500 Years of Festive Food

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Tired of turkey? Snoring over your sprouts? Bored of brandy sauce? Well, the Royal College of Physicians are offering London’s festive feasters something a little different this Christmas.

Foodies and historians alike are invited to join a team of experts in a gastronomic journey across five centuries of festive food. The candlelit evening will offer demonstrations, tastings and explanations of the flavours and savours of times past.

Traditional British Cheeses by Fare of London - copyright Fare of London

The history

The College is home to one of Britain’s most remarkable collections of ancient recipes, or ‘receipts’ as they were once called, dating back beyond its establishment by the ‘King of feasts’ himself Henry VIII, in 1518.

Experts will take you on a culinary journey of the nation’s winter celebrations from the 16th Century right through to the present reign of ‘Queen Delia’.

The food

Christmas has never been a time for moderation, and no one could feast like our ancestors! The evening’s discussions will enable the more daring diners to discover more about past delicacies, including Tudor boars’ heads garnished with rosemary and bay, exotic sounding 17th century swan in saffron sauce, Georgian sweetmeats and actual meat-laden mince pies, which were still available well into Victorian times.

However, thankfully, cheese and wine have always been a staple for us Brits, and acclaimed caterers and specialists in ‘forgotten foods’, Fare of London, will be offering diners the opportunity to sample the best British cheeses and pick of England’s newly fashionable wines.

Recipe for perfume from 'recipt book' c1574 - copyright Royal College of Physicians

The experts

Expert food historian Ivan Day will be joined by silver specialist Christopher Hartop for an exciting recreation of an 18th century dessert, and historian and cook Annie Gray will be taking visitors through a festive chocolate, tea and coffee journey.

Get involved!

The College is inviting you to join them and experiment! And afterwards, if you feel like boar’s head isn’t for you, you can remain safe in the knowledge that your traditional turkey dinner will still be waiting for you on the Christmas Day.

Doors open 6pm for tastings and candlelit exploration of the collections of the Royal College of Physicians.

7pm: In Conversation with a panel of experts.

8pm onwards: Demonstrations, tastings and talks from food specialists and historians.

Price: £15 find tickets here.

Royal College of Physicians | 11 St Andrew’s Place, London NW1 4LE Wednesday 9 December

Photography: Fare of London

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