Living History


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Brief History

Camping in style

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The Res Miranda Collection






Camp fire cooking 
Preparing a meal


Feasting and fasting were very much determined by the religious calendar, although not entirely: Elizabeth’s government instituted a fast day on Wednesdays. A proclamation of 1595 claimed that 135,000 head of beef “might be spared in a year in the city of London by one day’s abstinence in a week”. This rule, widely observed and enforced, had the double usefulness of encouraging fishing and thus providing extra ships available for commandeering by the navy.

Poor people ate little meat, subsisting largely on pottage, a thick broth of vegetables, possibly enlivened with a morsel of bacon and thickened with oatmeal or some other protein-rich grain. Carrots were purple: the orange variety only appeared much later. Because the poor ate mostly vegetables, wealthy folk tended to disdain them an eat much more meat then people do nowadays.

Authentic meals were appropriately cooked and served. Medieval and Tudor recipes are interesting to compare with our own: vegetables and fruits were far more limited than those available to us now, but many more varieties of meat, fish, and fowl appeared on the table. Raised pies in their enveloping “coffin” of pastry (not necessarily eaten) were a good way of preserving the contents in the days before canning and freezing. Modern taste buds are surprised by the frequent combination of meat, fruit, sugar and spices which went into such pies. The original mince pie was halfway between sweet and savoury. In any case the “courses” served at meals included meats, jellies and sweetmeats together, each person taking of whatever he wished according to his fancy. Only the banquet was especially for sweet stuff. Usually served in a special banqueting house or alfresco pavilion, this is an occasion for our Elizabethan family to show off their “roundels”. Having consumed the “marchpane subtiltie” from the plain side of his round, wooden mat, each diner must turn it over to read and then sing the obscure poem on the reverse – the “roundelay”.


Serving at table  
The high table

Recipes: Try a selection of authentic recipes!