John Saturnall's Feast PDF ePub eBook

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John Saturnall's Feast free pdf A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, JOHN SATURNALL'S FEAST tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It's a story of food, forbidden love, ancient myths and one boy's rise from outcast to hero.
The book's chapters are interspersed with richly evocative texts and recipes from The Book of John Saturnall, a (fictitious) collection of recipes penned by Saturnall towards the end of his life. These pieces are written in a rich, thick historical style and will be beautifully illustrated in our edition.
As the book opens, John, who has grown up in the Vale of Buckland (in the South-West of modern-day England) is being taken to the Manor House to meet the head cook there, Richard SCOVELL. John was found in an area of the Vale known to the locals as "Buccla's Wood" and steeped in pagan legend. The legend goes that Buccla, a witch, ruled over the Vale in ancient times, growing an enormous garden. With food from the garden, Buccla held a great Feast, to which everyone - no matter their station in life - was invited. Locals say that this garden was the inspiration for Eden.
As John travels to the Manor, he thinks about his childhood and the reader is told in flashback of how he and his mother were thrown out of the village following a spate of sickness for which she was blamed - she was thought to be a witch. John and his mother went to live a hermit's life in a small cottage in the middle of a forest - Buccla's Wood - where they survived by foraging for watercress from the edges of marshy puddles, clover petals, mallow seeds, sweet blackberries, wild carrots, anything they could find. But John's mother, saving food to feed her son rather than eating herself, starved, and John was powerless to help her. Their only consolation in this time of great privation was in the stories that John's mother told - stories about the ancient past of the Vale.
Meanwhile, in the present, John arrives at the Manor. The Lord of the Manor is SIR WILLIAM, and he has only one child, a daughter, LADY LUCRETIA. Lucretia, who is about eleven years old when John arrives at the Manor, lives a charmed life, playing games with her housemaid and enjoying a childhood befitting a young aristocrat. However, as Sir William's title - and the Manor - cannot pass to a woman, Lucretia must get married in short order to safeguard her inheritance. Sir William agrees to take John in, and he begins working in the kitchens. When John first meets Lucretia, he does not show her the respect befitting her class, and she takes an instant dislike to him. But no better is the young man to whom she is promised: the extremely arrogant PIERS Callock, whose face Lucretia thinks resembles a water parsnip.
The bustle of the kitchen is at first startling and confusing to John, and when he is called on to taste a rich broth of lampreys and identify the spices used, he worries that he will not be up to the task. And yet, as he tries the soup, he realizes he can clearly taste cumin, coriander, marjoram, rue, vinegar, and a little honey. The cook is extremely impressed with John's sophisticated palate. John begins his time in the kitchen in the scullery, washing plates and pans, but, having mastered this lowest rang of the kitchen, he proceeds to Firsts, where the bulk of food preparation happens. There, he learns how to use a knife, cleaving apples perfectly in two with no effort. Master Scovell, the head of the kitchen, recognizes John's talent, and tells him that he reminds him of John's mother, who also served at the Manor, as nursemaid and midwife to Sir William's late wife, Lady Anne, when she was pregnant. The child, Lucretia, was born safely but Lady Anne died in childbirth, and Sir William expelled all of the servants who had witnessed the incident - including John's mother. Soon, John's time in Firsts is complete, and he progresses to the Kitchen. He learns how to prepare a huge variety of dishes, and, as the seasons and years pass, becomes ever more accomplished. He also begins to feel the stirrings of puberty, noticing the girl servants and even finding himself thinking improper thoughts about Lady Lucretia.
John is given the task of preparing a special dessert for a great meal: a Dish of Candied Baubles in the form of the Tantalus myth (Tantalus was condemned by the Gods to stare at a pool of water which would draw away from him as he would try to drink). The dish requires immense skill and patience to prepare - carefully simmering Madeira sugar with water, and clarifying the mixture with an egg without clouding it. The mixture must be sprinkled with salt in order to remain clear - the salty liquid will rise to the surface and then be skimmed off. Scovell tastes the finished dish and declares it a great success - which is just as well, as it is announced later that day that the King (Charles I) himself will be visiting Buckland Manor...
The Manor's kitchen is soon thronging with the King and Queen's footmen and ladies-in-waiting. The Queen meets with Lady Lucretia, and brings her a dress. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, John is to prepare the Tantalus dish for the King's gentlemen while a concoction of elaborate cream-filled pastries will be served to the King himself. The kitchen is busier than it has ever been, and just as the King's pastry dish is being taken out to the dining hall, a young kitchen boy runs into the people carrying it, and the whole dish falls onto the floor. Thinking quickly, Scovell decides that John's Tantalus must be served to the King. There is no greater honor for a Cook. But when the King takes a taste of the dish, he spits it out, declaring it disgustingly salty. It seems as if another Cook has ruined John's dish by pouring salt into the liquid. The King demands that the Cook come to answer before him for the dish. John does so, urging the King to dig his spoon deeper into the dessert. The King reluctantly does this, and declares the depths of the dessert to be indeed sweet. He asks that John act as his "Sayer" or food-taster for the rest of his stay, being as it is that he has shown great wisdom and courage. He also asks that John serve as the Cook of a great feast he plans to host - a feast for the wedding of Lady Lucretia and Piers. This is a bittersweet moment for John, as he realizes that he cares for Lucretia more than he would like to admit.
Lucretia is extremely unhappy about the plan for her to wed Piers, and refuses to eat until her family calls off the marriage. John, now seventeen, is tasked with the job of trying to tempt her with delicious foods to break her fast. He makes her a broth of lamb, which she spurns, and she does not eat any of the other dishes he makes for her, until he cooks her a simple maslin bread and stew, which she tucks into heartily - but urges John to keep the fact that she has broken her fast secret. He becomes her confidant, and they grow closer. They begin a secret romance, but Lucretia nonetheless agrees that she will marry Piers. But soon afterwards, the English Civil War breaks out, and the wedding is indeterminately postponed.
In the war, the household joins the Royalist side and John is forced to adapt to a new way of cooking: scavenging and making meals with scant ingredients. Piers fights in the war, but he cowardly runs away from a cavalry charge, and his father stabs him in the buttock for this spinelessness. Piers's father dies in the ensuing battle, and Piers is distraught, until John helps him re-saddle a horse and head back into battle. Once the fighting has died down, and with Cromwell's Roundheads emerging triumphant, John sneaks back to the Manor. The Roundhead Colonel Marpot has taken control of the Manor and put it in the charge of his Pastor Emphraim CLOUGH. Clough has been ruling the Manor with an iron hand and it is clear that he lusts after Lucretia, despite his outward piety. When Clough tries to rape Lucretia, John saves her and leaves Clough battered and bruised. Clough leaves the Manor. That night, John and Lucretia make love.
With the larder almost bare, John is forced to cook the simplest dishes for Lady Lucretia. He serves her water but recounts to her a rich description of spiced wine as she drinks- he gives her mashed turnips but pretends it is poached collops of venison. In private, he gifts her a belt made of crystallized sugar candies, which John bites off as they lay together. Although Colonel Marpot returns to get revenge for John's treatment of Clough, he and Lucretia manage to lay low for the rest of the war years and surviving from the garden they tend in the Manor's grounds. News travels to them that the King has been executed, and that Sir William has died. With the eventual restoration of the monarchy, Piers is set to wed Lucretia, and John is to prepare the wedding feast. He shapes the meat for the wedding feast into a giant buttock speared by a parsnip dagger in order to represent Piers's cowardice during the war and serves it with quivering jellies and quaking puddings. Thankfully Piers is too drunk to get the message. John leaves the Manor for good that evening.
Years later, John returns to the Manor and meets Lucretia's young child William. Piers has died and Lucretia confides in John that William is his child, not Piers's. William will inherit the Manor. John has one request of Lucretia: she owes him a Feast. Just before Lucretia married Piers, she confided in him that she knows the story of the Feast and how the Christians from whom she is descended broke the peace of the Vale and stole the Feast. To set this ancient wrong right, John asks that Lucretia serve him a feast. Echoing the meal that he served her during the war when there was nothing to cook with, she serves him water and mashed swedes. He is touched by this gesture, and the book ends with the two of them sharing the food together. The final page of the book, a recipe from The Book of John Saturnall, closes the narrative by saying that all those who read the recipe book will now be able to keep the Feast. John's legacy is assured.

About Lawrence Norfolk

Lawrence Norfolk is the author of the critically acclaimed novels "Lempriere s Dictionary," "The Pope s Rhinoceros," and "In the Shape of a Boar." He lives in London."

Details Book

Author : Lawrence Norfolk
Publisher : Grove Press
Data Published : 10 September 2013
ISBN : 080212173X
EAN : 9780802121738
Format Book : PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
Number of Pages : 432 pages
Age + : 15 years
Language : English
Rating :

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