Yor-1st-Feast-art - 5/27/17
"Going to your 1st Event " by Lady Alison Wodehalle.
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 or translator.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Newcomer's Guide to your First Feast
by Lady Alison Wodehalle
There is a lot of info on the various SCA websites about attending feast. I think it is interesting to understand a little about feasting in the Middle Ages, as well as explaining what we do. This class will cover a little of each, so that you have a better understanding of why we do what we do.
The first thing is to decide which feast to attend. Are there are other things happening at that event that interest you? Is it a Royal Progress? Are there other people you know there? You can look at the EK website http://www.eastkingdom.org/event-list.html , or you can look in the Pikestaff (which is the official version).
So you have decided to attend feast and see what happens there. You need to prepare a little in advance. First, you need "feast gear" since it is not generally supplied by the event. It was normal for travelers in the Middle Ages to carry with them their own knife, spoon, and even their trencher (like a plate). We follow that custom for many reasons. It looks more period to have a variety of feast gear on the table. It is a LOT of work to put on a feast, and that saves the staff (who also paid to attend the event) from sorting out, cleaning, and making sure they have enough plates, knives, etc to go around. What you need are the basics to set a place at the table, and many people bring more than the basics. Do not invest much money at first, gather basics, then slowly decide on what or how to upgrade. Here is a list to help you choose things that you might want to bring. While most kitchens have acceptable gear already there, try to avoid obtrusively modern items, to maintain the ambience of the event.
· mug for water or juice
· glass for wine or second beverage (or ceramic cup that would not break easily)
· knife, spoon, and fork (forks were not used until very late period through much of Europe)
· candle holder
· matches or lighter
· cloth napkin
· table cloth or placemat
· basket or bag to carry it all in
· extra bowl for "slop" (leftovers to clear off your plate between courses)
· serving spoon so that neither you nor your table mates need to put into the community dish, forks and spoons you have been eating from.
· paper towels to clean up with
· large plastic bag to place dirty dishes in to take home to clean
· Consider bringing something you enjoy drinking. There are usually pitchers of something to drink available but it may not be to your taste.
If it is not a "dry site", then you may also bring wine, or mead, etc. with you to have for dinner, within the limits of the mundane laws.
Things to avoid:
· plastic tableware of any type
· soda cans or bottles (keep the container in your basket and pour into a mug or goblet)
· paper napkins
On board, off board, and dayboard
These terms can be confusing and you will see these words as part of the fee schedule on the event announcements. The term "board" is old terminology in which a table laden with food was referred to as a "board" or sometimes as a "groaning board" if the amounts of food are great. This comes from the style of table often used in the Middle Ages, in which a board over two fancy "sawhorses" served as the table. This allowed them to completely dismantle and move the table when the meal was over to allow for dancing and other merriments.
In the SCA, "on board" means that you will be staying for feast and paying the fee for feast. "Off board" of course means the opposite, you will not be sharing feast. Both of those terms refer primarily to the evening meal. Dayboard is the mid-day meal or sometimes more like hearty snacks. Usually dayboard is included in the site fee. Whether or not a dayboard is provided will be in the event announcement, as well as whether it is included in the site fee.
When you arrive at the event, ask about the "seating chart." It is often available at the gate as you troll in. This chart will be a layout of the tables as they will be set for the feast. There will be spaces for individuals to sign up for where they want to sit. If this is your first feast, feel free to ask for help finding good table mates. Most tables at SCA feasts seat 8-10 people, and so most likely you will have company at your table. Sometimes the seating chart is not available until later in the day, but they will be able to tell you that at Troll. Sign up early to make sure your party is able to sit together.
The courses are called "removes." Most feasts have 3-4 removes, lasting 2-3 hours. The food usually is served on a large platter to the whole table, which is then passed to each person until everyone has a chance to have a portion. At first take a small amount. You may not like the dish, in which case you do not want to have to throw a lot away, and if you do like the dish, opportunities for second servings can be taken after everyone has had a first serving. Because there are so many courses, it is assumed that individual portions will be small, and if you eat a lot during the first course you will not be able to enjoy the remaining courses. Sometimes the host provides entertainment during the feast, between removes.
*[Editors note - "remove" is an SCA made-up term. The better term is "course". See this file for more info. However, "remove" is still used in various parts of the SCA.
If you or anyone attending with you has any food allergies, ask to see a list of ingredients. These are generally available at most events. Sometimes a harried head cook may not have had the time to write it down in advance. Feel free to ask to speak with the cooks and explain what your allergy is, and ask if any of those ingredients will be in the feast. Also, if you are pre-registering for the event and for feast, this would be the best time to forward allergy concerns to the head cook. Most event announcements will have a notation about who to contact for food allergy information related to feast.
When this article was written, Lady Alison was the East Kingdom Chatelaine.
Copyright 2012 by Alison Choyce. <Greenfaere at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.