In anticipation of the U.S. television premiere of Wolf Hall**, based on Hilary Mantel's acclaimed and award winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the mind has wandered a bit off the topic of sugar boiling and heights of sugar stages to think about subtleties and the court of Henry VIII.
For those into historical cookery and the Tudor Court who don’t already have a copy, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of All the King’s Cooks. The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace by food historian Peter Brears. Originally published in hardback in the 1990s, it’s available now through Amazon in a paperback edition or even for your Kindle. All of Peter Brears’ works are worth reading. His Cooking and Dining in Medieval England won the British Glenfiddich Award for excellence in food and drink books, and the forthcoming Cooking & Dining in Tudor & Early Stuart England (June 2015) is much anticipated.
And it mentions subtleties!
What Cavendish describes at length in one part is a visit to Hampton Court by a corps of French diplomats in 1527. Part of the account reads:
“The purveyors brought and sent in such plenty of costly provision as ye would wonder at the same. The cooks wrought both night and day in divers subtleties and many crafty devices; where lacked neither gold, silver nor any other costly thing meet for the purpose.”
This passage is on page 69. See http://tinyurl.com/pex438x
[The work may be found online at a variety of sites, including a 1905 edition up at Google Books. Or see also:
Mantel talks about theCavendish's work here:
**Wolf Hall premieres on PBS stations on 5 April 2015.