve.
Now, grind the pepper and the nutmeg. We used three long-pepper spikes and one-quarter of nutmeg, but in the medieval recipes usually, the quantity of spices is up to the taste of the cook. Peel the ginger and mince it or pound it in the mortar. If you cut it into slices, remember to remove them before plating. Chop the mint and marjoram leaves with the parsley coarsely.
Cook the clams in a pot with extra virgin olive oil, then pour the almond milk and the ginger. When they open, add the ground spices and the herbs, squeezing half an orange. Stir the clams and plate.

Clams Medieval Recipe 2.jpg

Note about the ingredients
Almond milk is a common ingredient in medieval recipes. If you want substitute it with store-bought milk, check the other ingredients, because usually there are additives that can alter the flavor of the dish. If you have not the time to prepare it, it is better to skip this ingredient.
The author doesn’t specify the spices for this dish. We selected ginger, nutmeg, and long pepper because they pair well with the clams and are widely used in the Middle Ages. Choose the spices you prefer, and in case, you can substitute the long pepper with the black pepper.
The shellfish of the original recipe is the tellina (calcinelli), but we chose to use clams instead.
We don’t boil the clams as the author recommends: his purpose is removing the flavor of earth from the shellfish. Boiling this would mean losing flavor, so we cleaned the clams putting them into fresh water for a few hours.

Original recipe
Se voli fare brodecto de calcinelli, tolli calcinelli et falli dare imo bollore in l’acqua, et poy gecta quello dentro et fallo bene lavare sì che non sappia de terra, et poy li micti ad soffrigere, et mictice maiurana et menta et petrosilli battute con coltello et tolli mandole et non le mondare et macenale con aqua, et poy le cola colla stamegna et mictile con queste altre cose a bolire et mictice spetie bone a bollire con esso et suco de melerice assai, et fiet bonum.

If you want to make soup of calcinelli, take the calcinelli and boil them in the water. Then toss away the water washing the shellfish to prevent them from tasting of earth. Pan-fry them and add minced marjoram, mint, and parsley. Grind unpeeled almonds and mix them with water, then sieve the liquid and put it to boil in the pan with good spices and orange’s juice, and the soup will be tasty.

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