Feast for the Wedding of Tzigan and Siobhan


In 1998 I was asked to be head cook for the SCA wedding of two members of my shire. The menu was based on an undated early 15th century menu (Austin, p. 63), headed "A Ryal Fest in že Feste at že weddyng of že Erle of Deuynchire." (i.e., A royal feast at the wedding feast of the Earl of Devonshire). I used only dishes that are listed in the menu, combining some similar types of dishes from the high and low table menus, and eliminating most plain meats, including all that are no longer available or practical (such as gulls, herons and swan). This actually left me with a lot of flexibility, since many of the menu items only mentioned the general class of the food, and not a specific dish. In those cases, I selected appropriate recipes. from the sources I was using, although my choices were slanted towards modern tastes. For example, there were only two vegetable dishes in the category of "fried meats", and I used both of those instead of the many non-vegetable recipes since most people these days expect some vegetables with their dinner. All the recipes are taken from the 14th and 15th century English cookbooks found in Curye on Inglysch, Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books and An Ordinance of Pottage.

I ended up with a final menu of 19 dishes that I wanted to attempt, although I knew that it would be straining my available resources. In fact, two of the dishes didn't get served. The lete lardes are a very labor intensive item, and I canceled them very early on once the actual cooking had started. An assistant cook confused the pot of mammenye with the furmenty, and added cream to it. This actually tasted pretty good, and I was going to go ahead and serve it, but it got scorched. Oh, well. The gely was the only other problem, since it hadn't cooked down enough to stay set on a warm September evening. If I ever try cooking it for a feast again, I will get an assistant whose sole responsibility will be to stay up as late as necessary the night before to boil the gely as long as needed.

The final cost per person was $5.71, but this is lower than the true cost, since about 16 lbs each of venison and pork roast were donated.


Bibliography:
  1. Austin, Thomas, Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (Early English Text Society, O.S. 91), London (Oxford University Press), 1888; repr. 1964.
  2. Hieatt, Constance B., An Ordinance of Pottage, London (Prospect Books), 1988.
  3. Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler, Curye on Inglysch (Early English Text Society, SS.8), London, New York, Toronto (Oxford University Press), 1985.
  4. Hodgett, A.J., Stere Hit Well. A book of medieval refinements, recipes and remedies from a manuscript in Samuel Pepys's library, Cambridge (Cornmarket Reprints), 1972

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