Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Master Carver.

I want to continue today with the job descriptions of the senior household staff as described in The Perfect School of Instruction for the Officers of The Mouth (1682), starting with that of the Master Carver. The author tells us that the Master Carver not only had to be greatly skilled in ‘what manner you ought to break up any Meats, either Fish or Fowl, Fruits or Sweetmeats, with the difference and distance of pieces’, but also, most importantly ‘the manner how you ought to present it to each Person, according to his Rank and Quality.’ I wonder who got the Parson’s Nose?

The role of carver  had been a very important one for centuries. At great medieval feasts it was often awarded to an especially favoured nobleman. He was not only expected to perform the job with great flair and elegance, he was also expected to know the correct jargon, for there was a different term for the carving of each dish. Luckily for aspiring carvers, a wonderful ‘How To’ book published by Wynkyn de Worde in about 1513, called The Book of Kervynge, was there to help.

Here, for your edification and amusement, is the list:

Baeke the dere
lesche y brawne
rere that goose
lyste that swanne
sauce that capon
spoyle that henne
fruche that chekyn
babrace that malarde
bnlace that conye
dysmembre that heron
displaye that crane
disfygure that pecocke
baioynt that bytture
batache that cuclewe
alaye that felande
wynge that partryche
wynge that quayle
niynce that plouer
thye that pygyon
border that pauy
thye that woodcocke
thye all maner small byrdes
tymbre that fyre
tyere that egge
chynne that samon
strynge that lampraye
spatre that pyke
sauce that place
sauce that tenche
splaye that breme
side that haddocke
tuske that berbell
culpon that troute
syne that cheuen
trallene that ele
traunche that sturgyon
baderttraunche that purpos
tayme that crabbe
barbe that lobster

May I suggest you seriously consider learning to recite that list off by heart? It could come in handy on all sorts of occasions. Filling in a conversation lull at a dinner party. One-upping the know-it-all of your choice. Impressing the Chef when you are applying for a job perhaps?

In the meanwhile, here is a recipe from the book that should not cause you too much trouble in the carving (sorry, I mean tyere-ing).

To Make an Omelette of Apples.
Pare three or four apples and cut them in thin slices, and fry them in a Frying-pan with a quarter of a pound, or better, of good fresh Butter, and some Sugar, and when your Apples are fryed, take eight or ten Eggs beaten, and seasoned with Salt, and put them into your Frying-pan to your Apples, make it fry and lift it up with the point of a Knife, about the middle of your Pan to let the raw Eggs run under, that the Eggs and Apples may be well incorporated the one into the other, but shake your Pan as oft as you can that your Omelette do not burn, and when he is baked put him into a Dish, and put Sugar over him.

Quotation for the Day.

Roast Beef, Medium, is not only a food. It is a philosophy. Seated at Life’s Dining Table, with the menu of morals before you, your eye wanders a bit over the entrees, the hors d’oevres, and the things a la though you know that Roast Beef, Medium, is safe and sane and sure.
Edna Ferber.

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