|Walking into feast hall you can
see the servers moving briskly about taking care of the many tables that are filled with
eager eaters. The scents that greet your nose are delectable to say the least.
A hit of saffron, the sweet smell of honey and even a hint of rose seems to dance
in the air.
The servers carrying pitchers hurry past you when
one notices you standing in the entryway. "Well find a seat if your gonna
|The Well-Tempered Feast Basket - A Guide
Lady Jehanne de Huguenin
|House Drakewhistle has a feast basket. It
holds the feast gear for five of us and any guests we invite. Its a large basket,
with at last count nine goblets in it. It squats in a corner of the kitchen and snaps at
the kittens and the legs of the unwary. It eats candles and spits out the remains. It is
not a well-tempered feast-basket. Heres what a well-tempered feast basket possibly
The SCA setting requires that gentles bring their own
feast gear to events, a sensible policy which means each branch doesnt have to
acquire several hundred bits of crockery and cutlery for its members to break, eat or
lose. Feast gear is defined as anything you personally need to survive the evening
atmospherically and in persona. The following checklist gives suggestions for feast gear,
not only what to bring, but where to find medieval or medievalish items.
|There are two schools of thought on this:
the goblet, and the tankard. Genuine medieval goblets would be metal - silver or gold in
the case of nobles, or possibly pewter. In the current middle ages, with gentles lacking
large land holdings to finance their tableware, silver-plate is popular and pottery very
common and perfectly acceptable. Most people tend to avoid glassware - it breaks. Tankards
follow the same rules, although theyre more of a peasant and less of a noble choice.
Youll probably need at least one per person, with a few extra for guests, breakages
and serious drinking bouts. Craft markets are an excellent place for goblets. The Red Shed
at the Waterfront has a pottery place with lovely large goblets. Homeshops such as
Stuttafords stock the metal varieties, as do lots of junkshops.
|Remember that the fork was not in use until
very late in our period. Medieval eating was done with a knife for cutting and spearing
things, a spoon for broths, and the fingers. Its surprisingly easy to do this
neatly, with practise. Youll need a bowl and a plate per person; one extra each
means you have the luxury of not having to wash them for the dessert course. The plate is
an equivalent to the medieval trencher, a slice of hard bread which was used to serve food
(the soaked bread was later given to the poor). A small wooden board would also work as a
substitute. The bowl is for broth and stews - plain pottery or wood is the standard. Its
rather nicely authentic to eat with your belt-knife, if you have one. Wooden spoons can be
bought at most craft markets and curio shops, and at Greenmarket Square (we tend to buy
the ones with crude animal carvings, and saw off the carvings). A wooden-handled knife is
a reasonable substitute for a belt-knife. You will also need napkins, since finger-eating
is the rule; one largish white linenish napkin per person. If we were really organised, wed
have the Drakewhistle badge embroidered on ours. (Were not).
|Its really up to you to provide light
at your table setting, which means you should bring candlesticks and candles, enough for
at least one candle per person, preferably a couple. Candlesticks could be wooden,
pottery, metal. Again, craft markets have wonderful selections, particularly the
wrought-iron stuff. (Ask the Herald, the man with the largest personal candlestick
collection in the Shire).
|Its not just the practicalities which
count, its also the atmosphere. Tablecloths! Fancy runners! Embroidered napkins!
Water-jugs! Finger-bowls! Salt-bowls! Nefs! And, most importantly, personal display -
banners, shields, your badge on as many things as you can fit it on, as colourfully and
ornamentally as possible. The SCA is about the pageantry of the Middle Ages, and dont
you forget it!
You can see why a household is so useful: it
makes sense to build up a collection between several people, and use your stuff to
decorate a common table area when you feast. It also helps to have several people to lug
the basket or chest or whatever you decide to cart the darned things in. (If it has to be
a plastic something, bring a cloth to throw over it).
And, while you build up your collection, any hints as to taming the
Drakewhistle basket would be gratefully received... No! Down! Back, sir! Aaaargh....
|Copyright 2000 by Lady Jehanne de Huguenin,
jessica at beattie.uct.ac.za, P O Box 443, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa.