Beef Pies from Le Menagier

From Le Menagier de Paris:

Item MUTTON PIE in a POT. Take a thigh (of mutton), and grease or marrow of beef or veal chopped small and onions chopped small, and set to boil and cook in a well-covered pot in a small amount of meat stock or other liquid, then put to boil in it spices, and a little vinegar to sharpen it, and arrange it in a dish.

BEEF PASTIES. Have good young beef and remove all the fat, and the less good parts are cut in pieces to be used for stock, and then it is carried to the pastry-cook to be chopped up: and the grease with beef marrow. The meat of a leg of beef is sliced up and put in pastry; and when the pastry is cooked, it is appropriate to throw a wild duck sauce into it.

SAUCE TO BOIL IN PIES OF YOUNG WILD DUCK, DUCKLING, YOUNG RABBIT OR WILD RABBIT. Take lots of good cinnamon, ginger, clove, grains, half a nutmeg and mace, galingale, and grind very well, and soak in half verjuice and half vinegar, and the sauce should be clear. And when the pie is just about done, throw this sauce inside it and return to the oven to boil once.

I’m working on a 14th century French-themed Coronation feast, so of course there must be pies.

First draft of Beef Pie:

1.5 lb hot-water pastry with an added egg, 1/2 large white onion, 1 lb stew beef, 1.5 oz raisins, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, ½ tsp grains, ¼ tsp nutmeg, clove, 2 tsp verjus, 2 tsp white wine vinegar. This is tasty. The raisins are not necessary, I’ll probably just use beef and onions. Took a very long time to bake at 350 in a 8” souffle dish- almost 2 hours. I tried pouring the sauce into the hole at the top of the pastry as soon as the mixture started bubbling, but the pie was of course full of liquid, so that was useless. I had to dribble the raw sauce over the sliced pie. Next time I’ll just add the sauce to the filling before cooking. 

Madhavi’s Dream Feast

Recently on SCA-Cooks someone asked people to describe their dream feast. I thought about it for several days, and this is my response.
The only way for me to answer is to first decide for whom am I making the best feast experience possible? Since this is a fantasy, I am going to decide that the audience I am catering to is interested in the highest authenticity possible with a special focus on non-european culture and an unlimited budget. My “dream feast” is an outdoor garden feast in the afternoon, set in the court of the Sultan of Malwa 1500 (modern day Madhya Pradesh, India). The weather would be cool and sunny. The cooking would be done mostly outdoors on braziers, with the cooks all in time/place appropriate clothing, so that guests to the court could walk among the cooks as they worked, all recipes out of the Nimatnama, of course. There would also be various entertainers in the garden- marionette plays, storytellers, tumblers, dancers and musicians, etc to keep guests entertained while the food was being prepared, all dressed in the fashion of the court of Malwa. There would be low wooden platforms constructed, set with pillows and thick carpets and shaded by decorated cloths above. A separate platform would have low chairs and tables for farangi (foreigner) guests who are not able to sit on the ground. A fountain would be set up for hand-washing, with appropriate soaps and unguents. Sweets and fruits are served before the feast, along with the Sultan’s best flower wines and exotic sharbats. The feast is served all at once on clean white fine cloths, “family-style”, with the diners lingering over the food as long as they wish. The dishes would include the requisite dal, meat, vegetables, rice, bread, pickles, yogurt, and salt, but would be rarest and highest quality ingredients imaginable. (The Sultan is wealthier than most of Europe combined, so the farangi would be especially shocked). The men and women would, of course, eat separately. Then after the meal there would be a performance of professional dancers, singers and musicians by actual torch light, with more wine, sweetmeats and sharbats, and paan (an herbal aperitif) for anyone interested. The evening would end with fireworks for everyone and fresh flowers and sparklers for the ladies. Everyone would go home with a small box of sweetmeats and perfumes.

10th Century Eggplant Dip with Sesame Cookies

Recently a friend was elevated to the Order of the Laurel. His persona is from the 11th century Sultanate of Rum, in modern-day Anatolia/Turkey. The closest published manuscript we could find for recipes for his elevation party was from al-Warraq, recently published as Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens. I love this manuscript after having done a seven-course feast out of it just a few years ago, and I was excited to cook out of it some more. I chose an eggplant salad/dip and a variety of aqras, the ubiquitous baked pastries of the medieval Arab world.

