by Dick Trim, Volunteer Museum Docent, President of MGMoA Friends
Because I have always been fascinated by the Middle Ages, when it was announced that the Gala theme this year was Bringing the World to Oklahoma: Medieval, I was thrilled!
During the Middle Ages, everyone brought their own personal knife to dinners that they attended. If one was very wealthy, their personal knife was elaborate and fancy. These knives were not what we would consider to be a dinner knife; instead, they were about 12 inches long with a very sharp point. If the diner desired anything on the table, he would simply stab it and eat it! Forks were not in common use until later in the Renaissance.
Previously, I had no knowledge of pastry coffyns. What were Medieval pastry coffyns? They were bland, solid or filled, often rectangular, boxes of dough. A favorite filling was lamprey, the eel-like fish with spiraled teeth. Later, the coffyns became edible and could house living animals—birds, frogs, and even people. Remember the Mother Goose rhyme that included “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. When the pie was opened the birds began to sing”? They were live birds! In 1626 (in the Renaissance period), Sir Hudson, known as Lord Minimus, emerged from a pie clad in a tiny suit of armor. He was 7 years old and only 18 inches tall. I have also read that people would pop out of large fake pies at birthday parties. So, did anyone enjoy a coffyn pie for Thanksgiving? Yes, you did if you had pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc. Although the Middle Age spanned approximately a thousand years, studying and exploring the period can be enjoyed for a lifetime.