Category Archives: Dining

Conversation Custom Dining Men

We will have a paire of sausages

I haven’t blogged in a while due to lack of time, but today I found myself reading the wonderful John Florio’s First Fruites (1578), an Anglo Italian dictionary and phrasebook. It’s one of my favourite Elizabethan texts since it reveals much about how people interacted with each other in the course of daily life. Regular readers of the blog will already have read my earlier posts from First Fruites, and my little potted biography of Florio, but anyone else interested can find them here.

Today’s extract is a conversation between two men who meet on the street, and their subject matter is surprisingly contemporary.

‘God save you sir.’
‘The like I wishe to you.’
‘I commend me unto your lordship.’
‘When shal we see one another?’
‘When it pleaseth you.’
‘When will your lord come to the Court?’
‘Tomorrow, if it please God.’
‘I have seene a fayre damsell, I wyl goe and make her some musicke with Violes, or els Lute as soon as I have dyned.’
‘Will you that I keep you companie?’
‘Gladly, and I will give you two or three quartes of wine.’
‘I will go with you.’
‘I will knowe of her if shee will please to come and sup with me, I will be glad of her companie.’
‘Methinks she is very courteous.’
‘Verily she is very gallant.’
‘What do you think of the two women that go there together?’
‘Methinkes they are three.’
‘So me thinkes too.’
‘One of them is maried.’
‘It is so certaine.’
‘I would I had the like, and that she were mine.’
‘So would I also.’
‘Well I will go and walk in Cheape to buy something.’
‘And what will you buy?’
‘I will buy a hat, a payre of white Stockens, and I will buy me a payre of Pumpes.’
‘Tell me, how like you this sword and this dagger? Is it good?’
‘Me thinkes it is very good. I would I had the like for a Crowne.’
‘These Gloves, are they well perfumed?’
‘Yes certainly: who hath perfumed them?’
‘An English man.’
‘My garters are a good colour, and so are my Stockens also.’
‘So they are, where bought you them?’
‘On Cheape, they cost me ten shillings.’
‘Me thinks that is cheape.’
‘And me thinks it is deare.’
‘I will ride into the country.’
‘How long will you tarry there?’
‘I will tarry a month.’
‘What will you do so long?’
‘I will see the killing of some Buck if I can, afore I returne to the citie.’
‘Is there a great plentie?’
‘Yes, very great.’
‘Have you a horse?’
‘No sir, but I will buy one or else I will hyre one.’
‘What shall you pay a day?’
‘I know not, but I beleeve a shilling.’

Once his friend has returned from tarrying in the countryside, the two arrange to meet for breakfast:

 

‘You have tarried long in the country.’
‘I could not come sooner.’
‘Tomorrow morning I will come to you.’
‘Come, and you shall be welcome. I will break my fast with you and we will have a paire of sausages. They please me very well.’
‘And also me.’
‘But we must have some wine.’
‘We will have some, if there be any in London.’
‘I will go and put me on a cleane shirt, because I sweate very much. It is hot.’

Dining Family Household

Rich hangings in a homely house

Following a recent return visit to the Weald and Downland museum in West Sussex, I thought it might be worth sharing some photos. As ever, they were snapped with my iPhone since I didn’t have the foresight to take a camera, so the quality isn’t great. The Weald and Downland museum is an open-air museum dedicated to historic buildings which have been saved from destruction, dismantled, and rebuilt in acres of beautifully untouched landscape in West Sussex. The museum’s website is here. If you love historic buildings then Weald and Downland is most definitely worth a visit. The highlights for me were, of course, the early modern properties. But there is also a working forge, a watermill, and many other delights. As far as I understand it, every property has been furnished with appropriate period fixtures and fittings, and the gardens are as authentic as possible.
 