Badhinjan Mahshi

1 large yellow onion
2 Italian eggplants
1/4 c olive oil plus some
2 tbl sugarcane vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbl sugar
2 large pinches cinnamon
1 heaping tsp caraway, coarsely ground in a mortar
1 large pinch of saffron, ground in a mortar
Take olive oil through saffron, mix in a bowl. Roast whole eggplants in oven or boil until collapsed and soft all the way through. While the eggplant is cooking, slice the onion into half moons and cook gently in olive oil until deeply browned. When the eggplant is cooked through, peel the skin off and chop the tender flesh. Gently mix the vinaigrette with the cooked eggplant, then add saffron and mix until the golden color spreads evenly through the dip. Mix the onions in gently. Taste and adjust salt and vinegar until balanced. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving- I know the recipe says serve immediately but believe me, it’s extra-lovely after a little time-out. Taste again and adjust salt and vinegar. Drizzle with a healthy amount of olive oil and serve with aqras.


Aqras Fatit

I found a modern recipe that was so close to this description, I was amazed. I did not have time to buy mahlab, so I added 1/2 tsp almond extract. Instead of baker’s ammonia, I added baking powder. 350 ml of water made a very thick dough, and the resulting cookies were thicker than I think they ought to be. Next time I will add more water and use mahlab. I sprinkled them with salt before baking too. They were really delicious with the eggplant.

Experimental German Pastry Success!

Out of Sabina Welserin 1553, translated by David Friedman:

61 To make a pastry dough for all shaped pies

Take flour, the best that you can get, about two handfuls, depending on how large or small you would have the pie. Put it on the table and with a knife stir in two eggs and a little salt. Put water in a small pan and a piece of fat the size of two good eggs, let it all dissolve together and boil. Afterwards pour it on the flour on the table and make a strong dough and work it well, however you feel is right. If it is summer, one must take meat broth instead of water and in the place of the fat the skimmings from the broth. When the dough is kneaded, then make of it a round ball and draw it out well on the sides with the fingers or with a rolling pin, so that in the middle a raised area remains, then let it chill in the cold. Afterwards shape the dough as I have pointed out to you. Also reserve dough for the cover and roll it out into a cover and take water and spread it over the top of the cover and the top of the formed pastry shell and join it together well with the fingers. Leave a small hole. And see that it is pressed together well, so that it does not come open. Blow in the small hole which you have left, then the cover will lift itself up. Then quickly press the hole closed. Afterwards put it in the oven. Sprinkle flour in the dish beforehand. Take care that the oven is properly heated, then it will be a pretty pastry. The dough for all shaped pastries is made in this manner.

In the proportions I used, this recipe makes a rich and tasty golden pastry with a tender crumb. Extra flour and chilling makes a dough plenty stiff enough to mold for a raised pie.

This recipe makes 10 tarts, about 8″ across.

10 oz unsalted butter
10 oz good lard
10 fluid oz water
3 eggs
1.5 tsp salt
32 oz flour + 1-2 cups for kneading & rolling

Gently heat water, lard and butter over low heat until fats are softened. Set aside to cool slightly. The mixture should be cooled enough not to cook the eggs but still warm. Combine flour, salt, and eggs in bowl until the eggs are no longer discernible. Add water & fat mixture and mix just until combined into a loose dough.  You may need to add an extra 1/2 c to get the dough to combine. As soon as it makes a ball (I used the paddle in a KitchenAid), dump onto parchment paper, set in a bowl, and chill until room temperature in the middle and cold at the edges. Dump dough out on a board and knead in flour lightly just until the dough is rollable. It will still be sticky but the higher fat:flour ratio also makes the dough tender.  Cut into 10 roughly 7 oz portions. Roll out, pile filling in the center, and fold edges back to the edges of the filling. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes in a convection oven.

I made three kinds of tarts from this dough, based on options in Ein New Kochbuch: mulberry, cherry, and plum. I used home-canned mulberry preserves and plums for those tarts since I had a large amount from my own fruit trees in the spring. Sour cherries are largely unavailable in Florida in October, so I mixed sweetened dried cherries with sweet frozen cherries and a bit of sugar to get a more-intense cherry flavor without thickeners. The whole canned plums were sprinkled with sugar and very good ground cinnamon. Note- no starchy thickeners in the tart fillings. Starch thickeners is noticeably absent in all of the tart recipes in Ein New Kochbuch except for grated weck bread in a strawberry tart, and fried buttered bread crumbs on a cherry tart in Welserin, which both give significantly different textures. Firmly resist that canned pie filling! Fruit and a sprinkle of sugar is delicious.

