The Tournament of Kings: A Medieval Feast
The trail of smoke and cologne that seemed to follow me everywhere in Las Vegas dissipated as I entered the stands to the Tournament of Kings, located in Excalibur Hotel & Casino. The bright lights and electronic environment vanished almost instantly, replaced by dim lighting that complemented the indoor medieval scene perfectly. For a moment I could not see in the gloom, but my eyes quickly dilated and the crowd of rowdy guests came into view.
The stands were arranged around an oval arena, divided into eight different sections with large flags hanging over each which represented the teams. Quickly spotting our team's banner, we moved through the throng as the aromas of hay and malt whisky trespassed on my nostrils. Reaching our designated table, I slid along the smooth wood, quickly followed by the rest of the family. As I settled uncomfortably onto the hard surface, the few lights began to fade, leaving the arena in darkness.
Excitement sped through the stands as we waited impatiently for the show to begin. An unexpectedly bright light shone down in the middle of the arena, displaying an old man wrinkled from age. He spread his arms out in a wide gesture of pride, as a smile worked its way through his lined cheeks and radiated out of his face in a beam of rapture. Despite his aged body, the joy he gave of was more than life-sized, and seemed to be contagious, and I found myself caught up in the laughter and clapping of the crowd as he bowed and almost vanished from view inside his immense cloak of stars. Tipping his hat, he grinned along with us.
“Welcome, guests of all ages!” he cried, donning his wizard hat once again. “I am Merlin, and you are in the age of King Arthur!” The Tournament of Kings had begun!
Thundering hooves could be heard as Merlin hastily escaped to the side of the arena, and a moment later the seven kings arrived, clad in the bright colours of their country and mounted upon their steeds. We were momentarily distracted from the beginning of the show as our server appeared in front of us, dressed as a wench and carrying a large iron pot. She proceeded to scoop spoonfuls of tomato soup into the ceramic bowls before us, before moving on with a smile. As I stared down into the thick red liquid, I was confused. How was I to eat this tangy-smelling appetizer without a spoon? My question was quickly answered as I spotted another visitor making use of the handle on the side and drinking from his bowl. Chuckling at both the medieval theme I had overlooked for the past minute and the jester in the arena, I placed the bowl to my lips and drank. My taste buds stood up and sang at the zesty taste as thick, warm soup ventured down my throat and warmed me from the tips of my toes. Quickly finishing the bowl, I leaned back contentedly and continued to watch the sword fights and jousting in front of me.
Soon however, the ‘wench’ arrived again, taking my bowl and leaving in its place the second course, a seasoned Cornish game hen, freshly steamed broccoli, a heap of crispy potato wedges, and firm corn bread, still warm from the oven. I tucked into this feast with great gusto with my fingers, as the tournament before me took a drastic turn.
Booing and cheering, the crowd watched as the final team, the Dragon, fought with the knights of the Round Table. The anticipation was building and I hardly noticed as another plate was placed before me. A sugary fragrance finally caught my attention and, looking down, my eyes landed on apple strudel, the sweet aroma making my mouth water. I bit down on the soft outer crust and broke through - my taste buds were, for the third time that evening, transported joyfully into a world of flavors, blended in a perfect mixture of soft sugar and a tart crunch. As the last of the meal disappeared down my throat, I sighed, wishing that more could have been served, even though my stomach was full to bursting.
As the show ended and our entertainers came out for one last bow, I clapped and cheered along with the rest of the crowd. Slowly moving away from the arena, we re-entered the loud noise of the casino, and I wished I could go back inside those wooden doors, be transported to a world of knights, of dragons, of magic, of medieval feasting!
Sarah Albom is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program
Photo courtesy and copyright Sarah Albom
Be transported to a world of knights, of dragons, of magic, of medieval feasting!