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Shakespeare & Beyond

A Renaissance recipe for citrus tarts

Citrus tartsFood historian Francine Segan has a taste for the Renaissance and a love of Shakespeare. In this excerpt from her 2003 cookbook Shakespeare’s Kitchen, she takes a recipe for “Citron pye” from a 1587 cookbook and adapts it for the modern cook. You’ll find an intense combination of flavors in these citrus tarts.

⇒ Related: Q&A with Francine Segan about adapting Renaissance recipes, plus a recipe for “pears” in broth

⇒ Related: Shakespeare Unlimited podcast with Wendy Wall: The Food of Shakespeare’s World

Citrus Tarts

Serves 6

Here’s the challenge, read it: I warrant there’s vinegar and pepper in’t.

Twelfth Night, Act 3, Scene 4

I doubt your guests will guess that these refreshing tarts contain both pepper and vinegar, two flavors not ordinarily associated with dessert. Peppercorns, popular since the time of ancient Greece and Rome, were often included in sweet dishes in Shakespeare’s day. In Medieval times this valuable spice was traded as money.  “Peppercorn rent”, a legal term for a symbolic or nominal payment, is still used in England today. -Francine Segan


Unless those oranges are on the high seas, you meant “navel” oranges. Naval refers to the navy. Spellcheck won’t catch everything!

M. Kew — November 4, 2017