We all know Nostradamus as a seer of sooths, but did you know he was also an alchemist, plague doctor, and cookbook publisher? If this sounds like a wacky combo, keep in mind that during the 1500s, magic and medicine mixed. And many of the foodie recipes also had reputed medicinal properties.
The Elixirs of Nostradamus is a translation of two of his books – the first filled with household recipes for making soap and curing acne, and the second a treat for medieval foodies. I’ve tried his cherry jam, and it is excellent. (Someone else made it — I’m not much of one for preserves). Nostradamus claimed the jam tasted “nourishing.” I’m skeptical of the nourishment, but hey. Cherry jam.
The cherry jam recipe is everywhere, so I won’t reproduce it here. I was intrigued by his recipe for “ginger water”, which “produces an excellent spiced wine.” (Basically, you boil the hell out of the ginger and squeeze out the water, then boil that down until you’re left with a powder or salve).
Why do I care about this? Because I recently attended a Game of Thrones dinner, where the chefs served an after-dinner, excellent spiced wine out of a medieval cookbook. Since I’m not sure about the copyright issues of me posting recipes from the Nostradamus cookbook, here’s the non-Nostradamus recipe for the excellent spiced wine. Imagine the prophet savoring this wine after a fine meal of goose livers soaked in wine. Even if he didn’t include it in his recipes.
(Note: What medieval Europe called “Claret” is not what we call it today).
4 C “good” pinot grigio
3/4 C sugar
1 rounded tsp dried ginger
1 rounded tsp dried galanga root
1 rounded tsp cinnamon
Pour wine into a glass or metal bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir. Cover and let sit overnight.
Strain the wine several times through a double-layer of cheesecloth until the wine runs clear. (My wine never really got back to its original color, but it was clear-ish).
Store in a corked bottle in the refrigerator for a week before serving. (I.e., time this for one week + 1 day before your event). It should have a lovely, golden color.
About the Author
Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of urban fantasy novels. She loves to mash-up genres, mixing urban fantasy with mystery, steampunk with suspense, and even adding the occasional dash of poetry.