A Guide to Feasting
What is a feast?
There are four feasts every year. We decorate a hall with banners, light it with candles, serve more food than you can eat, and entertain you with music and storytelling. The menu is compiled from authentic mediaeval recipes and organised into a number of courses and platters which stream forth from the kitchen until you're bursting out of your tunic. Many people choose to wear mediaeval-themed garb for feasts- more about this later!
What if I have dietary requirements/allergies?
Don't worry! We make sure that for every meat-based dish, there is a vegetarian alternative, and we can cater for vegans too. If you are allergic to an ingredient that we use in a dish, we can easily save a portion for you without that ingredient, or provide you with an alternative! Please inform us of any dietary requirements when you book your ticket so we can make adjustments as necessary. We also keep a list of the ingredients used in each dish in the kitchen, so we can refer to them in case of queries during the feast.
What should I bring?
You will need to bring your feast ticket, a bowl, a spoon, a knife, and a drinking
receptacle of some kind. Forks haven't been invented yet, so if you bring one you may be accused of witchcraft. While we provide jugs of water,
many people bring something a little more exciting to drink. This runs the gamut, from orange juice
to wine, beer to cider, or even home brew. It's entirely up to you. If you bring bottles/cans,
please take them away again at the end of the feast, as we have limited facilities for disposing of these.
Please note that it is illegal to drink alcohol in the street, so if you go outside, you may have to leave your drink indoors.
What should I wear?
You don't have to wear garb, although if you own some and want to that's great! We also have kit boxes with spare kit in which you can rummage through before a feast if you like to get in the swing of things. Gentlemen, a plain shirt and trousers does the job nicely. If you intend to borrow something from the garb box, it helps to bring a spare belt. Ladies, a long dress, or a nice top and a long skirt have the appropriate 'feel' to them. If you're feeling creative, a piece of fabric or a light blanket wrapped around your body with straps made from ribbons over the shoulder makes something very similar to a hangeroc (Viking tube dress). Do wear a t-shirt or long-sleeved top under it, though, or you can get very cold very quickly. Doing something fancy with your hair can help you feel a bit more mediaeval too - the perfect excuse to play with ribbons, flowers, and pretty hairclips! Or if none of that takes your fancy, wear what you will. As long as you're not going to be arrested for public indecency, and you don't smell too bad, we're happy.
Where should I sit?
Anywhere you like! Just wander up and claim a seat. If there are people sat near there, introduce yourself: these are your dinner companions for the night, after all. If you've already introduced yourself to some of the people wandering around the hall, you may get invited to sit with them. Failing that, claim a seat, lay your bowl out on the table, and wait to see who else comes to sit near you.
What if I don't know anyone?
This is normal! Unless you've come with a friend, it's easy to feel as if you don't know anybody. The good news is that we all love to make new friends, and there will be other people wandering around who are as new to feasting as you are. Your best bet is to grab the nearest person and introduce yourself! It could be the start of a long friendship, and even if it isn't, you now have somebody to talk to.
How is the food served?
Some courses will be brought round the tables by servers. Please hand your bowl up to them, as it's very difficult to serve food in a crowded hall if the bowls are still sitting on the tables. Other courses will be served on big platters which are placed on the table for you and those around you to share - just dig in! There will also be plenty of bread on the tables if you want something to munch on between courses or to wipe your bowl clean!
Who cooks and serves the food?
The food is prepared and served by members of the committee and the Cooks' Guild, sometimes helped by people who have volunteered to serve every course in exchange for free entry to the feast (they do get fed, just like everybody else). We are always glad to see volunteers and the call goes out shortly before each feast.
There's an orange on my table... what do I do with it?
The oranges on the table will be explained again at the feast. But here's a quick guide to oranges and the etiquette: