Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: History Food and Cooking

Learning about The Tower of London and about Elizabethan Foods through Free Moocs and Movies

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Yesterday, I was reminded of the Einstein quote:

“I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” – Albert Einstein

I am no Einstein, but I have an unquenchable hunger for learning at least a little bit about many, many things. I am truly a Jacki of All Trades and a Master of None, but the sting of learning about a vast number of things has been eliminated by the Internet and by the free online MOOCs that are offered from outstanding universities now. The exceptional movies that are currently being made are also a big educational help. Today, I want to share more of what I have learned about Elizabeth I and about the foods that were cooked during her reign.

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Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, and she ruled until 1603, which was 17 years before the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower.

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The Pilgrims left England because of the religious persecution that was taking place there at that time. The Pilgrims would have lived in England during the rule of Elizabeth I, who was Protestant, and their parents or grandparents may have lived during the reign of Elizabeth I’s sister Mary Tudor I, who was Catholic. Some of my ancestors had estates where hidden rooms concealed the Catholic clergy and other of my ancestors were executed because they were Protestant. I love all of the British historical movies, like Elizabeth, The Borgias, The Tudors, Victoria, and The Crown, but when  I watch those movies, my lack of historical background frustrates me.  Fortunately, that is a small problem in the 21st Century. With a quick search on Google, I can bring myself up to speed on most historical questions, and I also participate in free MOOCs, or free online college courses, to help me fill in the gaps.

After I watched the 1998 movie Elizabeth, I dug out enough English history to understand a bit about the Catholic-Protestant conflict during Elizabeth’s reign and during that of her elder sister Mary.

Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and their child was Mary Tudor, I.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Elizabethan England’s Protestantism Stemmed from Henry VIII’s Marriage to Anne Boleyn

  • The Pope refused Henry VIII’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church.
  • Henry VIII started the Protestant Church of England.
  • Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and she was Protestant, too.
  • Many people never accepted Elizabeth as Henry VIII’s legitimate heir.
  • When Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir, Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed.

Because Mary I believed Elizabeth I to be a threat to her throne, she imprisoned Elizabeth at the Tower of London.

For quite some time, I have known that Elizabeth I was imprisoned at the Tower of London, and I always assumed that The Tower of London was nothing more than a dark dungeon, but that is not at all true.

While I was participating in the free MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I discovered that the Tower of London is actually a full castle. Because it was a very secure castle, many prisoners were kept there, but even after Elizabeth I became the Queen of England, she remained at The Tower of London. It was her palace.

The Tower of London is actually a group of several towers, and the White Tower [pictured above] was built in the 11th century. It is situated on the Thames River.

I learned in the course A History of Royal Food and Feasting that Elizabeth I had a sweet tooth and through that course, I was able to form a picture of how Queen Elizabeth’s royal kitchen may have functioned.

A photograph of sugar ships

Sugar Ships – Image Credit FutureLearn

A photograph of a reenactment in a Tudor kitchen, with a cook carefully painting a small ship, made from sugar paste.Sugar Ship – Image Credit FutureLearn

“Sugar had been used within Henry’s kitchens, but the expansion of the world allowed this precious ingredient to be more readily accessible.

“Sugar was a status ingredient; it was more expensive than honey (which had long been used as a natural sweetener) because of the requirement for it to be imported. Sugar grows as a cane but would be imported in a ‘loaf’ form. The highest grade of these sugars were the fine, white sugars which could easily be melted into a liquid and came from Madeira; next came Barbary or Canary sugar; and finally a coarser brown sugar which required less rendering down but was, as a result, more difficult to work with. However, even this coarse sugar was expensive; this was not an ingredient which all of Elizabethan England would have access to.”Image and Text Credit Future Learn Here

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In the 2007 movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Elizabeth is portrayed as being romantically interested in Raleigh, an explorer who had recently returned from The New World.

In the MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I learned about how the explorers enriched and expanded the types of foods that were available for cooking.

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eliztart

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I have prepared a very short history of the major players during the reign of Elizabeth I at jackikellum.com Here

Another free course to study the History of Royal Food and Feasting will begin in November. I talk about the royal kitchens during the reign of Henry VIII at jackikellum.com Here.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting Is More Than A Cooking Program. Because It Involves Footage from the Castles of five British Monarchs, It Is A Flavorful Way to Step Back Into England’s Royal Past.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting is part of the University of Reading’s free programming, and it can be accessed through a free MOOC offered by FutureLearn Here.

“From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:”

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court
  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London
  • George I at Hampton Court Palace
  • George III at Kew Palace
  • Victoria at Kensington Palace

©Jacki Kellum September 17, 2017

Sting

Free Course to Learn about the History of Britain’s Castles & the Foods Prepared in Them Since the Time of Henry VIII

It is no secret that I love British movies and television like Downton Abbey, Masterpiece Theater, and just about any British crime show.  British period dramas like the Borgias, The White Queen, Victoria, The Crown, Elizabeth, and The Tudors are the epitome of costuming and cinematography. The Brits seem to have mastered the art of fine dramatic programming, and because of its palaces and its history of royalty, England has managed to preserve much of its fairy-tale like aura and magnetism. I should not be surprised that my favorite cooking programs come from England, too, but the best of the British cooking programs is not actually on television. It is part of the University of Reading’s free programming, and it can be accessed on YouTube or better still, through a free MOOC offered by FutureLearn Here.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting Is More Than A Cooking Program. Because It Involves Footage from the Castles of five British Monarchs, It Is A Flavorful Way to Step Back Into England’s Royal Past.

