Food Programme

BBC Radio 4

Arts, Food

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Food 18
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Investigating every aspect of the food we eat


Royal Food

May 1st, 2011

Episode 71 of 661 episodes

Simon Parkes explores the connection between Royal wedding banquets and British food. From historic feasts with hundreds of lavish dishes, to present day 'austerity'. A visit to the Tudor kitchens of Hampton Court palace reveals the scale and grandeur of wedding feasts of the past. Power, wealth and their display was all-important, and food was a central part of this. Huge marzipan sculptures, models in food of St Paul's Cathedral, and in the case of James II, a feast with 145 dishes in the first course alone; nothing was too extravagant or beyond the skill of the working-class cooks who invented these dishes. And historically, even beggars on the street got to share the food of the wedding feast, after each layer of the aristocracy had enjoyed its fill. Food historian Ivan Day traces the evolution of buffets, wedding breakfasts, and looks at the influence of 'the first celebrity chef' - Patrick Lamb, master cook to four monarchs, and author of an early aspirational cookery book. And as bunting and trestle tables take their place in streets across the UK, The Food Programme asks whether royal food has left a legacy of public feasting which might enhance 21st century communities. Presenter: Simon Parkes Producer: Melvin Rickarby.

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