From angels to biblical ingredients

Is there a vicar in the house? A bit of a puzzle as to how to make a cake

Historical Cookery and Mayhem

The Annual Christmas Spectacular

Lichfield Garrick

****

MASTER CHEF Simon Smith and Prof Roland Rotherham and their culinary double act are becoming a bit of a festive tradition at Lichfield Garrick with their mix of fact and fable from the Prof and culinary skills from Simon.

Among his tales of legends, history and royals the Prof has his own outlook on the world which he shares with the audience with such nuggets as his view that Paris Hilton is “as much use as elbows on a kipper”.

Along with the demonstration of making potted venison - one of Mrs Beaton's classics - there was a potted history of Fortnum & Masons - the creators of Scotch Eggs and the first stockist in the country of Heinz baked beans - Queen Anne's eating and drinking habits and the history of the Christmas Tree.

We also have a royal court still in mourning for Queen Anne and a royal household still in mourning for Prince Albert.

Other recipes demonstrated in Simon Smith's own way were Spekelatius, Mediaeval German Christmas biscuits, a walnut stuffing from the time of Queen Anne, nutty plum crumble, which was a favourite of Prince Albert and another royal favourite, King Edward;s Angels on horseback which differs from the normal angels on horseback - oysters wrapped in bacon - by the addition of Patum Peperium.

CLOSELY GUARDED

For those who don't know Patum Peperium, or Gentleman's Relish, was created in 1828 by John Osborn and is a mixture of  anchovies, butter, herbs and spices with a recipe which is a closely guarded secret has been handed down through the years.

Elsenham Quality Foods are the only company licensed to make it.

More modern are Hesther's Cheese Straws which is the recipe used by Hesther who was the 1st Te Lady in the Coffee Room when Prof Rotherham was in the Royal Household - and very tasty they are to.

There were Normandy partridges from the 17th century in a recipe including bacon,  apples, cream and Calvados.

Most interesting though was a puzzle cake which is a tradition from the 15th century. The recipe, reproduced above, dates back to around 1450 and comes via Lincoln Cathedral. The ingredients for recipe are found in verses of the bible such as 3 of  Jeremiah xvii 11 (eggs) or a pinch of Leviticus ii 3 (salt).

The duo provide both historical snippets, entertainment and no small measure of cooking ideas and recipes. Smith, who runs Thrales restaurant in Lichfield, is a refreshing change from celebrity TV chefs. As the show is live not everything always goes to plan but he manages to joke his way through  They appear several times a year at The Garrick featuring different aspects of historical cookery and on February 18 are back in their more usual lunchtime spot in the studio covering the historical cookery of the South Seas Islands and New Zealand. This is a charity show to raise  funds for Help for Heroes.

Roger Clarke 

All the recipes from this year's show as well as last year's offerings, plus a review of the pair's historical cookery book, Simmering Through the Ages can be found here

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