Thursday, February 26, 2015

Subtleties&Stuffe Sources: Fleming

Fleming, Elise. Confections and the English Banquet.
[Series: The Compleat Anachronist. #163 2014:3]
[This is a pamphlet produced by the Society for Creative Anachronism. ***]

The author is a retired teacher and longtime SCA member. This booklet is a labor of love based upon her long time interests in cake decorating, sugar paste items, research, and attending numerous lectures and courses in the US and in England. These include a number of Leeds Symposiums plus confectionery courses at food historian Ivan Day’s home. The work is compiled in part from the author’s many previous papers and talks. See her website at: 

The Table of Contents reveals that the work covers the banquet ranging from its evolution through the development of the banqueting house, a brief history sugar and confections, table layouts, common banquet items, spice dishes, trenchers, and forks, leading into a conclusion on page 22. The rest of the pamphlet is comprised of Appendices covering lists of banqueting items, recipes, a section on recreating a banquet, and lastly sugar stages. The bibliography appears on pages 55-58. Notes appear on pages 59-64. As one can see, lots of interesting material in 64 pages!

I do have a few quibbles. Appendix F on sugar stages is extremely hard to follow. Beginners who are unfamiliar with the terms and techniques may find themselves lost! This material on sugar temperatures and notes is not well served by being crammed into just three and one third pages. Additional space and breaks between paragraphs would have been of immense help in making the material more understandable. There are some problems with the bibliography. The dates of original publication are often omitted. Sir Hugh Plat did not write A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen. Susan J. Evans transcribed the Epulario. She did not translate this English work. W.M. is not HRM Henrietta Maria. Rather minor errors, given the complexity and length.

Despite these quibbles, this is a very good and very readable introduction to an appealing topic of great interest to many Society members. Highly recommended.

***Copies available by ordering through
The cost is $4.50 usd.

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