Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Ironmongers’ Feast.

Today’s historical menu comes from the seventeenth century. The liveried companies of England held annual ‘Election Days’, at which office-bearers were selected and other important business settled. Naturally, feasting was on the agenda too. For the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, on July 7, 1687, the bill of fare was as follows:

First Course.
4 hammes and 24 chickens
2 grand sallets.
2 sirloynes of beef, 1 clod.
4 dishes of turkeys, 3 in a dish
5 venison pattyes
4 tongues, 4 udders
4 dishes pullets, 2 in a dish
4 custards

Second Course.
4 dishes ducks, 3 in a dish
4 Lombard pyes
4 dishes sturgeon
4 dishes of cream and sullabubbs
4 dishes of fruite
4 dishes of tarts

5 gallons Canary
3 gallons Rhenish
1 gallon claret
5 gallons white wine
20 lbs bisketts
4 lbs wafers
4 lbs double refined sugar
1 quar lamb, 2 rabbets (‘for the music’ – ie the musicians)

I give you the recipe for a ‘Grand Sallet’ from Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook (1660)

To make a grand Sallet of divers Compounds.
Take a cold roast capon and cut it into thin slices square and small, (or any other roast meat as chicken, mutton, veal, or neats tongue) mingle with it a little minced taragon and an onion, then mince lettice as small as the capon, mingle all together, and lay it in the middle of a clean scoured dish. Then lay capers by themselves, olives by themselves, samphire by itself, broom buds, pickled mushrooms, pickled oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue-figs, Virginia Potato, caperons, crucifix pease, and the like, more or less, as occasion serves, lay them by themselves in the dish round the meat in partitions. Then garnish the dish sides with quarters of oranges, or lemons, or in slices, oyl and vinegar beaten together, and poured on it over all.
On fish days, a roast, broil’d, or boil’d pike boned, and being cold, slice it as abovesaid.

Quotation for the Day.

We have said how necessary it is that in the composure of a sallet, every plant should come in to bear its part, without being overpower'd by some herb of a stronger taste, so as to endanger the native sapor and virtue of the rest; but fall into their places, like the notes in music, in which there should be nothing harsh or grating: And though admitting some discords (to distinguish and illustrate the rest) striking in all the more sprightly, and sometimes gentler notes, reconcile all dissonances, and melt them into an agreeable composition."
John Evelyn, 'Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets' (1699)


Anonymous said...

So does "4 dishes of turkeys, 3 in a dish" mean 4 "dishes," each with three turkeys (they'd have to be awfully big dishes!), or 4 turkeys, three prepared "in a dish" and one prepared some other way?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Sandra - it means 4 dishes (large!) each with 3 turkeys - 12 birds in all.

carolina said...

wow. tongue AND udders. what a meal! :o)

The InTolerant Chef ™ said...

The quotation is lovely. Sometimes a little dischord draws attention to the beautiful harmony of the whole composition.

Fay said...

I wonder how udders taste. Like tripe with a hint of milk? Would they take some serious cooking do you suppose?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Fay, I think that udders are a bit like liver? have never tried it myself. There is a recipe for them somewhere on this blog ... cant remember which post, but 'search this blog' should find it.

SometimesKate said...

What exactly are "crucifix peas"?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Kate. Crucifix pease are a bit of a mystery. The only suggestion I have seen is that they may actually have been pickled nasturtium buds, which are a sort of substitute for capers (they belong to the genus Cruciferae.)