Cameline Sauce

Cameline sauce was a standard medieval sauce and was produced in large quantities in most of Europe. So popular was it that it could be obtained readymade in much the same way as we would buy readymade sauces today.
 "At the sauce-maker's, three half-pints of Cameline for dinner and supper and a quart of sorrel verjuice." (1)

It would appear that the ingredients and methods of cooking Cameline sauce tended to vary. In winter it could be boiled up and served hot, in summer the same sauce could be served cold (1 ). As to which spices were included, that would appear to be pretty much up to the cook making it, however Cinnamon is almost always the base spice around which the sauce is constructed. But not always, as a Garlic Cameline recipe suggests (see (1) below).

Cameline sauce served
A roasted bird served with various sauces (Photo from "Fêtes gourmandes au Moyen Age")

Vinegar (or verjuice) and bread are always added, the vinegar to add sharpness and the bread as a thickening agent. In some recipes wine replaces vinegar but I dare say that in the medieval period, even more so than today there wasn’t much difference between cooking wine and vinegar anyway and it served the same purpose. No quantities of ingredients are given in any of the recipes, which is the norm. The cook would have decided on quantities based on a combination of experience, personal taste and I dare say availability of ingredients at time of cooking.
Cameline sauce seems to have been served with a wide range of foods, especially fish. Pike, Shad, Trout, Lamprey, Red Gurnard, Red mullet, Grey gurnard, Stock fish, Dogfish, Salmon, Mackerel, Garfish, etc . It was also popular with Veal, Mutton, Kid, Lamb, rabbit, and Heron. But for some reason only lazy people ate it with stuffed piglet (3)?

Cameline sauce really is very good and it puzzles me why it seems to have disappeared quite so completely from the western European diet. For those who want to try and make if for themselves I have included a selection of period recipes below for you to experiment with.
If you do intend to have ago what I would suggest is this. Make the sauce fairly bland to start with and then add spices gradually, tasting as you go. This is especially important with vinegar as two much will spoil the sauce (in my opinion). The recipe in “Le Managier de Paris” (1) includes sugar and I find that this is a worthwhile inclusion. Whatever you do, make a record of the various ingredients and quantities and next time you make it the need for experimentation is removed.

Recipes and References


"Le Managier de Paris” (1)

Note that at Tournais, to make cameline, they grind together ginger, cinnamon and saffron and half a nutmeg: soak in wine, then take out of the mortar; then have white bread crumbs, not toasted, moistened with cold water and grind in the mortar, soak in wine and strain, then boil it all, and lastly add red sugar: and this is winter cameline. And in summer they make it the same way, but it is not boiled.

Garlic Cameline Sauce For Ray. 
Grind ginger, garlic and crusts of white bread soaked in vinegar, or toasted bread, and soak in vinegar; and if you add liver it will be better.

Le Managier de Paris”,
English online edition:
(retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

“A Noble Boke off Cookry” (2)

To mak sauce camelyne for quaile, tak whyt bred
and drawe it in the sauce in the manner of guinger
sauce with venyger put ther to pouder of guinger
canelle and pouder-lombard a goodelle and ye may
draw alitille mustard ther with and sesson it up with
mustard that it be douce salt it and colour it with
saffron and serue it.

“A Noble Boke off Cookry” ca 1468 R. Napier (ed.)
Online edition:
(retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

“Le Viandier de Taillevent” (3)

“Take ginger, plenty of cassia, cloves, grains of paradise, mastic thyme and long pepper (if you wish). Sieve bread soaked in vinegar, strain [through cloth .ed], and salt to taste.”

Le Viandier de Taillevent
English online edition:
(retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

Liber cure cocorum, (4)

Sawce camelyne, kervelettes and oþer thyngus. 
Take raysons of corouns and kyrnels smalle
Of notes, and do away þo schale,
Take crust of brede and clowe in fere,
And powder imaked of gode gyngere,
Flowre of canel þou schalle take, þenne
Bray alle togedur, as I þe kenne,
In a morter and salt þerto;
Temper alle with venegur, þen hase þou do,
And messe hit forthe; þis is sawce fyne,
Þat men calles camelyne.

Liber cure cocorum, ca. 1430
Online edition:
(retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

“The Forme of Cury” (5)

Take Raysouns of Coraunce. & kyrnels of notys. & crustes of brede &
powdour of gyngur clowes flour of canel. bray it [2] wel togyder and
do it þerto. salt it, temper it up with vynegur. and serue it forth.

“The Forme of Cury” ca. 1390 S. Pegge (ed.)
Online edition: (retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

“Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books” (6)

Sauce gamelyne.
Take faire brede, and kutte it, and take vinegre and wyne, & stepe þe brede therein, and drawe hit thorgh a streynour with powder of canel, and drawe hit twies or thries til hit be smoth; and þen take pouder of ginger, Sugur, and pouder of cloues, and cast þerto a litul saffron and let hit be thik ynogh, and thenne serue hit forthe.

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.).
Online edition:;cc=cme;rgn=main;view=text;idno=CookBk  (retrieved 13/Jun/2010)

By Paul Denney, Veteran Company member,
not necessarily limited to living-history in the 15th century

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