15th Century shop


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century house


 
 
 

16th Century Bed


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century garden


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century garden


 
 
 

View of the market hall (1620)


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century house


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century tableware


 
 
 

Mid 17th Century garden


 
 
 

Granary (1731)


 
 
 

15th Century hall


 
 
 

15th Century hall


 
 
 

15th Century bed


 
 
 

15th Century upstairs privy


 
 
 

15th Century(?) tableware


 
 
 

Vegetables and herbs drying in the Tudor Kitchen


 
 
 

House (1609)


 
 
 

House (1609)


 
 
 

Victorian kitchen (1860)


 
 
 

Weald and Downland


 
 
 

17th Century pigsty (21st Century pig)


 
 
 

View from the 14th Century hall


 
 
 

15th Century pantry


 
 
 

17th Century garden

 

Childbirth Dining Family Household Love Marriage

Then trudgeth he into the Kitchin


From The Brideling, Sadling, and Ryding of a rich Churle (1594)

 
 
The following is an extract from The Bachelor’s Banquet by Thomas Dekker. Published in 1603, Dekker’s entertaining pamphlet explores the numerous ways in which a typical wife makes her husband’s existence a living hell, but hen-picked spouses aside, the real joy is in the illuminating detail of daily life in the early seventeenth century, and in the contemporaneous dialogue. What follows here is an account of the wearying role of a husband during a wife’s pregnancy.

When her husband sees her belly to grow big, this breedes him new cares and troubles, for then must he trot up and downe day and night, farre and neare, to get with great cost that [which] his wife longs for: if she let fall but a pin, he is diligent to take it up, least she by stouping should hurt her selfe. She on the other side is so hard to please. And oft times through ease and plentie she growes so queasie stomackt, that she can brooke no common meates, but longs for strange and rare things, which whether they be to be had or no, yet she must have them there is no remedie. She must have Cherries, though for a pound he pay ten shillings, or greene Peascods at foure Nobles a pecke: he must take a horse, and ride into the Countrey, to get her greene Codlings (apples), when they are scarcely so big as a scotch button. In this trouble and vexation of mind and body, lives the silly man for five or seven moneths, all which time his wife doth nothing but complaine, and hee poore soule takes all the care, rising earely, going late to bed, and to be short, is faine to play both the husband and huswife. But when the time drawes neere of her lying downe, then must he trudge to get Gossips, such as she will appoint, or else all the fatte is in the fire.

Consider then what cost and trouble it will be to him, to have all things fine against the Christning day, what store of Sugar, Biskets, Comphets (comfits, a sweetmeat made with fruit and sugar) and Carawapes (confection), Marmalet (quince jelly) and marchpane, with all kind of sweete suckets, and superstitious banqueting stuffe, with a hundred other odde and needlesse trifles, which at that time must fill the pockets of daintie dames. Besides the charge of the midwife, she must have her nurse to attend and keepe her, who must make for her warme broaths, and costly cawdels (a type of gruel mixed with wine or beer given to the sick), enough both for her selfe and her mistresse, being of the minde to fare no worse then she. If her mistresse be fedde with partridge, plover, woodcocks, quailes, or any such like, the nurse must be partner with her in all these dainties. Neither yet will that suffice, but during the whole moneth she privily pilfers away the sugar and ginger, with all other spices that comes under her keeping, putting the poore man to such expence, that in a whole yeare he can scarcely recover that one moneths charges.

Then every day after her lying downe will sundry dames visit her, which are her neighbours, her kinswomen, and other her speciall acquaintance, whom the good man must welcome with all cheerefulnesse, and be sure there be some dainties in store to set before them: where they about some three or foure houres (or possible halfe a day) will sit chatting with the Child-wife, and by that time the cups of wine have merily trold about, and halfe a dozen times moystned their lips with the sweet juyce of the purple grape.

Here Dekker pauses to reveal the sort of gossip the women in the bedchamber exchange:

They begin thus one with another to discourse; Good Lord neighbour, I marvaile how our gossip Frees doth, I have not seene the good soule this many a dayAh God helpe her, quoth another, for she hath her hands full of worke, and her heart full of heavinesse. While she drudges all the weeke at home, her husband, like an unthrift, never leaves running abroad to the Tennis court, and Dicing houses, spending all that ever he hath in such lewd sort. And if that were the worst it is well. But heare you, Gossip, there is another matter spoyles all, he cares no more for his wife then for a dog, but keepes queanes (prostitutes) even under her nose. Jesu! saith another, who would thinke he were such a man, he behaves himselfe so orderly and civilly, to all mens sights? Then the third fetching a great sigh says, I pray you tell me one thing, when saw you our friend mistresse O? Now in good she is a kind creature, and a very gentle. I promise you I saw her not since you and I dranke a pinte of wine with her in the fish market. O, saith the other, There is a great change since that time, for they have bene faine to pawne all that ever they have, and yet God knowes her husband lies still in prison.

