We don’t know how Bach and Handel celebrated Christmas, other than with oratorios, but we can be reasonably sure it wasn’t with a cherry feast!
Bach might have had an indoor Christmas tree, by the end of the 16th century, indoor Christmas trees were a common fixture in most German homes. And by 1610, thin strips of silver, later to be known as tinsel, began to be used as decoration.
Dinner eaten at wealthy tables before the mid 19th century in England was served as a buffet; all the food for the diners was laid on the table before them to serve themselves. To eat dinner at a wealthy household was all about giving your guests choice. the more things there were to choose from, the better your host had treated you.
Turkey was already the choice for Christmas of those with money. Originally from the Americas, the turkey became a tasty treat for those who could afford it. Those with less to spend would save for a goose, or a large piece of meat, such as a side of beef. A plum porridge would be served with one course; not quite a Christmas pudding, but more a risotto with dried fruits. Minced pies were also served, sometimes with meat, sometimes with fruit, sometimes both. Presumably not in the same pie!
A surviving Royal Christmas menu from 1734 England, contained all of the above along with many other treats, but modern diners might miss the importance of the dish at the centre of the Royal table. A large salad. A salad, in December! This showed that you were prepared to spend a lot of money on some really talented gardeners who could grow you food that was out of season.
No salad, turkey, plum porridge or pies in sight at this feast!
The cherry feast is all about cherry trifle with brandy and dark cherry and almond tart…
…cherries and Blackforest cake with Kirsch…
…and a chocolate log with Grand Marnier for the extra icing on the cake 🙂
Cherry Merry Christmas everyone!