S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen
owlfish

Medieval Feast

I've been day-dreaming all day about eating cutlery - silver-plated knives and spoons, elegantly molded, with ginger ganache thinly filling the crisp, sturdy dark chocolate underneath that edible plating. After a while, it would start to melt on my hands, but it would still be good, rich, spicy, smooth.

You'd never know from my day-dream (unless you too watched the program) that it derives from Heston's Medieval Feast, shown last night on Channel 4. Heston - of Heston Blumenthal - The Fat Duck - Occasional world's best restaurant - molecular gastronomy - temporary food poisoning crisis - is hosting a series of these, and this was the first - perhaps the only one - I caught. The show and I got off to a bad start: did you know that life expectancy in the "medieval ages" was 25? I didn't either. Fortunately, I couldn't blame the voiceover on Heston, only the twee verbal attitude towards the showpiece concepts of medieval no-expenses-spared feast cookery (which was fortunately far more visionary in practice than in set-piece intros).

Indeed, they were all intelligent adaptation of medieval recipes, true to the spirit, if not all the details, of the recipes. Of course he took full advantage of the toys of his high-tech kitchen. He began with meat fruit: ground, cooked, seasoned meat, formed into perfect fruit-a-likes, each in a different flavor, with elegant verisimilitude. The main was a confection of lampreys, for which one must go to Latvia these days in order to catch fresh. Its spine was deep-fried into a crunchy spaghetti-like jumble (as per a modern specialist chef); its blood was extracted and used as thickening in a red white sauce (as per the original recipe); a fluff of lamprey-flavored foam accompanied it (as per modern foam cooking). The blood sauce proved the most off-putting element of the meal to the tasters. Four-and-twenty highly-trained pigeons were put into a huge and largely inedible pie to fly off to their cage, hung from the ceiling, followed by mini individual pigeon pies.

But dessert - dessert is where my mind has been all day, a bait-and-switch of the practicalities of the table, with cutlery, napkin, walnuts, and candles all swapped for edible ones made from chocolate or marzipan. The knives looked awfully good.

Even with all the voiceover-fill about the All-Plague-All-Death-All-The-Time "medieval ages" and performative guest eaters, I seem to have managed to forgive the program its limitations, for here I am, the next day, advertising its merits in spoons and ganache.
Tags: food
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