Saturday, 22 December 2012

From Jardiniere to Satyr Pie

A copper jardiniere with a hidden history
New insights into Britain's extraordinary culinary history sometimes turn up in quite unexpected ways. A few weeks ago a great friend of mine, the sharp eyed Michael Finlay, a fellow Cumbrian with a lifetime's experience of dealing and collecting fine antiques, turned up at my house with an object he had just purchased. The vendor had described it as a Victorian jardiniere. This handsome looking copper vessel did indeed look like it may once have been given pride of place on a window sill, perhaps with a large aspidistra growing out of it. But careful scrutiny of its structure alerted the ever watchful Michael to the fact that it was not what it seemed. 

Michael is a truly remarkable man. Over the years he has put together many major specialist collections of antique objects. These include bronze bell mortars, writing equipment and mining tokens. Once he has built up a large and representative assemblage, he then usually writes the authoritative book on the subject and sells the collection to finance his next interest. His remarkable book Western Writing Implements: In the Age of the Quill Pen won the Daily Telegraph book of the year award and now changes hands for hundreds of pounds. In the last few years he has turned his attention to collecting culinary antiques, an interest for which he blames me. In a very short time he has put together a museum style collection of the very highest quality. For instance in just one year he has assembled a truly extraordinary collection of pastry jagging irons, including wonderful rare examples dating from the renaissance through to the nineteenth century. They will form the subject of his next book, which is already taking shape. Michael has just launched a marvellous new website. There is a link at the end of this post.

However, let's return to his copper jardiniere. Michael thought that it had a very close resemblance to a nineteenth century pie mould. He should know, because he has some very nice examples himself and has spent many fruitful hours in my kitchen making pies with them. He was pretty sure he was right, but wanted confirmation from me. From the very moment I first saw it, I knew it had indeed once been a large copper pie mould, but had been subjected to a conversion probably at about the time of the First World War. Its once separate sections had been brazed together and a couple of brass handles attached. It was in fact one of the most unusual pie forms I have ever seen and certainly the most handsome. As you can see from the photograph, it is ornamented with the grimacing head of a horned satyr, perhaps intended to be old Pan himself. What a pie it must have made! A very interesting detail was an engraved ownership mark, an Italianate capital H surmounted by an earl's coronet. 

Marks of this kind are often seen on items of batterie de cuisine out of great house kitchens and this particular one was very familiar to me as I had worked many times in the historic kitchen in Harewood House near Leeds, where many items are engraved with an identical symbol. However, there were also earls of Huntingdon, Halifax and Harrington, so the jury is still out as to which noble kitchen it originally came from. But I suspect it is from Harewood. How it came to be turned into a plant pot is a mystery. 

Ivan making pies some years ago in the Harewood kitchen using some of the copper pie moulds that have survived there from the nineteenth century

Michael took the jardiniere to a metalworking friend who skilfully converted it back to a pie mould.Yesterday, we both had a great baking session and used it to make a pie, the first time it had been used for that purpose for at least a hundred years. The problem now is how do I find a butcher who can provide me with satyr meat to make the filling?

Our 'satyr' pie with its lid  ready to be ornamented
With the help of a jagging iron and a couple of pie boards to make pastry ornaments, we embellished the lid
The reborn 'satyr pie' egged and glazed, a testimony to the once fine art of British pastry making

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Eat the Entire Creation if you dare ....

...but Beware of the Fatal Effects of Gluttony

I have often thought that if the great biblical deluge had taken place in the eighteenth century and Noah had been an Englishman, all those creatures which God placed in his care would never have survived. They would have all been devoured by Mr and Mrs Noah and all the little Noahs before they even had a chance to go forth and multiply and fill the four corners of the earth. Eighteenth century English diners were serial carnivores and I sometimes think it was their gastronomic ambition to gnaw their way through the entire creation. Just look at this pie baked in 1763 in the kitchen of a long vanished country house close to where I live in the English Lake District.

