Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maketh Feeste, Or, The Pilgrim's Meal

We have spent these last two nights in Canterbury - a fitting first destination for a pilgrimage of any sort. It is quite a lovely town, and I'll not speak too much of the sights or Canterbury's claims to fame - if you know your history, you will know them already, and if you don't, here are some pointers: this or perhaps here.

What I will talk about, however, is our homage to the pilgrims of ages past, in whose footsteps we followed (albeit by bus, and admittedly we dozed rather than telling stories). Being that we were staying at a hostel, we were able to self-cater and cook our own meals in the kitchen, which gave us a unique opportunity to prepare a medieval meal such as Chaucer might have enjoyed, not terribly far from where he might have stayed on his pilgrimage.

There are a number of scholars who have compiled indexes of references to food in Chaucer's work, and cross-referenced this with extant recipes from the same period. One such scholar, James L. Matterer, has been kind enough to publish this work on the Gode Cookery website. He has compiled an entire feast - we chose two recipes based on the requirements of what would be easy to buy at Tesco's, what pots and pans were in the kitchen, and how much time we wanted to spend.

The result was startlingly good - Pyk (well, Sea Bass) with Galauntyne, and Pesen. I was intentionally a little heavy-handed with the sugar in the peas, which gave us a meal of appropriately medieval contrasts - a dense, sour red sauce on white fish, and sweet green peas and onions. We were so hungry that we forgot to take a picture, so we can only show you the aftermath:

As I write this, we have already left Canterbury behind, and we are on the train to Brighton under brilliant blue skies and the sun's watchful eye. I will leave you with this picture - our pilgrim's badges, to show where we have been.

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