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.


Nom de Blog said...

Well, I guess that beats my trout in blackberry sauce. I was so proud of it-- people who said they didn't like fish really liked this, and the sauce was most excellent. Now I'll have to try garbage! :)

Andreas Klumpp M.A. said...

You could try „Frauenessen“ (women’s meal):

(Translation after the transciption by Trude Ehlert: Kochbuch des Mittelalters. Rezepte aus alter Zeit. Düsseldorf 2000. p. 146; „Alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“, early 15th century, HS München Cgm 384):

If you want to make a meal for women, so cook the udder of a cow in not to much broth. And take half of that broth and two slices of white bread and roast them on a grate and strike them together with three egg yolks and the broth through a cloth. And slice the udders and roast them on a grate and cut them very small. Fill the broth, in which you have cooked the udder, in a bowl and give thereto ginger and safron. And if it becomes quite thin, it is right.

Or „Kalbskopf“ (Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch um 1445/ Ms. Germ. fol. 244; p. 289r:

Wiltu einen kalbscop fullen unde braden so snide in wol darnach briche yme die hyrnschalen und du gude wortze dar in und giiß heiß smaltze dar in und brat yne uff eym rost und gip iß heyß.

If you want a filled and roasted calf’s head, so cut it nicely. Thereafter break its brain cap and give good seasoning therein and pour hot lard therein and roast it on a grate. And serve hot.

The World of the Blue Bells Trilogy said...

Very interesting to read! I've been trying a number of medieval recipes lately, but I'm not sure I'm quite ready for this! ;-)