Today on Medieval Eye for the Modern Guy we look at the do’s and don’ts of feasting.
A few rules of thumb as you prepare yourself for the upcoming Abbey Medieval banquet.
What to Wear
We shall of course not even suggest to lecture the Ladies on what to wear as their fashion sense should always be beyond reproach. Gentleman however may require some discrete coaching on what is expected at a banquet and what are definite medieval faux pas!
Obviously a gentleman would never dream of sitting down to dine in polite company in armour. The same goes for carrying weapons such as axes crossbows etc. After all you are going out for an intimate dinner for 300; not a family reunion. Daggers are an exception as they are simply too dainty to be considered a weapon and the jewelled hilt just cries out to be accessorised. The only weapon you will require is your rapier sharp wit (having a few trusty armed retainers ready outside with a fast getaway horse can be handy if your rapier wit gets you into trouble)
A few hints for the truly fashion conscious; rusty armour is out; shiny silks, fine furs and brocades and damasks are in. Don’t be afraid to mix your colours or go with a simple parti-colour for a striking effect by dressing with one side white or gold and the other red or blue. Bareheaded is so common so hats are also in this season but if you really want to stand out try a circlet of silver or gold to accent your luxurious locks, and it keeps them out of your food. Furs are always in but they should be artfully tailored and not look like you are still sharing them with the animal. Also don’t be disappointed that no one believes a great hunter when you have a sheepskin draped over your shoulders.
The best maxim is coats bright, hose tight, furs exotic, hats amazing, codpiece outlandish, manners polished and smile dashing and you can’t help but be a hit with the ladies and a threat to your peers.
Tools of the Trade
It goes without saying that to dine properly you will of course require servants, but if you are travelling light you should still have the following:
- Spoon ( silver or gold preferred)
- Knife (small and sharp)
- Napkin (white linen, silk is so overdone)
- Bowls ( clean, precious metals or decorated ceramic are acceptable)
- Cup or goblet ( silver or gold always acceptable though venetian glass is trending right now)
- Finger bowl with warm scented water (for hand washing not plunge bathing)
These items can be used individually, sequentially, in combinations but NEVER all at once.
(Please note: This is information pertaining to dining in the Middle Ages: no “tools” are required for our banquets)
Instructions for use
Spoons are for eating pottages, soups and deserts which are placed in your bowl, never in your hand or neighbour’s hat. The knife (definitely not your dagger) is used for cutting your food into dainty morsels (gobbets) which you then pop into your mouth with your fingers. Whilst some foods can be taken on the point of a knife (not soups) it shows a definite lack of breeding to do so and gobbets of food should be eaten with the fingers (your own). Don’t hack at your food with your knife like you are running late for the Crusades and don’t want to miss out on all of the fun and taking an axe to the roast, or your neighbours, is definitely a big no. A two pronged fork is acceptable for pasta and shellfish but don’t flash it round like some nouveau rich burgher out to impress his boorish urban friends. Some also think it is stylish to use a spike to place food in the mouth; but ask yourself if a fork is doubtful how can eating with half of a fork be acceptable? Your napkin is to be used for wiping your mouth, fingers and utensils. Keep it classy and simple and remember that eating with your fingers never goes out of style.
The Abbey Medieval banquets take place on the 30th June and 7th July and there will be no better place to put your medieval manners into practice. Get your tickets here.
By Damien Fegan