Last Thursday I went along to my monthly meeting with fellow members of the Nottingham branch of Regia Anglorum www.regia.org
The Nottingham group is Anglo-Norman by ethnicity and a fertile source of research for my novels. With the help of its members, I have choreographed fight scenes in Shadows And Strongholds, and confirmed that yes, it is indeed possible to get one's helm stuck on one's head and have to have it prised off (helmet, not the head) by putting oneself at the mercy of someone capable of straightening it out for you.
Anyway, we have been told that we are to provide part of the living history exhibit for this year's Robin Hood Pageant at Nottingham Castle and this will involve me in researching up a menu that is a) authentic for the late 12thC, b) suitable for both vegetarians and meat eaters c) can be prepared over an open fire in whatever weather late October in the UK decides to throw at us. d) can accommodate lots of people if necessary, who might not actually say they are coming until 12hrs before the event - that's re-enactors for you!
At the moment, these dishes are on my short longlist! Beef and cumin stew for meat eaters, bean and cumin stew for the veggies. Parsnip cakes - like potato cakes, but rather obviously made with parsnips! I've done these before on the griddle and they were a huge success. Thick barley and vegetable pottage - comes out rather like risotto. Chicken in verjuice, (should have verjuice off our greenhouse grape vine later this summer), meatballs (to be researched), bread, cheese, honey, blackberry and plum compote, leche lumbard (sticky date slice), rosewater tart. I am also going to be trawling my Medieval cookery books for more ideas, plus lists of accounts. Perhaps a salmon...then again perhaps not. I'd do sweet and sour rabbit, but too many people are wussy about eating bunny. I simply have to do stuffed mushrooms as I know William Marshal was fond of them!
Once I've finalised my thoughts, I'll perhaps post again with the final list and perhaps some recipes.
The photo is of a feasting scene, late 12thC at Pembroke Castle