Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oranges and Saturday Hash.

Before the official "on this day" post, just a reminder that the Vintage Christmas Recipes file is HERE, and contains everything from Boar's Head (16thC style) to Punch, with puddings, cakes and pies inbetween. Please enjoy, and please let me know what you think, and if there is anything you would like added.

Today, December 19th …

The newlywed poets Elizabeth (Barrett) and Robert Browning started their married life in Italy in 1846. Elizabeth wrote to her sister Henrietta from Pisa on this day, a few months after their wedding.

“Will you take us in some day, Henrietta, and ‘include the cooking and housekeeping’? and ‘see us properly done for’? Robert and I are just alike in every fancy about those kind of things, he turns away from beef and mutton, and loathes the idea of a Saturday hash! A little chicken and plenty of cayenne, and above all things pudding, will satisfy us both when most we are satisfied; and to order just what is wanted, from the ‘traiteur’, apart from economical considerations of what is ‘in the house’, and should be eaten, is our ‘ideal’ in this way. My appetite is certainly improved. I finish one egg, for instance, in the morning. Then at dinner we have Chianti which is an excellent kind of claret; and fancy me (and Wilson) drinking claret out of tumblers! … A few days ago, our lady of the house sent me a gift of an enormous dish of oranges – for the ‘Signora’ – great oranges just gathered from her own garden – two hanging on a stalk, and the green leaves glittering around them – twelve or thirteen great oranges they were, and excellent oranges. We have on every day after dinner, and the sight of the green crowding orange leaves is very pretty, and keeps us from thinking too much of the cold.”

Saturday Hash does not sound a like a romantic meal for a decidedly romantic pair of poets, so Robert’s objection may have been aesthetic. Perhaps he would have accepted ‘Saturday Pie’ instead? He certainly had a husbandly duty to at least tolerate it, if the little scene in Ernest Maltravers (1837) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton reflected the expectations of the times. The new bride in this story has also only been married three months, and her mother is giving her some instruction on the way to make a ten pound leg of lamb last the whole week.

"Where was I, my dear?" resumed Mrs. Hobbs, resettling herself, and readjusting the invaded petticoats. "Oh, about the leg of mutton! - yes, large joints are the best - the second day a nice hash, with dumplings; the third, broil the bone - your husband is sure to like broiled bones! - and then keep the scraps for Saturday's pie; - you know, my dear, your father and I were worse off than you when we began. But now we have everything that is handsome about us - nothing like management. Saturday pies are very nice things, and then you start clear with your joint on Sunday. A good wife like you should never neglect the Saturday's pie!"

"Yes," said the bride, mournfully; "but Mr. Tiddy does not like pies."

"Not like pies! That’s very odd - Mr. Hobbs likes pies - perhaps you don't have the crust made thick eno'. How somever, you can make it up to him with a pudding. A wife should always study her husband's tastes - what is a man's home without love? Still a husband ought not to be aggravating, and dislike pie on a Saturday!"

There is then no definitive recipe for Saturday pie as the contents reflect the collected weeks' leftovers, which is why it is sometimes also called Resurrection Pie or Scrap Pie (and no doubt some even more unkindly epithets). How different from the composition of a ‘Friday Pie’! Friday Pie was a pie suitable to serve on the meatless days decreed by the church, and usually contained eggs, which appear to have appealed to Elizabeth’s fragile invalid appetite.

Here is a late sixteenth-early seventeenth century recipe from the Receipt Book of Lady Castlehill.

Friday Pye.
Boil 5 Eggs very hard, and mince them exceedingly small, then mixe a quarter of a pound of Suet, 6 Dates some new Raisons stoned, mixe these together with Currans salt, sugar, and Spices with a little rosewater, and so bake your Pye. If you please you put it between two sheets of Paste, and fry it in a frying pan.

Tomorrow’s Story …

The Fish & Chip Shop.

A Previous Story for this Day …

On this day in 2005 we looked at a menu from the Lusitania in 1911, and considered the bologna sausage.

Quotation for the Day …

An orange on the table, your dress on the rug, and you in my bed, sweet present of the present, cool of night, warmth of my life. Jaques Prevert (French poet; 1900-77)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daughter calls it "the week in review" and her family seems to enjoy the presentation.