In 1544, Queen Eleanor (Eleanor of Castile, Queen consort of Portugal and France) was visiting her brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, in Brussels. She received daily ‘for her mouth’ (that is, to supply her own table), ‘omitting vegetables, soups, pastry and the like’, the following supplies:
128 lbs of beef, 2 ¼ sheep, 1 calf, 2 swine, 2 fat capons, 18 fowls, 4 partridges, 2 woodcocks, 2 pheasants, 2 hares, 24 quails or turtle-doves.
For the kitchen of her suite (her retinue), the following daily supplies were made:
2 oxen, 18 sheep, 3 calves, 12 swine, 60 capons, 48 fowls and pigeons, and 40 head of game.
I wonder how many butchers were employed to supply and dress all that meat?
I do hope that a couple of the nice fat capons went to making an elegant braised chicken such as the following one, from A Proper New Booke of Cokerye, (published about 1545.) Please note the use of prunes in this dish – a forerunner of the famous Scots Cock-a-Leekie soup perhaps?
To stewe capons in whyte brothe.
Take foure or fyve biefe bones to make your brothe, then take them oute when they are sodden and streyne the brothe into another potte, then putte in youre capons hole wyth rosemarye and putte them into the pot, and let them stewe, and after they have boyled a whyle, putte in hole Mace bounde in a whyte clothe, and a handefull or twayne of hole perseley and hole prunes, and lette them boyle well and at the takyng up put to a lyttle vergis and salte, and so strawe them upon soppes and the marybones aboute and the marrowe layde
hole above them, and so serve them forth.
Quotation for the Day.
Much meat, much malady.
Thomas Fuller, English clergyman (1608-1661)