Page 128 - The Secrets Of Vinegar
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                          Les Secrets du Les du
            Cooking with Vinegar: The Medieval Taste for Sweet and Sour
During the Middle Ages, frequent waves of plague continued to strike a population already weakened by war and economic hardship. Physicians of the era recommended a spice-free diet, as the warming nature of spices was thought to promote the spread of illness, and they endorsed the use of vinegar for all purposes: as mouth rinses, nasal drops and masks, and as seasoning for dishes.
The preparation of flavor-enhancing products, such as vinegar- and verjuice- based sauces and mustards, was refined and improved during the Middle Ages. French cuisine in the 14th century favored acidic flavors, and today, around 70% of French recipes use acidic ingredients like wine, vinegar, verjuice4, and currants. Many French sauces are extremely acidic, including a classic green sauce5 made from “bread, parsley, ginger, and verjuice or vinegar.” Also popular in medieval cuisine was the medley of sweet and sour flavors using sugar, honey, or fruit left out to “age.”
Food preservation methods were also vastly improving at that time. Medieval cooks were learning how to conserve in sugar or honey and in salt or vinegar. When sugar began to appear in recipes in the 15th century, these new, sweeter flavors transformed the taste of strong, spicy dishes and acidic, vinegary dishes.
Vinegar “marinades” were developed during the 17th century, when recipes for pickles as well as sardines or tuna conserved in vinegar first appeared. Natural ingredients such as salt, vinegar, and even saltpetre were used to preserve meats and certain vegetables. The advances made in pickling cucumbers and other vegetables in vinegar — a highly valued culinary practice in India — ensured the introduction of cucumbers to the occidental world. Colonizing countries also influenced the cuisine in certain regions of India, particularly in the state of Goa, which was a Portuguese colony until 1961. Meat was shipped by boat from Portugal, tightly sealed in wooden barrels in a mixture of vinegar or white wine, garlic, bay leaves, and paprika, which preserved the meat during the
4 Verjuice is the acidic juice made by cold-pressing unripe green grapes. It was commonly flavored with spices, fines herbes, lemon juice, green grape juice, or sorrel.
5 Green sauce is a basic sauce made from chopped fines herbes (shallots, chervil, watercress, tarragon, spinach, parsley, etc.) mixed with mayonnaise. Many versions of this recipe exist.

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