Late last year at the very beginning of November I was asked to cook for a dinner party and I was given the most fantastic brief. It was to be for 15 people and 7 courses, and a whistle-stop journey of British food through the ages. This is the kind of brief I absolutely love getting my teeth into.
For anyone who is interested in history, there is no better way to experience it first-hand than cooking an old recipe; you can watch a film, read some original documents, whatever, but food is the only way to actually directly witness a past event.
After much deliberating, I came up with menu, and I thought I would share with you the recipes for each course along with a bit of history about the times or the people who wrote it.
We began with Plantagenet hors d’oeuvres and ended up at World War II for the sixth course.
The dessert bucked the trend; a pudding that used pumpkin as its main ingredient was asked for. (It was the day after Hallowe’en, after all.)
Here’s the full menu:
Pork tartlets, 14th century, Plantagenet
Salmon en croute with candied fruit and herb sauce, Tudor, c1600
Hashed chickens and stewed turnips with roast quince, 1660, Stuarts
‘Mutton to eat as venison’, with Lenten Pie, 1773, Georgian
Cucumber, gin and mint sorbet, 1920s
Pigeon faggot, cabbage and mustard sauce, mash, WWII 1940s
Pompion Pye, Stuarts