The gossips having left the house, the saintly husband finally returns home:

Hee having bene forth to provide such meates as shee would have, he commeth home (perhappes at midnight,) and before hee sitteth downe to rest himselfe, hath a very earnest desire to knowe how his Wife doth. He asketh the Chamber-maide, or else the Nurse, how his Wife doeth: they answere, shee is very ill at ease, and that since his departure shee tasted not one bit of meate, but that towards the Evening she beganne to be a little better, all which be meere Lies. But the Poore-man hearing these wordes, grieves not a little, though he be weary and wet, having gone a long journey through a filthie way. Yet will he neither eate or drinke, nor (so much as once sit downe) till he have seene his Wife. Then the prattling Idle Nurse beginnes to looke verie heavily, and to sigh inwardly as though her Mistresse had bene that day at the point of Death, which he seeing, he was more earnest to visit his wife: whom at the entrance of the Chamber, he heares lye groaning to her selfe. Comming to the Beds side, [he] kindly sits downe by her, saying How now my sweet heart, how doest thou?Ah Husband (saith she) I am very ill, nor was I ever so sicke in my life as I have bene this day. Alas good soule (saith he) I am the more sorrie to heare it. I pray thee tell mee where lies thy paine? Ah Husband (quoth she) you know I have been weake a long time, and not able to eate any thing. But Wife (quoth he) why did you not cause the Nurse to boyle you a Capon, and make a messe of good Broath for you? So shee did (saith his wife) as well as she could, but it did not like me, and by that meanes I have eaten nothing since the broath which your selfe made me: Oh me thought that was excellent good.

Marry, Wife (saith he) I will presently make you some more of the same, and you shall eate it for my sake. With all my hart good Husband (saith shee) and I shall thinke my selfe highly beholding unto you. Then trudgeth hee into the Kitchin; there playes hee the Cook, burning and broyling himselfe over the fire, having his eyes ready to be put out with smoake. While hee is busie making the Broath, hee chides with his Maides, calling them beasts and baggages, that knowes not how to doe any thing, not so much as make a little broath for a sicke body but he must be faine to doe it him selfe. Then comes downe Mistris Nurse as fine as a farthing Fiddle, in her petticoate and Kirtle, having on a white wast-coate, with a Flaunting cambricke ruffe about her necke, who like a Doctris in Facultie, comes thus upon him: Good Lord Sir, what paines you take, here is no bodie can please our Mistresse but your selfe: I will assure you (on my credite) that I doe what I can, yet for my life, I cannot in any way content her. Moreover, here came in Mistresse Cot. and Mistresse Con. who did both of them what they could to have your Wife eate something. Nevertheless, all that they did could not make her taste one spoonefull of any thing all this live-long day. I know not what she ailes, I have kept manie Women in my time, but I never knewe any so weake as shee is; I (quoth he) you are a companie of cunning Cookes, that cannot make a little Broath as it should be.

And by this time the broath being ready, hee brings it straight to his Wife, comforting her with many kind words, praying her to eate for his sake, or to taste a spoonefull or twaine, which she doth, commending it to the Heavens, affirming also that the Broath which the others made had no good taste in the world, and was nothing worth. The good man hereof beeing not a little proude, biddes them make goode in his Wife’s chamber, charging them to tend her well. And having given this direction, hee gettes himselfe to Supper, with some colde meate set before him, such as the Gossips left, or his Nurse could spare, and having this short pittance hee goes to Bedde full of care.
 


From The Merry Cuckhold (1629)

If you enjoyed this, you may like another extract from The Bachelor’s Banquet, an argument between husband and wife over clothes and money, which you can find here

Custom Dining Food Household

Take a Peacock and cover with a sheet of Lard

 

 

I recently discovered a really delightful set of texts on seventeenth century household management. I plan to write a series of posts in order to share some of the more interesting and unusual snippets. Today’s offering from 1682: how to set a posh table, fold a napkin, wow your guests with a baffling peacock dish, and prepare entertaining egg dishes.

 

Setting a posh table:

Take a basket lined with a clean Napkin. Into it set ‘a Bason and Ewer, the Essay Cup, and Cadnet, Flagons, Salts, Plates, Spoons, Forkes, Knives, Riders for Plates, Table-Cloaths, Nakins; of the which two at least folded in the fashion of a broken Staff, with bread, and all other things necessary to the Covering of a Table and side Table.’