From the Manuscript Commonplace Book of Richard Hoggart of Clifton, Westmorland.  1760s (private collection)
If you find the handwriting a bit difficult, here is a transcript.

Feb 24th 1763
Contents of a Pye lately made at Lowther Hall

2 Geese, 4 Tame Ducks, 2 Turkeys, 4 Fowls, 1 Wild Goose, 6 Wild Ducks, 3 Teals, 2 Starlings, 12 Partridges, 15 Woodcocks, 2 Guinea Cocks, 3 Snipes, 6 Plovers, 3 Water Hens, 6 Widgeons, I Curlew, 46 Yellow Hammers, 15 Sparrows, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Larks, 3 Thrushes, 1 Fieldfare, 6 Pidgeons, 4 Blackbirds, 20 Rabbits, 1 Leg of Veal, Half a Ham, 3 Bushels of Flower, 2 Stone of Butter - the Pye weighed 22 stone

This makes the heroic Yorkshire Christmas Pies of the period with their fillings of boned turkey, goose and other poultry seem positively parsimonious. The ecological consequences of a pie filled with the fruits of a mass slaughter on this scale must have been severe. I don't suppose much bird song was heard in the Lowther Valley for some months. 

But if you really wanted to munch your way through the entire avian population (with a few leverets and baby rabbits thrown in for good measure), why not do it in a more organised way and hold a dinner four times a year to regale your guests with just those birds that are in season. Here are four bills of fare offered by Charles Carter in his rare and much neglected The Compleat City and Country Cook (London: 1732). The ornithologists among you will have fun ticking off the various species on offer here against the twitcher's bible - The British List:A Checklist of Birds of Britain. Not quite all the birds of the air, but still a pretty impressive assemblage and a lot more generous than that modern emblem of plentitude, the 'family bucket'.

I think this justifies my claim that we English were dedicated carnivores, though you must understand that a lot of the birds served up at these dinners, such as the chick peepers, green geese, turkey polts, pheasant polts, squabs etc, are baby chicks, barely just sprouting their juvenile feathers. So as well as enthusiastic zoophagists, we also regularly committed serial infanticide. Unlike his modern equivalent, the Georgian diner had no sentimental barriers to eating babies - they tasted better and were more tender than adults. So what was the problem with a massacre of the innocents? 

If a scorched earth ornithological orgy every three months failed to sate your appetite, you could always turn your gustatory inclinations to the scaly creatures of the briny deep.  Here is another of Carter's great feasts, this time A Table of all Sorts of Fish, published in his third book The London and Country Cook (London; 1749).  

Ever since the medieval period some classes of Englishmen have liked plenty of variety on the table in front of them. Fear of mass extinctions did not cross their minds. This was particulary true at the great livery company feasts in the City of London. The poet Edward Hake, writing in 1579 in his Newes out of St Powles Churchyard describes the variety of birds served at one of these occasions. 

The keen bird watchers among you (and thanks to all those who helped me identify water dab as the little grebe) should have fun identifying some of these creatures from their Tudor names. Well over a decade ago I created a table at the Museum of London based on a feast book for the Grocers' Company from 1566. Here is the table, an avian disaster zone if ever I saw one. 

I am a fairly committed carnivore myself, but this kind of excess has always troubled me. I am no anthropologist, but I suspect 'heroic' eating on this grand scale must have grown out of male hunting culture. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries one of the most conspicuous dishes of the baroque feast was the olio, a mixed meat stew of Spanish origin which was enjoyed on high status tables all over Europe. It was an edible expression of the extent of the aristocratic host's estates and game parks. Remember aristocratic gentlemen of this period had two main hobbies - hunting and warfare. They did n't usually eat their human enemies, but they often consumed the spoils of the chase on an enormous scale. John Nott, master cook to the Duke of Bolton, tells us in the introduction to The Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary (London: 1723) that 'this happy Island of Great Britain, which like another Canaan, may properly enough be call'd, a Land flowing with Milk and Honey, so richly is it stor'd with Fish, Flesh and Fowl.' Later in his book he gives the following recipe to make an olio. After he had prepared this gargantuan dish for his noble lord, you might well wonder that even if the nation's rivers of milk and honey still continued to flow, its abundant supplies of flesh and fowl probably became seriously depleted.

