FEAST OF THE DEAD
22nd - 25th September
In September we joined up with long standing collaborators and friends, Dens and Signals, to create a feast as part of Root 1066, the town's commemoration of the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
We researched Anglo Saxon recipes and cooking techniques with the guidance of Marc Meltonville, a food historian at The Royal Palaces, and a copy of Ann Hagen's brilliant, Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink (Anglo-Saxon Books, 2006), learning that the palette of ingredients a thousand years ago was not so different to ours now, minus a few things that had yet to be imported by the invading Normans.
To cook using the techniques used by the Anglo-Saxons, using a fireplace, for example, was impossible in this case, but we instead chose to concentrate on local ingredients with documented historical use in Hastings and around the South Coast. Fat Hen seeds, found preserved in archeological digs in Britain would traditionally have been hard to winnow out from cultivated grain, and so we served the seed heads and leaves amongst our pearl barley. Due to a linguistic confusion over Middle English words for 'apple' and 'dumpling', we made an apple, spiced and wrapped in baked dough and we baked bread with beer and pea flour.
The performance, produced and directed by Dens and Signals (Jane Packman and Ben Pacey), involved specially composed music, a ghost choir and actors who invoked the fallen warriors of the battle and made connections between their time and ours.
As part of the lead up to the event, Jane and Ben organised workshops for community groups in Hastings, with tastings of elements of our menu.
Broth of Huss, Gurnard and Whiting, dulse, peas, watercress and wild herbs
Wheat and yellow pea barm bread and cultured butter
Stuffed, fried pork belly, pearl barley, fat hen, mushrooms and ale vinegar
'Honey Apple' Dumpling, sweet cheese curd and blackberries
The Project was supported by Hastings Borough Council and Arts Council England. The Community Engagement programme was supported by Big Lottery Fund.