Summertime and the livin' is easy. . . . About the best things ever invented are the barbecue and paper plates. I haven't been in the kitchen for a week, aside from trips for ice.
Summer's about half over. You can tell, because red plaids and woolly sweaters are appearing in storefronts. What is it with these people? I've earned my summer, and I'm not going to look at anything that reminds me that this, too, shall pass.
If there is anything better than the invention of the paper plate, it's the invention of the restaurant.
Lynda Bashoor soon will open a quasi-restaurant with a medieval theme. Let me explain: Ms. Bashoor used to work at the Maryland Renaissance Festival as a wench. For those who don't know what this is all about, the Maryland Renaissance Festival is a fall weekend festival that re-creates some of the ambience and character of the 1500s.
Ms. Bashoor sold drinks at the fair as a wench, and increased her sales by also running games such as Duck, Duck, Goose at the end of her booth. She also got to know many of the entertainers at the fair.
"Only a few of them do this full time," says Ms. Bashoor, but many of the performers wished they could do this year-round, rather than just on fall weekends. Faster than you can say "Let's put on a show," she became an agent for jugglers and other performers.
So for the last year she has operated Medieval Affairs, a catering firm that runs weddings, theme parties and May Days. In fact, her group ran the second annual Renaissance Festival at the Carroll County Hospice, run by TARGET, a facility for the terminally ill. Ms. Bashoor hopes to donate services to this
organization for many years.
Ms. Bashoor has grander goals than the occasional party. For the past 18 months she has been working on opening Make Merry Manor, a monthly night of medieval entertainment and dinner.
She and her core staff of 15 or so, supplemented by some 250 subcontractors, plan to open in early November at the Jessup Community Association Hall on Route 175. The outside of the hall will be festooned with banners, props and artificial fog, courtesy of John Guydon of Gaffers Scenic Studio.
Inside, the hall will be transformed into a 12th-century great hall. The diners will sit around a central raised stage, where the skits and other entertainments will be performed.
Then it's on to dinner. Those who lived in the Middle Ages liked pretty spicy food, and ate a variety of meats we cheerfully give to pets. Chef John Johnson, who in his other life is a professor of culinary arts at Howard Vocational Technical School, has adapted old recipes for the modern palate.
Everyone will get a trencher, a flat loaf of bread that acts as a plate, and everyone will find only a spoon at the table setting. Forks weren't common until the 16th century. There will be such fare as chicken wrapped in pastry, hearty soups, and tournament pies. The highlight of the meal will be an elaborately decorated dessert, presented under the title "The Art Of Subtlety."
Victor Nazarian is the technical adviser on medieval matters. Mr. Nazarian is a well-known cooper, or barrel maker, from California. OK, so I know very few coopers, but the medievalists in California take their skills seriously enough to hold classes and training seminars.
Ms. Bashoor wants to emphasize authenticity as well as entertainment at these dinners.
In addition to Mr. Nazarian, she also will be using the services of Larry and Paula Peterka to aid in character development. They will create authentic personalities and characters for the servers and for the skits. The Peterkas are the founders of a Renaissance re-enactment group called Tudor Rose, and are well versed in the history of the time.
Of course, a visit to the Middle Ages is fun, but would be incomplete without entertainment. Mark Jaster, a local comedian, will be a featured performer. In addition, Ms. Bashoor and her crew are writing and adapting medieval plays.
I'm always intrigued by anyone who has the vision and drive to start a new business. The risks to one's sanity seem enormous, not to mention the indebtedness to banks and backers. So, on the eve of her new venture, I'd like to wish Ms. Bashoor and her cohorts well.