Salviata – Medieval Eggs and Sage


Cur moriatur homo, cui salvia crescit in horto? How should die people in whose gardens sage grows, wonders the author of the Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum, a short medical poem written between the 12th and the 13th century. Sage is an excellent remedy for many kinds of sickness, the medieval physicians say, for example Aldebrandin of Siena (13th century) and Michele Savonarola (14th century). It is good for the stomach, alleviates gum and dental pain, or even, used externally, a sage poultice helps against snake venom. In the Regimen Sanitatis we find that it is useful for the nerves and against hand tremors or even fevers. The poem endswith a pun, as common in this text: salvia (sage) is salvatrix (savior), conciliator of nature. Sage is quite common also in the cookbooks, but it is usually just an aromatic herb among the others. Maestro Martino (15th century), instead, suggests a recipe with sage leaves fried in lard or olive oil with a batter made with flour, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and saffron. In the simple recipe we are preparing today, sage is the main ingredient, as the name, salviata, suggests. It is part of an interesting 14th-century cookbook, conventionally called Anonimo Veneziano. You find below the original text with our translation, a note about the ingredients, and the video of the recipe with captions in English and Italian. Enjoy!

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Ingredients sage eggs hard pecorino lard salt

Salviata Thumbnail

Method Mince the sage and dilute it with a bit of water before sieving it to extract the juice. Grate the cheese. Beat well the eggs mixing with the sage juice and cheese. Melt at low heat a good amount of lard and pour the mixture in the pan, stirring all the time. Cook it for a short time until you obtain a creamy and soft consistency. Serve the salviata still hot.

Salviata Preview

Note about the ingredients For this recipe, you will need a good amount of sage, being used just the juice and not the solid part. The author lists the cheese as optional, without saying which kind of cheese to use, if hard or fresh. We chose hard pecorino: grating it seemed to us the best option, and pecorino pairs perfectly with sage. Feel free to experiment with different kinds of cheese according to your taste. The cheese, however, is not mandatory. If you do not use it, add an extra pinch of salt to the mixture. The recipe specifies that it is necessary a lot of lard. If you prefer, you can use olive oil instead.

Salviata piatto

Original text Toy la salvia e pistala in mortaro e trane fuora el sugo; habi ove e sbatille ben con quello sugo e se tu voy meteli formazo, po’ habij un lavezo o pignata cum assay onto colato e ponlo su la braxa e po’ getta lo batuto dentro e mescola ben spesso infina che se choxe ed è perfettissima bona.

Translation Take sage, pound it in the mortar, and extract the juice. Take eggs and beat them well with this juice. If you want, add cheese. Take a pot with a lot of melted lard and place it on embers. Pour the mixture in the pot and stir frequently until it is cooked. It is perfect and good.

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