Italian Dinner for the Month of August

Italian feast

featuring: Two Services from the Credenza and One Service from the Kitchen

Intro: It was my hope not to entirely copy a menu straight out from Scappi but rather to try and understand how the menus were developed and create a fresh one from that. I would say my success in doing so was at least moderate. I did find it interesting that some items that would naturally be eaten separate as suggested by some English writers are right there in the services offered and that creams would have such a start to a meal though it has been known by various cultures to have butter early on though not always advised but sometimes (you simply can not treat every sex and age as one person).

With this meal, I did probably price it beyond what would make sense at an SCA feast but I also considered it to some extant and dropped the courses down to only 3 real services. It differs from what we would see in the SCA with the services being still a bit too large, though not necessarily so by a period standard but I did consider expectations for chances to sample all items when considering the number of platters and table placement (well, for the most part). While I am unsure how Italian services would be laid out exactly, it does not seem to be far fetched to think it similar to what the English write about given the number and plausible size of some dishes in the offering.

To start the meal, we start off with a Service from the Credenza. This being, a service that is set up cold on the sideboard which would give the kitchen time to have warm meals prepared for the following services (in this case service). The last service offered is also from the Credenza which is more or less what we would expect from a period banquet. Here I am unsure, however, that it would be taken from the sideboard or delivered to the table but since it is called a service, I shall treat it as equal to that effect (to the table).

(Note: I checked the book against some menu translations found online, unsure about some but found it a great resource, I presently do not have the link but will include it should I find it again).

Edit: I found the page, and with it some more articles, this person obviously is into Italian in a way that I have been enjoying English Cookery. Because I had been searching for a specific translation of a phrase from an August menu, I ended up on her August menu translation page. (A great help as Italian translation is not my thing) And, apparently on the medieval cookery website, which I check on occasion at that!

The numbers given are only counting the guests which for this purpose will range around 50 people with the head table seating 3 along the back with 2 at each side and food being brought there will be to the preference of the head (within what is seasonal for August so quite similar to the dishes below). I do have reciepts chosen (but not written down here at this time) for made dishes and instructions for others, most coming from Scappi but some are referenced from other sources including “Epulario” and the “Neapolitan” collection, the last two to a very small degree. If anyone is curious, they should not be difficult to find given access to these books.

The first service from the credenza

  • Lettuce and Borage Flower salad dressed with oil (almond preferably or a thicker mild olive oil), vinegar and sugar (I originally thought of having a salad of peas or asparagus but the idea of having such a simplistic salad as this caught my attention) — 4 plates
  • A salad of capers and currants dressed as above — 6 dishes
  • Sliced Melons — 4 plates
  • Plums (prepared and dressed with sugar) — 8 plates
  • Fresh cheese — 8 dishes
  • Capon boiled in the caul (served cold) — 4 plates
  • Mulberry sauce — 8 bowls
  • Salt Tongue and Sausage (de-salted, cooked, sliced, served cold) — 4 plates
  • Apricot Tarts — 8 Tarts
  • Biscotti — 6 plates

The First, and last, Service from the Kitchen

  • Cockerel Pie — (12 birds in all) 6 Pies
  • Roast Rabbit (or hare) — (8 rabbits in all) 4 Plates
  • Roast Duckling — (8 ducklings) 4 Plates
  • Grapes — 10 plates
  • Fingers of Beef — 6 Dishes
  • Ricotta and Elderflower torte (would have to be made from dried elderflowers as they would be past) — 8 tarts
  • Jellies in glasses (this is the one item in the menu that I have not settled on a recipe for) — 62 small glasses in total, 8 Plates

The second, and last, Service from the Credenza 

  • Small Grape Tortes — 8 Plates
  • Small Pear Crostatas – 8 Plates
  •  Raw Apples — 4 Plates
  • Raw Pears — 2 Plates
  • Sliced Parmesan — 8 Plates
  • Hazelnuts fresh — 2 Dishes
  • Wafers (rolled) — 4 Plates
  • Snow — 4 Plates
  • Peaches in Syrup — 4 Plates

This is finished with a clean table, fresh fennel, rosewater, toothpicks and comfits


Seating and Service

Aside from the obvious of cold dishes from the credenza and hot dishes from the kitchen, I also attempted to work in a pleasing table setting for a very full table based on the model of two rows of tables for guests made up of your standard banquet table with people sitting on either side and food served towards the middle space leaving room for at least one person sitting on either end. (tables in period art often show two people sitting but a banquet table is more comfortable for one).

With this set up, 3 long tables that would comfortably sit 8 each would fit 24 at least, or 4 shorter tables that would comfortably sit 6 at each would also fit the same number. This set up would seat at least 48 to 52 “regular” guests.

Also along the table would be placed salts, about 3 on each of the two lengths would do with another on the much shorter head table. Each place should be set up with a plate with a knife to the right of the plate and a cup and small loaf/bun to the left.

1st service in the order of one end of the table to the other, each slot (shown with a “/”) representing about 12 inches (platters approx 10″ and smaller)

2nd service

3rd service
cheese/grape tart/snow/wafers/pear tart/apples/hazelnuts/grape tart/cheese/apricots/pear tart/pears/cheese/grape tart/snow/wafers/pear tart/apples/hazelnuts/grape tart/cheese/apricots/pear tart