[Sca-cooks] garnishes

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Jul 13 19:15:31 PDT 2007

On Jul 13, 2007, at 9:33 PM, ranvaig at columbus.rr.com wrote:

>> Careful cutting of ingredients trumps a radish rose (or whatever it
>> may be) any day.
> What are your views on garnishing SCA food.  Many of the garnishes  
> I've seen at feast appear very modern to me.
> Ranvaig

I do think that since we can document quite different aesthetics for  
garnish and presentation between, say, the 17th and 18th centuries  
and the present, it's quite possible that things in the middle ages  
were done differently still.

 From the illustrations of feasts I've seen, there don't seem to be  
too many elaborate garnishes used. Some, perhaps, but beyond the food  
itself and perhaps entremets between courses, I suspect the bulk of  
the creative energies for presentation were used for illusion food. A  
number of 14th and 15th century English recipes specify various  
things to be sprinkled on top of dishes, such as onions fried brown,  
almond slices or shreds browned (or just blanched), cloves (the  
spice), cloves (the flowers, possibly), various spice powders, grated  
or pounded sugar, pomegranite kernels, and confited (candied) spices  
or perhaps candied nuts. You've also got the various glazing and  
gilding processes used for meats, and the particolored dishes such as  
vert desyre and blanc desyre, served together on one platter.

It's conceivable some of the garnishes were sprinkled on more or less  
randomly, or they may have been carefully arranged in patterns,  
depending on what they were.

One thing is reasonably sure, though, and that is that there are a  
lot more books available today about how to garnish food than there  
are surviving from period (even if they ever existed, which I doubt  
-- maybe sections in the carving manuals), so it's possible people  
are just doing the best they can with what's readily available to them.


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