Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making some decisions

Been trying to make decisions on setting for this feast...
Thus far have only really settled on making it English and towards the later part of our period (the SCA notion of our period ending at 1600 that is, regardless of other interpretations), so that would narrow things to around the 1590s. This will create some challenges in research as I wish to be careful to avoid any trends, or fashions, that may have been put aside by this time. Of course there is also the limitations on available material, at least to me at this time, so may have to do a little educated guesswork.

Other things I am at least semi settled on are the meal times and resources of the household. This will also prove as a logistical nightmare as you will see... That is, I'm considering a dinner and this would require the assembly of an early meal. The question would then remain is if there will be a supper (the late night meal)? No doubt that would cause confusion since most people in the SCA are accustomed, in places where food is served midday, that the late night meal is the important meal and the earlier one being usually informal and often overlooked. Another additional problem is the ambiance that people in the SCA have grown accustomed to having, that is a dark room lit with candlelight rather than a naturally lit room where food, which also serves as a visual entertainment, can be well viewed.

A possible conclusion to the daytime feast issue:
Focus on having a hall worth viewing, or at least creating a hall worth viewing. A part of the reason we choose to darken our halls is to create an ambiance due to the fact most of our surroundings are quite modern and candlelight is an easy/logical solution.
There is still the issue with tradition however, and SCA tradition and expectations can trump historic practice. I really think this part will require much work. The only easy solution I can figure is dining al-fresco, though that poses it's own problems such as weather. A beautifully done up hall under natural lighting for at least the feast may be quite successful however, provided there are windows (ideal) though a dark hall would at least keep familiar surroundings for feast, even if not ideal.

I am also leaning towards this being a higher scale effort among a rising class household. Something I read lately, and indeed wish I read earlier, was about how some households would sustain themselves on fairly meager offerings so that they may spend more on their outward appearance... after all, the suit is thought to make the man. This, in itself, I find an amusing concept to consider while designing a feast.

Some things I still have yet to think about is the why. Feasts, grand dinners, stuff like that were made for special reason... this I shall stew on and consider a while. What appears to be most commonly written about were wedding feasts...

Logistics in setting up:
Along with the inspiring images, I've been reading up on dining... again... and will probably end up on settling for dining plates in pewter, maybe some pieces in silver... or will try an close approximation thereof. This will be the grandest expense, but I would only be able to fund how-ever many I plan on having for my own collection... this is problematic as it would depend on other help. Glass would be used for drinking, and this may prove easier to at least match somewhat in style, as well, I already have a small semi-suitable collection. I also hope, at this time to have enough spoons cast and white linen made up so that it can be pressed and used.
Back to plates/trenchers, I am actually only suggesting for only one area to have pewter/silver and for reasons of ease, am likely to chose a round model of a nice moderate size. Wooden fruit/dessert plates are also planned. For ease of having many people able to come, another area will be established, hopefully, but may set it up with squared/rectangular wood plates/trenchers and wooden spoons.
I seriously need to do more reading here, but I agree some compromise is, and will be, needed so am going to try my best to make equal offerings on both sides, only presentation will show much by way of difference.

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