A couple of years ago, when I was just beginning to get into the whole re-enactment thang, I was impatient for something to do during the winter months, when there are no medieval re-enactment events. So I decided to cook and serve an authentic medieval feast, and invited a bunch of my re-enactor and normal friends to participate. Everybody was asked to wear authentic clothing (or as close as they could get to that with what they had), and the living room was redecorated to resemble a medieval hall: tapestries covered the book cases, the TV and all other modern furniture was exiled, the room was lit with candles only and we put up a mock silverplate display on a side table.

The table setting followed traditional medieval form: a single long trestle covered in white linen, with individual napkins and goblets, and bread trenchers (made from dark rye bread) shared between each two diners. The diners themselves were paired in male+female couples, and no married/going out together couples were allowed to sit together. All the alcohol was authentic: dark ale, cider, mead and a couple of Italian wines that are the closest we can get to the varieties they had back then.

The Feast

First Remove - Appetisers

  • Juselle Date - dates stuffed with a mixture of cheese, hard boiled eggs and spices.
  • Brie - an open tart with a filling of grated brie, herbs and spices.

Second Remove - Fish

  • Fried sole - lightly dusted in flour, then quick-fried and covered in a spicy English mustard sauce.
  • Blancmange - a light soup of almond milk with rice and fresh perch, coloured pink with beet juice (I burned this, but the fish was still lovely)

Third Remove - Meat

  • Roast venison - I made a sauce for that from an authentic recipe, but it was so vile I didn't serve it.
  • Lentil crisps - a mixture of cooked lentils, cheese, hard boiled eggs and spices rolled into small balls, covered in a crunchy granola coating and deep fried. Possibly the best-received of all the dishes, this was a great surprise - it doesn't sound very prepossessing from the ingredients, but the end result is fantastically moreish.

Fourth Remove - Sweet

  • Fresh strawberries - in January! Served with mint cream.
  • Almond meringues - I made this dish up, I don't think they had the capacity to bake meringues with medieval ovens. Still, they were gorgeous.

Cooking this meal took a couple of days, and eating it took about four hours. By the end of which we were all extremely merry and I was extremely tired! Still, I would strongly recommend that you try this mode of dinner-party, as it is refreshingly different, the seating plan throws people together in a very sociable way, and eating with your fingers creates an atmosphere of lowered inhibitions. You can also do what we did, and use the intervals between removes to play instruments, sing, do magic tricks and have juggling preformances!

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