Saturday, 30 July 2016

Best sellers - MedievalMorsels claims bragging rights!

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to learn that MedievalMorsels has passed the milestone of two hundred sales.  As a dolls house food modeller working in rather a "niche" area, I was quite pleased with the news! If not pleasantly surprised...

Niche in this case means making Medieval and Tudor dollhouse food at 12th scale (also called 1:12 or one inch scale). The collectable, but not eatable, food items are meant to be played with by adults not children though. And, for those eager to read a little, come a well researched food history provided online which allows the miniature enthusiast to place them accurately in their chosen period Medieval (Middle Ages) or Tudor/ Renaissance miniature setting. Authentic but affordable! That's my motto, or should I say "unique selling point"?

But I must share my rookie mistake, a three-fold error as it happens, as I first contemplated what typical dollshouse Tudor fare might me. It’s all rather embarrassing... I imagined that a wooden plate with a torn brown wholemeal loaf and a random chicken leg would "do the trick". Wrong, wrong, wrong....

First, individual plates for diners were not used back then, "trenchers"  or slices of stale or dried bread or, later, wooden trenchers were used instead.

Second, apart from royalty, people were not served individually but in fours, or much less usually at high table in twos. Diners helped themselves to “gobbits” of food from communal dishes, usually with their fingers, a spoon or perhaps a personal knife usually worn on a belt.

Third and last, cut chicken meat perhaps - and only the breast meat at high table for the most important guests - but strict Medieval and Tudor dining etiquette would not allow gnawing on a chicken bone. And, as we have learned, certainly not from an individual plate with a side order of bread as I had fondly imagined! Some serious research was needed if I was to make a "go" of MedievalMorsels.

Fast forward two and a bit years and here are MedievalMorsels' top three best sellers...

In third place - my personal favourite - is Red Herring. This was one of my first modelling challenges and I attempted it only after perfecting my white herring! Herring - of any hue - are close to my heart. This is because my mother was the daughter of a fisherman, away at sea on the herring "drifters" out of Great Yarmouth fishing in the furtherest North Sea for long periods at a time.

MedievalMorsels' 12th scale period dollhouse food - smoked , brined red herring
Pies of all types for your dolls house table, one inch scale food by MedievalMorsels

In second place sundry pies , which I thoroughly enjoy making as you can see. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word "pie" as it relates to food to 1303, noting the word was well-known and popular by 1362. But why the word pie? Its derivation may be from magpie, shortened to pie. The magpie is a bird that collects a variety of things and an essential feature of early pies was that they contained a variety of ingredients. Not to be confused he Medieval term "chewit" (chewet) or “coffyn” also meaning pie. Cornish pasties - eaten by Cornish miners in the tin mines for centuries - are a relict of the medieval pie with their contemporary mixture of minced or ground meat, root vegetables and spice - white pepper in this case.

Pots, kettles, cauldrons of pottage for a period dollshouse kitchen, 1:12 scale food

MedievalMorsels make four different pottages for the one inch scale dollshouse kitchen
In first place - dah dah - pottage. Stew or porridge to you or me. Nourishing medieval pottages were based on grains and pulses available from essential stores all year round plus any seasonal root vegetables, salad leaves (including cabbages)  and fruits cooked in a large pot directly over the fire. It was a classless dish, particularly suitable for fasting days in better off households, and was popular in the Medieval Period as well as in Tudor/Stuart times and even later periods. MedievalMorsels makes red lentil, beef, spring vegetables and pease pottage in metal cauldrons and a smaller matching pottage serving in wooden bowls, complete with bread trenchers and a wooden spoon!

So that is where MedievalMorsels is at. I must admit having access to a reference library and a good camera helps. As well as a very knowledgeable sister who first got me using fimo clay. And who has generously lent or given me much in the way of supplies when she orders for her own modern dollshouse food making business at "abasketof" .

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