[Sca-cooks] Trenchers, Etc. Was Size of Trenchers
alysk at ix.netcom.com
Mon Jul 6 05:00:55 PDT 2009
Peter Brears, in his new book "Cooking and Dining in Medieval England,
says (regarding bread trenchers) that "portions of solid foods were
placed [on them] - once they had been cut out of the joints on the
dishes - so that they could be cut into smaller pieces and lifted to the
mouth...they were not plates. Food was never piled on them, and sloppy
foods never placed on them...Their function was to preserve the
tablecloth from knife-cuts and any form of soiling, not to hold the
whole of a person's entire course before them." So, our idea of
trenchers being equal to our modern plates would seem to be erroneous.
He cites use of silver trenchers in the 1360s and wooden trenchers being
shipped in quantity in 1499 (16-25 cost a penny).
Marina (Jane Boyko) mentioned dessert trenchers (aka "roundels"). There
are some photos of some in the V&A and one at Hampton Court on my Flickr
page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8311418@N08/sets/72157604451045938/ .
Unfortunately, the V&A ones aren't clear. Her guess of 6 inches would
seem to be accurate. I found one modern source that said they were made
of sycamore or beech and were about 5 - 5.5 inches in diameter. In 1391
the Earl of Derby had pewter "spyce-plates" which had weights from 6
ounces to 1.5 lbs.
Besides being made of wood, roundels could be made of sugar paste or
marzipan. The banquet course (dessert) "plates" came in various shapes
and could even be made of glass (which could be rented!). Some were
oval shaped, some had a handle on one side with which to hold the plate.
Here are some "poesies" that were I found in various books which were
taken from period "roundels" or dessert trenchers.
1. Be neither dumb nor give your tongue the lease, But speak thou well
or hear and hold your peace. (Elizabethan)
2. I thou be young, then marry not yet/ If thou be old thou hast more
gette/ For young men’s wives wil not be taught/ And old men’s wives be
good for naught. (16th c.)
3. Beshrew his heart that married me/ My wife and I can never agree/ A
knavish queen by this I swear/ The goodman’s breeches she thinks to
wear. (16th c.)
4. The Ape would have half Leonard’s tayle/ To hide his bum naked as his
nayle/ The meaning is, such as have store/ Should be more liberal to the
poor. (early 17th c.)
5. Biblical: All they will live Godly in Christ Jhesu must suffer
persecution 2 times 3.
6. We must enter the kingdom of God through much trouble and affliction.
People ate off the plain side and then turned over the roundel to read,
sing, or perform the words on the back. Designs came from many sources.
Sometimes colored prints were cut out, glued to the back, and
alysk at ix.netcom.com
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