Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Medieval Menu

Something I have been meaning to post for a long while. I learned a lot by preparing this meal and I'll leave my comments until the end of the menu.

1st Course
Brawn in Pepperade
Bruette Saak
Stewed Cabbage w/ cinnamon & cloves
Custard Cream Boil

2nd Course
Pomme Dorryse
Coney in Clear Broth
Custard Lombard

Buttered Beer
Assorted Ales
Sweet White Wine
Red Wine

It was weird trying to find recipes for this feast, mainly because there was not a lot of cookery books about. The internet was helpful but only so much. I did make heavy use of Cooking and Dining in Medieval England and adjusted the recipes to use available ingredients when the English or older ingredients were not readily accessible. Another source that I used not so much for recipes but rather for understanding the flavours was Darina Allen, an Irish cooking teacher, and I am selling her short. 

I could go on for ours about how an medieval meal was constructed and why I chose what I did but I think more importantly, you may want to know what some of those things are. 

First Course Descriptions
Salet was a mixed herb salad. No greens were used and just a touch of herbed vinegar. Brawn is just pork with the sauce, a white wine, pepper and clove concoction. Very deft touches on all the spicings. I was surprised by how much spice would be used for a middle class house and how delicate the flavours were in the dishes. Bruette Saak was chicken in a clear spicy broth. It allowed me to indulge one of my favourite idiosyncrasies of meat and fruit. Dates were added to give the dish depth. Stewed cabbage probably doesn't need an explanation, does it? Custard cream was a savory custard served in a tart shell. 

Second Course Descriptions
Pomme Dorryse, or Golden Apples for those who do not like French with their meals, are meatballs. These contained currants and saffron. Gingerbryd is not what you are thinking. The medieval gingerbread was a mixture of quite spicy crumb balls held together with honey. Coney in Clear Broth is rabbit in broth. Sensing a theme with all the broths? Custard Lombard are individual sweetish custards with very little fruit at the bottom. Shrimp was the last thing listed but it is the one dish that most startled me and gave me insight into medieval cookery. Boil shrimp, serve it with a little wine and herbed vinegar. I am guessing that this eventually gave way to the shrimp cocktail we know now but it was more impressive because of its simplicity.

The only other menu item I would like to draw attention to is the buttered beer. That was definitely a hit or miss for people. You are basically adding sugar and spices to a low alcohol ale and serving it warm. 

I learned so much about balance and adding more acid to my meals from making this one. It is why I do some of these theme parties so that I can look at my own food in a different way. Most of the preparations were of the simpler variety. I tried for a typical Sunday meal for a middle class household. These household would definitely have at least a cook to cook and probably a few staff in the kitchen. It is possible to do these preparation without help but only for a dinner party.

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