Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The King’s Spinach.

Today, September 19th …

King Edward VII was known to be a man of prodigious appetite, fastidious dress sense, and occasional violent temper. These came together in spectacular fashion (if an oft-repeated story of him is true) during one particular society dinner. According to the story a tiny speck of spinach fell upon the pristine white royal shirt-front, at which the King well and truly lost his regal cool, plunged his hands into the spinach bowl and proceeded to right royally besmear the rest of his bosom. In his defence, it must be said that he may have suffered from the royal “madness” of the inherited disease Porphyria. If not, he was a spoiled brat and ought to have been made to clean up his mess, but somehow I doubt that that happened.

The date of the Spinach-Incident is not recorded, but it could perhaps have been on this day in 1904, when spinach was on the menu at an official reception.

Homard Naturel Sauce Remoulade
Ragoût de mouton Provençale
Poulet et Langue à l'Anglaise
Les Viandes froides à la Gelée
Salade Vosgienne
Epinards au Beurre
Pommes de Terre Maître d'Hotel
Tarte aux Framboises et Groseilles
Compôte de Pêches
Pouding au Riz
Apple Dumpling

The spinach issue aside for a moment - the scrambled French/English on royal menus begs a comment. It was a common menu language situation of the time. Why was the very English dish of rice pudding, ‘pouding au riz’, but the apple dumpling was not called …. (what is the French word for apple dumpling?) ?

Recipe for the Day …

The National Training School for Cookery in the late Victorian era was situated in Buckingham Palace Road, and it is not too far-fetched to think that graduates might have found employment at that royal home just down the road. The Lady Superintendent, Mrs. Charles Clarke, published a book called ‘High Class Cookery Recipes’, and it contains this recipe for spinach which has some definite bosom-smattering potential.

Two pounds of spinach, two ounces of butter, half a gill of cream, pepper and salt.
Pick all the stalks off the spinach, wash it well in several waters, and put it in a stewpan with the drops of water that hang to the leaves; let it boil till thoroughly tender, then rub it through a wire sieve. Put it back in the stewpan with two ounces of butter, half a gill of cream, and a little pepper and salt; mix well till it is thoroughly hot, then serve with croutons around it. (Sixth ed. 1893)

Tomorrow’s Story …

A drop of Toddy.

Quotation for the Day …

On spinach: "I dislike it, and am happy to dislike it because if I liked it I would eat it, and I cannot stand it." Le Prudhomme; Flaubert's Dictionnaire des idées reçues.


Sally said...

Hee! I like the Quote today!

Anonymous said...

timely [and interesting as usual] article with the big e-coli scare with spinach now going on in the united states and canada.

did incidents such as these occur "back then", i wonder?

The Old Foodie said...

I'm sure those things have always happened - we now have better science to identify the problem and a huge media machine to disseminate the story.

Anonymous said...

oops, forgot to add ... reported incidents of numbers people being "mysteriously" poisoned after consuming a leafy vegetable such as spinach. (e-coli, and other bacteria not being new things modern things). but yes, we know now much we did not previously.

interesting that the more our society becomes "anti-bacterial" everything, the more i seem to see and hear about these reported poisonings. perhaps it is just a matter of our world having better and immediate access to these reported incidents.