Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fit for a Queen.

We must be due for some more historical bills of fare, so without further ado, let us go straight to the sixteenth century. In a previous post I gave you the provisions list for a great entertainment given by ‘eleven gentlemen of the law’ in London in 1532. Guests on that occasion included ‘King Henry and Queen Catherine …with all the foreign Ambassadors, all the Judges, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, all the King's Court, and many of the nobility.’ It was noted at the time that the feasting (which lasted five days) rivalled that of a coronation. I thought it might be interesting to look at another right royal catering exercise from the same era.

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)


Carolina said...

Hmmm...1/4 of a sheep...wonder who got the other 3/4?!? These lists are similar to those in books about other Kings and their culinary endeavors. Those folks at Court had some pretty hearty appetites!

Foose said...

Is it definitely Catherine of Aragon in 1532? She was rusticated to the Palace of the More back in 1531, and it would seem unlikely that Henry -- after all the trouble he had removing her from his vicinity -- would invite her back to London for a legal bunfight. More likely that Anne Boleyn was the presiding lady, as she and Henry were married the following year.

The Old Foodie said...

Foose - some of the resources about this dinner say 1531 and some say 1532. Perhaps the 1531 is right - I admit to not doing any extensive checking (not doing any, actually) - will try to find the original source of the story (Stow, I think) and amend if it seems necessary. Thanks!!!

The InTolerant Chef ™ said...

I want to know which quarter they recieved.

The Old Foodie said...

The best quarter, I would guess :)