Well I hope that one day all those birds and fish and creatures consumed in olios, city feasts and other orgiastic mass extinctions eventually got their own back. Just recently I acquired a lovely copy of my favourite image of the joys of the revenge of the eaten on the eater. Based on Henry Fuseli's celebrated painting The Nightmare, this marvellous satyrical lithograph by MG (1830), shows Lord Mayor John Key being attacked by the creatures that should have made up his Lord Mayor's feast the previous evening, but for political reasons the feast was cancelled by the king. This image was first brought to my attention by my dear friend Gillian Riley when we worked together in 2000 on the exhibiton Eat, Drink and be Merry. It became the banner image of the exhibition so I am so pleased after all these years to have found a nice copy to hang in my own study. I will let the creatures of Key's abortive feast have the last word and I truly hope that that huge green turtle snogging my Lord Mayor has been nursing a really chronic case of halitosis on his long sea voyage from the Caribbean. 

However, there is an interesting American coda to this story of carnivorous excess. I passed through O'Hare airport in Chicago a few days ago on my way home from the Twin Cities. While I 'enjoyed' (wrong word) a modest, but pretty awful quasi-Chinese lunch in Manchu Wok in the airport food mall while waiting for my connection to the UK, I contemplated on one of the most extreme dîners à l'arche de Noé ever, served up in the Windy City in 1893. 
From Theodore Garrett, The Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery (London: nd. 1890s) 
This edible ecological disaster, almost on the same scale as the mass exterminations of the Great Plains bison, was served to six hundred guests at the Grand Pacific Hotel in February 1893. This was the transatlantic incarnation of the baroque olio, but on an even more horrific scale. It is the culinary equivalent of one of those Victorian natural history museums, stuffed full of stuffed specimens in glass cases, the chief difference being that the diners in the Grand Pacific Hotel stuffed the specimens into themselves. The sheer logistics of hunting these unfortunate 'critturs', let alone skinning and plucking them, cooking them in a Victorian kitchen and finally serving them up with their complex garnishes to six hundred salivating Illinois huntsman is just mind-bogling. And did all six hundred manage to get a portion from the Pyramid of Wild Goose Livers? A wild goose only has one liver. Right? The manager and host of this grand event was called Mr. John Drake. With a name like that I thought he might have had a bit more sympathy with his feathered friends - and furry ones too - check out the black bear, cinnamon bear, opossum, racoon etc. among the roasts. But not a bit of it, in 1883 these annual 'eat all you can of God's creation for $9' indulgences had been going on for thirty-seven years! The 1883 bash was the very last. Drake died in 1895. I wonder if both he and Lord Mayor Key are still being tormented in their own personal circle of Hades by the angry souls of all those sturgeons, turtles, prairie chickens, fox squirrels, butter-ball ducks and cinnamon bears they devoured during their lives. Merry Christmas everyone! 

John Drake's Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago, the venue of the annual game dinners
John Drake (1826-1895). Concealed  behind those tight lips I suspect there may be a set of very well developed canines.

Decorative cover of the 1872 Annual Game Dinner Menu suitably garnished with the bodies of the fallen

The folks back in England at Windsor Castle kept a pretty good table too. To get you into the Christmas mood, this is a view of the carnage in Queen Victoria's game larder in 1857 at Yuletide. Note the festive holly.

An Aenigmatical Bill of Fare

In a May 2011 posting on her marvellous blog Homo Gastronomicus, India Mandelkern transcribed some very unusual royal Christmas menus from the time of George II which are recorded in a manuscript in the British Library - MSS 15956. The various dishes on these menus are in the form of riddles, some of them rather difficult to fathom out for modern readers. For instance 'A sign in the Zodiac butter'd' would be the popular Georgian dish buttered crabs, while 'The divine part of Mortals fry'd' is obviously fried sole. These however are the easy ones. If you want to spend your Christmas figuring out the other dishes I suggest you take a look at India's posting.

