Welcome to Freaky Spice Friday!
So why are we discussing a sauce on Freaky Spice Friday? Well, because this week’s featured spice is Cubeb Berries (bear with us here). The only modern cuisine making extensive use of Cubeb is Moroccan (though it is also used to flavor gin and as an adulterant in Patchouli oil). But in medieval time, it was used and traded extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
In addition to a variety of medicinal uses, all of which have either been disproven or superseded by more modern remedies, Cubeb was used extensively in medieval European cooking. The berries were candied and eaten whole as a dessert, and ground berries were used to season meat and sauces.
Perhaps the most common of these sauces was Sauce Sarcenes. Dating back at least to 14th century England, Sauce Sarcenes is essentially spiced and thickened rice milk. The earliest recipe found reads, “Make a thykke mylke of almondys; do hit in a pot with floure of rys, safron, gynger, macys, quibibis, canel, sygure: & rynse the bottom of the disch with fat broth. Boyle the sewe byfore, & messe hit forth”.
Translated roughly, this means, “Make a thick almond milk; blend well with rice flour, saffron, ginger, mace, cubeb, cinnamon, sugar: and rinse the bottom of the dish with fat broth. Bring to a boil, and serve.”
You can find a modernized version with more detailed instructions here.
It goes great over meat or chicken? Why not give a it try over the weekend? Of course, you can get Cubeb berries from us here.
See you next week for Mushroom Monday!