The Weird Dish- Gourds and Eggplant

My feast last Sunday night (Fall Coronation of Valbrandr and Cerric) was mostly from the 16th century Maddat ol-Hayat, translated by MR Ghanoonparvar and published as “Dining at the Safavid Court”. Saturday night I cooked a few dishes for our household dinner. I’m growing bottle gourds this year and I’ve been overwhelmed by the harvest, so I’m finding lots of medieval references and recipes for bottle gourds. Ghanoonparvar translated something as “zucchini”. We know that there was no zucchini in 16th century Persia, so since I have found copious evidence of bottle gourds being consumed in all the areas around Persia, I assert that these references to zucchini are actually bottle gourds (or another edible gourd, they are basically interchangeable).

Chapter 3- On the Varieties of Burani

The method of preparation of burani is that meat is sauteed with onions and spices and broth is added until it is cooked, to which cinnamon sticks, cloves, and caraway seeds are added in addition to zucchini cut into small pieces. And it should have very little water, because zucchini gives out moisture. Small meatballs should be dropped on the top of the zucchini, and the herbs for this dish are spinach, leeks, and mint. Eggplants are boiled separately, browned, and placed on top. Thickened yogurt with dry mint and garlic are poured over the burani after it is cooked on the top of which qeymeh is sprinkled.

Qeymeh-ye Kadu

This dish is also called Qeymeh Qabaq. Its method of preparation is that minced meat is cooked along with onions and spices, to which zucchini is added and cooked. Yogurt is a requisite.

*Qeymeh means “cooked, minced meat

Unfortunately I didn’t have the book right in front of me when I got down to the actual cooking, so I ended up making a mash-up between the two dishes. A unique ingredient to this cuisine is dehydrated and reconstituted whey, called kashk. It’s almost toffee-colored, thicker than strained yogurt, and intensely salty. It is an alternate ingredient in several “yogurt” toppings in this manuscript, so since I actually found some in my local Indian grocery store I decided to try it out.

4 Japanese eggplants, cut into pieces
1 large bottle gourd, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
2 large onions
1/2 tsp turmeric
sweet sesame oil
an entire head of garlic, peeled and chopped/smashed
2 lb ground beef (this should be lamb! or goat)
1 c kashk
dried mint
more chopped/smashed garlic
pepper

We were cooking over charcoal, so I ended up using a large cast-iron wok. I heated a generous amount of sesame oil and fried the gourd, eggplant, and onion until the eggplant basically disintegrated and the vegetables were dry and frying again, then added the garlic and turmeric. Then I fried the ground meat separately with a bit of cinnamon and fennel seed (I didn’t have caraway) until it was a bit crispy. In a separate bowl, I mixed the kashk, a bit of whole-fat yogurt, dried mint, and some crushed garlic. To serve it, I spread the meat over the fried mashed vegetables. I served the kashk sauce separately but it should be poured over the top. This fed 12-ish people as a side dish.

Sorry for the weird turban thing, there was a strong wind and my hair was out of control so I just wrapped my dupatta around my head. This is just the fried vegetables, the dish wasn’t finished until after dark.

This was absolutely delicious. It’s not an attractive-looking dish, mostly brown mushy stuff, but man was it good. Gourd softens but never turn to mush like zucchini or eggplant. So the texture is lovely and silky, even if it’s rather on the “brown goo” side of dishes. I cut this from the feast menu because I was worried it would be too weird but everyone loved it. I would definitely include this in another Persian feast.

Trimaris Winter ArtSci

We are trying something pretty crazy for Trimaris Winter ArtSci this year- instead of a traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner we are doing a twelve hour dayboard with a different cook every hour! Each cook is responsible for a course of three dishes taken directly from a pre-1650 manuscript. Most cooks have submitted their recipes already to me and I am making a recipe book, which will be sold as a fundraiser for the kingdom war fund. So far so good!

