Thursday, April 10, 2014

Royal Marriage Secrets of England and Leche Lumbarde (spiced ground pork)

Richard III Richard III (reconstruction from found scull) 

Last year, thanks to years of meticulous research, a group of passionate history nerds discovered the long-lost body of Richard III.

Much maligned in art and historical texts, I remember reading that his deformity had been created as part of a smear campaign to justify the rise of the House of Tudor.

Body of Richard III as found under a parking lot

NYT’s photo

Truth be told, the deformity was the detail that virtually assured the diggers that they had found the right remains –– there was an obvious curvature of the spine in the skeleton (DNA tests using a direct descendant proved it was Richard's bones). Although he might not have been as dastardly as the brilliant monster of Shakespeare’s Richard III, he did have a hunchback, was killed in battle and had his body cruelly abused before being shoved, unceremoniously, in an un-marked trench.

Much of the material that led to the discovery of Richard III's body came from John Ashdown-Hill. Ashdown-Hill has written volumes on the comings and goings of the English royals during the Middle Ages.

The history of the British monarchy is not a smooth, straight line of succession as Richard III’s rise and fall attests. Far from it –– more accurately it flows over many families and countries and is full of explosive changes, intrigue and legitimate and illegitimate claims to the throne. For centuries there were no pieces of paper to refer to when it was necessary to establish hereditary rights. There were no Prince Charles and Lady Di ceremonies to remember.

Henry I (1068 – 1135) and his wife, Matilda of Scotland

Ashdown-Hill’s latest book,  Royal Marriage Secrets: Consorts & Concubines, Bigamists & Bastardsis a great read that attempts to spin the connecting thread of the Royal and not so royal alliances that have maintained the British monarchy for these many centuries. The book is full of fun arcane facts. For instance, for a great many years, marriage had no contract, and often no ceremony in England. Words were exchanged between 2 people but could be and were often broken just as easily as they were spoken –– whether children had come from the marriage or no.

When a new, more politically advantageous union was required, the vows were nullified. Also, for the same reasons, a union could be dissolved when it came to the church’s attention that close cousins married or brother’s wives were married. The ‘too-close-for-comfort’ marriages to close cousins could just as easily be disregarded by the church if permission was requested and granted –– whichever judgment was needed at the time. Let’s just say it was a very flexible system. One of the few marriage documents of the Middle Ages was Henry I to Matilda in 1100 – not that it did much for Matilda, Henry was a world class adulterer with many mistresses and bastards (9 sons and 13 daughters). Registering marriages was not law until 1538 – 2 years after Anne Boleyn lost her head.

From the secret royal marriage of Edward the Black Prince, Edward the IV to Henry VIII, royal couplings were in constant flux with the monarchy often in peril of being lost for lack of heirs or a surplus of them.

Catharine of Valois (1401-37)

The book is illuminating as well as fun.  I did not know that the Tudors did not start calling themselves Tudors till Elizabeth’s reign –– reason being that Owen Tudor was probably NOT the father of Edmond Tudor. Tudor did marry Henry V’s widow, Catherine of Valois after creating quite an impression as her handsome major domo (it was said she caught him bathing in the nude and fell hard for him). They had 4-5 children together but Henry VI (her son by Henry V), never sanctioned their marriage. Probably because of the Queen's dalliance with Tudor, it had been recently decreed that the King must agree to the unions of the widows of English kings. The queen was to have married Edmond Beaufort but went for Tudor instead. Something tells me there was a murky fact that has been lost in time that made crowing about the connection less than appropriate for a few generations of Tudors.

King Henry VIII, c.1535, Joos van Cleve.

Of course, you can’t write about consorts, bigamists and bastards without a chapter on one of the most famous Tudors, Henry VIII (1491-1547). The book reveals that Henry VIII only had 2 legal wives, not 6 and that he spent most of his adult life married to his first wife – longer than all the others combined. If not for the lack of sons and his obsession with Anne Boleyn, he may have stayed married to her – she was quite a dame.

Henry’s own daughter, Elizabeth owed much to Catharine of Aragon as she started the style for educating women and having them take leadership roles in government. It’s sad that Ann Boleyn upstaged her, Catharine was really a fine woman and great queen.

Catharine of Aragon 1502, Michael Sittow

Henry married Catherine of Aragon in 1509. She was fair, beautiful and served as the first female ambassador in Europe. She served as regent when Henry was in France in 1513. She was brilliant, highly educated, much admired and reigned till 1533. On the whole, Henry VIII’s story is much less salacious than the television program The Tudors painted it.

