At the time of writing time travel is yet to be a known reality, although spend enough time on the internet and you will find “evidence” of it. For those who have a keen interest in the past, the only way to experience it first hand is in a re-enactment style capacity. I am not ashamed to admit having attended several medieval-themed events throughout my life, not to mention a life-long dream of learning to swordfight and don some armour.
Food history is a very specific niche in the study of human history. In recent years we have seen history programmes featuring the history of food. It is a subject that has great cultural, economic and environmental significance; all packed neatly into a pastry casing. With Christmas not long past, and Easter on the horizon, we can all appreciate the importance of food history in our own lives.
Sam Bilton is a local food writer, researcher and cook who brings the rich history of food to life via her regular Repast supper clubs. Each looks at a different era, chef or celebration and Sam creates a meal that is inspired by the flavours and trends that fit the brief. I was invited to a Tudor -inspired supper club held at the Anne of Cleeves house in Lewes.
Our meal would be held in the actual dining/entertaining rooms of the house and include a short tour of the premises. I managed three months of a history degree back in my late teens so was well prepared to soak up the knowledge. Following the tour we sat down to enjoy a three course meal inspired by the food of the time.
The meal started with a delicate soused mackerel dish that came with the most delicious salsa verde. It was packed with fresh and fragrant green herbs and really helped to balance the pickled fish.
Next up was “Minct Pye” or slow cooked lamb and dried fruits in pastry “coffyn”. The meltingly soft lamb was presented in a neat little coffin that looked great and tasted better. Classic dried spices of the time had been used to flavour the meat giving it quite the festive feel.
I finished with an almond panna cotta with poached pears in spiced wine. This one split opinion on my table but I enjoyed it and understood the choice of flavours used. I admit to having had severe food envy for those who had chosen the other option of Tortiglione Ripieno. This impressive looking yeasted fruit cake looked very delicious indeed.
My Repast supper club was a fun and enjoyable dining experience which I would certainly recommend to those looking for something a little different. Most are smaller and held at Sam’s house in Burgess Hill and I think that environment would be a little more intimate and sociable. The food is that of a skilled cook who has a real passion for their craft and as such is different to restaurant style food. Sam clearly puts a lot of care and attention into her menus and ensures that her guests go home with a smile and a full belly and you cannot ask for much more than that.