The Jacobeans had a sweet tooth. At one Jacobean banquet the food was dominated by sugar to the extent that even the crockery was made from it. This madness continued, reaching perhaps its zenith with iced cakes depicting ornate plaster ceilings and even a miniature Rococo palace, formal gardens included.
James II being a good Catholic was more of a trencherman. At his coronation banquet in 1685, the new king and his wife Maria di Modena dined alone in Westminster Hall, to a meal of 170 dishes.
If he’d reigned a little longer, he may have sampled the exotic pineapple. The first pineapple grown in England was ripened in Sir Matthew Decker’s Surrey garden. The process cost the equivalent of £9,000 in today’s money, but the craze took off. It became the ‘must have’ fruit – for those who could afford it, and then, as with most things, the price came down until it became a Christmas treat for the young Keytons of Liverpool, usually from a tin and served with evaporated milk.
I was thinking of all this when I read about the new luxury ‘must have’ – the truffle that tastes of beans on toast and sold by Fortnum and Mason. The chocolate is made with baked beans and sourdough toast. In it is a smooth tomato ganache enclosed by a white chocolate shell, which, in turn, is coated in toasted breadcrumbs for that ‘must have’ beans on toast taste. It’s yours for £26.95 for ten.