Clarissa Dickson Wright, remembered

IMG_0268AAs the title does sounds very tense, indeed I cooked this dish to honor and remembrance of a great food writer and television cook – Clarissa Dickson Wright has died in Edinburgh aged 66 on 15 March 2014. Today will be exactly one month of remembrance of her.

I adored her writing, she is the most eccentric, classic British lady. Her book named A History of English Food is one of the magnificent guide of British cuisine, a book that content from the medieval feast to a modern-day farmers’ market, revisiting the Tudor working man’s table and a Georgian kitchen along the way. How could any person writing this historical topic of food back to Medieval? A lot of research and study will needed for her great work. Now we understand how our modern cookery evolved, thanks to our ancestor that recorded the detail for the new generation. I enjoyed reading her book because she have great sense of humour in her writing. I almost can hear she speak to me while reading it. I remembered there is a TV journalist asking her a question about being a “chef”. She nearly bite his head off, informing him that she was a Cook, and most definitely not a chef. Very humble person too!

Obviously I can’t paid tribute to her, as my honor and tribute I made one dish from her recipe that she wrote in one of her joined publishing Great British Food Revival. She named it as Medieval chicken because she used garlic as a revival ingredient. BBC was responded that garlic wasn’t British, then she pointed out the word of Anglo-Saxon origin and meant spear-leek. The Roman introduced garlic to Britain and now other types grow in Britain very successfully as illustrated by Colin Boswell’s work on The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. She also promised that one of her recipe would be medieval and this is taken from The Forme of Cury (Cookerya book complied by the cooks to the Court of King Richard II in the late fourteen century. Saffron was popular in the Middle Ages, a time when colour in food was a culinary obsession.

When you think again, indeed British is good with their roasting skill; have you ever wonder how the medieval kitchen works, and the ingredient they used for their daily consumption. Cooking in modern day can be very stress-free and relaxing, but definitely not the Medieval.

  • small packet saffron threads
  • 400ml white wine
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 tsp each pepper and cinnamon
  • 5 smallish bulbs of garlic
  • 5cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC/ 450ºF/ Gas 8. Soak the saffron in a little wine to soften.
  2. Rub the chicken all over with the pepper and cinnamon and place the chicken in an ovenproof dish.
  3. Cut the top off the garlic bulbs until you can see the cloves and arrange the bulbs and chopped ginger around the chicken.
  4. Pour the oil into the garlic bulbs and pour the saffron and wine around the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and then place in the oven.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 170ºC/ 325ºF/ Gas 3 and cook for another 40 minutes, or until the juice run clear when you insert a skewer and the chicken is cooked. Regularly baste whist cooking, paying special attention to basting the garlic.

Clarissa will be remembered by all of us of her great book, recipe, the great ingredient was your humour, laughter and great attitude. R.I.P.


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