When medicine for ordinary folk was merely a fantasy, it was commonplace for people to go en masse to convents and monasteries in search of the skilful healing arts of the monks, who treasured their recipe books. These included delights for the most discerning palates as well as remedies for the body’s ills.
Since the rules of the church did not allow them to open up the human body for diagnosing ailments, at least they could offer the sick a series of gastronomic or herbalist recipes to alleviate their suffering.
A recipe based on bull’s prick, fox’s testicles, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and cow’s milk cured King Enrique IV, which the royal physicians had not managed to do. A dish of sautéed mutton with chilli pepper, too, saved many a monk from freezing to death in his icy cell.