Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kitchen Rituals

Today, March 29th …

Pearl Bailey was born on this day in 1918. She is best known and much loved for her singing and acting, but she had other loves too. She was a deeply spiritual person with an enormous love for humankind and took very seriously her role as United States Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations.

Pearl also loved food and cooking and in 1973 she published her very successful book Pearl’s Kitchen. Her approach to food was infused with that same spirituality she showed in other areas of her life:

“My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.”

“I don't like to say that my kitchen is a religious place, but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there”

There are many sub-topics to the study of food and religion, and these I leave for others better qualified than myself. One small angle does intrigue me however, and that relates to dishes with ‘religious' names – the Curate’s Pudding and The Reverend Mr Haggett’s Economical Bread and Pies After the Cardinal’s Way for example. These are surely dishes with Stories behind them, and I do love Stories. I think I shall form a collection of recipes for these dishes.

We have already had:

Monastery soup
Nun’s Sighs
Nun’s Cake.
Macaroni à la Pontiffe
Eggs called in French Ala Augenotte, or the Protestant way.

Here is my current favourite, which appears in several eighteenth century cookbooks:

Pig White Monks Fashion.
Bone the Pig thoroughly, except the Head and Feet, take care not to cut the Skin; make a Farce (viz. Forced-meat, I shall use the Word hereafter in common) with Fillet of Veal, Beef, Suet, Bread Crums, and Cream, chopt Parsely, