This week, I visit Ireland fabulous example of a Tudor house, Ormond Castle.Now it was fabulous and I highly recommend a visit. As usual it is something small, or an interesting fact that usually piques my interest throughout my whole tour. What you may ask ?, it was not the plaster work, the long hall, the great fireplaces, but a spice box. It’s the significance of the spice box that appeals to me, where the spice came from, the trade and the route taken, the trader, the merchant, the household it was purchased for, it’s worth, more expensive than the equivalent weight in gold, the leaving of spices, the spice box in wills, ransoms demanded and paid in Spice. The food made and eaten by who? The questions are endless
Back to the spices, the Anglo Normans are credited at times with the importation of spices into Ireland, but we should not forget, the ecclesiastical settings where spices and herbs played huge part in there medicinal cures , the pilgrimages, the Atlantic motorway of its time. Wines imported from Spain, Portugal, Brittany and France all added to the arrival of spices in Ireland. Trade between the likes of Bristol from England where spices arrived to be re-exported and traded. My favourite story so far to be found in Flavin, S.2014 .148 tells the story by Giles Wigger of Antwerp that the master of his ship in 1576 was held for ransom by the Bishop Cornelius Brenner of West Cork who demanded732lbs of spice made up of nutmeg, cinnamon,cloves and pepper for his release.
Now so spices were available to the elite at any rate, spices are mentioned in the Account Roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity.
Thomas Butler of Ormond castle who provided us with the Tudor manor in Carrick on Suir was born in 1531 and died in 1614. He was sent to London and was said to be educated with Edward VI. From this we gather that he had acquaintance with Henry VIII, EdwardV I, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. As part of court, he would have tasted the exotic, the unusual, the trending foods at that time.
Sweet hippocras wine flavoured with cloves, pepper, ginger and sugar
We know that wine, good and bad, red and white, was available in quantity in the Butler household. The river Suir runs behind the castle, where trade from Waterford port travelled up and down the fast moving river Suir
Rosemary hippocras flavoured with sugar , cloves, ginger,nutmeg, bruised Rosemary
Spice comfit Almond paste.Marchpane,Gingerbread made with spices,and breadcrumbs.cracknels , French Biscuits,Short cakes,jumbals.
Rents were received usually around Easter and before Christmas. Rents included cereal, farm animals, cow, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs and fish. Thomas Butler liked hunting and it is said that there were Deerpark, fishing weirs, mills, hot houses for fruit along with very accessible trade. No doubt some of the food and spices travelled with him and any of his three wives in the spice cabinets or boxed
Delicate meats of lamb, kid and suckling pigs. To eat meat and fish accompanied sauce.
Roasts of venison served with frumenty are with cereal which in turn could be flavoured with spices. Roast of beef, mutton, goose . Heron and Swans.Roast capons gilded in egg yolk and spices.
Driedfruits and nuts were fashionable at this time, currants, raisins, dares ,prunes,almonds and walnuts.
Aloes of beef, venison, salmon, mutton. Filled with a mixture of dried fruit, spices, breadcrumbs mixed into a paste , Olives of veal.
Fresh fruit of apples, apricots, plums, cherries and pears , some eaten fresh or preserved in sugar as a a preserve or a jam that we call it today, A little spice added for good measure, Fruit pudding or stew was popular like applemoyse or fritters.
Compound salads of exotic dried fruits, nuts, herbs and greens, ger kind, capers, and olives.
Pickled edible flowers, salads of all of the above with a selection of herbs and greens from the garden.
The English housewife suggests sauce for every kind of poultry, meat and fish. Note that was published after the 16 th century
Do not forget that the best of breads were also served with condiments of salt and sauces, bread need to mop up the many different sauces of different colours of vivid green, whites, browns. Sharp sweet sour spices all combined to make a feast for the palette.A big tip, when beginning, cook food that you think you will like and eat.
So if you come to Ireland to visit our fair landsI suggest you follower the Butler trail. Along with Nenagh, all those on the Butler trail app are Tipperary.A visit to Kilkenny city is also a must
Here is a link to find the app https://tipperary.com/itinerary/48-hours-on-the-butler-trail/
It is said that Thomas Butler 10 th Earl of Ormond like to hunt
Venison therefore would be easily accessed, along with salmon and eels, Fish poached in spices served with green sorrel sauce, serving of veal or Vension was showing status at this time in Ireland after all it was the noble lords and Earls who were allowed to hunt game freely according to Susan Beglane in Food and Drink Ireland, serving game at feast was ‘indicator of social identity and status’
Trout and green sauce, cooked Egg yolks mixed with spices
For some reason almond and their products was not not used to the extent it was in Britain. So have chosen just a sweet part use of almond in the list of food.
I could go on listing food all day, including the exotics, I will stop now , to sow my herbs and ground my spices, anther story, another day