The Butler and the Servant must take the Basket ‘thus furnished betwixt them and carry it into the Hall or Chamber where they [the household and guests] are to eat; not forgetting the Pepper-box, and Cruet of Vinegar.’

When they arrive at the chamber or hall, they must ‘set down the Basket, and so begin to cover your side-Table first, with a clean Cloath, and then set on your Plate; first, your Bason and Ewer, and your Flagons ranged against the Tapestry-Hanging, mingled one amongst the other; then underneath compose another range of Essay Cups, Sugar-Castors, and Glasses with the Feet downward, and upon each of them put a Cover.’

This done, ‘the butler begins to cover the Table thus, first the Table Cloth, then the Salts, and the Riders for Plates, then the Plates with the Coat of Arms towards the middle of the table, so many as are necessary, but let them not touch the edge of the Table by three or four fingers. At the right hand of each Plate place a Knife, with the edge towards the Plate, then the Spoons, the brim or edge of the Spoon downwards, with Forks, but be sure not to cross or lay them the one on the other, then the Bread upon the Plate, and the Napkin upon the Bread, and so much for covering a Table.’

 

The author goes on

‘It is also necessary for him [the Butler] to know how to fold, pleat, and pinch his Linnen into all manner of forms both of Fish, Beasts and Birds, as well as Fruits, which is the greatest curiosity in the covering of a Table well, for many have gone farther to see a Table neatly covered than they would have done for to have eaten a good meal at the same Table.’

 

And here are his rather complicated and unfathomable instructions on how ‘To pleat a Napkin in the form of a Cockle-shell double’:

‘Take a Napkin crossways, and fold it in the middle, and make a band of a Thumbs-breadth near the middle, continue doing this till you come within half a Foot of the Hem. Then turn your Napkin on the other side, and make the bands again in the same manner as you did the former, then take it at its length, and pinch as much and as hard as ever you can, then raise up the pleats of every band with the point of a Pin or Needle, one after another. Do this on both sides, then open the under side of your Napkin that is not pleated and fasten a Loaf in it, and gather the pleats together again upon the Loaf, then raise up your Napkin at its hight, and lay it down in the form of a Fan that is open.’

 

Carving a Thrush after the Italian fashion

 

In addition to these Martha Stewart-style tips on impressing guests and hosting, the book contains some splendid recipes. This is my favourite meat dish to date. Making a peacock look like a porcupine:

‘To make Peacocks look Porcupine; Take a Peacock and cover them with a Sheet of Lard, and so make them roast; For your sauce take Rose-water and Vinegar with small Spice, Cinamon, and Cloves, and set this under your Meat in the Dripping Pan. When the Fowl is roasted, take Cinamon in long small pieces covered over with Sugar, and stick it into your Fowl all one way, that it may seem like points of Porcupines. Then make your Sauce boyl, and put it into your dish, and lay your Fowl upon it, but let not your Sauce touch the Cinamon that is stuck into the Fowl.’

 

Finally, two truly fantastically named egg dishes. Lost Eggs, and Eggs a L’Intrigue:

‘Lost Eggs, or Perdus: Take the Yolks of raw Eggs, and steep them in a little Rose-Water with some Crums of Bread, and a little fine Wheat Flower. Beat this all together, but not strain it, and fry it in a Frying-pan with some good Butter. But forget not to put in a little Salt in the baking of it, and some Sugar over it when it is baked.’

‘Eggs a L’Intrigue: Break a dozen and a half Eggs into a Dish, and beat them well together with almost two quarts of Cream, with Pepper, Salt and sweet Herbs minced very small together. Then put some clarified Butter into a Paty-Pan, set it upon a soft Fire, and when your Butter is hot, put in about the third part of your Eggs thus beaten, and when they are about half ready, then make a Bed, or lay Cheese slices, and Anchovies in pieces, then some potch’d Eggs that are done in Water. This done, put another part of your Eggs thus beaten over all this, and cover up your Paty-pan, till these Eggs be almost baked. Then repeat the thing again and make a Bed as before, and pour over it the rest of your beaten Eggs, with some little bits of Butter and grated Cheese, then give it a colour at the top, and so serve it away hot with the juice of Lemons.’

 

Inspiring ideas for carving flashy pears
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