The Cook, by Ms. Miller
A Medieval re-enactor shows a possible outdoor cooking set-up.
A Medieval re-enactor shows a possible outdoor cooking set-up.

Part 1

Research questions:
  1. What specific occupation does your character practice?
    -The cook is just that--a cook. The cook probably served noblemen and worked on an estate.
  2. What does the need for this occupation and the information surrounding it tell us about the time period?
    -The poor cooked on their own; the royalty hired personal chefs. This goes along with the ideas behind feudalism. Noble people were wealthy and had others do domestic duties like cooking and cleaning.
  3. What was his or her social standing?
    -The cook was considered a serf or servant.
  4. What might your character’s day to day life be like?
    -Cooks at this time primarily cooked over an open fire or fireplace. They would likely work on an estate and do whichever duties the landowners required. Cooking would have been more difficult than it is today. There was no electric or gas at the turn of a dial. Cooks would have to create an open fire and carry heavy cauldrons. Kitchens were located on the first floor of a castle and were set up similar to kitchens of today.
  5. What details about this character does Chaucer not include?
    -Chaucer tells us little about the character's physical description.
  6. What modern day occupation might correspond to your medieval character and why?
    -The cook simply would correspond to a cook or chef today who prepares food in a restaurant or for wealthy people. Although we are a long way from the days of feudalism, culinary arts are well-respected--most people enjoy eating food! Instead of going to an estate of the wealthy to receive good cuisine, we now can go to a variety of restaurants where the people there serve us.

A Medieval cook cooks in a cauldron over an open fire.
A Medieval cook cooks in a cauldron over an open fire.

Part 2
Examination of text:
  1. The cook traveling in the group seemed to be alone,
    He would boil bone-in chicken and add savory powders and spices.
    He could taste any ale and tell you exactly which kind it was
    He could roast, boil or fry-you name it, he could cook it!
    He made the best soups and pies,
    It made me feel bad that he had a knee injury.
    Too bad, because alfredo sauce was his best dish.
  2. Which lines in the prologue best describe your character’s physical appearance?
    -There is little to describe the cook. We only hear about his injured knee with an ulcer.
  3. Which lines describe his/her personality?
    -There is also little description of his personality. He is characterized only by his culinary skills.
  4. Which specific words add to your understanding of the character’s personality?
    -Tasty, made it with his best, savor.

Part 3

Once you have researched the background of your character and examined the text in which your character is developed, you can analyze the language better.

Analysis of the passage
(Be sure to answer in complete sentences and include these responses in your wiki page. Don’t limit yourself, however; include any additional information that would help a reader understand the text better.)
  1. What is Chaucer’s opinion toward this character?
    -He is only referenced for his cooking skills and is the shortest excerpt of the bunch. He seems to respect this man's cooking prowess.
  2. What specific lines or words tell you this?
    -"He could roast and seethe and boil and fry" - Line 393
  3. What word choices require an understanding of vocabulary from the time period? Define any unfamiliar words or phrases.
    -Blancmange: French for white food. This was a dish with diced chicken, milk, sugar and almonds.
  4. What is Chaucer trying to reveal or expose about the time period? Explain any satire you see as well.
    -There is no satire, but I learned earlier that cooks were sometimes seen as just serfs or peasants. Maybe the short excerpt shows that he is somewhat unimportant compared to the other professions.
  5. What do you think Chaucer's purpose of including this character was?

Works Cited

"Cooking Food in Medieval Times." Cooking Food in Medieval Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://www.medieval-life-and->.