Just Desserts

Angela Morgan discusses sugared heritage and a new exhibition

Re-enactments of battles are now quite common but are somewhat exhausting – so the less energetic will undoubtedly welcome the new trend of historical eating. But studying the menus, cookery books and recreated examples does make one wonder just how our ancestors were able to fight at all.

Throughout the summer, Fairfax House in York will be holding an exhibition called Pyramids of Pleasure which recreates a meal held by Viscount Fairfax on April 14th, 1763. Apart from innumerable side dishes and main courses like peacock and stuffed calves heads, the meal was characterised by the provision of a vast array of sweet and other sugary items. At the original meal, for instance, a local confectioner, Mr Baker, was paid 15 guineas to provide huge pyramids of sweetmeats for the guests to eat.

Since the exhibition will be open from July to October, the actual contents of the meal have obviously had to be modified. Vegetables have been freeze-dried, for example, and less glycerine than was customary used in the sweetmeats.

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