But before you do, I am going to offer you another bill of fare comprising of riddle dishes along the very same lines, which was published in the anonymous The Ladies Companion (London: 1751) fifth edition with large additions, Vol. II pp. 393-4. This book has an interesting publication history. It started life in 1737 with the title The Whole Duty of a Woman. In 1740, a second edition was issued with the new title The Lady's Companion and it went through a series of editions, until a very much augmented two volume fifth edition appeared in 1751, which contains 'An Aenigmatical Bill of Fare'. The manuscript bills of fare which India has transcribed date from Christmas 1755 and I have always suspected that they were inspired by An Aenigmatical Bill of Fare published four years earlier. Some of the dishes in the BL manuscript are identical, such as 'The Grand Signior's Dominions larded', which is of course larded turkey. Appended to the Aenigmatical Bill of Fare is another joke menu, this time in the 'High Goút', not so much a collection of riddles, but more a schoolboy joke with a slightly anti-French slant.

Although The Lady's Companion is very much a publisher's compilation, the fifth ediiton is one of the most useful of all texts to those of us seriously studying the cookery of the eighteenth century. Its 'upward of three thousand recipes' were largely borrowed from earlier texts, but it is a well organised  encyclopaedic compendium of Georgian cookery on a very ambitious scale. It is also illustrated with woodcuts (lifted from Richard Bradley) of trussing methods and engravings of pie and pastry designs (lifted from Edward Kidder). Hannah Glasse probably owned a copy of its earliest incarnation The Whole Duty of a Woman (London; 1737) from which she made very large borrowings in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (London: 1747).

If any of you can figure out the dishes and liquors on these pages please let me know how you get on and please, please don't also miss to have a go at those on India's post The King's Feast.
My next post will also be on the subject of unusual eighteenth century bills of fare. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Supper with Shakespeare

A banquet of sweetmeats. This sugary assemblage is dominated by a 'standard' in the form of an edible banquetting house sited in an edible knot garden. Marchpane garden 'knots' are filled with flowerbeds made from fruit pastes and surrounded by gravel walks consisting of carraway comfits. There are also edible sugar tazze filled with jumbals, sugar playing cards, wafers, comfits and a host of other 'banqueting stuffe'. these include gilt gingerbread figures made from the original Jacobean moulds which are exhibited in a nearby case display.
This year I have had two exciting culinary brushes with the bard. In the summer I worked with the Royal Opera House in London to devise a dinner of Tudor dishes for a gala event celebrating Shakespeare's enormous influence on opera. Readings were given at the event by Prince Charles and Simon Russell Beale. At the moment I am on the other side of the Atlantic in Minnesota setting up a small, but lovely exhibition on dining culture in Shakespeare's England at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. This world class museum houses a rich assemblage of artefacts relating to dining from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including some important English silver. For over a year I have been working with the decorative arts curators Corinne Wegener and Eike Schmidt selecting objects and putting a narrative together which hopefully will steer visitors away from any stereotypical ideas they may have about English dining in the Tudor and Stuart age. You know the sort of thing - boars' heads and boorish behaviour - which was of course part of the picture, but there was also extraordinary refinement, staggering culinary creativity and a level of civility in manners that would put us moderns to shame. When was the last time you washed your hands as a communal activity at the table before and after the meal? Or dined with an eating set like this, as one English traveller did after returning from Venice in the early 1600s?

