[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook or Livejournal. (Although he did succumb to the lure of Google+.) He hates cell-phones.

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First Entry

Flaming Arrow Portioning and Pricing

One of the things making this feast interesting to plan is currency conversion. I'm in England, using the pound, while the event is in the Republic of Ireland, which is in the Eurozone. I could do all my planning in GBP and convert to euros at the end, but it's nearly as easy to plan in euros, since I can check prices online.

The working menu is this: On the table:

  • bread
  • maybe letelorye (made the night before)
  • some butter
First course:
  • mylats of pork - cold (made the night before) - not free of anything
  • spynoches yfryed - hot - vegetarian, lactose, gluten, and allium free
  • iusshell - hot in steam table - vegetarian (with eggs), lactose and allium free
  • benes yfryed - hot in steam table - vegetarian, lactose and gluten free
Second course:
  • venison (or something) - hot - probably lactose, gluten, and allium free
  • salat - cold - vegetarian, lactose and gluten free, could be made allium free
  • chyches - hot in steam table - vegetarian, lactose, and gluten free, could be made allium free
  • fenkel in soppes - hot in steam table - vegetarian and lactose free. Could be made allium free. If soppes are served on the side, also gluten free
I tend to budget the big-ticket items first, to see if I'm in the ballpark. For this menu, the expensive ingredients are cheese, pork, and venison (or lamb, if I can't get venison.) I like to calculate on a per head basis as much as possible, although the total cost number is also useful, since it covers things which don't break down easily per head, like cleaning supplies. My working numbers are 80 total feasters, but only 78 paid, since the Prince and Princess are comped.

For the big ticket items, for 80, I want something on the order of:

  • 5 kg pork mince, for the mylats
  • 5 kg cheese, for the mylats
  • 12 kg or so boned venison or lamb, precooked weight, leaving around 10 kg cooked weight
  • 3 kg fennel is surprisingly expensive, but we probably don't need as much since it's second course and not to everyone's taste. This allows roughly three bulbs per mess of eight.
That allows for about 250 gm of expensive protein per feaster over the course of the meal. For those more familiar with other systems, that works out to about half a pound. Given all the other things coming out, that should be plenty. A quick browse of the website for the relatively local large supermarket gives me the prices I need: €38 for the pork, €30 for the cheese, and €168 for the lamb. That's a total of €206, less than half my budget. Because I like to work on a per head basis, so I can adjust it up until the last minute, that's about €3.25 per head out of a nominal €7.5. In other words, I'm well within budget. Now, there's lots of other stuff to add to the shopping list, of course, but I'm comfortable with where it sits.

Continuing to think about planning and portioning ... I tend to think in servings of eight. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, many of my early feasts were at sites with tables that sat eight. Second, eight is a power of two - two cubed - which means that dividing things into eighths is pretty straightforward: divide in half, divide each half in half, then do it once more. For circular pies, that's four cuts. This is a roundabout way of saying that I allot one pie for a table of eight, which means, in turn, that I think I want 10 mylats to feed 80. Naturally, if my tables don't work out that way, I can replate before service, but that's what's in the back of my mind. That said, I'm not planning on doing individual pies this time. If I was, though, the recipe would look like this:

  • 500 gm minced pork
  • 500 gm grated cheese
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs of poudre fort
That's what I keep in the back of my mind as I figure out how to cook and cut the mylats, even though I suspect I'm probably going to cook four large batches and divide each into twenty pieces, which is not too hard as long as the dish is square or rectangular. Multiply by 10 and I get my 5 kg each of meat and cheese, but also 70 eggs.

Likewise, to get 80 portions of meat, I want, ideally, five roasts of equal size, each of which I can cut into sixteen portions - two to the fourth. So I'm looking at five 2.5 kg roasts. (As an aside, I portion chickens differently, but that's a story for another day.) I want to allow two iushell per person, and my recipe gives me eight per batch, so that means I need 20 batches for 160 iusshel per person. So that's another twenty eggs. The other place that thinking in terms of messes of eight helps me is with things like bread and butter, or salad. A big loaf or two medium loaves per conceptual table, and a stick of butter is about right. And a couple of big heads of lettuce.

The rest of the recipes just divide out pretty easily into the requisite portions. So my bulk shopping list starts to look like this:

  • 5 kg pork mince, for the mylats
  • 5 kg cheese, for the mylats
  • 12.5 kg or so boneless leg of lamb (unless I can get venison)
  • 90 eggs for mylats and iusshel
  • 2.5 kg bread crumbs for iusshel
  • 10 kg spinach for spynoches
  • 10 kg red kidney beans for benes
  • 10 kg chickpeas for chyches
  • 3 kg fennel
  • 20 biggish heads of lettuce or equivalent greens for salad
  • 20 loaves of bread
  • 20 sticks of butter, 2 kg perhaps
  • 4-5 kg onions, for benes, and other bits and bobs
To that I'll need to add odds and ends like oil, salt, and spices, of course.

Luddite'sLog, 26 March 2017
© 2017 Jeff Berry
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