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It Takes a Household to Cook a Feast

It Takes a Household to Cook a Feast by Lady Lucia Littlefaire

For the reader to truly appreciate the consternation I felt during the preparation of our household feast, I must first set the scene.

  • Invitation list: 16
  • Cutting boards: 1
  • Knives with cutting ability: 2
  • Amount of meat: unlimited
  • Cost of meat: priceless

Edmund and Rosa returned to our encampment to find me sitting next to the bench with my right hand plunged into icy water and a pained expression on my face. After enquiring as to what inspired my agony, they learned that I believed myself to have asbestos hands and could therefore clutch burning hot cast iron pans with bare flesh. Apparently this was not the case and I have the same sensitivity to heat as any normal human being. Consequently, I was newly sporting a burn slash across three fingers on my right hand.

Despite having done an unbelievably foolish and absentminded thing, Rosa was moved to compassion and applied cooling balm to my hand. Unfortunately, I was essentially incapacitated. I was supposed to be heading a kitchen crew that were preparing a feast for 16 people. I sat clutching my accursed hand and tried to instruct others in the tasks that I knew I could accomplish simply enough on my own as the pain in my hand grew steadily worse.

My frustration had reached breaking point, I insisted on a trip to the chirugeon to bandage my fingers so that I could keep cooking. Thus, with bandaged fingers impeding my dexterity but not my willingness, we were all able to carry on the food preparation together.

Alas, the maxim 'anything that can go wrong, will go wrong' was consistently butting against our best efforts to find any success in our endeavour. Our one cutting board, two functioning knives and the gas innocuously leaking into our oxygen in an enclosed space were all hampering our progress. Nothing was going to plan and it was all I could do to keep the Princess Buttercup fit I could feel brewing in my chest at bay. Poor Edmund, chipper as always, began singing Christmas carols and I harshly reproached him with, 'you are being abrasively cheerful, there will be no more songs.' And despite my shrewishness and only the use of my sinister hand, we all pressed on against all odds.

Finally the gas cleared, we felt less giddy, the food had started cooking and I imprudently began to believe that there was some hope that everything would be oků And then the rain came...

Due to our gas problems we had moved our gas burners outside and were cooking in the open air, the open air that was now openly raining on us. I looked up and cursed the heavens for this untimely precipitation. I walked inside leaving the turnips armed in self defence and rice cooking on the burners. Regrettably I was distracted by another crisis and when I returned I found a cheesy, creamy concoction boiling over and dousing the flame below. Deep cleansing breath. The turnips were ready it appeared. In truth, they were over ready, they were now burnt. As was the rice! It seemed I burnt everything I touched: my hand, the turnips, the rice. I decided that I had the anti-Midas touch. Thus, I was standing in the rain, looking down on the burnt product of my labour trying very hard to flick my internal anti-breakdown switch. A thought struck me, only I knew this food is burnt and this is medieval cooking so no-one really knows what it is supposed to taste like. Perhaps I would just say that the taste of the food was entirely intentional. Nevertheless, I was quite downcast, a feeling that was reaffirmed when I heard from inside that we did not have enough cutlery, plates or serving platters for the food. It was time to crawl across the wet ground and humbly beg Lady Nesta for some platters from the St Florian encampment. Accommodating as always she was very prepared to come to the aid of a very inexperienced kitchen boss but sadly they had no available trays.

Amidst the chaos mentioned above, Tomas returned to our kitchen tent covered in fighter grime and still in his armour. He offered his services but was banished from our presence until he had scoured his filthiness away. Edmund and Rosa were obediently sitting in the corner and stuffing chicken and trying to be unobtrusive. Constanzia and Gabriel's hospitality experience was certainly advantageous as they could think ahead and troubleshoot situations.

However, the rain kept falling, the darkness settled, our guests began to assemble and we had sailed by the time I had set to have the food ready by. Gabriel was still outside wrestling to keep the melted brie inside the chicken pieces on the barbeque, Constanzia was rifling through our equipment and using all her resourcefulness in order to find ANYTHING we could serve food on while the rest of the MB members scurried here and there to deal with any other feast related matter. Suddenly I was struck by just how wonderful I felt to be working with my household on a project such as this. And then, I wasn't concerned with how the food turned out, as long as people weren't poisoned, it wasn't truly a disaster. My focus then changed to enjoying being with my friends and doing cool medieval stuff.

Fifteen minutes later the food was on the table and everyone was seated around it exclaiming how good our feasting tent smelled. The food was passed around and I had nothing but good will for everyone especially when Sir Siridean declared how those were the best turnips he'd ever tasted. A few of other guests asserted that it was the best food they had ever eaten at a feast. I looked around with shining eyes, gave thanks for the support of my friends and chided myself for making the whole process about me when it was always about working as a team. All these thoughts were going through my mind as I struggled to apply fresh bandaids to my burns. The king, seeing my struggle, offered to attach them for me. He fastened the fresh bandaids and said with a wry smile, 'see the king does have hands of healing.' I giggled for the first time that night. Chi reclaimed. Equanimity returned.