The Tudor Dynasty, especially the father of Queen Elizabeth, King Henry VIII was always in competition with the French King. The mother of Queen Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn had spent her early years as a lady in waiting to the French Queen Claude. The following description is of a lavish French banquet and feast described by a historian of French cookery, Legrand d'Aussy. His words describe a great Medieval feast given in 1455 by the Count of Anjou, third son of Louis II the King of Sicily. Cooks employed by Nobles during the Elizabethan era would have been aware of the high standards set by the French and endeavoured to provide Queen Elizabeth with a feast or banquest of a similar standard and content. It is also interesting to note that in a Description of Elizabethan England, 1577 from Holinshed's Chronicles the following comment is made - "...the nobility of England (whose cooks are for the most part musical-headed Frenchmen and strangers)...
The Dining Table
"On the table was placed a centre-piece, which represented a green lawn, surrounded with large peacocks' feathers and green branches, to which were tied violets and other sweet-smelling flowers. In the middle of this lawn a fortress was placed, covered with silver. This was hollow, and formed a sort of cage, in which several live birds were shut up, their tufts and feet being gilt. On its tower, which was gilt, three banners were placed, one bearing the arms of the count, the two others those of Mesdemoiselles de Châteaubrun and de Villequier, in whose honour the feast was given."
The First Course
"The first course consisted of a civet of hare, a quarter of stag which had been a night in salt, a stuffed chicken, and a loin of veal. The two last dishes were covered with a German sauce, with gilt sugar-plums, and pomegranate seeds.... At each end, outside the green lawn, was an enormous pie, surmounted with smaller pies, which formed a crown. The crust of the large ones was silvered all round and gilt at the top; each contained a whole roe-deer, a gosling, three capons, six chickens, ten pigeons, one young rabbit To serve as seasoning or stuffing, a minced loin of veal, two pounds of fat, and twenty-six hard-boiled eggs, covered with saffron and flavoured with cloves.
The Second Course
...There was a roe-deer, a pig, a sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar, and covered with powdered ginger; a kid, two goslings, twelve chickens, as many pigeons, six young rabbits, two herons, a leveret, a fat capon stuffed, four chickens covered with yolks of eggs and sprinkled with powder de Duc (spice), a wild boar
The Third Course
..Some wafers (darioles), and stars; a jelly, part white and part red, representing the crests of the main guests
The Fourth Course
..Cream with Duc powder, covered with fennel seeds preserved in sugar; a white cream, cheese in slices, and strawberries; and, lastly, plums stewed in rose-water.
The Fifth Course
Besides these four courses, there was a fifth, entirely composed of the prepared wines then in vogue, and of preserves. These consisted of fruits and various sweet pastries. The pastries represented stags and swans, to the necks of which were suspended the arms of the Count of Anjou ..."