Today, June 16th …
Today is, as many literature fans are aware, “Bloomsday” - the day that James Joyce fans around the world celebrate his writing, and in particular his novel “Ulysses” - the novel said by some to be the least read, but most significant novel of the 20th century.
The day is named for the chief protagonist Leopold Bloom, an Irish Jew and newspaper advertising salesman in Dublin, and all of the action takes place over the single day of June 16th 1904.
If the stream of consciousness style of the book is not everyone’s cup of tea, neither are Leopold’s food preferences:
Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
Kidneys were in his mind as he moved about the kitchen softly, righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray.
Bloom goes out to the “ferreteyed porkbutcher”, (not Kosher, that) and in the window “A kidney oozed bloodgouts on the willowpatterned dish: the last.” He fears that the customer already in the shop will buy it, but she does not, so he parts with three pence and puts the “moist tender gland” in his pocket – and almost burns it when he cooks it for breakfast.
Offal, and in particular the parts which are scented with urine, inspire horror and disgust in many otherwise adventurous eaters. If you are one of those who thinks offal is awful, how do you feel about leftover offal re-cycled for another meal? This recipe from Cassell’s “Dictionary of Cookery” (1870’s) shows you how:
Make a batter with four well-beaten eggs, mixed with half a pint of new milk, and flavoured with a little pepper, salt, and pounded mace. Stir into this a teaspoonful each of finely shredded chives, parsley and mushrooms, and a table-spoonful of the remains of a cold veal kidney finely minced, and mixed with half its weight of fat. Beat together for two or three minutes, then melt an ounce of butter in the frying pan, pour in the mixture, and stir it until it is set. When it is browned on one side, turn it on a hot dish, hold a salamander or red-hot shovel over it for a minute or two to colour it on the other, and serve immediately.
UPDATE: You can find more recipes for Leopold Bloom's favourite dishes in the 2007 update HERE.
On Monday: Royal Puddings.
Quotation for the Day …
Take advantage of the gracious condescension of the elegant calf's kidney, multiply its metamorphoses: you can without giving it any offence, call it the chameleon of cuisine. Des Essarts (1740-1793) French actor.