The Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery

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Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné
Jeff Berry
(Number 33 in the Series, July 2005)

Settling on a Menu

There comes a time in every feast plan, where the initial fun of playing with various options gives way to the hard cold neccessity of settling on a menu. That time has come.

Factors that go into the final choice are many: price of ingredients, difficulty of prep, space at the site kitchen, and co-ordination with the day-board. For that last, I mean that we don't want our menus to overlap too much, but we can possibly arrange for leftovers from the dayboard to be re-tooled and send out for dinner. (EG. The dayboard provided by Mistress Paigan will have stuffed hardboiled eggs. We can recycle some of those and augment them with a sauce, perhaps.)

Let us now, for a moment, consider the kitchen. The layout is unexceptional, presenting adequate space for preparation and initial laying out. There is no freezer space, which is fine. There are two large refrigerators, which is good. Many sinks, also good. The steam table is, sadly, non-functional; such a device makes the thawing, warming and keeping warm of food much easier. As for heat sources, we have eight burners, two long strip burners and two griddles above four decent ovens.

Now, the dayboard will need an oven or two early on to reheat meatballs and some burner space to make couscous. So, I shouldn't count on having my full spread of cooking bits until 2ish.

I've had a recommendation to move the glires falses to the gustum ... and I guess I'm OK with that, if the ovens work out right. So, let's look at ovens first.

I've got three, maybe four things, that require ovens: glires falses, chicken, lamb and maybe fish. The chicken is going to be pre-cooked and frozen for sure, so it will need thawing and reheating in the ovens. That's 160 leg-quarters, say the equivalent of 40 chickens. Man, I wish I had the steam tables. I wonder if I can fake some up on the long burners? That would make life easier. Or ... if I move the glires falses to the gustum and serve them hot, then I can do the chicken cold with a cold sauce. I like it.

I'll have to do a test run on the glires, but I suspect that they'll cook up pretty quickly. So at say, T-60 minutes the glires go in to cook. Probably two ovens worth. The lamb can be nearly cooked by then and combined into the other two ovens to keep warm. Which means if I'm going to do fish, it needs to be stove-top.

The sala cattabia didn't work out in a way I liked. So I think I'll punt to something else. Decisions, decisions. Alright. There are a couple of recipes for moretum - an herbed cheese. I'll test those and if they don't do what I want, I'll use epityrum - olive paste. So ...


That moves me into Mensa Prima ...

I want to roll the lamb out pretty quick, since it's the next hot dish. Actually, the only other hot dish unless I do fish or something. Hmm. Or a hot dessert ... I can do that! And a stovetop vegetable.

So, anyway. As the glires go out, the agnus comes out of the oven to rest and be plated. My beets can be prepared ahead and sauced on the same tray with a new carrot recipe, hot in a cumin sauce done on the stovetop. The chickpea and green bean salad goes out, too. The beans are boiled ahead of time and cooled so it goes out room temperature.

Mensa Prima

Bear in mind, of course, that once things start rolling, there won't really be a gap between gustum and mensa prima. There may be a gap between mensa prima and mensa secunda, though.

Said mensa secunda start with fruit - grapes and some other stuff that looks good and cheap the day before the event. There will also be savillum, a cheesecake which is quite good. That will be pre-made and chilled and sent out that way. Since there's a gap and the lamb went out early in Mensa Prima anyway, I think I can get away with do a patina de piris, sort of an eggy pear tart. The pears can be pre-cooked, so the actually baking time is pretty short. And, I'm told, there will be a soteltie. So ...

Mensa Secunda

I think that's probably the menu.

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Comments are welcome.
Alexandre Lerot d'Avigné, Jeff Berry,

Copyright Jeff Berry
Originally webbed 7 July 2005
Last modified :8 July 2005