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French-Tbl-Srv-art - 5/22/04


An example of French table service translated by Angharad ferch Iorwerth.


NOTE: See also the files: wine-msg, feast-serving-msg, A-French-Meal-art, feast-decor-msg, high-table-msg, meat-carving-bib, p-cooks-msg, p-feasts-msg, p-menus-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 19:34:45 -0500

From: "vicki shaw" <vhsjvs at gis.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] French table Service - the whole xlation all


To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Stefan, you wanted it for the Flori-thingy, here it is!!! If you want the original in French, then go to Kiri cause I deleted after I printed.  But the url at the bottom of the printed page is:





The Wine Service according to.....


In the framework of the grand courts of time - and specifically to the Court of Bourgogne - there developed a literature whose goal to meticulously regulate the organization of feasts, the succession of courses, and the services (probably here it means the dishes, the cutlery, the glassware, etc). The most famous treatise was written Olivier de la Marche: it is the state of the House of the duke Charles de Bourgogne said the Daring and also The Foolhardy. As Maitre D, de la Marche is not only responsible for advising the kitchens of the dishes his master desires to have at his table, but also to organise the meals to his satisfaction. The wine service is ensured by the Echanson (could not find a xlation for this word; probably the person responsible for the wine cellars or something like that) who mainly sees to the mixing of wine to water according to the preference (or taste) of the prince.


The seating is choreographed by the Maitre D like a ballet, where each

[guest], according to his rank, his place and his function is placed.



"When the table is set and the baker has done his job [part], the hall bailiff goes to fetch the echanson appointed to wait that day, in his echansonnerie [wine office?]. There the garde-linge hands the covered goblet which the echanson takes by its foot [base] in his right hand, and in his left hand he holds a cup; [at the same time as he hands the goblet and the cup, the garde-linge gives] basins, pots and ewers for the prince, to the sommelier who washes and dries [them]. The sommelier gives the goblet to the echanson who stands behind the hall bailiff who carries the basins in his left hand. Behind the echanson follows the sommelier of the echansonnerie who must carry in his right hand two silver pots, one containing the wine for the prince, and the other water. The prince's pot is recognized by a the figure of a unicorn [carved? metal?] dangling from a chain. The sommelier must carry in his left hand a cup and nothing more, and in this cup must rest [lying, not standing] the ewer for serving water. This cup which the sommelier carries serves to do the trial [test] which the echanson performs. After the sommelier comes the aide who must then carry the pots and cups to the prince's buffet [feast]"


Each object therefore follows a very precise path, each gesture is defined. We are dealing with an actual ritual, one whose prime reason for being, we will see in the remainder of the text, was the fear of poisoning.


"[Once] The prince [has] arrived, and the plate proffered, the Maitre D calls upon the cup bearer (echanson), and so the cup bearer leaves the table, goes to the buffet and locates the covered basins which the sommelier had prepared; he takes them and performs [presents?] the water trial to the sommelier, kneels before the prince, raises the basin which he proceeds to open with his left hand, and pours water from the other basin over the edge of this one and does proof and trial, and gives to wash from one of the basins and receives water in the other. Without covering the basins, he hands them to the sommelier. This done, the cupbearer places himself before [in front of] the goblet and looks upon the prince, and he should be so attentive that with the subtlest sign [look], the prince can let it be known he desires wine"


This does not mean that the prince is instantly served since the cup bearer, once he has received the signal, takes the goblet in his hand and the cup and must hold the goblet raised high so his breath does not come in contact with it [pollute]. The hall bailiff opens the way for him and when the sommelier sees him coming, he fills his ewer with fresh water and refreshes the goblet in the hand of the cup bearer, both inside and out, then takes a cup in the left hand and the mouth pot [?] in the right hand, and first pours into the cup he is holding, and then into the goblet, and then takes the ewer and pours into the cup he is holding, and then into the goblet and then takes the ewer and pours into the cup and then dilutes [??] the wine into the goblet, according to his knowledge of the prince's taste [preference] and his tolerance.


The wine watered, the cup bearer pours from his goblet into the cup he is holding, covers the goblet once again - and he must hold the lid between the two small fingers of the hand with which he holds the cup until he has covered the goblet again, and given what he has poured in his cup to the sommelier; and places in his own, and then the sommelier must perform the trial [tasting] in front of him. Thus the cup bearer brings the goblet to the prince, uncovers the goblet and puts wine in his cup and then covers the goblet again, and does his test [tastes the wine]. When the prince extends his hand, the cup bearer hands him the uncovered goblet and places the cup under the goblet until the prince has drunk."



Angharad ferch Iorwerth; MKA Vicki Shaw

Barony Beyond the Mountain

East Kingdom

vhsjvs at gis.net


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org