The most difficult and tedious part of planning a feast is the math.

You go through the manuscript and choose a handful of recipes. Then you test the recipes, more than once if necessary, writing down every single measurement you used. Then you go shopping to find the prices for every single ingredient in every single dish at more than one store so you can make sure you’re getting the best price for that lamb/fresh mushrooms/saffron. You write down all the prices and make a giant spreadsheet.

Then the math begins. The average human can only eat so much food at one sitting. The math comes in figuring out how much of each dish to serve, coming up with a rough budget estimate based on cost of each item, and then going back and tweaking the menu until it all fits into the budget. And then the real math begins. Taking the amounts of your test recipes and then multiplying them out to feed the number of people at the feast the amount you’ve decided to give them takes time and concentration and often, loud music. When it’s time to go shopping it’s easy to start second-guessing my own math, buy too much, and then cook too much.

Seven course feasts do not happen at every event. I wanted to do a seven course feast to go along with the live telling of the Seven Voyages of Sindbad, but also for feasters to really experience the breadth and complexity of the court cuisine at the time the story of Sindbad the Sailor was written. You are going to be eating the food that the people who wrote the stories ate every day, the food that Sindbad the Sailor would have eaten in his own court.

However. As I said above, people can only eat so much at one sitting. To get everyone through seven courses of food and make sure that you will want to eat every course, the portions at this feast will not look like the portions at a regular 3-4 course feast. These portions will be very small, but there will be lots of them. Small portions add up, especially when five of the seven courses have at least one meat dish. Think of this feast as a long cocktail party with seven courses of fancy appetizers and a show. I promise, you won’t leave hungry.

 

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