Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 25 No. 1 February 2010

A Medieval Feast

Those of you who attended the Reunion in Oxford in 2007 will remember Mrs Marjorie Szurko who gave us a memorable tour of Oriel College where she is Librarian. Just before Xmas Marjorie invited Kee and myself to an Edible Exhibition of C16th cooking. She had prepared two tables laden with a score of 'goodies' that might well have been enjoyed by Anthony Blencowe when he was Provost of the College.

There were plates of Fine Manchet with Saffron (saffron bread), Tartes of Apples and Orange Pilles (apple tarts with candied orange peel), White Gingerbread, Curd Tartes, A Custarde (Lombardy custard), Pescoddes (fruit snacks in the shape of pea-pods), Fine cakes, A Tarte of Cheese, 'Walnut' Surprises, Almond Tartes, Short Cakes, A Tarte to give Courage to both Man and Woman [Was this a C15th Viagra?], Seed Cake, and A Sotelle (a Subtlety, a marzipan confection). We did our best to sample them all!

Contemporary etiquette suggestions were posted around the room: 'Don't throw bones under the table!' 'Don't use your knife to pick your teeth!' and so on. Also printed on the menu card was a sample C16th menu: Meat with Mustarde, Stewed Capons, Venison with a gravy, Chine of Beef and boiled Breast of Mutton, small Mutton Pies, Young Geese with a sauce of sorrel, a Pig, a roasted Rib of Beef, a Loin of Veal, half a Lamb or Kid, two Roasted Capons, two Venison Pasties, a Custard, a dish of Jelly and a Subtlety. Whew!! If Anthony Blencowe was served that lot he was living high on the hog!

Marjorie certainly put on a remarkable display of goodies enjoyed by a large number of guests. She hopes next year to display C17th cooking; with luck we'll see some of the dishes that Sir John Blencowe might have enjoyed when he was a student at the College.

Jack Blencowe

What a wonderful experience for Jack and Kee. It seems college food in the C16th was better than I remember from the C20th.


updated: 5 May 2010