Coral handled knife and fork. Venice. Late sixteenth century. Luxury goods like this were imported into Britain from Venice. Whatever your class, eating knives and spoons were carried by all and for the well-off were worn as items of status defining jewellery. Photo © Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

As well as the revival of classical architecture, philosophy, science and other branches of learning, the Italian renaissance also popularised the fork as a dining implement. Thomas Coryat (1577-1617), a contemporary of Shakespeare introduced it into England from Venice. He was ridiculed by his friends and given the nickname 'Furcifer' (fork bearing devil or rascal), but his introduction did eventually catch on and changed English eating habits forever. This is the engraved titlepage of the 1611 edition of Coryat's Crudities in which he describes his visit to Venice. 
I have lent a small number of important books and moulds from my own collection to the exhibition. These tell the story of the two main contributions to gastronomic culture of the sixteenth century – the dissemination of the art of distilling ardent spirits and the spiraling increase in the use of sugar. The second of these has inspired my chief contribution to the show – an authentic recreation of an English banquet of sweetmeats in the marvelous Tudor period room in the MIA. The table has been set with an array of the highly decorative sweet foods which were consumed after the main meal, sometimes in a separate room, or even in a small purpose built building in the gardens or on the roof, known as a banqueting house.

The Tudor room at Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. This fine example of a wainscotted chamber from the 1570s has a typical strapwork overmantel with carved oak Corinthian pilasters, terms and a family crest. It was sourced from a manor house in Suffolk and installed in the MIA in the 1920s. I may be wrong and stand to be corrected, but as far as I know it is the only English renaissance period room in the US. Photo © Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.
The same room brought to life with a banquet of sweetmeats. The stack of bride cakes and bride cup on the buffet indicates that we are at the tail end of a bridal feast or 'bride ale'. My aim is to bring the room to life with the food and to make the twenty-first century visitor feel that they have gate-crashed an intimate Tudor party.
Bride cakes and bride cup. These flat currant filled spice cakes, rather like large Banbury cakes, started life as hearth cakes baked with a brandreth and girdle. The wealthy baked them in ovens, frequently to a a very large size. The antiquarian John Aubrey in the later seventeenth century recollects how they were stacked up 'like the shewe bread in the pictures in the old bibles'. The bride cup was filled with hippocras or muskadine and paraded by the bride leader from the church to the place of the bridal. A rosemary bow was 'dipped' in the wine and ornamented with family armorials and hundreds of ribbons tied in 'bride knots' to the rosemary leaves.
A woodcut from a sixteenth century bible showing 'shewe bread' stacked up in piles.
Note the bride cup filled with embellished rosemary being carried aloft by the bride leader and the very large bride cakes in this detail from a painting by Joris Hoefnagel of a Wedding Feast at Bermondsey (1580s). On the table, which is scattered with flowers is a standing salt, rather similar to the example from this period by Christopher Eston in the exhibition.
Ophelia's celebrated reference to the language of flowers in Hamlet in which she says, 'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance', has led us all to believe that rosemary was a herb emblematic of death and funerals. But its evergreen qualities were also symbolic of everlasting and enduring love. This is why it was also highly significant at Elizabethan weddings. In this woodcut, a Tudor bride is flanked by two grooms both with rosemary branches tied to their arms. Note also all are wearing white kid gloves. These were perfumed with musk and ambergris and given as gifts at weddings. I made a very fine white sugar glove from an early mould which is on the banqueting table.
Banquet guests ate their sweetmeats from thin roundels or trenchers usually made from beech wood and decorated with ornamental designs and verses. They were also crafted from sugar as here. I made eight sugar ones for the table, painting them with designs copied from a wooden set housed the British Museum. The guests ate  banqueting stuffe was eaten from the plain side and then they turned over to reveal the verses. These were read for amusement and instruction sometimes in a sequence around the table creating what was called a roundelay. They were not always round in form. Rectangular examples have survived, some with paintings of emblematic and allegorical figures and learned texts. 
A 'cut laid tart' made from a design published in Robert May's The Accomplisht Cook (London: 1660). May started his long career as an apprentice cook under his father in the Star Chamber in the last decade of the sixteenth century. His cookery book published in the year of the Restoration of the English monarchy was a nostalgic collection of recipes of how food had been before the Civil War tore the country apart. Similar ornamented tarts are described by Gervase Markham in 1615. The tart consists of two sections. The lower contains baked fruit, the top is ornamented with pastry and the interstices filled with fruit pastes and preserves.
Another of May's cut laid tarts filled with quince paste
The centrepiece of the knot garden marchpane is a sugar plate banqueting house ornamented with gilt Medusa's heads. The design is based on the surviving banqueting house at Long Melford in Suffolk, not far from the house out of which the  MIA Tudor room was removed. The conical roof , with its flag and the knot gardens themselves were inspired by woodcuts in William Lawson's A New Orchard and Garden (London:1618).
Silver standing salt by Christopher Eston of Exeter c. 1583. Photo © Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

