Greetings to all and sundry from Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné.
While residing in the Outlands in the Shire of Caer Galen, I oversaw the production of a number of feasts, including Twelfth Night, in January of 1995 in the neighboring Barony of Caerthe.
As a prelude to that feast, I wrote a series of articles about the process of developing a feast menu and so forth. The articles were published in the local newsletter there, the Dorinda, and, through the wonders of e-mail, continue to be published as I get them written.
The articles are reproduced almost exactly as orginally published.
The articles are, I hope, of interest and of use even if the culmination is past and many miles away besides. I welcome all comments, as well, at email@example.com I hope you enjoy the following.
Anyway, my current project is to come up with some kind of menu for Caerthan Twelfth Night and provide some guidance to those who will actually cook the feast. Note that I do not say "those" who do the work". As anyone who has ever put together a menu, organized a kitchen and so forth will tell you, the actual cooking is only part of the job. The planning is a lot of it. For the next few columns, I am going to walk through parts of the job as I do them. That means it is going to ramble and back-track and so on.
First, menu planning. The theme for Twelfth Night is Cavalier. So, let's think late period. Let me see what cookbooks I have. Ah! Here's one, Hugh Plat's "Delights for Ladies", 1609. Nope, not very many recipes. How about "A Proper Newe Booke of Cookery", 16th Century is a little early, but close. Lots of good recipes in here. Some menus as well. Now we are getting somewhere.
The first course is : Brawne and mustarde. Capons stewed, or in a whyte broath. A pestle of veneson upon a browes. A chyne of boyfe and a breste of mutton boylde. Chuettoes of pyes of fyne mutton. Thre grene gese in a dyshe, sorel sauce; for a stubble gose, mustarde and vinegar. After all halowen daye, a swan Sauce chadel. A pygge A dubble rybbe of boyf roosted, sauce pepper and vynegar. A loyne of veale or a brest sauce Halfe a lambe or kyd orengers. Two capons roosted sauce wyne and salte, ale and salt, except it be uppon soppes Two pasties of falow dere in a dyshe. A custarde. A dyshe of Leches. The second course is : Jellye. Peacocke Sauce wyne and salt. Two connies or half a dosyn rabbits. Sauce mustard and suger. Half a dosyn chekyns upon sorrel soppes. Half a dosyn pigeons. Mallarde Teyle. (sauce mustarde Gulles. (and verges. Storke. ( Heronshewe. ( Crane. (Sauce galentyne. Curlew. ( Bitturo. Bustarde. Fesande Sauce water and salt with onyons slyced. Halfe a dosen woodcockes. Sauce mustarde and suger. Halfe a dosen partriches, Half a dosen tayles, Sauced as the fesantes. A dosen of Quayles. A dyshe of Larkes. Two pasties of roddo deare in a dishe. Tarte. Gensbread. Fritteris.A fine start. Now, let's start some elimination. Since we have two tiers for this feast (above and below the salt) we can toss out a lot of stuff for below, and leave some of the iffy stuff in for above. With that in mind, course 1!
A pestle of veneson upon a browes. Venison is hard to get. Thre grene gese in a dyshe, sorel sauce; for Geese and swan are a pain a stubble gose, mustarde and vinegar. After Although we could leave it all halowen daye, a swan Sauce chadel. above.... A pygge A whole pig? Ha! A loyne of veale or a brest sauce Same for the lambe Halfe a lambe or kyd orengers. I don't like using veal. Two pasties of falow dere in a dyshe. No deer.Ok, so now we are down to a reasonable number. Well, more reasonable. Let's leave in the Brawne and Mustarde, it sounds neat. We don't need two chicken dishes, so, hmm, let's roast 'em in wine sauce. Mutton pies sound ok, let's do them. Add in roast beef, custarde and leche and we are done. Here modern sensibilities intrude and I decide that we need a vegetable. I'll decide which one later.
Second course! We can knock out a bunch as being obscure,expensive or hard to find;Peacocke, pigeons, Teyle, Gulles, Storke, Heronshewe,Crane, Fesande, Quayles, Larkes, Bustarde, partiches, woodcockes, curlew and bitturo. (All of the above are various birds).
Hmm, now we seem to be running short. More chicken, rabbits, ducks and that's about it. Oh, and dessert. Back to the drawing board.
Why do we need two courses? Well, the main practical reason of course, is that you need time to stage the food out of the kitchen and serve it and so on. Sigh. So much for that idea. So we need to split it out. Soooo....looking at the menus, it appears that what we have is FOOD then dainties. More or less. Right, I can run with that. So, how about this. I'll split the first course up into a couple of mini-courses that will run together, then break and serve the second course of dainties. This means, as well, that I can try some of the stranger stuff in the second course in smaller quantity. The mini-courses need to be staged a little bit, though so that everyone gets some food fast.
So, that means my menu looks, at the moment, something like this.
Course One (Mini course 1)