[Sca-cooks] The Pancakes and Pretzels Feast

Christine Seelye-King kingstaste at mindspring.com
Fri Feb 1 15:49:38 PST 2008

My Living History class is in session again, this time we are studying the
Middle Ages.  Yesterday was the always-popular 'Feast Class'.  With the
approaching Mardis Gras holiday, I based the "feast" in the class on two
courses, Shrovetide and Lent, heretofore to be known as the Pancakes and
Pretzels feast.  (My classes are ages 9-14 at 9AM, and ages 5-9 at 10AM)  

I did something I have always wanted to try with the almond cheese.  When I
boiled my almond milk (and after a consistent diet of the packaged stuff,
how nice it is to have it fresh made - yum) I did not put in any sugar.  I
let the curds develop and then strained the whole thing through a variety of
devices.  I split up my almond cheese into two batches, and did add sugar
and rosewater to one of them.  The other I added granulated garlic and
chopped fresh parsley, thyme, basil, and oregano.  I am very pleased with
the results.  I made three torts, then sliced them in 24ths (slivers) and
served a slice of each next to one another on the plate.  Looked very nice
if I do say so myself.  They all got spoons but no knives.  For
convenience's sake I bought some packaged pancakes, but they were more
abused during the races than eaten anyway. ;)


Here is my menu: 




Hedgehogs (ground pork, currents, ginger, garlic, s&p) 

Quail's Eggs y-stuffed  (stuffing: egg yolks, ricotta cheese, dried savory,

Tri-colored Cheese Torte (eggs, milk, ricotta, nutmeg, s&p; in three colors
- plain, green with parsley, red with saffron and saunders)

Pancakes with butter

Faux Hyppocras (spiced grape juice, clove, cardamom, cinnamon stick)


Pancake Races






Almond Cheese, Herbed and Sweetened

Marzipan balls (ground almonds from almond milk with additional almond
extract, orange flower water, and sugar)


Almond Milk


I was going to make a pesyn to have as a vegetarian protein for Lent (and
something else to dip the pretzels into) but I ran out of time and didn't
think the kids would eat it much anyway.  The whole menu could be considered
a tasting menu for that matter.  

I made a point of coming around the room and scraping anything left from the
first course into the garbage can in front of them, even took a pancake out
of a poor child's hands (mwuahahah) saying that they would have no more
luxuries such as cheese and butter and eggs for the next 40 days!  We talked
about the amount of almonds used during Lent (one Lenten season in the mid
13th century, the English Court went through over 28,000 pounds of
almonds!!!).  We talked about the Fishing Industry in England and how they
petitioned the church to add more Fast days so people would buy more fish.
We talked about sacrifice and piety and charity.  Several of them talked
about how their churches or other organizations had Pancake Suppers coming
up next week, or Fish Fries on Fridays.  

I had to laugh and think about the "cough, cough - pass the honey butter"
when I told them that the very young, very old, or sick wouldn't be expected
to observe the fasts.  One clever child started very subtly coughing and
moaning and grabbing his stomach -he was convincing enough for us to get
really worried for a minute!  (He wasn't sick, he was just getting into his
persona ;) )

They had a great time, and the Pancake Races were a wonderful activity, even
if not 100% authentic, it certainly has the flavor of the era.  And given
that many folks have as their only other reference to medieval food being an
over-priced experience at Medieval Times, it is a WHOLE lot better!  




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