Although Ashdown-Hill’s specialty is the middle ages, he takes the marriage story through the 19th century with chapters on Queen Victoria and her notorious relationship with Mr. Brown (a workman at the Balmoral estate) and even a bit of speculation about Jack the Ripper and the idea that the royal family might have had some inside knowledge of his identity. By the 19th century, marriages were grand and heavily documented -- things had changed much since the early days of clandestine, private vows.

Henry IV (1367-1413), (drawn 1445-50)

One of the royals in the book is Henry IV (1367-1413). Nearly forgotten today, he was an interesting character and elected to be King by Parliament after Richard II was forced to abdicate –– even though the Mortimer family was closer in line to the throne. Henry IV had royal blood from Henry III.

         Henry IV of England, Mary de Bohun and Joanna of Navarre

 He was married to Mary de Bohun until her death without too much drama and many children (she died giving birth to her last child). He then married Joanna of Navarre for love –– he met her when he was exiled in France and fell in love with her. She became his Queen on February 7, 1403

The relationship with Henry IV was a happy one and Joanna got along well with her stepson, Henry V, when he was young. Later, she was accused of trying to poison Henry V and use her witchly ways upon him. She was convicted and whisked away to Pevensey Castle for punishment, but released when Henry V was dying and was buried with Henry IV in the end. Sadly, she was always to be remembered as the Witch Queen for what may have been innocent herbalism.

When I needed to decide what to make to give you a taste of royal dishes, I went to my pal, Janet Clarkson, who writes the delightful blog, The Old Foodie, She also penned  Menus from History. In it, famous menus throughout history cover 365 days of the year. Henry IV’s October 13th, 1399 feast was one of them.

Not much is known about the celebrations for either of his marriages but his coronation celebration was well documented. Coming after the excesses and fine culinary ways of Richard II, the food is simple but interesting. I have written a good deal about Richard II's cookbook, The Forme of Cury and this menu is not far from those recipes and meal combinations.  Henry IV's menu is full of lots of simple roasted food that was popular with the ruling class at the time. It is mostly in English with some French dishes mentioned.

Coronation of Henry IV, Jean Froissart (late 15th c)

Last year, when I wrote about Heston Blumenthal and his penchant for odd old dishes,  I was delighted with his famous meat fruit ––  a chicken liver mousse disguised to look like an orange. Truth be told, this was a terribly popular conceit in Henry IV’s day. Chefs loved to color and disguise dishes to delight royal patrons and their guests. This is true for a few of the dishes on Henry's menu.
Heston Blumenthal’s Meat Fruit (chicken liver mousse in Mandarin jelly)

When I saw Leche Lombarde I knew this was the meat masquerade I wanted to make. I found 2 recipes, one from Forme of Cury and the other from a Medieval manuscript. In one, the meat is colored green and yellow, in the other it is formed like a pea pod. Almonds play an important role in the flavor as do other rich spices like saffron, cinnamon and cloves but also dried dates, raisins and currants are part of the mix. It makes a wonderful fun presentation with a magnificent sauce.

Leche Lumbarde

DESCRIPTION: Meat Loaf "Pea Pod" with Raisin Almond Milk Sauce


Take rawe pork and pulle of the skyn, and pyke out the synewes, and bray the pork in a morter with ayron rawe. Do therto sugur, salt, raysouns coraunce, dates mynced, and powdour of peper, powdour gylofre; & do it in a bladder, and lat it seeth til it be ynowhgh. And whan it is ynowh, kerf it; leshe it in liknesse of a peskodde; and take grete raysouns and grynde hem in a morter. Drawe hem vp with rede wyne. Do therto mylke of almaundes. Colour it with saundres & safroun, and do therto powdour of peper & of gilofre and boile it. And whan it is iboiled, tale powdour canel and gynger and temper it vp with wyne, and do alle thise thynges togyder, and loke that it be rennyng; and lat it not seeth after that it is cast togyder, & serue it forth.

- Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). New York: for The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

Leche Lumbarde (recipe based on one from Gode Cookery)

1½ pounds ground pork
2 eggs
½ c each currants and pitted dates, chopped fine
2 t sugar
¼ tsp each black pepper, cinnamon, powdered ginger
1/8 t cloves
1½ tsp salt


½ c red wine
½ c raisins
¼ c red wine(if necessary)
1 ½ c almond milk *
¼ tsp each black pepper, cinnamon, powdered ginger
1/8 t cloves
2 t powdered sandalwood, optional (available here)
1/8 tsp saffron
diced parsley

Mash the raisins to paste (I put them in a processor with some of the wine).

