Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Importance of Supper.

Today, December 12th …

There is an old legend in the wilder parts of Scotland that says it is very unlucky to go to bed without any supper on this night. If you do, the fairies will carry you off over the rooftops to ….. Fairyland, presumably, although the myths stops before we get there. It is St Finnian’s Day and the Eve of the feast of St Lucia, one or both of whom seem to be implicated in the mischief, as if their stories have been blended with old Northern beliefs about fairies being generally on the rampage at this time.

Until further research reveals just what exactly we can expect to find in Fairyland, it might be best not to take any risks on this night, just in case. So, let us be mindful of our supper, and make plans early in the day for this meal.

‘Supper’, says the OED is ‘formerly, the last of the three meals of the day (breakfast, dinner, and supper); now applied to the last substantial meal of the day when dinner is taken in the middle of the day, or to a late meal following an early evening dinner.’ Whichever it is, it is always an informal meal. The British Tradition definitely requires a savoury dish, and the Scot Tradition is to be ‘canny’ in all things, so we should look for something thrifty for our supper tonight.

A very sensible book to help the busy housewife in 1934 called ‘Economical Cookery and menus for every day in the year’ suggests, for the Tuesday of the fiftieth week of the year:

Breakfast: Stewed figs; Fish cakes; Toast and Marmalade.
Mid-Day Meal: Fricassée of Veal; Potatoes; Cauliflower and Sauce; Bread and Butter Pudding.
Evening Meal: Celery Soup; Toasted Cheese; Rice Pudding.

Clearly, Mrs D. D. Cottington Taylor is planning her menu according to the first definition of supper. It is refreshing to see that she does not believe in stinting on the puddings, and reassuring too, on this night when we need to be too heavy for the fairies to carry. Also interesting for our purposes is the ‘Toasted Cheese’ dish which is really a version of Welsh Rabbit – a dish which we have enjoyed featuring on this site. We are always on the lookout for new-old ideas for Cheese on Toast, and we have certainly never before had a recipe for it that uses tapioca.

Toasted Cheese (a new way)
½ pint milk; ½ oz. seed-pearl tapioca; pepper; salt, and made mustard; 4 oz. grated cheese.
Put the milk onto boil and, when boiling, sprinkle in the tapioca; simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the tapioca is thoroughly cooked. Add the made mustard, pepper, salt, and grated cheese, and blend well. Pour onto slices of hot buttered toast, and brown under the grill.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Kosher Solomon Gundy.

A Previous Story for this Day …

The story on this day in 2005 was 'First Catch your Cockatoo'.

On this Topic …

Further recipes for variations on a theme of Welsh Rabbit are HERE and HERE and HERE.

Quotation for the Day …

My favorite sandwich is peanut butter, baloney, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise on toasted bread with catsup on the side. Attributed (often) to U.S Senator Herman Loin Humphrey. However, as pointed out by the eagle-eyed and elephant-brained Gary Allen, the good senator died in 1902, and the first recorded use of the word, according to the OED, is significantly later than that. Please - help us solve the problem: did someone else say the words? did the Senator actually say 'poloney' not 'baloney'?

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Anonymous said...

Well, "polony" is 18th century, so there would be no problem in terms of an anachronistic modernism. However, I offer an alternative - anchovy. I've noticed that anchovies were rather popular additions to sandwich makings in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Anonymous said...

According to foodreference.com, the quote was said by Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978).