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Institutional Dining (Volume 42)

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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: “Most people ate at home most of the time or at friends or commercial catering establishments for a meal out.  Some specialist groups of people however were routinely fed institutionally as a mass.  This would include soldiers, sailors and passengers on voyages, prisoners, students, ‘hospital’ residents.  Another range of routine institutional drinking and dining was administrative functions where those in control of the public purse indulged or ingratiated themselves.  This covered meals with and for visiting judges, meetings of the trained bands, corporation meetings and sweetening the great and good in the national civil and clerical hierarchies.”

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

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