The British Library Discovers A Unicorn Cookbook?

A Lady Bringing the Unicorn's Head to the Table

A Lady Bringing the Unicorn's Head to the Table

On Sunday morning, coincidentally the first day in April, I came across this extraordinary news while scanning my inbox! The British Library had recently discovered a rare medieval cookbook in their holdings that had apparently been lost to the ages. Proclaiming that the book contains recipes for blackbirds, hedgehogs and even unicorns, the article went on to discuss spectacular details from the text. The recipe calls for the unicorn to be marinaded in cloves and garlic, and then roasted. Beautifully illuminated pictures show the beast being prepared and then served in the margins of the text.

Unicorn Remains

Unicorn Remains

The Library’s Blog even provides scholarly quotes on the wonders of this rare book, with for example, Sarah J. Biggs, a British Library expert on medieval decoration, commenting that “the images are extraordinary, almost exactly as we’d expect them to be, if not better.” It was only once I scrolled down the page and saw the above ‘ancient’ illustration of the remains of a unicorn stacked haphazardly in a waste bin that I had to begrudgingly relinquish my hope of this being an authentic find, and realize the harsh truth. This fantastical cookbook of mythical creatures was created all in the name of a practical joke, albeit quite a clever, cheeky one, by a very serious institution. Well played British Library, well played.


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