A Cod Medieval Menu

design-for-chelsea-arts-club-ball-1914Found, part of a menu for the Chelsea Arts Club Ball, which was held at the Albert Hall, March 4th 1914:

Some clear Soupe—warme, ‘tis for one ande alle.

Ye Baron of Beefe, roasted ande tender

Ye Wilde Boare, hys Heade—a dishe for ye Kinge

Large Surrey Capons withe Truffles—no bones argale, eate fearlesslie

Ye Tastie Ham spyced as atte Yorke

Ye Venyson Pasty—tastilie cooked

Chykens, plump ande temptinge—trye them.

Ye Kindlye Oxe , hys Tongue

Agayne Chykens mayde toothsome by Galentyne

Dishe Pastys with Pidgeons —ryghte sustainynge

Beefe cunninglye cooked with spyces—try it

Raised Pastrys with Bubleyjocks, as they doe them in Yorkeshire—ryghte good

And thene some green stuffes with Dressinge .

AND THENE COME YE SWEETES GOODE FOR ALLE MEN ANDE MAYDENS

This year, this famous society Ball, in which fancy dress was de rigueur, must have had medieval England as its theme, although the drawing by Alex Jamieson (pictured), which sold in 2014 at Bonhams, does not suggest this. Contemporary reports record this Ball as being particularly weird and wonderful. Just a few months later many of the male party-goers would have found themselves leading troops into battle in the Flanders mud. Too many, alas, would never dance again. [RH]

Jot-101-Rubinstein-menu588-1

A Very Private Dinner, 1912

In the year of the Titanic and the Antarctic disasters here is the handwritten menu --found among the papers of Ernest B Rubinstein, of a special meal—possibly a marriage feast—held by members of the Rubinstein and Laurance families at 42, Boundary Road, South Hampstead.

Not that remarkable you would think, although on closer inspection some of the dishes are unusually named -- 'Sole distrait a Laurance,' 'sauce Agnes', 'poires matrimonial,' 'gelee avec raisin d’etre'. If the dinner was held to mark a marriage—and 'poires matrimonial' strongly suggests this-- then it was a marriage that produced one of the most original children’s writers of the twentieth century.

That writer was Patricia Rubinstein, aka Antonia Forest (1915 – 2003 ), who was born three years after the dinner, later attended South Hampstead High School, just a few minutes walk from 42, Boundary Road, and who learned her love of literature, and particularly drama, from her stage-struck father, Ernest B. Rubinstein, whose signature heads the list of diners that appears on the reverse of the menu.

Others signatures include that of Kate Rubinstein, an Irish Protestant whose marriage to Ernest introduced her into a Jewish circle in Hampstead whose members were to contribute their signatures and messages to Patricia’s autograph book of 1924—another item found among the Rubinstein papers. Two other Rubinstein signatures on the menu were probably those of Ernest’s siblings.

It could be said that Antonia Forest guarded her privacy every bit as jealously as J. D. Salinger did his own. For most of her life she lived quietly in Bournemouth. Even her devoted fans did not know her real name and in one of her very rare interviews she studiously omitted any meaningful details of her parentage and early life that might help a biographer. Because of this, the career of her father as a prominent theatre critic, versifier and amateur playwright, has remained shrouded in mystery---until now. But we can at least surmise that the much more prominent man of the theatre, Harold Rubinstein (1891 - 1975), who as a lawyer defended Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960, was a relation-- possibly a nephew.[RR]