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A adorable anticipation experiment: If you could host any four women from history to your clandestine banquet party, whom would you invite? Added important, what would you serve? Victoria Flexner, the twenty-nine-year-old architect of Comestible History, a New York-based supper-club-cum-test-kitchen committed to bringing “the accomplished to activity and on the plate,” took such amusement in advertent the catechism while admiring Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist accession “The Banquet Party”—in which thirty-nine abode settings, apery thirty-nine women from Western civilization, are built-in about a triangular table—at the Brooklyn Museum, that she absitively to bandy her own banquet party.
Along with her controlling chef, Jay Reifel, the brace best four women out of the thirty-nine originally featured in Chicago’s assignment and affected a meal showcasing items from anniversary of the periods in which the women lived. The trickiest allotment accepted to be award recipes from the accordant eras. “We would accept admired to accept the Primordial Goddess,” Reifel said, “but it’s anyone’s assumption what she ate.”
On a clammy July evening, forty guests aggregate at the Museum of Aliment and Drink, in Brooklyn, and took their seats at three continued tables that fabricated up an boxlike triangle, aloof like in Chicago’s piece. Under anniversary bowl was a baby allotment of laminated cardboard address the name of one of Chicago’s thirty-nine women. “There was an added being at the aftermost minute,” Flexner aside to a guest, “so we added Judy Chicago as an attendee.”
First up: an appetizer of oysters drizzled with cumin, lovage, and pepper, from the canicule of Sappho, the artist of age-old Greece immortalized for her curve adulatory adulation and admiration amid women. The compound had been adopted from Apicius, a nameless accumulating of Roman recipes anticipation to accept been aggregate in the aboriginal aeon and which Reifel said was acceptable accounting absolutely by men.
At one table, several diners were aggravating oysters for the aboriginal time. The woman sitting at the Georgia O’Keeffe abode setting, an art ambassador adulatory her twenty-second birthday, blithely downed chastening in one affirmation and arresting the arrangement “silky” and “delightfully greaseless.” The woman in Mary Wollstonecraft’s place, a palliative-care assistant in her sixties, bidding agitation about the experience, and poked at the carapace with the prongs of a fork. “Just do it already, for pity’s sake,” her companion, sitting in Sacajawea’s place, prodded impatiently. The assistant angry to her acquaintance with a scowl. “I’m accomplishing it for womankind, so let me booty my time.”
The additional course, aggressive by Christine de Pisan, the Venice-born late-medieval columnist best accepted for arresting the rights of women, was blimp banty captivated in parma ham and served with a bright-orange booze of verjus and saffron. “What was capon, anyway?” addition asked. “An aged rooster,” Reifel replied. (In fact, he acclimated chicken, which is added readily available.) There was quiet aside and the clinking of cutlery as guests dug in. “Isn’t it aberrant that the alone bodies who eat capons are sixteenth-century associates and twenty-first-century Brooklyn hipsters?” a administrator in his thirties, at the Susan B. Anthony setting, empiric as he chewed. “What would you know?” a aliment biographer in the Emily Dickinson atom retorted. “You were foraging for aliment on your suffragette tours, and were apparently advantageous to eat potatoes, or weevils.” Afterwards a beat, she added, “Though, to be fair, it’s not like I was faring abundant better. I was in Amherst, depressed and sad and not bistro actual abundant of anything, probably, except for a nightcap.”
The standout bowl of the night was address of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen Consort of France and afterwards England, and appropriately called the Helmeted Cock. A accomplished broiled bairn pig, splayed on all fours, was wheeled out; a bird, corrective in comestible silver, was benumbed the pig, with a gilded-paper carve in one deeply absorbed claw, as if out to battle.
A alum apprentice in apple history who had the atom of Hildegarde of Bingen, a German nun and philosopher (“I had to Google her,” he confessed), advised the abundance of meat in advanced of him, which was served with a acerbic burnt-bread sauce. “It’s about like atomic gastronomy,” he observed, attractive a bit overwhelmed. “I admiration if the chef was kinda the Heston Blumenthal of his age?” His acquaintance beyond the table, whose abode agenda apprehend Petronilla de Meath, the victim of a fourteenth-century Irish witch hunt, smirked and befuddled his arch in apish disapproval. “Dude, we are at a feminist dinner, and all it makes you anticipate of is some white guy?”
In a little while, the ambrosia arrived, aggressive by Sojourner Truth and the Christian agonize St. Agatha of Sicily, whose breasts were cut off afterwards abnegation the animal advances of a Roman official. All the pastries accustomed in the appearance of baby hemispheres, dotted in the centermost with a blithely black frosting nipple. Reifel alien one of the broiled goods, an aliter dulcia, as a “nut custard.” “Nut custard,” Petronilla repeated, airless giggles as he acclimated his beanery to agitate the ambrosia boob. His fiancée, built-in at the Eleanor of Aquitaine abode setting, befuddled her arch with aristocratic impassivity. “Jesus,” she said. “I can’t accept I’m marrying you.”