The Medieval Recipe for Unicorn

Detail of a lady bringing the unicorn's head to the table in Geoffrey Fule's cookbook, England, mid-14th century (London, British Library, MS Additional 142012, f 137r)

Darlings, if pumpkin coffee cake and dinner rolls  aren’t filling the bill for a properly horrific Thanksgiving, how about a medieval recipe for roasted unicorn?  Dating to the mid-14th century, this long-lost illuminated cookbook paired the elusive unicorn with cloves and garlic before applying the griddle.

Click over to Pretty Awful Things for more unicorn recipe details and illuminations from the manuscript, or check out this modern recreation of the not-for-the-faint of heart fantastical medieval recipe for a cockentrice. For all things medieval and Renaissance cooking, visit the exhaustive recipe archives at Gode Cookery.

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The British Library     YT 13    85

Experts believe that the cookbook was compiled by Geoffrey Fule, who worked in the kitchens of Philippa of Hainault, Queen of England (1328-1369). Geoffrey had a reputation for blending unusual flavours – one scholar has called him “the Heston Blumenthal of his day” – and everything points to his hand being behind the compilation.

After recipes for herring, tripe and codswallop (fish stew, a popular dish in the Middle Ages) comes that beginning “Taketh one unicorne”. The recipe calls for the beast to be marinaded in cloves and garlic, and then roasted on a griddle.


[The] long-lost medieval cookbook, containing recipes for hedgehogs, blackbirds and even unicorns, has been discovered at the British Library.

Professor Brian Trump of the British Medieval Cookbook Project described the find as near-miraculous. “We’ve been hunting for this book for years. The moment I first set my eyes on it was spine-tingling.”

I can’t help…

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Categories: Food & Drink, Oddities

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