They had a cook with them who stood alone
For boiling chicken with a marrow-bone,
Sharp flavouring powder and a spice for savour.
He could distinguish London ale by flavour,
And he could roast and boil and seethe and fry,
Make good thick soup and bake a tasty pie…..
As for blancmange,
He made it with the best.
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Cook: The Canterbury Tales ~~
The cook in Chaucer`s Canterbury Tales was exceedingly handy at picking, catching, skinning, gutting and cooking anything (be it animal, vegetable or mineral); indeed, he has a fairly wide repertoire of culinary appetizers to dangle in front of his clientele and entice their taste buds into gastric over drive. He also knows by smell and taste, every London ale currently on the market, as well as historical alcoholic abortions from yesteryear. But he has a problem to share with his fellow travellers; in the shape of a great, suppurative, open sore on his leg, which does, if nothing else, closely resemble his blancmange. Thus giving us second thoughts about consuming anything he may make for us on our pilgrimage to holy Becket`s tomb at Canterbury, while stomping and lurching around his kitchen, propelling great flecks of puss-oozing detritus about with serene abandonment from his leg sore.
It soon becomes apparent, that the cook does not run an hygienic ship, as evidenced by the vast number of flies which violently jostle each other for prime position on his food dishes and culinary equipment. To be frank, he not only sells stale pies which even a starving fly would turn it`s nose up at, but he is also about to be accused by Mr Chaucer, of giving the pilgrims food – poisoning. The case is about to be closed on him, as we sensibly decide to take to the road once more in search of a more salubrious restaurant to dine in……..Bon appetit!!!