We’re doing Pericles tomorrow, which is basically Shakespeare’s Ancient World Road Trip play, complete with Deus Ex Machina, riddles about incest (and really, you’d think that any self-respecting Evil Overlord would realise that if you are sleeping with your daughter, you probably shouldn’t ask all her prospective suitors to solve a riddle whose answer is “The King is sleeping with his daughter”), people dying and being miraculously revived, people disappearing and being miraculously united, and (my personal favourite) the heroine so virtuous that when she is sold to a brothel she converts all the patrons to virtue and chastity.
You can see why it was a hit in its time…
Anyway, since Pericles spends the play wandering all around Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and I think North Africa (shedding allegedly dead loved ones at every port), I decided that tomorrow should be a Middle Eastern feast. With a few random non Middle-Eastern bits in deference to various allergies and one or two puns I couldn’t resist, though this play didn’t give me too much scope for that (I’m waiting for another line like ‘them that do make trifles of their eyes’ – let me tell you, I had a blast catering that one. And Titus Andronicus had a certain macabre charm in the catering – anyone for pie?).
The menu – for ten, though I strongly suspect I will be making a lot of scientists very happy on Monday…
SavouriesBread. Which I am not making, because that way lies madness. Labneh (drained yoghurt) Lamb filo triangles with pomegranate molasses Cheese and mint filo cigars Spinach, raisin and pine nut pastries (there are a lot of references to caskets and stuffed things and boats, hence all the pastries) Tabouleh Eggplant with tomato and yoghurt sauce Assorted dips, from the Greek deli, because I am making PLENTY OF THINGS AND SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THE DIPS. Assorted marinated vegetables (artichoke, semi-dried tomato, roasted capsicum, olives) Sweets Dried cherries, raisins, almonds and pistachios Apricot and orange sweetmeats Fig and coriander sweetmeats (I don’t think anyone uses fig to mean female genitalia in this play, but to be honest, there were just so many really obscure filthy puns that I probably just missed it) Brandied stuffed dates (grog for the pirates. Did I mention this play has pirates?) Serpent cake (this is a huge spiral of filo pastry filled with a paste of pistachios, almonds, rose water, orange-flower water, cinnamon and icing sugar. Everyone keeps on going on about snakes and vipers in this play, so I couldn’t resist) Sfoof (no particular reason, I just like sfoof. Though it is pretty yellow and I’m sure there are references to gold) Meringue kisses (there is definitely kissing) Rose-scented cornflour jelly with pistachios, apparently a traditional Lebanese dessert, and one of the strangest looking foods I’ve seen in years Lemon and rosemary cupcakes. Probably. Just because. Well, partly just because one of my guests is allergic to nuts and doesn’t like rosewater which doesn’t leave her much to work with in the dessert department
Even I can tell that this is too much food. But it’s too late to turn back now.
Actually, it’s a surprisingly healthy spread, looking at it. I haven’t used a speck of butter yet (though there will be some in the cupcakes), and the only eggs are in the meringue and a little glaze on the serpent cake. Lots of cheese though, and I believe I’ve used about a kilo of sugar (mostly in the serpent cake and the jelly). So that’s a bit less healthy. Still, it’s very vegetarian friendly, and a significant amount of it is vegan. There’s even some gluten-free stuff (though I’d want to add some rice crackers and turn some of the pastries into kofte if I actually had any guests who were gluten free). Actually, I don’t think anyone who is coming is even vegetarian, it’s just become habit to cook like this for these feasts.
So far, I’ve made all the sweets except the cupcakes (best made on the day), all the pastry fillings and the cheese cigars, and the labneh. So tomorrow, I need to make cupcakes, tabbouleh, the eggplant, and assemble spinach and the lamb pies. Oh, and I need to go to the market so that I can get my 2 kilos of asparagus (mine, mine, all MINE). And I have to do something about the state of the table (Andrew is at this very moment working on the state of the kitchen).
And, of course, I have to photograph everything for those of you who are not coming, to make you green with envy.
But right now, I have to sleep.