Drinking glass, façon de Venise. Netherlands. c. 1660. Drinking glasses were imported into England from Venice, the Low Countries, Bohemia and Austria. Many were luxury objects like this Venetian style winged drinking glass, but they were designed for use. Photo © Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

Supper with Shakespeare - the Evolution of English Banqueting

Thursday 13 December 2012 - Sunday March 31 2013
Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Tudor Room (325) and Gallery 332
Free Exhibition

Friends Lecture: Supper with Shakespeare 

Speaker Ivan Day
Thursday, December 13, 2012
11 a.m. – Noon
Pillsbury Auditorium
Minneapolis Institute of Arts,
2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, 
Minnesota 55404 
(888) MIA ARTS (642-2787) (Toll Free)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Feast Your Eyes

A sugar paste church based on one originally made for Queen Victoria;s ball supper in Hatfield House in 1845
I spent a great deal of time this summer working on Feast Your Eyes, the Fashion of Food in Art, an exhibition at the marvellous Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle in County Durham. If you do not know this extraordinary place, which is one of the best kept museum secrets in Britain, make an effort and visit it. You will return again and again. It is a world class museum in the  beautiful market town of Barnard Castle in Northern England. It is on a South Kensington scale. It is the third exhibition there that I have worked on over the years. I was also the guest curator in 2003 of a spectacular show called Royal Sugar Sculpture and worked with decorative arts curator Howard Coutts in 1994 on the seminal food history exhibition The Tempting Table. In the last twenty years, the Bowes Museum and Fairfax House in York have led the field in food history exhibitions. What we did in those early shows set a worldwide trend among decorative arts curators. This is why I keep getting asked by institutions like the Met in NYC, MFA in Houston and other major American museums to work with them on this fascinating area. I am writing this in my hotel room in Minneapolis, where I will start setting up a lovely exhibition on dining in renaissance England entitled Supper with Shakespeare which opens at Minneapolis Institute of Arts on December 13th. It is going to be spectacular. My next post will be about the show.

It has been a great deal of fun setting up Feast Your Eyes with the Bowes Museum team. And what a selection of paintings relating to food and other works it is, the majority from the Bowes collection. A stunning Peter Aertsen of market traders washing vegetables was specially restored for the show. You can see videos of the actual restoration on the Bowes Museum blog, but the crown must go to the 'breakfast' table still life by Jacob van Hulsdonk, which is a striking example of the work of this early seventeenth century Antwerp school artist. He was a contemporary of Osias Beert and the wonderful Clara Peeters, two other important artists working in the city who specialised in painting dining settings of this kind. His work deserves to be better known. He painted a very similar, though less ambitious study which can be seen in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede in Holland. Both celebrate simple merchant class meals, a plate of trotters, some rye bread and a glass of weissbier. They must also be among the earliest European paintings which depict Chinese porcelain being used on a table. The same knife with a decorative handle appears in both pictures. Was this a studio object? Or is it the actual knife with which the artist ate his food. I have noticed that other early Netherlandish masters, such as Clara Peeters and Pieter Claez repeatedly depict the same knife in their works too. Was it a kind of signature? I have said this before, but during this period you carried your eating knife around with you and it was frequently one of the more valuable objects you owned, just as much a treasured item of jewellery and not just an implement to spear your meat on. You flaunted it, just as some people nowadays flash their iphones and blackberries, (though I hope you don't do this at the dinner table).

