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Feasts, Festivals and Banquets (Volume 44)

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by Stuart Peachey
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Historical rabbit holes, for those who are inclined.

These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.

The Food and Cookery in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England series presents a systematic survey of existing records of ingredients and equipment employed in the period. In addition to concise explanations of how such items might have been used and how they might have been significantly different from what is implied by current terminology, they include citations from various period and later records to demonstrate the geographic and class distribution of everything from hops to decorative tankards.

From the introduction: “Although the terms feast and banquet are used almost interchangeably today, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries there was a clear distinction between the two.  A banquet was composed overwhelmingly of sweets, fruits, often preserved, cakes and wafers, all served cold.  An elite feast was composed of 2 or 3 courses each made up of a substantial number of dishes…Reproduced here are many of the menus published in cookery books from this period.”

Staplebound pamphlet. 52 pages. Sketches and black-and-white photographs.

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