[Sca-cooks] Honey child - the pith of the matter

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed Jan 31 05:50:45 PST 2007

On Jan 30, 2007, at 7:03 PM, Suey wrote:

> Pooh pooh
> Hollywood's Henry VIII roast beef, now tell me how many teeth one must
> have had to eat medium rare off a bone?

Apart from the modern apocryphal anecdote of Henry naming a cut of  
meat "Sir Loin, Baron of Beef" (a baron is a cut containing two beef  
sirloins, cut straight across the spine like a giant salmon steak; in  
a baron of lamb both hind legs are included), I've never seen him  
depicted as eating beef off the bone. I do remember a shot of Charles  
Laughton taking a few bites of a rather small leg of lamb (probably  
about three pounds) in the 1933 "The Private Life of Henry  
VIII" (made in Hollywood by a largely European cast and crew).

A leg of lamb that size is probably going to be pretty tender, and  
then we really don't know if that meat was roast or boiled, nor do we  
know if it was cooked rare, medium, or well-done. I've seen, and  
served, whole legs of lamb that could be served with a spoon. Still,  
this is probably something movie production crews don't tend to  
research very well, I'll agree.

I wonder if this is just one of those images that have become a  
cliche that has grown and been distorted in the retelling. Has anyone  
else here ever actually seen Henry depicted eating a gigantic piece  
of beef on the bone (remembering that beef bones tend to be rather  
large; if Henry is eating something like a steamship round on the  
bone he'd be truly superhuman if he could even lift it with one hand,  
let alone bite into it)?

It's also worth noting that while roasts were eaten in places other  
than Spain, they were probably not the single centerpiece of a  
medieval feast-day meal to the same extent that they are in some  
cultures today or that we sometimes assume that they were. Large cuts  
of meat were also frequently boiled until tender, and even roasted  
meats were often cut into small pieces and re-cooked in a broth or  
sauce, or just served in bowls with sauce or something like frumenty.  
Not too far from some of those Spanish pottages...

<sigh> I was a little disappointed to learn that even some of the  
accounts of the alleged gluttonous excesses of "Diamond Jim" Brady  
were probably considerably exaggerated...


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la  
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them  
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry  
Holt, 07/29/04

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