[Sca-cooks] Intro and Newbie question - estimating meat portions

Guenièvre de Monmarché guenievre at erminespot.com
Wed Mar 12 09:21:38 PDT 2008

These numbers aren't dissimilar to what I've estimated myself for feasts -
the interesting thing is that I was recently looking into exactly how much
food would have been served, per person, at a 15th century meal, and it's
not actually that far off from this. An excerpt from the documentation I was
writing at the time follows:

*As to the amount of food presented, 14th and 15th century household
accounts have some indication of an appropriate serving size (by which I
mean the amount of food served, rather than the amount eaten).  In the
household of Alice Swofford in 1412, for instance, the average daily ration,
per person, was a 2lb. loaf of bread, 1 lb of meat (including inedible
portions, bones, etc), 3.5 pints of ale, and assorted other items – birds,
fish, vegetables, etc (Swabey 83).  However, in the household of Henry
Stafford in 1469, the stated consumption of meat was nearly twice that, with
an average of 1.04 lbs of meat served per person, per meal, and an
additional 1.08 lbs of "delicate" meats served per "gentle" member of the
household (Woolgar, Conspicuous Consumption and the Nobility 12-14).  Yet
larger quantities were served in the household of the Earl of Warwick.  Much
of the "excess" was given away as alms, and as these quantities were
averaged over a full month containing both feasts and fasts, daily
consumption varied significantly (Woolgar, Conspicuous Consumption and the
Nobility 14).  On the assumption that the hypothetical knight or
magistrate's household would have had more modest consumption than Henry
Stafford, I have assigned each of the 4 members of the **mes** a daily
ration of  1 lb of "coarse" meats (beef and pork) and .5 lb of "delicate"
meats.  Under the assumption that approximately 2/5 of the daily meat ration
would be eaten as supper, this works out to a total of 2.4 lbs of meat
presented as part of this meal – this looks small, as presented, but again
only needs to feed four people.  Another important point is that a large
number of the calories consumed on a daily basis were from bread – over 2
lbs per day during this period.*

The 2.4lbs was for 4 people, not a standard "table of 8" as most feast are
planned for, and was for a supper, which was in period a lighter meal than
the mid-day meal. Still an interesting data point, though.


On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM, euriol <euriol at ptd.net> wrote:

> Well, for myself, it is by the raw ounces. However, if the cut of meat I'm
> dealing with has bones in it, then I have to do some adjustments. A couple
> of caveats that I do make... a whole chicken per 8 people. (Sometimes I
> can
> get the roaster chickens on sale and can deliver nearly 8 oz of chicken
> per
> person, if not more). If I get the chicken leg quarters, I go for 8 oz per
> person (last time I got this at Wal-mart for $.47/pound), this I bought
> for
> the lunch, not the feast though. Fish & shellfish I might opt only for 1-2
> oz per person, but this is usually accompanied with another meat in the
> same course. Last feast I did was AEthelmearc's Kingdom Twelfth Night. I
> incorporated the lunch into the theme of the feast. As for the protein
> break down it went like:
> Lunch: Chicken (8 oz per person, leg quater raw), Frittata (1 egg per
> person), Cheese (1 oz per person)
> First Course: Roasted Pork Loin (4 oz per person), Venison (4 oz per
> person), Garlic Torte (2 oz cheese per person)
> Second Course: Beef Roulade (2 oz per person), Shrimp (2 oz per person)
> Final Course: Desserts, but featured Torta Bianca & Torta Communa (2 oz
> cheese per person)
> Total for the day: 24 oz
> The only protein items that were really left at the end of the day was the
> two Torta's. However, because of issues outside of the kitchen (and thus
> my
> control), the serving of the courses were rather delayed, thus the final
> course got out really late. There was about 7 hours between the serving of
> Lunch and serving the first course (5.5 hours were planned).
> Euriol

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