Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Feast Complete with Garbage

I'm now (mostly) recovered from cooking the feast on Saturday. Even though it went well - in fact almost too well, in that there were several times where I turned to one of the assistants and shrugged because I had nothing to do at that moment - I was still completely wiped out at the end.

The food all turned out great, with compliments coming back about the Cormarye and the Applemoyse. The biggest sensation though was the dish I included for fun and announced as "The Chef's Challenge". It was an authentic 15th century English dish called "Garbage". Here are the sources I have for the recipe:

xvij - Garbage. Take fayre garbagys of chykonys, as the hed, the fete, the lyuerys, an the gysowrys; washe hem clene, an caste hem in a fayre potte, an caste ther-to freysshe brothe of Beef or ellys of moton, an let it boyle; an a-lye it wyth brede, an ley on Pepir an Safroun, Maces, Clowys, an a lytil verious an salt, an serue forth in the maner as a Sewe.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

Garbage. Take faire Garbage, chikenes hedes, ffete, lyvers, And gysers, and wassh hem clene; caste hem into a faire potte, And caste fressh broth of Beef, powder of Peper, Canell, Clowes, Maces, Parcely and Sauge myced small; then take brede, stepe hit in the same brothe, Drawe hit thorgh a streynour, cast thereto, And lete boyle ynowe; caste there-to pouder ginger, vergeous, salt, And a litull Safferon, And serve hit forthe.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)

To mak a garbage tak the heed the garbage the leuer the gessern the wings and the feet and wesche them and clene them and put them in a pot and cast ther to brothe of beef poudere of pepper clowes maces parsly saige mynced then step bred in the sam brothe and cast it to pouder of guingere venygar saffron and salt and serue it.
A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)

The best strained meats you can have on meat days are made from the necks of pullets and chicks. And you must grind up the necks, along with the heads and bones, then grind again, and put in the cooking-liquid from beef cheek or leg, and strain.
Le Menagier de Paris (France, 1393 - Janet Hinson, trans.)

Simply put, it's a stew made from broth, chicken heads and feet, livers and gizzards, and spices. I'd purchased the ingredients from Jungle Jim's (I had to substitute duck heads for chicken heads - don't know why they sell the one and not the other), and put them in a large pot to cook for several hours. I'd checked the broth a couple of times to make sure it was ok, and actually it wasn't at all bad - tasted like a rich chicken soup.

I announced it personally right after the first course was served, briefly went over the ingredients, and told the guests that they could have it English style (with the ... pieces ... left in) or French-style (with them strained out). For added incentive, I offered a box of saffron as a prize to the first person who consumed a bowl of the stuff. I figured only two or three people would go for it. Silly me. As I walked back to the kitchen there were several people chanting "Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!" and shortly thereafter the servers came in with dozens of requests. Of all the things to run short of, I had to ration the garbage.

Her Highness received the saffron for emptying her bowl first (a bit unfair since she received hers first, but then rank has its priveledges). She'd been served a head, foot, and liver along with the broth, and all that was left was a scary looking pile of little bones.

It kind of figures. After years of hearing "medieval food is nasty" and having people turn up their nose at things like roasted turnips with cheese, I intentionally make something that I figure almost no one will like ... and it gets compliments. Now I've got to find something even weirder.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ceilidh Feast 2010 - Shopping List

The feast is only a few days away, and I'm now putting together my Brain Book™. An important part of this notebook is the shopping list, and since I mentioned it in my earlier post I figured I should say a few words about it.

I've put a copy of my draft shopping list up online (sorry about it being in Excel format - if it's a problem then I'll look into converting it to something that doesn't require using a Microsoft application). It's really just a simple spreadsheet. The first page is all of the ingredients needed for each recipe, which is more an organizational tool so that I don't miss something super important. The second page is the same list, sorted by inrgedients, with totals needed for each ingredient. This page also has an estimate on the number of servings per recipe, a cost per unit, and a total cost for the ingredients.

Over the next couple of days I'll try to post and comment on the other parts of The Brain Book™ for this feast (of course, if things get too nuts then I'll post it all next week after the feast).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - March

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of March.

Golden Ducket, [Doucet] Pepins, Reineting, Lones Pearmain, Winter Pearmain, John-Apple, &c.

Later Bon-Chrestien, Double Blossom Pear, &c.