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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

200: Expenses for a feast for the executors of Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (1443 –1509)

This bill itemises all the costs for the feast that marked the winding up of the estate of Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII). Over £1,000 in today’s money was spent on beef, mutton, pork, capons, partridges, swans, snipes, and larks. Often combined with dried fruit, the meat was flavoured with aromatic and expensive spices imported from Asia and Africa as well as wine, vinegar, and verjuice (pressed unripe grapes, crab-apples or other sour fruit) to create the sweet and sour flavours enjoyed by elite diners in late medieval England.

England, 1510 –11

By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge (SJLM/7/5/14)

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