Today, October 20th …
By October 1770, Captain James Cook’s ship the Endeavour was worn and damaged after two years of exploration, and on the eleventh he had put into harbour in the Dutch colony of Batavia (Jakarta) for repairs. The botanist Joseph Banks wrote on this day:
“ …We concluded that the Hotel would be the best for us, certainly the least troublesome and may be not vastly the most expensive. Accordingly we went there, bespoke beds and slept there at night.
The next Morning we agreed with the keeper of the House whose name was Van Heys the Rates we should pay for living as follows: Each person for Lodging and eating two Rix dollars or 8s pr Diem; for this he agreed as we were five of us who would probably have many visitants from the Ship to keep us a seperate table: for each stranger we were to pay one Rix dollar 4s for dinner, and another for supper and bed if he staid ashore: we were to have also for selves and freinds Tea, Coffee, Punch, and Pipes and tobacco as much as we could destroy, in short every thing the house afforded except wine and beer …. For these rates, which we soon found to be more than double the common charges of Boarding and lodging in the town, we were furnishd with a Table which under the appearance of Magnificence was wretchedly coverd; indeed Our dinners and suppers consisted of one course each, the one of fifteen the other of thirteen dishes, of which when you came to examine seldom less than 9 or 10 were of Bad Poultrey roasted, boild, fryd, stewd &c.&c. and so little concience had they in serving up dishes over and over again that I have seen the same identical roasted Duck appear upon table 3 times as a roasted duck before he found his way into the fricassee, from whence he was again to Pass into forcemeat.”
Home cooks and hoteliers both need to be mindful of waste, and the basic idea of roast duck being recycled as fricassee and forcemeat is not in itself unpleasant, but most of us would not present the initial roast duck three times before giving it leftover status – and, remember, in 1770 there was no refrigeration. I guess seamen had tough digestions in those days from thorough training on very old, very tough, very salty meat and very hard, very dry, very weevily ships’ biscuits.
Recipes for the Day …
Catherine Brooks published the fourth edition of “The complete English cook; or, prudent housewife. Being an entire new collection of the most genteel, yet least expensive receipts …” in the same year as Banks' and Cook's adventure in Batavia. She gives recipes for Duck Fricassee (using fresh duck, not pre-roasted), and for forcemeat balls made with veal. Please feel free to substitute duck for the veal, but please don’t make it with thrice-served roast duck, however good your refrigeration.
For fricaseying Ducks.
Quarter them and beat them with the back of your Cleaver, dry them well, fry them in sweet Butter; when they are almost fried, put in a Handful of Onions shred small, and a little Thyme, then put in a little Claret, some thin slices of Bacon, Spinage and Parsley boiled green, and shred small; break the Yolk of three Eggs with a little Pepper and some grated nutmeg, into a Dish, and toss them up with a Ladleful of drawn Butter; pour this on your Ducks, lay your Bacon upon them, and serve them hot.
For making Force-meat Balls.
Take half a pound of Suet, as much Veal cut fine, and beat them in a marble Mortar or wooden Bowl; have a few sweet Herbs shred fine, and a little Mace dried and beat fine, a little Lemon-peel cut very fine, a small Nutmeg grated, or half a large one, a little Pepper and Salt, and the Yolks of two Eggs; mix all these well together, then roll them in little round Balls, and some in long ones; roll them in Flour, and fry them brown. If they are for any thing of white Sauce, put a little Water on a Sauce-pan, and when the Water boils put them in, and let them boil for a few minutes; but never fry them for white Sauce.
Monday’s Story …
Quotation for the Day …
I travel not so much for the sake of my music as for that of my stomach. Gioacchino Rossini.