Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Soup for the singer.

Today, March 7th …

“Anonymous” once said: “Stock to a cook is voice to a singer”, which is indisputably true.

The two associations come together beautifully in the story of Jenny Lind, “the Swedish Nightingale” who debuted on this day in 1838 at the Stockholm Opera. She became an international star and generated the sort of hype, hysteria and merchandising power that we associate with today’s Hollywood celebrities. In the “Jenny Rage” to glimpse her when she appeared in America “coats were torn, headdresses were crushed, several ladies were carried off”, and her name was given to the latest fashion in topcoats, cravats, boots and scarves, to carriages, locomotives, babies and family pets.

In the culinary field, a new variety of potato with blue ‘eyes’ was named for her, as was a melon (the association here was not recorded … ) a cake, and her famous soup with sago and eggs – which “have always been deemed very beneficial to the chest and throat”.

From “A Cyclopaedia of Domestic Economy” (1857):

Make about three quarts of stock, which strain through a fine sieve into a middle-size stewpan; set it to boil; add to it three ounces of sago; boil gently twenty minutes; skim; just previous to serving break four fresh eggs, and place the yolk, entirely free from the white, into a basin, beat them well with a spoon; add to it a gill of cream; take the pan from the fire, pour in the yolks, stir quickly for one minute, serve immediately; do not let it boil, or it will curdle, and would not be fit to be partaken of. The stock being previously seasoned, it only requires the addition of half a teaspoonful of sugar, a little more salt, pepper, nutmeg; also thyme, parsley, and bay-leaf will agreeably vary the flavor without interfering with the quality.

From the Congregational church ladies of Holyoke, Massachusetts (1886):

Two and one-half cups of sugar; one cup of butter; one cup of milk; four cups of flour; four eggs; two teaspoonsful of baking powder; bake in three sheets, two plain; after taking out the two plain, leaving less than a third, add one cup of raisins; one cup of currants; one-half cup sliced citron; two teaspoonsful molasses; one grated nutmeg; one teaspoonful each of cloves and cinnamon; spread with jelly and frost; putting the fruit cake between the two plain

Tomorrow: The perfect picnic.

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