Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Entertaining the Queen.

July 9 ...

Queen Elizabeth I arrived at Kenilworth, the home of her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester on this day in 1575. It was the highlight of her summer ‘progress’ (Royal Tour): the visit, the feasting, and the pageantry lasted eighteen days. Impressing the Queen was an expensive exercise and the honour cost Dudley an unbelievable thousand dollars a day.

There was morris dancing, ‘sundry kinds of very delectable music’, play-acting, stag-hunting, bear-baiting, and all sorts of other frolicsome pastimes in addition to many extravagant dining experiences. The details of this fine little holiday were recorded by one Robert Laneham. He hints at the vast quantities of dainty viands and says that there were ‘full cups everywhere, every hour all kinds of wine’, but unfortunately for us does not give any detailed bills of fare. We must be satisfied with a general description of one of the banquets:

“After the play, out of hand followed a most delicious and (if I may so term it) an ambrosial banquet: whereof, whether I might more muse at the daintiness, shapes, and the cost; or else, at the variety and number of the dishes (that were three hundred), for my part, I could little tell then; and now less, I assure you. Her Majesty eat smally or nothing; which understood, the courses were not so orderly served and sizely set down, but were, by and by, as disorderly wasted and coarsely consumed; more courtly, methought, than courteously : But that was no part of the matter : it might please and be liked, and do that it came for, then was all well enough.”

I have chosen a chicken recipe for you from the Elizabethan era. Simple, but quite good enough to serve a Queen.

To bake a Capon with yolkes of Egges.
When the Capon is made redi, trusse him in to a Coffyn: then take .viii. yolks of egges sodden hard, a pick into every one of them, .v. Cloves, and put the yolks into the Coffyn with the Capon. Then take a quantitie of gynger and salt, and cast it upon the Capon and bake it .iii. houres. Then take .ii. raw yolkes of egges beaten into a Gobbett of veriuce, with a good quantitie of sugre sodden togither, put it into ye Coffyn and so serve it.
[A Treasurie of commodious Conceits, & hidden Secrets. John Partridge, published in 1573.]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Gravy, Part 1.

Quotation for the Day …

I never see an egg brought on my table but I feel penetrated with the wonderful change it would have undergone but for my gluttony; it might have been a gentle, useful, hen leading her chickens with a care and vigilance which speaks shame to many women. St. John de Crevecoeur.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

What a beautiful term - "ambrosial banquet".
It trips off the tongue with a flourish, bringing mental images of long tables covered in pewter plates filled with every delicacy one could imagine!