I just recently shared this with a group of like minded folk in a social media group, it’s basically about an upcoming feast I am preparing for an SCA group at an event called “Middleground”… As per my usual blogging style, it’s just written off the cuff and not prepared like I would for a more static page type of article, but it gets some of the points/ideas across
The menu was developed after studying the menus in Opera (Bartolomeo Scappi) 1570 that is reflective of a menu that would have existed in that time during either April or May in Italy.
This meal is relatively small in number of dishes, but then some meals were much smaller than others by variety.
It is separated by cold service and a hot service (cold being served from the credenza and hot dishes coming from the kitchen). Obviously the jelly is not a “hot dish” but acceptable table fill even though it’s a kitchen service.
The reasoning for a cold service (and by “cold” we mean not hot out of the oven/spit) generally coming first meant to allow the kitchen to serve out pre-prepared dishes so to give time to have hot dishes ready.
I have seen some menus like this that offered several services (courses) from the kitchen.
Cheese shows up early in the menu, but in various writings, some dairy appears to be okay at the beginning of a meal though I typically see it consumed outside of a meal, sometimes for breakfast or at the end of a day… the meal also concludes with a fair bit dairy and nuts (often preferred at the end of a meal).
The meats include salted/prepared dishes which I thought unusual for spring eating where generally young animals (typically cooler meats) are typically consumed, but the combination does make it a well rounded meal. I could only imagine it could be a regional preference as well as something possibly left from winter stores.
I won’t be using veal however, due to price. A farming book (still published around the time as this cook book called 4 books of Husbandry) does touch on calves, yearlings, steers, heifers, cows and bulls… obviously I would be using a steer as this is the most readily available and affordable beef, so the results will be different but given modern feeding/growing, wont be the same as eating a 16th century steer either. anyhow, modern raised beef does tend to work out nicely.
The very last item of the sweet fennel, toothpicks and comfits would be served out after the table had been cleared and set clean. The toothpicks in this book seem to have been served with rosewater and along with the sweet fennel and comfits would do wonders for the diners oral hygiene (or at least help with one’s breath along with a little teeth cleaning).
(3/24/15 menu has been slightly updated to reflect some proper names of dishes and avoid confusion/mix-up/poor translation with modern dishes by the same name)
First service from the credenza:
-Mixed Green Salad (with flowers)
-Prosciutto (meaning Ham in this instance) Pie
-Strawberries and Cherries
First and Last Service from the Kitchen:
-Brisavoli with Orange Sauce
-Young Beans (or peas)
– Rice Dish in the Lombard Style
– Coloured Aspics
Last Service from the Credenza:
– Tart of Elderflowers
– Snow and Rolled Wafers
– Damson Conserve
– Seasoned Chestnuts
–finished with sweet fennel alongside toothpicks (please don’t eat the toothpicks) and comfits