The Roman bon viveur Marcus Apicius who, in 354 AD, made the earliest reference to a Christmas feast ... suggesting perhaps ostrich: not a bird known in the England; but the forests were full of boar.
By medieval times it was the ‘Yule boar’ ... with its head as the main table decoration that was the speciality of the season. Trimmings included a Christmas pudding made of meat, oatmeal and spices wrapped in the gut of a pig.
And there were mince pies – Henry V (1386 – 1422) was a great fan and had them served at his coronation in 1413 ... filled with chicken, partridge, pigeon, hare, capon, pheasant, rabbits, ox tongue and mixed with fruits, peels and sugar.
Jane Austen in Persuasion (1818) talks of the weight of ‘brawn and cold pies’ on the Christmas table, while the dinner was served at 4.00 pm – consisting of ‘roast beef and venison as the mainstay, supported by goose’.
This where Austen also says, ‘Christmas pudding, gingerbread and the wassail bowl – a mixture of beer, sherry, sugar and spices’.
The huge halls became specialised Banqueting Rooms as in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton (promoted by the gourmand King George IV (1762-1830) – where feasting was taken to a new level by ... today these are rarified gatherings ...
... however Medieval Feasts are held for recreational purposes ... a time of fun and experience for today’s guests of times gone by ... as Shakespeare directs in Macbeth:
“You know your own degrees. Sit down.
At first and last, the heart welcome ...
Be large in mirth. Anon we’ll drink a measure
The table round.”
Though a not so happy bloody ending occurred ...
That is F for Feasts from Aspects of British Cookery
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