[Sca-cooks] Spices and comfit boxes
johnnae at mac.com
Thu Jul 14 15:25:16 PDT 2011
Today I came across another mention
where it is stated that spices were served at the end of a meal. This
would be circa 1400.
The book is Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the adjoining
countries ..., Volume 2 from 1839
By Jean Froissart, Jean-Baptiste de La Curne de Sainte-Palaye from
CHAPTER IX. WHEN THE KING OF FRANCE IS AT TOULOUSE, HE SUMMONS THE
COUNT DE FOIX, WHO, ON HIS ARRIVAL, PAYS HIM HOMAGE FOR HIS COUNTY OF
"After this, wine and spices were brought, and the comfit box was
presented solely to the king by the count de Harcourt. Sir Gerard de
la Pierre did the same to the duke of. Bourbon, and sir Menaut de
Noailles to the count de Foix*. When this was done, it was about four
o'clock in the afternoon: the count de Foix took leave of the king,
the duke of Bourbon, and the other lords, and, leaving the hall, went
into the court, where he found his horses and attendants waiting for
him." page 422-423
Note that it says spices and then later says comfit box. I suspect
that later authors might have simply read this passage and thought
they served whole spices. We are well aware of what comfits are, but
earlier medievalists might have just assumed these were spices.
A footnote on page 423 says "There was another custom at the tables of
the king and great barons, which was not usual at the entertainments
of private persons. Besides the spices which composed the dessert, and
were intended for the guests in common, there were other more rare
spices, that were served in a box divided into compartments, which was
of gold, silver, or silver gilt, and called a 'drageoir' (comfit
box.) It was commonly a squire or some person of distinction who had
the honour to present it to his lord alone, unless he wished to have
particular respect paid to any of his guests, to whom he sent it."
Froissart is then quoted as in the text, by M. le Grand d'Aussy, to
whom I refer for further particulars respecting this and other ancient
customs, in his " Vie privee des Fraucois."
Count De Harcourt Presenting The Comfit-box To The King. Designed from
Royal MS. 14 E. 4 appears as an illustration.
This volume is up on Google Books.
More information about the Sca-cooks