“From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:”

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court
  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London
  • George I at Hampton Court Palace
  • George III at Kew Palace
  • Victoria at Kensington Palace

Hampton Court Palace of Henry VIII

Interior Hampton Court Palace

Chapel at Hampton Court Palace

In all honesty, I don’t normally watch cooking programs. I simply do not normally like them, but I am fascinated by history, and I loved the way that A History of Royal Food and Feasting brings British history to life. The free class is designed to be enjoyed over five weeks, but I completed the entire course in a weekend. Here is a sample of what the course offers and a bit of what I learned about Henry VIII, his palace at Hampton Court, and food during his lifetime.

Kitchen at Hampton Court Palace – 36,000 square feet

Henry VIII’s Kitchen may have contained as many as 55 separate rooms. There were boiling rooms and even rooms for preparing the laundry in the kitchen area, which filled 36,000 square feet.

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While studying about each of the monarchs and their kitchens, participants in the class are provided with numerous videos and recipes and recipe cards.

Ryschewys close and fryez

Recipe for Ryschewys close and fryez: A Small, Fried Fruit Pie

Ingredients: to make 12

For the filling:

  • 3 dried figs
  • 3 chopped dates
  • A table spoon of currants
  • Half a teaspoon of mace
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of canelle

For the paste:

  • 100g (3.5 ounces) flour
  • A dessert spoon of sugar
  • A pinch of saffron dissolved in half a teacup of water

Instructions:

  • Pound the figs in a mortar
  • Add the dates and currants and pound some more
  • Finely chop, grind and mix the spices – should be balanced, so if you can smell one stronger than the others, add more of them to compensate
  • Add the spices to the dried fruit and mix thoroughly
  • Make a paste from the flour, sugar and saffron water
  • Roll out the paste as thin as paper – a little goes a long way in this recipe
  • Cut out small circles – about a teacup size
  • Add a small amount of the fruit mix – about half a tablespoon
  • Damp the edges of the paste with water and close forming a pea-pod shape
  • Shallow fry in oil (or in a deep fat fryer) for a couple of minutes or until golden brown
  • Serve warm, sprinkled in sugar

Tart Out of Lent

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Ingredients: to make 6-8 portions

For the filling

  • 100g (3 ½ ounces) Cheshire cheese
  • 150ml (¼ pint) cream
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • 30g (1 ounce) butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the pastry case

  • Any high butter pastry, such as shortcrust, will do
  • Egg yolks for glazing

Instructions:

  • Chop the cheese and then pound in a mortar
  • Add cream, egg and butter and mix together to make a thick cream (about the consistency of Cottage Cheese – add more cream if too dry, more cheese if too wet)
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Make a pastry tart case, about 25cm (10inches) diameter – you can use a tart tin if easier – and thin pastry lid
  • Fill with cheese, cream, egg and butter mixture
  • Put on pastry lid – seal and glaze with egg yolks
  • Bake at 220°C/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes or until golden
  • Allow to cool a little and serve

Recipe for Tart Photo Credits Future Learn Here:

tarte-lent2

Misconceptions about Foods Served at Henry VIII’s Court

  1. Henry VIII’s kitchen staff did not use spices to hide the taste of fouled meat. Serving 600 -1200 people twice each day, food rarely had time to sour, and if that happened, it would not have been used. Henry VIII’s kitchen only served the finest of foods, and spices were used as an expensive garnish.
  2. Beer was not drunk because fresh water was not available at Hampton Court, where fresh water was piped from the springs at Coombe Hill, which was three miles away.
  3. Henry VIII was a dainty eater and the only one who had a fork at meal time. Eating at Henry VIII’s court was not a crude and rowdy affair.

Code of Manners for Meal Time at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court

Sit not down until you have washed.

Undo your belt a little if it will make you more comfortable; because doing this during the meal is bad manners.

When you wipe your hands clean, put good thoughts forward in your mind, for it doesn’t do to come to dinner sad, and thus make others sad.

Once you sit place your hands neatly on the table; not on your trencher, and not around your belly.

Don’t shift your buttocks left and right as if to let off some blast. Sit neatly and still.

Any gobbit that cannot be taken easily with the hand, take it on your trencher.

Don’t wipe your fingers on your clothes; use the napkin or the ‘board cloth’.

If someone is ill mannered by ignorance, let it pass rather than point it out. 

– recorded by the Dutch Writer, Desiderius Erasmus, who published his De Civitate in 1534-

This is a mere sampling of what I took away from the free MOOC A History or Royal Food and Feasting. The next class starts November 8–just in time to begin thinking about what you will prepare for your holiday meals. Although I have participated in numerous free MOOC learning experiences, this was my favorite. It should appeal to almost everyone. Register at FutureLearn Here.

Flavorful

© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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