Dr Andrew Boorde

I came across this poem several years ago in W. T. Fernie's 1905 book Meals Medicinal:  With Herbal Simples (Of Edible Parts) Curative Foods from the Cook in Place of Drugs from the Chemist. The poem is originally found in Dr Andrew Boorde's Dyetary of Helthe but today I found it again and it stuck with me. When making preserves I always feel part scientist, part witch and part alchemist and I think this is what Fernie is referring to when he notes Boorde's quote that "A good coke (cook) is half a Physycyou (physician)." I do love the poem but was taken by the gender issues hidden within it as he is passionately calling for women, dames and maidens to up their game so that men need not live on bread alone. Then I started looking more into this Andrew Boorde and he seems like he was indeed a character. A brief look at his 16th century CV notes he was a physician, satirist, traveller and writer. His Instagram would have been on point as he travelled to every country in Europe except for Russia and Turkey and wrote his Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge in 1542 which is considered the earliest continental guidebook slash commentary on customs and peoples abroad and at home as well as introspective commentary on his own inclinations. More interesting to me is that Boorde is purported to have brought back my favourite fruit from Catalunya and that fruit is rhubarb. Apparently he sent rhubarb seeds from Catalunya to Thomas Cromwell over two hundred years before we started cultivating rhubarb in England. For this reason alone I will be looking into Boorde and his works. My love for rhubarb runs deep and I even made a video ages ago which features my friends from Barcelona trying my rhubarb chutney and asking what rhubarb is, which in spanish is "ruibarbo".