The menu is shaping up very nicely:

10am: Mairi Ceilidh, OL- Rolls of Milk & Sugar, fruit, cheese (Libro Novo of Messibugo, Venice 1557)
11am: Lady Philomena Wensley- Custard tart with dried fruit, Brie tart, and Salmon tart with dried fruit (Harleian Manuscripts, England 1429)
12pm: Andrew McAlister- Tagliarini and Cheese dish (Libro de Arte Coquinaria, Italian 1465)
1pm: Michael Raney- Fried spiced pork, Eggplant with yogurt, Rice, Sweet orange dessert drink (Ksemakutuhalam, North India 1605)
2pm: Baroness Arianna Rosa Cristina Veneziano, OP- Rosewater & saffron fritters, Elderflower fritters, Royal Dough tart (Scappi, Italy 1570)
3pm: Rangvaldr Andhrimnisson- Mortadelle sausages, Sauteed cabbage (Ouverture de Cuisine, France 1604)
4pm- 5pm: The hall is closed for decorating 

6pm: Dianna Wyndalan of Kidwelly, Baroness of An Crosaire, OL- “Douce Ame” chicken cooked in milk with fresh herbs, saffron rice (Forme of Curey, English 1580)
7pm: Signy Ottarsdottir OL- Roasted Pork, Wholegrain bread, Rapes in potage, Pears in Composte (Noble Book of Cookery and Forme of Cury, England 1390)
8pm: Sibeal inghean Mhurchadha- Lentils, meat and chickpea/rice, meatballs and noodles, Apricot sharbat (Scents and Flavors the Banqueter Favors, Syria 13th century)
9pm- 10pm: Madhavi of Jaisamer, OL- Rice pudding, tarts, Syrian crepes with nuts, semolina pudding with musk sugar, candied peels, ragged comfits, syrups of various flavors, hypocras (Various times and places)

This is truly a showcase of this kingdom’s best authenticity-focused cooks. I am honored to present such a menu to the populace.

First Test of Pit-Cooking Pork

I am the head cook for the Trimaris party at Gulf Wars, which is in a couple weeks. Less than a couple weeks, now. The theme of the party is Viking, and I chose 9th century Birka as the symbolic “location” for the party. As much as my budget and equipment will allow, all the food at the party will be appropriate to 9th century Birka.

Cooking meat in pits was a common cooking method in the Viking cultures, with multiple pits found in many sites. There is also a good description of technique in An Early Meal. There are two main methods- fire on top of rocks at the bottom of the pit, or rocks on top of fire at the bottom of the pit. I decided to test the rocks on top of the fire method using two 10-pound fresh hams, thinking that using thick, dense cuts of meat with bone would give the best practice. I live in Florida, and the sandy soil here is very similar to the sandy soil at the Gulf Wars site in southern Mississippi.

Most sites on pit-cooking pigs agree that 100 pound pig should take 8-10 hours. So I figured that 20 pounds, 1/5th of that weight, would take 1/5th of the time. I added an extra hour into my schedule just in case. I had purchased a remote barbecue thermometer so I could monitor the internal temperature of the pig during the cooking process. I also purchased a roll of burlap and large canvas tarp to lay over the meat to help seal the pit and protect the meat from sand.

I had my kids dig a 3’x3’x3′ pit in our back yard.  It took me over an hour to start a decent fire because the sides of the pit kept collapsing in and burying the fire. I ended up having to rake the sides out to increase the angle of the walls. I built a fire that filled the pit and as soon as it really was white-hot at the bottom, I started tossing rocks in to heat. I used coquina rocks around the edges and bricks in the middle. Soon I was very glad that I only used coquina around the edges, as the coquina rocks soon started cracking and popping, sending small shards of hot rock flying in all directions. The bricks did not crack. I let the rocks and bricks heat and the fire burn down for an hour, then it was time to add the hams.

20170226_153438

Instead of the chicken wire method used by many sites, I purchased a sturdy barbecue grill grate with handles, knowing that I would reuse it afterwards. I covered the grate with green onions and then laid the hams on the onions. We quickly lowered the ham onto the bricks, covered the whole thing with burlap, poured a gallon of water around and over the burlap to create steam, spread the canvas over the whole thing. You can see the steam rising through the canvas.

20170226_155609

Then my boys took shovels and buried the whole thing.

20170226_155636

We filled in the sand until we could see no more steam rising. The idea is to seal the pit so the heat and steam stays inside and cooks the meat. At first the temperature climbed quickly, but after three hours was only 135 and only climbed 15 degrees in the next hour. The interior temperature was 153 when we pulled it out of the pit after 4 hours and 14 minutes, cooked on the outside but bloody around the bone.