Combine raisin paste and the rest of the half cup of wine, blending thoroughly.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine almond milk, raisin and wine mixture, and pepper, rosemary and saffron. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly for ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and ginger. I strained the solids and put them in the blender to puree them.  Blend this with the remaining liquid.  Add the saffron.  Let it cool  -- it will plump up and get thick.  This is best done an hour or more before you make the pork

If sauce is too thick, stir in more wine.  Set aside.

 Preheat oven to 350°

 In a bowl, thoroughly mix together ground pork, eggs, sugar, spices and salt.

Divide the mixture into quarters, and put 3/4 in a shallow roasting pan, and mold it into a long, narrow shape, pointed at the end. Put a grove down the center large enough to hold the meatballs. Take the remaining 1/4 of the ground pork mixture and mold it into meatballs about the size of large marbles, and put them in the groove so it resembles peas in a pod.

Cover the meat loaf with aluminum foil, put it in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.

9. Remove meat loaf from oven and allow to cool for a while. Then remove aluminum foil and, with a knife, trim the edges of the loaf to give it a smooth outline. Clean up the spaces around the balls that and sprinkle with parsley.  Warm the sauce gently.

10. Place the meat loaf on a serving platter, and serve the sauce in a bowl along side.

Serves six to eight. Yields one and a half cups of sauce.

Almond Milk

1 c almonds, ground finely
2 c boiling water

Put them together and sit for a few hours.  Use with almonds or strain.

Doctor Lostpast fell and had a severe head trauma.  He is moving to a great rehab facility and I hope he will recover. It takes time.

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes via Facebook.  I have not been visiting you all as much as I would like, now you know why.

My first article is appearing in the magazine  SaudiAramcoWorld this month (it has great food history articles going back decades).   Mine's about chiliewith a fun video on merguez in NYC that I made with my friend, filmmaker Kathy Dougherty.  Do visit, won't you??

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Sarah said...

I am so sorry to hear about your husband's misfortune. I hope all turns out well.

This is a very interesting recipe and presentation. The shape? The meatballs? I wonder why? But then I scroll right down to your recipe, my favourite part. Perhaps you did explain. Sounds delicious. Take care.

lindaraxa said...

Oh Diana, the things you dig up! I had no idea about the remains of Richard III. What an interesting find and under a parking lot.

I did not know about your husband. So very sorry to hear and yes, I have missed you. Hope things improve soon. xxoo J

Barbara said...

Sounds like a fascinating and entertaining book, Deana. Love our peak into it today and the intriguing recipe. Fun to see the photo of liver posing as a mandarin orange too.
Trust Scott Is doing as well as expected. Thinking about you. Life throws us some really scary curves. Hang in there.

Marjie said...

Thanks for taking the time to write despite your husband's trauma. With my husband's recent traumatic surgery, which was completely unexpected, I absolutely understand how difficult this is for you. I'm hoping that everything goes well for the good Doctor (and you, by extension).

Great article. Sounds like a wonderful book.

Anonymous said...

Actually I remember when that whole documentary came out when they found his body. It was fascinating.
I love the dish you made. It reminds me of middle eastern kebabs, they often use fruits and warm spices with meat to make something similar (minus the sauce).
Hope you have a lovely weekend.
*kisses* H
p.s. you mentioned "Consorts, bigamists, and bastards" i think that would make a great title for the book of my soon to be ex husband's life

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I love food dressed up as something else. I once make a watermelon cake, and another time a cake that looked like a lamb shank. I know the Tudors was yanking my chain, but I still loved it!

Hope all improves with the Doctor.

Frank said...

I always find it intriguing how old recipes crossed lines we take as gospel today, between sweet and savory, mild and spicy, etc. etc.

PS: I recently read somewhere that a scholar has now cast doubt whether those bones really are Richard III's. Not sure who else's they could have been, given the circumstances, it seems he's saying there's no proof he was deformed in the way the skeleton is.

Diane said...

Oh Deanna so sorry to hear about your husband, I do hope that all goes well for you and he recovers fully very soon. I am sure it must have been a huge shock and my thoughts are with you.

Very interesting post, thanks for this. Diane

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Deana, I am so sorry I missed this post and the fact that your husband had a head injury! I saw a commenter mention it in your latest post and knew I had missed something. I do hope is recovery is going well.