Two Dinners

Compare and contrast:

a list of the grub rustled up by the Merchant Taylors’ Company to welcome Prince Henry into their ranks in the summer of 1607:

Swans, godwit, shovellers, partridges, owls, cuckoos, ringdoves, pullets, ducklings, teal, peacocks, rabbits, leverets and a great turkey… along with 1,300 eggs, three great lobsters and 200 prawns, salmon, salt fish, plaice, sole, dory, carp and tenches, sirloins and ribs of beef, mutton and lambs’ dowsets, neats’ tongues and sweet breads, and to conclude the evening, figs, dates, prunes, currants, almonds, strawberries, gooseberries, cherries, pears, apples, damsons, oranges and quinces. Twenty-eight barrels of beer were provided to slake the diners’ thirst, together with more than 440 gallons of wine.

from Ben Jonson by Ian Donaldson (2011), reviewed here (thanks to Elberry for the link)

The dinner began with a soup of asps in simmering oil. On each side was a dish of vegetables, one containing thistles and burdocks, and the other fuming acid. Other side dishes, of turtles, rats, bats and moles, were garnished with live coals. For the fish course he ate a dish of snakes in boiling tar and pitch. His roast was a screech owl in a sauce of glowing brimstone. The salad proved to be spider webs full of small explosive squibs, a plate of butterfly wings and manna worms, a dish of toads surrounded with flies, crickets, grasshoppers, church beetles, spiders, and caterpillars. He washed all this down with flaming brandy, and for dessert ate the four large candles standing on the table, both of the hanging side lamps with their contents, and finally the large center lamp, oil, wick and all. This leaving the room in darkness, Dufour’s face shone out in a mask of living flames.

from Miracle Mongers And Their Methods: A Complete Exposé Of The Modus Operandi Of Fire Eaters, Heat Resisters, Poison Eaters, Venomous Reptile Defiers, Sword Swallowers, Human Ostriches, Strong Men, Etc by Harry Houdini (1921)

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