Spain, circa 1520s CE
- 1 Cat, fattened
- 1 Twig, green
- 1 Cup broth
- some good garlic, oil
Kill one fattened cat and remove its head. Flay and clean cat, removing claws, fur, skin, and entrails. Immediately discard these pieces.
IMPORTANT: Do not eat the cat's head! Consuming cat brains will cause loss of senses and judgement.
Wrap carcass in clean linen and bury in the ground. After 24 hours, dig up carcass and place on a spit, greasing with a good quality garlic and oil.
After cat is sufficiently greased, whip the cooking meat with a green twig before it is well roasted.
When finished roasting, carve the meat and arrange on a serving plate. Baste with garlic and oil broth, slightly thinned, just before serving.
Originally published in Barcelona in 1520, the recipe for Roast Cat as You Wish to Eat It (Gato Asado Como Se Quiere) comes from the Libre del Coch.
This cookbook of nearly 250 recipes was penned by a fellow named Maestre Robert. Details get fuzzy (🥁) but apparently Ol' Robbie was the chef to Ferdinand I, King of Naples. A later edition of the book named him Ruperto de Nola.
Before you turn your nose up at Roasted Cat, you should know how crazy popular Libre del Coch was. It was reprinted four more times in Catalan, and a whopping ten times in Spanish (retitled Libro de Cozina). Tons of recipes were lifted for other, later cookbooks as well.
You might not think this dish is the cat's meow, but like the final line of the recipe says:
And you may eat of it because it is very good food.
Special thanks to Robin Carroll-Mann for providing the translation I used as a starting point for this piece.