Thursday, 12 March 2009


I'm currently writing a paper for the Renaissance Society conference next week about 3 cookbooks from the 1540s and the mutual influence among Italy, France and England. Anyway, I came aross this recipe that appears virtually the same in two of them called variously soupe capilorde or suppa di capirotta. Both are ultimately versions of an older Spanish dish called Capirotada. But it just dawned on me as I was writing that this is a version of the souped up (literally) grilled cheese ideas that have been floating around lately among food bloggers. Except this one is literally floating around.

Just try to imagine this. Roasted capon breast taken off the bone and shredded. Think leftover chicken here. Then take slices of good toast and fry them until crisp and brown. Then take a bowl and put down a "sop" of the bread, cover with some chicken, some cheese and a whole mess of spices. Especially cinnamon, some sugar and ginger. More IS better. And make layer after layer of these ingedients. Then pour good broth over it into the bowl. A floating chicken grilled cheese sandwich. I think I may just have to make this tonight.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, it's descendant is the capirotada of Mexico, a sweet cheesy bread pudding. And incidentally I have seen baroque recipes for this that are also then baked so the cheese all melts and the bread really soaks it up, and then it's garnished with cockscombs, testicles, circles of marrow, ambergris, gooseberries.

"Lambs and slothes and carp and fruitbats and orangutans and breakfast cereals.... skip a bit brother." Who can name the source of that feast?

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