But I suppose I am to find out soon. This year it is definitely on our list as from April 15th till August 15th it hosts an interesting exhibition about ‘A table au Moyen Age' or Food in the Middle Ages. According to the website of the Touraine tourist board this exhibition has some surprises in store for the visitors.
Apparently our modern perception of food in the Middle Ages has been strongly distorted by the so-called historical films. The first movie that immediately springs to mind is ‘The adventures of Robin Hood’ from 1938 with Errol Flynn, in which King John and his brawling rogues feast on huge plates of whole chickens, wild boars and legs of beef or mutton, with grease and wine dribbling down their chin.
The exhibition shows us that food and table manners were in fact far more delicate than that. Elegantly decorated finger bowls were used to rinse one’s fingers before eating, sauces were a light and subtle mix of sweet and sour, cutlery and plates were made of the finest materials. Stuffed peacocks and other birds or even the inevitable piglet with a red apple stuck between its jaws were only put on the table for decorative purposes and were by no means meant to be eaten.
Through manuscripts, kitchen utensils and accurate replica of medieval dishes the exhibition wants us to discover the real medieval cuisine and banquets, which were a true feast for the eye and the taste buds. Apart from the grandeur of life at court, we also get a peek at what the poor people used to put on their plates.
Being a 21st century ‘foodie’, I’m curious to find out which dishes the medieval ‘foodies’ liked and how they were consumed. I also hope that they’ll let us have a peek at the kitchens. I just love castle kitchens with their big open fireplace, large enough to roast a whole pig. I’ve read on the internet that the kitchens of the castle of Montpoupon have recently been restored. When we were there in 2007 large metal bars prevented the visitors from approaching the table, stove and other utensils that were on display. Maybe all that has changed now; my friends B. and J.L. will be able to tell me, as they will be visiting Montpoupon while I’ll be having lunch with my French friends who live in Francueil.
Just a little over three weeks to go! Almost time to start the countdown!