How the Russian tsars in old times feasted?
in honor of important state events and religious holidays the Russian monarchs traditionally were arranged big feasts. The event in an imperial family could become a reason for a feast also, for example, a wedding, the child`s birth, a name-day, etc. of
the Feast was always difficult ritual for which prepared in good time, often making for this purpose a special list. In a pirovalny list in detail described all procedure, surnames and duties of the main officials providing a feast and serving at a table, the surnames and an order of placement invited the menu and an order of giving of foods and drinks.
The chamber in which there passed the feast was especially decorated, and, it depended not only on feast level, but also on presence on it foreign guests. Always sought to show to ambassadors riches of the tsar therefore in chamber special postavets with precious ware which during a feast usually was not used were put. Walls were draped with carpets, tables were laid by beautiful cloths, and benches the embroidered polavochnik.
Tables were traditionally put along the benches located at walls, but at a large number of guests tables could be put by ranks and in the center of chamber. On tables there were devices for spices (salt, pepper, vinegar, sometimes horse-radish or something overseas), personal tableware, and especially spoons, forks and knives until the end of the 16th century intended only for the most notable guests. So, the foreigner Bukhav who was present at Ivan the Terrible`s feast wrote subsequently that he had neither a plate, nor a knife, and used them from the boyar sitting beside it.
The imperial table was traditionally put on an eminence. Behind it except the monarch the tsarevitch, the patriarch, and sometimes, as a special award, and most the guest of honor could accommodate. The queen and tsarevnas, except wedding, were not present at feasts, but could watch them from special windows. Often during an official feast settled and “ reception “ for boyars in chambers of the queen, carried out with great pomp.
Usually by preparation of a feast placement invited at tables was the most complex problem. If foreigners quietly took seat on the places specified by it, then the Russian boyars and okolnichy could not do without mestnichesky disputes though for them severely punished, up to detention, deprivation of an ancestral lands and even executions. But occupation of the place “ not on the otchena “ (honor of the place decreased on removal from an imperial table) it could be fraught not only for the subsequent office appointments of this boyar, but also all his relatives on the descending line. Somehow to get out of such situation, in advance on behalf of the tsar began to declare that this feast is carried out “ without places “ that is, the places taken by boyars at a table will not be considered at the subsequent office appointments. But also in these cases did not do without disputes and quarrels.
The butler under supervision of whom there were stolnik, chashnik and all servants disposed of a feast imperial. Especially honourable was to give dishes and drinks on an imperial table, it trusted only in stolnik and chashnik from notable, often princely surnames. Before the dish got on an imperial table, it underwent multistage testing: at first it in the presence of the butler was tried by the cook, then the servants transferring it to the room near convivial chamber from which it already moved to a table tried. The last “ removed test “ the stolnik or a chashnik who was directly giving it on a table. From the dishes moving to guests, tests usually were removed only in kitchen.
The quantity of dishes on an imperial feast was huge and the feast could proceed 5 - 8 hours. As soon as they maintained such food marathon? Necessarily the Russian boyars differed in portliness.
On feasts the sequence of giving of dishes was strictly observed. Traditionally began with cold appetizers which there was a set: various caviar, smoking, pickles, aspic, etc. Then there came the time of fried meat and fish dishes. Their carrying out was arranged as a peculiar representation. Began it usually with the fried swans or peacocks decorated by feathers. These dishes at first solemnly carried by on all convivial hall. At the time of demonstration of dishes to the tsar from them small birds could take off. Then dishes cut on pieces with which already enclosed feasting.
After fried “ imperial “ birds hefty servants took out the carcasses of deer, wild boars, roes fried on spits etc. In Russia there were always enough both domestic, and wild animals therefore a variety was big, served even a fried lynx who for light meat was considered as a delicious dish. If it was difficult to surprise with a game of foreigners, then enormous sturgeons, belugas, sterlets, pikes, catfishes always made due impression. After tselnozharenny hulks and big fishes began to show various culinary delicacy, for example, pork hulk which half boiled, and a half fried, filled with various bird, fruit and spices. Options there was a set including combined from a game, a bird and fish or from their especially delicious parts. To fried dishes various sauces, marinades, a pickles were served.
After fried meat there came the turn of hot soups, soups, porridges and pies which variety always impressed foreigners. Only fish soup could give 25 - 30 various options. Finished a feast a dessert - the fresh and made in different types fruit and berries, dishes from nuts, sweet pastries, overseas delicacies.
It is natural that on a feast not only a fir-tree. Drank kvass, fruit drinks, Meda, beer (it then called oluy) and wines. By the way, Meda`s Russians were often not less intoxicated, than overseas wines. As at toasts which was much it was necessary to drink to the bottom, many reveled thoroughly. Touched were watched by special servants who helped them “ to be aired “ and if necessary to empty a stomach. To sustain a feast, without resorting to the help of similar servants, the little managed.
On a feast especially honourable for guests was considered to receive a cup with wine or a dish from an imperial table. And if from a dish before it the tsar tried or drank from a cup - it there was already a great honor. Not smaller honor was to receive from the tsar “ a lunch on the house “. It was special ritual when stolnik and palace servants arrived to the house of awarded, bringing with itself everything that is necessary for a lunch, except furniture. The table was laid, viands and drinks were placed. Then the senior stolnik from a special flask poured wine in a cup and with the corresponding words handed it to the owner on behalf of the tsar. Similar prize lunches happened not often, usually the tsar so awarded foreign ambassadors. By the way, the ware and cloths entered as a gift too, doing it very expensive.
Traditions of imperial feasts sharply changed at the time of Peter I. But among the richest noblemen feasts, similar to imperial, were given in Russia up to the beginning of the 19th century.