Wedding Meals and Cakes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Wedding Meals and Cakes vary widely around the world. In medieval Europe some of the greatest feasts, and those which were recorded in detail, were wedding feasts extending over several days. That type of extended wedding feast still exists in some Asian countries—among the Uzbeks, for example, no slouches when it comes to celebration, the palaw-masters bring their biggest cooking pans for a guest list that should extend to ‘seven neighbourhoods’—but western junkettings are now usually focused on a single meal (quaintly termed ‘wedding breakfast’ in England, no matter at what time of day, on the ground that the bride and bridegroom are breaking their fast for the first time as man and wife). Aspects of the history of the British wedding ceremony with its attendant procession and bride cake are covered in Mason (2002) while the feasting is placed in its ritual context by Cressy (1997). Elsewhere, foodstuffs deemed suitable for wedding feasts abound, from profiteroles turned into croquembouches in France, to hamaguri (clams) in Japan, marzipan lowzina sweetmeats in Iraq, laddu, firni, and payasam in India, kiribath in sri Lanka, and ginkgo nuts in China. And foods, of course, were also thrown at the happy couple as confetti or sugar almonds (or, in ancient Rome, walnuts): at least in part, this is connected to the ancient custom of breaking a loaf over the bride’s head.