It all started with an email. Andy Hook, restauranteur and owner of Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle, wrote to the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham University to ask if anyone might be able to advise on things medieval. Andy’s restaurant was housed in the medieval buildings of the Dominican Priory, the Blackfriars, which date from the mid-13th century. The email eventually made its way to Giles Gasper’s inbox, and from there, a little over ten years ago, the foundations of Eat Medieval were laid.
Using Blackfriars as a base and research hub, the Institute and Restaurant have collaborated in numerous research workshops. A notable series was connected to what turned out to be the earliest collection of culinary recipes in medieval Europe, discovered by Professor Faith Wallis of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and analysed by her, Giles Gasper, and a wide-ranging group of specialists. And, crucially, with culinary experiments led by Blackfriars. Being able to turn to Blackfriars for their take on medieval recipes (which are mostly little more than lists of ingredients) is invaluable for their interpretation.
We’ve also developed events, tastings, talks, banquets and demonstrations for university students, academic conferences and the public. Several generations of students have enjoyed medieval cookery days at Blackfriars as part of their degree experience. One tour that will live long in the memory was presenting medieval food and drink at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, Napa, California
From our bi-annual lecture series, collaborative doctoral studentships, and public outreach to our online courses Eat Medieval is expanding. We’d love to see you involved.