First mistake- not enough fire or not enough rocks. There just wasn’t enough heat to penetrate the meat. The fire for the whole pig will have to be very large. I’m going to bring as many bricks as I can and then hope that people bring me enough rocks to make up the difference.

Second mistake- Pouring in the water. My main source for technique recommended pouring three gallons of water around the fire to create steam, so I poured one gallon of water. In retrospect the water killed too much heat.

Third mistake- Getting the math wrong. I figured that if 100 pounds took 10 hours, then 1/5th should take 2 hours. Wrong, so wrong. It’s not the total weight of the meat, it’s the density, the thickness to the middle.

Fourth mistake- Not covering the top of the meat. One layer of burlap plus one layer of canvas may keep out clay soil but it doesn’t keep out all of the sand. I need to cover the top of the meat to protect it from the sand, something that I can scrape or pull off. Apparently the Vikings in some places used birch bark. I will probably use cabbage leaves since banana leaves would be inappropriate.

After this test I feel much more confident about cooking the pig at War. Bring on the party!

First test of Indian outdoor kitchen

One of my goals for years has been to set up an outdoor kitchen based off of the paintings in the Nimatnama and cook the food from that manuscript in that kitchen, using period cooking methods along with period ingredients. I’ve been slowly gathering cooking equipment for years and finally decided to seize the opportunity to actually set up the kitchen and cook at a small local event called Bacon & Fire.

indiankitchen_above

What I planned: 

I bought & harvested the ingredients for eight possible dishes: mixed-grain chapati, puri stuffed with spiced meat #76, fried chickpea dumplings in yogurt sauce #64, cardamom pichha drink #67, water chestnut dabra #132, mixed vegetables with onions and spices #160, mince kabab (multiple recipes), and khichri with ginger and lime juice #122.

What actually was cooked:

Qaliya rice #56 made with minced meat, mixed-grain chapati, and puri stuffed with spiced mince #76

indiankitchen3

What I learned:

I built a rough chulha out of bricks and concrete blocks, somewhat like a backyard rocket stove. In theory this should have worked, the shape was right. However the wind shifted during the day and ended up blowing from behind the stove, continually blowing smoke in my face and making fire control difficult. I also didn’t include enough of a draft. At Gulf Wars I will cover the chulha with cob, which should improve everything.

It is impossible to prep and cook simultaneously because a chulha burns sticks, not charcoal or big pieces of wood. It needs constant tending and it’s difficult to keep a constant temperature. I needed to prep each dish and then cook, which took way more time than expected. Next time I’ll do a lot more pre-prep.

indiankitchen_chapati

More bowls! I constantly needed more bowls. I will buy more bowls, make fabric sacks to hold grains and flours, and at least one masala dabba (spice box). The iron tawa is actually a giant paella pan my husband bought me, but it worked very well and I will use it in the future. The modern copper-bottom kadai worked great, I need two more and a clay handi.

More time. Setup plus cooking time at this event was about four hours and I could only make three dishes from scratch. Next time I’ll set up the night before and then cook all day.

Hand washing/dish washing. I had enough water but I need a way to be able to wash my hands and wash dishes (especially after handling raw meat) that does not necessitate getting up and leaving the kitchen area.

Overall:

I really enjoyed the hell out of this ultra-compact kitchen where everything is within reach around you and it’s all done on the floor. Thankfully I am comfortable sitting on the ground cross-legged for long periods of time. The cooks in the paintings are almost all sitting on their haunches or kneeling, which I will try more next time. When you only have the ingredients, equipment and cooking methods from the manuscript around you, even your improvisations fit within the cuisine. I am really eager to do this again.

Credit for these great photos to M’lady Heloise of Amurgorod (mka Christi Raney). Thank you for letting me use them.

 

Sanbusaj Babaki from al-Warraq

Making Sanbusaj

sanbusaj

From Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens, pp 190-191
[For the filling,] take meat from the shoulders, the inner thigh, rump, and sheep’s tail fat. Remove the blood vessels and finely pound the meat on a wooden board using a knife. Add the white part of a fresh onion (bayad asal), leek leaves (kurrath al-baql), cilantro, rue, and a little na’na (cultivated mint). Pound all the ingredients quite well.

