16th Century Englishmen Like College Drunks Today ... Overindulged and Suffered for It Too

Widener Exhibit of Ancient Cook Books Reveals Tremendous Menus for Feasts

When you lean back after your cocktail, oysters, steak, apple pie a la mode, and liqueur and you puff away on a Corona Corona you feel well satisfied with life and not a little bloated. But you have really just begun your meal according to cook books of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries which may be seen by the undernourished and overnourished of our day at Widener Library.

Six thousand animals, 500 fish, $1,000 birds, 2000 pies, 6000 jelly dishes, 6000 custards, and 400 barrels of ale and wine to top it all off that's a meal!

That the art of eating has gone the way of the art of glass blowing was made plain by such order lists as the one above which is just part of the menu for a 1468 dinner tendered two English statesmen. Or, if you are still hungry just peruse the following food which required 62 chefs to prepare for a contemporary spread. Six wild bulls, 104 oxen, 400 swine, 1000 mutton, 1200 quail, 304 stags, and 3000 pigs were among the delicate offered to the gathering of 4000. Just what percentage of the 4000 had another little snack at bedtime is not mentioned.

While such an outlay might be considered sufficient today, these famished Englishmen demanded something a little extra with each meal. Such things as white peacocks served with their feathers still remaining "to make them look alive" or rabbits adorned with corral beads upon their feet and silver bells hung from their necks were really considered "comme il faut" by the Emily Posts of that day.

On the other hand if you would have your imagination stimulated, there was one dinner mentioned which is somewhat reminiscent of the approaching bowling contest to be held in New York City this month. This will show how we have progressed by having the pulchritudinous "Rockettes" from Radio City burst from paper mach bowling balls, whereas the old time English gourmets were satisfied with "little black amores" who leapt lightly out of enormous pies and presented perfumed gloves to the honored guests.

Life, however, was not always a bowl of cherries to these gourmands of other days if we can judge by certain sections of the cook books now in display. The 16th century Fannie Farmer did not overlook a few "infallible cures for corns, callous heels, croup, whooping cough" and minor spasms of indigestion which were the post requisites of these feasts.

With a hasty glance through your History 1 books you can see that the unsuccessful mercantile system, in vogue at this time, was shortly followed by the great industrial movement. Need any more be said