On December 14, the French alchemist and fortuneteller Michel de Notrdam, known as Nostradamus, was born. But few people know that his first book was … a culinary one. We will tell you why Nostradamus loved jam so much.
In his most important book, Les Propheties, 1555, Nostradamus predicted many world events that did take place: for example, the French Revolution, both world wars, and even the election of Donald Trump as president. But a few years earlier, he wrote another work – “Treatise on cosmetics and jams” (Traité des fardements et confitures), which was also published in 1555.
It brought together drug speculations, beauty tips, and sweet recipes – all sugar-based. The full title of the book is: “A wonderful and very useful opus for those who want to get acquainted with exquisite recipes, divided into two parts.
The first tells about the different ways of making blush and fragrances for whitening and beautifying the face.
The second demonstrates the methods and manner of making several types of jam, from honey, sugar and wine, consisting of chapters, as can be seen from the content. Compiled for the first time by M. Michel de Notrdam, M.D. from the Salon de Cros in Provence, re-published. In Lyon, at Antoine Volan, 1555 “.
Nostradamus and his cookbook, 1555
As you know, Nostradamus was a doctor, but was almost expelled from the university for his passion for pharmaceuticals – thanks to his ability to combine herbs, medicines and … sugar, he was nicknamed the alchemist.
The fact is that sugar at that time was so rare and valuable that it was used as a medicine, and its sale was often controlled by pharmacies. During his experiments, Nostradamus invented elixirs from sugar, berries and fruits, which were supposed to be a cure for the plague that raged in Europe in the 16th century.
Due to the high cost of sugar, some types of sweet jams and jellies were reserved exclusively for nobles and kings. For example, when preparing quince jam – according to Nostradamus, in no case should you peel the quince before cooking, because the peel will only “strengthen” the product. After boiling the fruits, grind them and add sugar.
Also, Nostradamus in his book shares recipes for canned pumpkin, which, in his opinion, has antifever properties, candied orange peel, seedless cherry jam, candied pears, “pink pill” lozenges for the treatment of plague, laxative pink syrup and also gives a recipe for marzipan – varieties of sweet almond candies that are very popular today.
Unfortunately, neither sweets nor medicinal herbs saved his wife and two children, who died of the plague.
With the help of cherry jam, Nostradamus suggested fighting the bubonic plague
Also in “Treatise on Cosmetics and Jams” you can find a recipe for a jelly love potion made from sugar, mandrake apples, cinnamon and … the blood of seven male sparrows. The syrup obtained by boiling and straining the mixture had to be stored in a gold or silver vessel. One spoonful of such a drug should have caused a fiery passion that could become dangerous if not satisfied.
Some of the Nostradamus recipes described in “Treatise on Cosmetics and Jams” were completely poisonous. For example, lye was used to make the hair lighter and teeth were cleaned with crushed crystals and sea snail shells. To make the beard darker and softer, or to dye the mustache – color of “black amber”, Nostradamus recommends soap mixed with ash and walnut juice.