My second attempt at a medieval feast turned out very different to the original one
. First off, we had an uneven number of men and women - which messed up the boy-girl seating plan
no end. We also had amongst our number one very embarrassed and bored child, whose parents really should have known better. So, from the party point of view, I didn't feel like it was as successful as the Mark I effort. However, the food was still good and the alcohol plentiful (with the addition of perry
, a cider-like drink made of pears, which was lovely) so it wasn't a complete washout. Below is a breakdown of what I cooked:
First Remove - Appetizers
- Claudel of Muscule to Potage - or a thick soup of mussels cooked in highly spiced milk coloured with saffron. It was wonderful.
- Wastels Yfarced - the recipe called for toasted rolls stuffed with a mixture of spinach, eggs and spices, but I changed that to puff pastry pies and added goat's cheese - to great results!
Second Remove - Fish and Light Meat Dishes
- Doucettes - a tart of highly spiced and sweetened minced pork meat. I was faithful to the original recipe here and I have to say the results were a bit dry and ratehr uninteresting. There are other versions of this dish that include dried fruits, an addition that I think would add much texture and flavour here.
- Gyngere - roast fillets of salmon in a candied ginger sauce. I chose this recipe almost as a joke, something exotic that will probably be left half eaten, as the idea of sweet roast salmon was too bizarre even fo me to take very seriously. To my astonishment and delight, this proved to be an absolutely mouth watering, finger licking combination which disappeared off the table with heart warming speed.
Third Remove - Poultry
Fourth Remove - Sweet
- Frytour Blaunched - small pastry pockets with a sweet almond filling, deep fried then smothered in a rich but tangy honey and white wine sauce. Very Mediterranean in character, the end result reminded me a bit of baklava, or in any event of some Levantine honey-nut cake.
To accompany this meal, I bought a gigantic loaf of dark-white, hand made country bread (it was about 1.5 feet across) with a gorgeous thick crust and smelling wonderfully of all its natural goodness. Despite its intimidating size, it was gobbled up. As for trenchers, I had noticed the year before hat nobody ate them, so rather than waste money on expensive rye bread I just bought the darkest sliced bread Marks & Spencer could offer and we made do with that.
Unlike the previous time, when most of my recipes came from a medieval cookbook I own (Fabulous Feasts, by Madeleine Pelner Cosman, very worth getting one's hands on), this time most of them came off the web, which is rich in sites about all things medieval. Some useful URLs:
There are many more, but I've only included ones I look at on any kind of regular basis.
Cooking a meal like this alone for 16 people is a long and hard job. It's also expensive - it was about £10 a head and I did ask my guests to contribute. My husband provided invaluable help with pheasant-choosing and mussle-diving, and needless to say I was not doing the washing up. I reckon I'm not going to do this again in any kind of hurry, because there's an element of diminishing returns that I had not anticipated: as the novelty of medieval dining wears off, your guests will become more demanding and less appreciative. So I reckon it's best to save it for very special - and occasional - occasions.
Medieval Feast I