VIFC- Medieval Night


If I have ever moaned about a restrictive food club theme then this wasn’t it, as a quick google tells us that ‘Medieval’ times or the Middle Ages cover any dates from 500-1500 AD. Nice. Quite a lot to choose from then?

Well, maybe. A quick chat confirmed that we all sought information from the, er, information super highway and didn’t struggle too much to find a dish that fell into our second restriction of not spending more than £7-50 on ingredients. Those original members also had something of a warm up for this one with the Elizabethan night some time ago, when generally available ingredients were very similar. Think simple constituent parts, heavy on the cooking and very heavy on the spices. Oddly the ‘simple’ element is ruled out by the excessive use of many spices that are more in luxury budget today-particularly oodles of saffron. Historians divide us as to whether this was to disguise the tell tale taste of past the mark meat, or a value on the aroma of a dish as a mark of culinary skill. Who can say. Well, actually we VIFCers can say that everything was certainly very tasty but also very beige. Reasons for this? Long cook times and the ingredients involved. Meat, onions, spices, grains, nuts. It’s not colourful stuff. For this reason I’m not sharing a ton of photos for this one, rather I invite you to paint a picture in your mind, a wheel within a wheel, that kind of thing. With one exception at the end. A google of the terms involved should help you find the/a similar recipe.

Ground Beans- sounds painful and vegany, the greenest of the beiges on offer. Made by Tom. Bloody amazing. Long boiled broad beans cooked in stock then mashed and mixed with teeny tiny bits of bacon. Absolutely delicious, so savoury and well flavoured. I went back for more.

Pork in Ale & Honey- from Nigel, pork cooked in an ale and grain mustard mix served with butter beans and more bacon. Hurrah! Have we always had bacon? I may need to write a new section on ancient bacon recipes. I digress. This was very good, and didn’t have that unfortunate after-tang that can happen occur when cooking with beers. A pinkish beige.

Chickpeas Two Ways- did the middle ages come up with the tossy ambiguous ‘ingredient several ways’ concept? Who knows. Matt served a very fine dish of stewed chickpeas, heavy on the garlic. As one eater suggested, an unmixed houmous. It was very fine indeed. As were his crispy roasted chickpeas, little crunchy bites with rosemary simply thrown on a baking sheet and into the oven. Very good, perfect TV snacking food for your favourite Olde Worlde show of choice. Still beige.

Capon Pie- oh bugger off Charlotte with your perfect pasty and precisely compacted pie. No-one likes a show off. Chicken, prunes and raisins in a marvelously golden pastry crust. Good stuff, devoured by all. Pastry is beige.

Stewed Ox Heart- from me, a slow cooked stew heavily spiked with sweet spices and thickened with breadcrumbs. A little heavy on the mace for my liking but a happy new discovery of heart as a dinner meat, very tasty indeed. Full recipe to follow soon on the main blog. It’s a browny kind of beige.

Medieval Meat Balls- from Professor Stu. Pork and lamb (I think?) meatballs served in a wonderfully sweet and creamy almond sauce, which wins the prize for the whitest shade of beige for the evening.

Gingerbread- from Sheena a bizarre, no-bake biscuit made from mixing breadcrumbs into boiled, spiced honey to make a pilable dough. Weird on the consistency but stupidly moreish. Like, I ate another three whilst getting my coat on moreish. Fab. A golden beige with cinnamon dusting.


And hurrah for the cherry cakey thing from new member Jo, it’s pink! It’s VERY pink and came of boiling cherries, breadcrumbs and other stuff before setting. Sweet and sharp and delightfully un-stodgy for cooked bread. I think I have discussed my feelings on wet bread previously, but this certainly didn’t qualify for that category of desserts, more the consistency of a cheesecake. And it’s pink. Again, hurrah!

Tune in next time for Pasta & Booze. Yup, pasta and booze. Now is also time to apologise for my lack of posting last month as I was prevented from attending the evening due to being struck with the plague. A missed omen at the time, perhaps?


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