Posted by: Didapper PJ8 MAY 2013
Nostradamus (Michel de Nostradame, 1503–66) is famous for his cryptic prophesies that have supposedly forecast major world events. Less well known is his expertise as a pharmacist (of sorts) and a jam-maker.
At the age of 15 Nostradamus became a student at Avignon University, but soon afterwards an outbreak of plague forced the institution to close. Then, by his own account, he spent eight years travelling the countryside researching medicinal herbs.
In 1529 he entered Montpelier University to study medicine. But he was soon expelled after it was learnt that he had worked as an apothecary — a “manual trade” barred by the university statutes — and had also been rude about the medical profession.
Nostradamus went back to working with herbs and also developed a range of jam recipes. It is perhaps significant that sugar, the main ingredient of jams, was controlled by the apothecaries’ guilds. His most notorious formulation is a “love jam” that was based on mandrake fruits (Mandragora officinarum) and other reputed aphrodisiacs.
The recipe can be found in his 1555 ‘Treatise on cosmetics and jams’. Apart from dawn-picked mandrake apples, the formula included magnetite (an iron oxide), sparrows’ blood, octopus suckers, ambergris and musk, along with wine and sugar and sundry spices, herbs and roots.
The ingredients were mixed and ground in a mortar, and the resultant gloop was boiled to a syrup, strained, cooled and stored in a gold or silver vessel.
Nostradamus claimed that his love jam was so powerful that if a man held a little in his mouth and transferred some to a woman’s mouth during a kiss, it would instantly induce “a burning of her heart to perform the love-act”.
But if you are thinking of trying the formula yourself, be careful. Nostradamus warned that if the couple do not go on to indulge their passion on the same day, the power of the potion could drive the man insane.