Pour as much as needed of Nabatean murri (liquid fermented sauce). Add coriander seeds, black pepper, cassia, cloves, as much as you like of aromatic spices (afawah al-itr) and ginger. Mix the meat with the spices, add some olive oil, and cook until it is done. Prepared this way, the meat [filling] is called isfidhbaj (white and plain).

If you like it to be sour, add to the meat mixture as much as you like of pulverized masl (dried yogurt whey). You may use rakhbin (dried buttermilk), sumac juice, or any other sour ingredients, as you wish God willing.

When the meat mixture is ready, use it to stuff ruqaq (thin sheets of bread) then roll the pieces into triangles, squares, or rectangles.

If wished, you may add dried fruits or nuts to the meat stuffing such as walnut, almond, coconut, pistachio, hazelnut, pine nut, or any other fruits. You can also decorate them with eggs the way some people do in banquets and public feasts.

Alternatively, you may shape them Babaki style. Take fermented dough and roll it out very thin. Cut out rounds using a concave wooden mold, similar to a huqq (small bowl). Stuff these rounds with the meat mixture and seal them by pressing all around the edges with a fingernail. Fry the filled pastries in zayt maghsul (washed olive oil) or sesame oil. Take them out when they brown and eat them with whatever you prefer of sauces made with vinegar or mustard. This is the way to make all kinds of sanbusaj excluding the sweet varieties.

This is a “quick & dirty” redaction- evoking the flavors, textures and look of a medieval dish but with no extensive efforts at higher levels of authenticity. For instance, I bought ground lamb instead of mincing my own meat, used purchased pizza dough instead of making my own sourdough, and making a few substitutions for what I had in the pantry and garden. Also, I don’t love onions and I have green onions growing in the garden so I used green onions instead of white onions and leeks.

Babaki Samosas

1 lb ground lamb
1 bunch green onions
handful each of cilantro and mint
sprig of fresh rue
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp starch + 2 tsp water
1 lb purchased pizza crust dough
oil for frying
Chop all green herbs. Fry lamb until the water evaporates and the meat starts to sizzle. Add all spices and green onions. Cook until the meat is completely cooked and starting to brown. Stir in the soy sauce and the rest of the chopped green herbs. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

Cut the dough into 20 even pieces. Roll the dough pieces out as thinly as you can. Place one tbl of the meat mixture in the middle. Paint the outside edge all the way around with the starch & water slurry. Fold the dough over and seal around the edges, making a half moon shape. Repeat until you run out of dough or meat.

Heat a couple inches of oil. I used 2/3 peanut oil and 1/3 olive oil for flavor. Fry the samosas a couple at a time until golden. Work quickly- if the dough rises too much then the samosas will pop open in the oil and make a big mess.

The Seven Voyages of Sindbad Feast- What to Bring

Going to a feast is not the same as going to a restaurant. A feast is an experience. Part of getting into the atmosphere of the feast is trying to eat outside of your normal manners, to try something from a different culture. For this feast, I want you to eat with your fingers.

Eating with your fingers is a sensory experience. You don’t just taste your food, you feel it.

However, dirty fingers in shared bowls was a strict no-no. Washing your hands thoroughly before sitting down to eat is a must. If we get enough volunteer servers, we may have handwashing at the tables, but at such a small event it is unlikely. Since licking your fingers is also crude and unsanitary, please don’t forget your cloth napkins to wipe your fingers between courses.

Definitely bring a plate, a sharp table knife, and at least one bowl for soups and stews. Spoons are acceptable, but eating the solid foods out of your bowl and then lifting the bowl to drink the broth is also acceptable. Scooping wet foods into your mouth out with a piece of bread is encouraged. There will be several types of drinks available during the feast, some more exotic than others. I would suggest bringing two glasses- one for plain water and one for flavored drinks. The wealthy elite in 10th century Baghdad did drink wine made from grapes and other fruits, please feel free to add wine to your table if you like. Please also bring candles and candle-holders! This will be a “lights-out” feast. If you enjoy really seeing your food, bring candles for your table. Electric faux candles are lovely too!

A note about serving– please keep in mind that servers are volunteers who have probably been working and/or playing just as hard as you all day. There is often a shortage of adults volunteering to serve feast at smaller events. If this happens, then one person seated at each table will come up to the serving line at the beginning of each course to fetch the platters for each course.