Jacob van Hulsdonk, Still life. Antwerp. 1615. Courtesy of the Bowes Museum.
Jacob van Hulsdonk, Still life. Antwerp. 1615. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum Twenthe.
Josephine Bowes, Bodegón. Oil on Canvas. Photo Syd Neville - courtesy of Bowes Museum
In a similar vein is a much later food still life by the co-founder of the museum Josephine Bowes, actress, art collector and a fine painter herself. Since the gadrooned copper cauldron is still in her collection, with some help from Sue Hall and John Hudson, we were able to recreate the table top arrangement of objects which Josephine worked from - still life imitating art if you like!

However, my main task was to have a go at bringing to life a tiny little watercolour of a ball supper in the collection of Hatfield House. This anonymous and unassuming work depicts the marble hall at Hatfield set up with trestle tables covered with food and floral arrangements

It depicts an actual event at Hatfield House attended by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845. It is one of those rare things, a painting of food being consumed in an English setting. We printed an enlargement of the painting so it completely covered a wall and then set up a table in front of this covered in the typical delights of a high status ball supper. The painting shows a pie in the form of a castle emblazoned with Victoria and Albert's initials and also a sugar paste church, which was probably made by a London confectioner especially brought in for the occasion called Ferdinand. I made both for my recreated table. The Hatfield archives have a very large and particularly detailed account book with entries made at the time of this visit listing the extraordinary amounts of provisions and beverages consumed during the event. While the aristocratic guests enjoyed their supper, the estate workers and poor of Hatfield were treated at Lord Salisbury's expense to a huge ox roasted on a spit in front of the house.

The Hatfield House ball supper. Photo Syd Neville - courtesy of Bowes Museum

A section of the exhibition relating to tea and sugar consumption - Photo Syd Neville - courtesy of Bowes Museum

General view of exhibition. Photo Syd Neville - courtesy of Bowes Museum 
A jelly depicting the early Queen Victoria with its mould made by Ivan at a demonstration on Victorian food he did at the opening of the exhibition.

Feast Your Eyes is on until Sunday 6th January. For more details go to the Bowes Museum website
I an giving a lecture there on the 4th January called - 

The Twelve Days of Christmas
4 January, 2.15, £6.00
Join critically acclaimed food historian Ivan Day for this animated & energetic lecture and food demonstration to complement the current exhibition, Feast Your Eyes: The Fashion of Food in Art. Booking required on 01833 690606.

Don't miss it!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

My 2013 Food History Courses

An authentic Victorian Wedding Cake ornamented with gum paste motifs printed from original nineteenth century moulds . Make and decorate a cake like this on my Confectionery Course. This exanple was finished off in the manner of the day with hanging plumes of gum paste flowers.
For those of you who may be interested in attending one of my weekend cookery courses, I have now posted the course diary on my site Historic Food. You will find details of the courses and how to apply there. I have also published a course diary here with links to the details of each course. I have a lot of writing and television commitments in 2013, so will only be running eight courses. If you are interested, please let me know as soon as possible as places are limited. These courses are unique in the world and I am very proud of them. You could find yourself roasting a huge joint of venison with a clockwork spitjack, making the most extraordinary flummeries and jellies from an original eighteenth century mould or baking a spectacular Elizabethan or Victorian Pie. All courses are GB£300, which is amazing value as included in the price is all tuition, two lunches and a fantastic evening meal - all cooked by you of course! I have clients who regularly attend my courses who come all the way from Australia, New Zealand. Canada, the US, Japan and Europe. Many come back time and time again.  

A Belgrave Jelly made on my Jellies and Moulded Foods Course
A stunning Tudor marchpane made on one of my courses
A Christmas Pie made on my Taste of Christmas Paste Course
25-26 May 2013PLACES
15-16 June 2013PLACES
24-25 August 2013PLACES

Click on one of the links above to find more details about individual courses. Go directly to the booking form to make a booking. 
A seventeenth century lumber pie made on my Pies and Pastry Course

Make a wonderful gingerbread like this from an original mould