AN EXTRACT FROM MY BOOK “TOFFEE APPLES & TOGAS ”
A Short Update.
It seems ages since I was busy producing sauces from original roman recipes. These recipes were from the Apicius Cookery Book, the only evidence of cooking handed down to us from the days of the Rome Empire. Initially I began lecturing to school children between the age of 8-12yrs old about roman pottery, then decided to organize an open day to demonstrate to the children what the pots were used for. I then proceeded to make my first Apicius sauce which was to use with chicken. The feedback from the children was excellent and the history teacher suggested I produce my sauces for sale to the public. This involved further research but was accepted by many museums and historical houses as a gift item. In a word, it was a specialized item and not for super market shelves. It was hard work at first, especially filling jars by hand but I purchased a filling machine once I could afford it. I had five different varieties of Apicius roman sauces and were then asked to produce sauces from Medieval recipes so things were really busy. The next part I am going to talk about is the exciting part of the whole enterprise.
THE THRILL OF THE RE-ENACTORS.
One weekend we were invited to one of the Sealed Knott Society’s re-enactment battle displays. They were staging the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in Herefordshire. The battle was fought near the spot during the Civil Wars between the houses of York and Lancaster on the 2nd of February 146l. The forces of Edward Mortimer, the Earl of March, and afterwards Edward the fourth, on the side of York and those of Henry V1 , on the Lancaster side, had met here to do battle. There were several smallholders at this event displaying reproduction suits of armour and various items of weaponry. Some of the re-enactors made their own armour for the battles they took part in. It was whilst talking to one of the re-enactors after the battle, I asked if it would be possible to aquire a stall at the next historical event to sell our Apicius sauces. I was told that we would have to become members of the Sealed Knott Society and would have to pay. However, the gentleman who organized their stalls advised us to get in touch with the owner of The Original Re-Enactors Market in Oxford which I did and was immediately accepted and given a stall to display our sauces.
At the time I was not aware of how huge this re-enactors organization was until the organizer whose name is Anne, explained that they are held in all parts of England, Wales, Scotland and France, and that people from all over the world attend these events.I was certainly looking forward to our first encounter and hoping to do business with so many people attending this re-enactment battle.
My partner and I arrived at Abingdon, Oxford with our caravan loaded with several trays of neatly labeled Roman and Medieval sauces. We were then told to park the caravan and Anne would meet us in the main hall where the market stalls were being set up for the weekend event . Of course we were new to this game and hadn’t got a clue, but were soon told to first collect a couple of trestle tables and if we had thought to bring suitable material to cover the trestles that would be fine., fortunately we had !. Anne suggested we arrange our stall near the entrance where everyone, meaning the usual dedicated people who visit the re-enactment events, would see our stall on arrival and would also know it was a new addition to the market stalls.
Outdoor Re-enactment Traders Market.
Whilst we were setting up our stall we watched the huge hall being transformed to times past. It was beginning to get really exciting. Everyone was dressed in the period costume they were representing. Some of the stalls were magnificent, some double and treble the size than that we were to trade from because they were selling large items. Huge travelling chests and four poster beds were among the goods for sale, these would have been used between the 15th and 18th Century There were refectory tables, farthingale type chairs, huge cabinets even rocking horses. Quite a number of these items were hired for period films and television today.
Re enactor Duke Henry Plantagenet, talking to an enthusiastic customer who eventually bought several of our Roman sauces.
Me at one of my first Re-enactment venue’s. I became more professional as time went on. But business was going well.
Stay tuned for the second part of this post . There is much more excitement to come.