How about some tortoise for supper?

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tortoisejpg INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Curious Cookbook details such forgotten gems as barbecued otter and saut�ed tortoise, chopped brain fritters, cods head and shoulders, imitation entrails and fishy mince pies. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

London - If you’re wondering what to whip up for dinner tonight, how about sparrows on toast, live frog pie or even sauteed tortoise?

These were some of the delights on the menu in the Middle Ages. And for those with rather strong stomachs, they can be recreated today, thanks to a new cookbook.

Peter Ross, the principal librarian at the Guildhall Library in London, has delved into recipe books dating back hundreds of years to collate the astonishing meals eaten by our ancestors.

He has collected them in a book, The Curious Cookbook, which details such forgotten gems as barbecued otter and sautéed tortoise, chopped brain fritters, cod’s head and shoulders, imitation entrails and fishy mince pies.

Ross, who has studied historic cookery for 25 years, said: “It tells us about how people lived in a way that almost nothing else can. Some were alarming or curious, and many showed the inventiveness, sophistication and daring of generations of British cooks.”

During his research, he also discovered that our ancestors turned to different sources of protein during tough times, such as starlings, sparrows and rooks.

And he has included recipes developed during rationing in the 1940s, when one young girl created lemon curd sandwiches with lemon essence and porridge. - Daily Mail

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