Anarchy in a Jar

The revolution starts in your mouth // Small-batch condiments made in Brooklyn

Jam Star #2: Nostradamus

UncategorizedLaena McCarthy

painted by César de Nostredame, ca. 1614 Nostradamus, the famed prophetic physician and alchemist during the Renaissance, was also a jammer. It makes sense, jam is the best medicine and the process is alchemical--turning fragile fresh fruit into preserved deliciousness. In his book, Traite des fardemens et des confitures, he gives a number of intrigueing jam recipes. One I'm working on recreating is Chapter XV: To make a quince jelly of superb beauty, goodness, flavour and excellence fit to set before a King. I'll be acquiring some quince from Garden of Eve later this evening in order to make this most excellent jelly.Get ready.

I would love to recreate the following recipe, but fear the consequences. Also, I'd have a hard time putting sparrow blood and octupus eyes in a jam. Nostradamus claims that if given to a woman with a kiss, it causes  "a burning of her heart to perform the love-act." Watch out!

Here is it, roughly translated:

Nostradamus Love Potion Jam

Take three mandrake apples and go and cull them as soon as you see the sun rising, and wrap them in verbena leaves and the root of the mullein herb, and leave them alone until the following morning.

Then take the weight of six grains of magnetite from the point where it repels the iron, as revealed by the use of the quadrant, and pulverise it on the marble as finely as possible, sprinkling it a little with the juice of the mandrake apple.

Next take:

  • the blood of seven male sparrows, bled via the left wing;
  • of ambergris the weight of 57 barley seeds;
  • seven grains of musk;
  • of the core of the best cinnamon that can be found the weight of 377 barley seeds;
  • of cloves and fine lignum aloes the weight of three deniers [pence];
  • of the arms of an octopus [the original French misprints 'pourpre poisson' for 'poulpe poisson', as is not impossible with dictated typsetting] one eyelet from each, preserved and prepared in honey;
  • of mace the weight of 21 grains;
  • of sweet flag the weight of 500 grains;
  • of the root of Lyris Illyrica or Sclavonia ['Illyrian or Slavonian Lyre'] the weight of 700 grains;
  • of the root of Apii Risus ['Bee's Laughter'] 31 grains;
  • of Cretan wine double the weight of the whole;
  • of the finest sugar the weight of 700 grains, which is just a little more than an ounce.

Mix all of this together and pulverise and macerate it thoroughly in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle.

Ladle it out with a silver spoon and put it in a glass vessel, and set it to boil on the fire until it reduces in quantity to the point where the sugar has become like syrup, or julep.

And take care above all that it is not a willow fire.Once it has boiled, strain it all carefully but vigorously, and put it in a vessel of gold, silver or glass.

And when you want to use some of it, put just a little of it in your mouth, as it were the weight of half a crown, and even if you swallow some of it, it will not harm you at all, provided that if you do not find the person to transmit it to, you do not fail that very day to have sex, wherever it seems best to you.

Enough, Nostradamus! If you want more descriptions of the naughty things that can/will transpire once you eat this jam, let me know and I'll send it in a private email.

Take a look at the post on our #1 jam star, Christine Ferber--called "the fairy godmother of confiture" in France. She's way less intense than Nostradamus, and her jams are the best (we're not worthy).

Careful who you kiss with that jam mouth!