The Art of Sauces: Cameline

Welcome to the Middle Ages, welcome to the world of bread sauces and strong flavours. Already in the thirteenth century Sauce Cameline was very popular and in the fourteenth century it could be bought ready-made from vendors. It was used as accompaniment with fish, wild boar, chicken and it was served warm or cold.

Different from béchamel, velouté, Hollandaise or other modern sauces, a bread sauce has a very specific structure. In the United Kingdom a bread sauce with milk, onion, cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns is served with turkey as part of the traditional Christmas dinner.

Recipes for Sauce Cameline are included in several books, for instance in Two Fifteenth Century Cookery by Faulke Watling and Thomas Austin, 1888 and in The Viandier of Taillevent: An Edition of All Extant Manuscripts by Terrence Scully, 1988. Both books are available via the well-known channels.

The Viandier of Taillevent is very much a historical research into the origin of 5 manuscripts with recipes, all ranging from probably the same source, but all different. The oldest is from the second half on the thirteenth century. Taillevent, also known as Guillaume Tirel (ca. 1310 – 1395), was cook to the court of France (Charles V and many others). As the dates suggest it’s not very likely that he is the author of the oldest version of the recipes but on the other hand no other name is mentioned.

Terence Scully explains in wonderful detail the background of the manuscripts and the recipes. He also includes a modern version of 220 recipes, based on his historical and culinary interpretation of all manuscripts. A very impressive book.
The Viandier of Taillevent is also the inspiration for many other historical cookbooks.

There is no original recipe for Sauce Cameline. Our impression is that it must contain vinegar, bread, cinnamon, cloves, grains of paradise, mace and ginger. 

Food Pairing

We would suggest pairing it with chicken. Depending on your choice of ingredients you could combine it with pork or wild boar. We enjoyed Sauce Cameline with small chicken roulades, stuffed with chopped raisins and rosemary.

What You Need

  • Old White Bread
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Ginger Powder
  • Mace
  • Clove
  • Grains of Paradise
  • Optional
    • Nutmeg
    • Raisins
    • Almonds
    • Black Pepper
    • Salt 

What You Do

Soak the bread in red wine vinegar (and water). In a mortar combine cinnamon, ginger and other spices. When using raisins, make sure to soak them.
The first option is to strain the bread and then combine it with the mixture.
We didn’t think that worked very well, so we drained the bread, added the mixture to the liquid and added some of the bread. We used a blender to create a sauce. We added a bit more bread and cinnamon to make it tastier and thicker.
The third option is to cook and reduce the mixture. According to the Viandier it should be a cold sauce, but others claim a warm sauce was served during winter.
Regardless the way you prepare it, keep in mind it should be a fairly acidic sauce with a dominant cinnamon taste.


Grains of Paradise? New to me!
The grains are common to the North and West African cuisine. They were brought to Europe in the thirteenth century.
The taste is supposed to be hot, peppery and fruity. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find them and we didn’t feel the need to order the grains online. We substituted them with freshly grounded black pepper. The other flavours were sufficiently intense!