Are you ready to cook a seventeenth century feast?
We’ll just need a few dishes – a boar’s head, roast swan, roast goose, larks and thrushes on spits, roast woodcock, snipe pie, oyster pie, jugged hare, poached chicken with quinces, suckling pigs, some soups, cheesecake, gingerbread, Shrewsbury cakes, potted lampreys, and plenty of spiced wine.
And we’ve got important guests coming, so we’ll need a particularly fancy dessert. Can you manage a knot garden made of marchpane? Or maybe a huge, castle-shaped cake, with tiny cannons that actually go bang? You don’t mind, do you?
I’m afraid your oven is basically a great big fireplace, like this one.
Hearth and ovens at Bolsover Castle
It doesn’t have a fan to make sure things are cooked evenly. But you do have this:
Illustration from Remarks on a Tour to North and South Wales by Henry Wigstead
It’s a turnspit dog. It runs in that wheel, which slowly revolves a roasting spit with the meat on it. The poor thing probably looks a bit hot and bothered, spending so much time near the roaring hearth, but it’s that or you’ll be standing by the fire turning the spit yourself…
I’m afraid you don’t have a fridge either, but you have an ice house, and a stone trough full of salt to keep meat fresh.
Stone troughs at Bolsover castle, with little holes to drain out the salt
Don’t worry if you can’t find a real boar’s head. You can always squish lots of pig-brains into a boar’s-head-shaped mould. That’s almost as good, and won’t look gross or terrifying at all…
Here are some weirdly named delights that might turn up in our feast.
Oh, and there might be quite a lot of washing up…