[Sca-cooks] My Frankish dinner Saturday night

Volker Bach carlton_bach at yahoo.de
Tue Sep 7 16:01:55 PDT 2010


--- Laura C. Minnick <lcm at jeffnet.org> schrieb am Di, 7.9.2010:

> First the hard stuff.

> It turned out that Their Highnesses of the Summits, who
> were to have been guests, were in court at the time we began
> serving. (I found this out about an hour ahead of time.) So
> their dishes were sent out by runner. I don't know if things
> got there warm enough, but they got there.

It does appear the primary purpose of royalty is to make the lives of cooks and stewards interesting, doesn't it? Certainly sounds like you did an excellent job under very challenging circumstances. Just last weekend, i was privileged to watch my apprentice pull off something like this, without much help (my injuries unfortunately still make it impossible for me to actively work in a kitchen). Her problems were nothing like this bad, though.

> The food was conjecturably Frankish, roughly Carolingian
> era. I found huge lists of what plants they were growing and
> what livestock they raised in a number of cartularies from
> Charlemagne's reign, and I tried to use foods only from that
> list, adjusted as per what is available seasonally. I also
> poked through my copy of Anthimus- he doesn't have recipes,
> per se, but general guidelines for food preparation. He's a
> couple hundred years early, but still useful, in my
> opinion.

There is a copy of Anthimus in the late 8th century Lorscher Arzneibuch that deviates from the (assumed) urtext in several places. I'm guessing these reflect changes made by active users of the text in the Carolingian era. 

> The cabbage soup should have been done in broth, which I'd
> forgotten, so we added a bit of the bacon grease from
> breakfast (never throw it away in camp- it is too useful!),
> some spices, and a half-bottle of beer. It was actually
> pretty good!

Thebacon grease may be taking you close to period practice. At Kootwijk, excavators found that pigs' lower jaws were routinely chopped up in a specific fashion to open up the marrow cavity, presumably in preparastion for boiling in soup. Cabbage is certainly in season around slaughter time. I haven't been able to find a pig jaw yet, but I've used por marrowbones, tails and cheeks to produce a soup like that, both with cabbage and lentils. It tends to be appreciated in winter more than summer.
> The frumenty also should have been done in broth, but I put
> some saffron in with the milk and eggs, and that actually
> came out really good. Bright yellow.

Milk may actually be more period - the Waltharius (tentatively dated anywhere between the 9th and 11th centuries, but likely of late Carolingian date) mentions spelt porridge with milk and meat (lardatam de multra farreque pultram) as a treat a warrior returning home could look forward to.
> The chicken dish had originally been slated to be a boiled
> chicken (in broth with wine) but that takes a lot of water,
> so I did sort of a saupiquet-like thing, with sauteed
> onions, white wine, and some spices. Again, should have had
> broth.

This sounds very nice. BTW, chickens were ampong the rations issued to imperial officials of Charlemagne at estates of the royal fisc. There is no record of how they were prepared, though.

> The pastry for dessert was... ok, not *exactly* period,
> but. The apples I cooked in spices and sugar.

Was that a cost consideration? Apples go great with honey. In my experience, honey and walnuts obviate the need for spices.

 I'd forgotten
> square pans, so I laid the sections of puff pastry (the
> not-period part) in them, smeared the apples on the pastry,
> and then folded the corners over. It worked ok. Slit the
> pastry, popped it in the oven. The bottom was a little dark,
> but it was very tasty. Next time I attempt something like
> that, I might try a sweet yeast dough. The bread dough I
> used last May didn't work so good, but a thinner sweet dough
> might.

I've had good experiences with enriched yeast doughs - sweetening isn't necessary, just add a good dab of butter, milk, and/or eggs. 
> The ypocras was good, and as the Romans did spiced wine, I
> think that it is plausible that the Franks did. The wafers
> probably weren't appropriate to the 8th c., but I need to
> look through the roman sources more. The cookies were,
> however, tasty.

Sources from the reform orders take /claretum/ and /nebulae/ to within a century or two of the Carolingian epoch. This isn't a great stretch of the imagination. What kind of cookies did you make? 
> Overall, not my best experience, but not too bad. I plan on
> trying again next tourney season.

It really sounds like you've had to deal with a lot of technical problems and did so very well. I'm not sure I'd be able to cook feast on a site with no regular water supply. 
Well done, I'd say


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