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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Durham University serves up a medieval feast
People preparing for medieval banquet
In the middle ages aristocrats and royalty would be served things like meat, fish, game and vegetables at banquets

Durham University is taking people back in time to enjoy a medieval banquet fit for a king.

The University's Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies has prepared a meal of authentic medieval cuisine and drink from some long-forgotten recipes.

They'll be serving everyone with hypocras, a traditional scented wine.

Many traditions are being followed - including arranging the meat and vegetable tarts into groups of four and serving people in tables of eight.

In the middle ages aristocrats and royalty would be served things like meat, fish, game and vegetables at banquets.

Dr Giles Gasper, the co-director of the Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, said: "It's one thing to know the practices and customs of the Medieval Period, but to get the opportunity to bring them to life and experience some of the many flavours of the food and drink of the period is an emotive, engaging and therefore much more enjoyable way to understand the past."

Scented wine

The food was often distinguished by the use of a wide variety of spices - simple ones such as pepper, cumin and ginger and more unusual ones such as galingale, grains of paradise and cubebs.

Caroline Yeldham
The cooks will don full medieval costumes for the banquet

Durham University's historical food expert, Caroline Yeldham, has been preparing the feast.

She said: "Medieval attitude to food is a vast topic, one governed by many aspects reflecting the era including social standing and religion - there were dietary restrictions for about half the days of the year.

"Medieval cuisine is international, drawing on elements across Western Europe from the first collections of the late 12th and early 13th Century, through to the late 16th Century.

"The foods for this event are all high status recipes which would've been served at royal and aristocratic tables and will be served with hypocras, a scented wine."



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