French spice blend (16th century)

February 9, 2018

Author Notes: This recipe reflects medieval trade and tastes, but is very much usable today. You may recognize its grandaughter recipe in Quatres Epies. Both blends can be used for savory dishes (braised or roasted meat) or sweet ones (ginger bread, apple pie and so on). Galingale, long pepper & grains of paradise, 3 unusual spices used here, give tingly and complex flavors. They are findable and worth seeking out, in either bricks-and-mortar or online specialists. I have liked and cooked with this blend for years, and bottle it for gifts. Original had 1 tablespoon clove, I omitted as I don't like it, but you can restore that spice. Likewise, you can adjust the recipe to your taste. Adapted from Livre fort excellence de cuysine, 1555.Nancy

Makes: 1 cup (110g)
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 5 min


  • 4 tablespoons (about 30g) ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (about 30g) ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons (about 15g) ground nutmeg &/or mace
  • 2 tablespoons (about 15g) ground black peppercorns (round pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon (about 7g) ground long pepper (featured in attached drawing)
  • 1 tablespoon (about 7g) ground grains of paradise
  • 1 tablespoon (about 7g) ground galingale (a relative of ginger)
In This Recipe


  1. Get whole spices if you can, and grind them in a coffee grinder or blender. Mix.
  2. If whole are not available, buy small amounts of ground from a place where turnover is high and you can count on freshness.
  3. Put in air-proof container, and keep in a dark, dry cupboard for up to a year.
  4. Optional: lightly toast whole spices before grinding.
  5. If you want less or more, pick another measure (e.g., tsp.) but maintain the ratios here, e.g. 4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts black pepper, 1 part grains of paradise.

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