See also: Banquets
FEASTS AND BANQUETS
In the year 1213, England's King John (1166-1216) ordered 3,000 capons, 1,000 salted eels, 400 hogs, 100 pounds of almonds, and 24 casks of wine for his Christmas festivities.
King Edward I of England in 1274 ordered his sheriffs to provide 278 bacon hogs, 450 porkers, 440 fat oxen, 430 sheep, and 22,600 hens and capons for his coronation feast.
In 1377 at the Christmas feast of King Richard II of England, 28 oxen and 300 sheep were consumed.
When George Neville was made Archbishop of York 1464, he celebrated with a feast that included: "300 huge loaves of bread, 300 tuns of ale (about 75,000 gallons), 100 tuns of wine, 105 oxen, 6 wild bulls, 1,000 sheep, 304 pigs, 304 calves, and 400 swans."
The ancient Greeks believed that lettuce induced sleep, so they served it at the end of the meal. The Romans continued the custom. However, the dictatorial Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) served it at the beginning of his feasts, so he could torture his guests by forcing them to stay awake in the presence of the Emperor.
THE BIGGEST BANQUET IN THE WORLD - On July 14, 1889, Gambetta assembled all the mayors of France at the Palace of Industry in Paris to celebrate the centenary of the storming of the Bastille. Eleven years later, the idea was repeated by Emile Loubet for the famous ‘mayors banquet' on September 22, 1900. The menu included fillet of beef Bellevue, Rouen duck loaf, chicken from Bresse, and ballottine of pheasant. This menu was designed to revive the republican spirit in the city officials: 22,295 mayors were entertained in the Tuileries Gardens in tents specially erected for the occasion and served by waiters from Porel and Chabot, who covered the seven kilometers of tables on bicycles.
Larousse Gastronomique (1988)
UNUSUAL BANQUET MENUS; Worms, beetles, and bugs are not as American as Mom's apple pie, and very probably never will be. But there was an occasion in 1992, at the Explorers Club in New York City, when the New York Entomological Society celebrated its 100th anniversary with a banquet that began with snacks of roasted crickets and larvae and went on through mealworm ghanouj, waxworm fritters with plum sauce, cricket and vegetable tempura, and roasted Australian kurrajong grubs to roast beef and gravy. The dessert was chocolate cricket torte, the centerpieces on the table were live tarantulas (for decor, not for eating).
"The first thing that met Sancho's eyes was a whole ox spitted on the trunk of an elm and, in the hearth over which it was to roast, there was a fair mountain of wood burning. Six earthen pots were arranged around this blaze.... Whole sheep disappeared within them as if they were pigeons. Innumerable skinned hares and fully plucked chickens, hanging on the trees, were soon to be swallowed up in these pots. Birds and game too, of all kinds. were also hanging from the branches so that they were kept cool in the air. There were piles of white loaves, like heaps of wheat in barns. Cheeses, built up like bricks, formed walls and two cauldrons of oil, bigger than dyerÿs vats, were used for frying pastries, which were lifted out with two sturdy shovels and then plunged into another cauldron of honey standing nearby."
Description of the wedding feast of a farmer named Camacho, from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)