Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wolf Hall Tea

Kerry is coming over tomorrow afternoon for tea! We will discuss Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. This is a fictionalized account of King Henry VIII's divorce from Katherine of Aragon and marriage Anne Boleyn. The twist is it is told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell! It received the 2009 Man Booker Hall Prize for Fiction. I will certainly inform you how the conversation goes. We usually aren't too highbrow in our discussion and very often the conversation ends up being about food and what the characters eat.

And I know I said I would give more notice when we discuss a book, so I apologize. But this is our chance! Wolf Hall will be open for discussion between now and July 15th.

Before sharing tomorrow's menu, let me first acknowledge that the Brits weren't drinking tea until the late 1600s so I don't have a menu based on what the Tudor's or Cromwell's would have been eating at tea because... they just weren't doing that yet. In the book, there are references to eating game animals and birds, fish, and lots of ale and wine. There are several references to Cromwell's chef, Thurston, and his group of garzoni - boys he is training in the kitchen. On page 280, there is a reference to cookies being made as gifts: "Once the kitchen boys have made a single commendable wafer, Thurston has them turn out a hundred more. It becomes second nature, the flick of the wrist with which one rolls the half-set wafer onto the handle of a wooden spoon and then flips it onto the drying rack to crisp." These sound quite a bit like Italian lace cookies. In the book, the cookies are less lacy and stamped with a Tudor badge; but, since I don't have any of that equipment, I will go with what I know.

Menu for Wolf Hall Tea

Savory: Open Face Garden Tea Sandwiches
Scones: Buttermilk Scones with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam
Sweets: Lemon Pound Cake and Italian Lace Cookies
Tea: Ceylon

I will be making clotted cream but since I can't get unpasteurized milk around here, it will be a faux clotted cream. The strawberry jam is some of last year's freezer jam made with farmer's market berries. The scones and pound cake will both be gluten free. See the "Recipes" section for recipes.

Please join us virtually by making one of the above items and sharing your thoughts about Wolf Hall between now and July 15.


PS - I just learned the name of the cookies Thurston's garzoni are making: pizzelles. They are a very traditional Italian cookie with some families keeping the family presses for generations. I think you will recognize the cookies when you see a picture of them in the recipe section.

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