October 7, 2010

Medieval feast strictly hands-on

It's a feast for the senses -- particularly the sense of touch -- at a medieval meal in Lewiston on Saturday. (Utensils are, like, so 16th century anyway.)

By Shannon Bryan sbryan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Courtesy Franco-American Heritage Center



WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Franco-American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston


INFO: www.franco americanheritage.org

Food scraps can be brushed onto the floor for the dogs. In such case where there are no dogs, the food can still be tossed to the floor, where it will be buried safely under a layer of straw until the spring, when someone gets around to sweeping.

n Drink strong. Ale drinking was a regular part of medieval life -- even for peasants who, in truth, deserved a good plastering more than anyone. When the Black Death swept through Europe in the 14th century, it was thought that strong drink would prevent the disease. (It didn't.) But being half in the bag meant drinkers were at least less concerned.

n Send out your (almost) dead. Should you start to feel ill at the Saturday feast, seek out a barber amid the crowd. Barbers doubled as surgeons in the Middle Ages and were always game for a good blood-letting (although -- small detail -- said blood letting rarely benefits the patient).

n Apres feast. Following a feast, dinner guests sought out entertainment with merry activities such as backgammon, bear baiting and "hot cockles," a game where one person is blindfolded on his knees and has to guess the identities of the people hitting him.

Present-day dinner guests might question the sanity of such "entertainment," but these are the same folks who thought it was sensible to try animals in court. Instead, a movie will be shown following Saturday's meal and merriment -- it's entertainment without the hassle of catching a bear.

The Medieval Feast will lure attendees back to the days of yore, and while the floor spitting and cup sharing can remain in their historical place, perhaps we can lift the hands-on dinner ban and get back in touch with our history while touching our food.


Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:



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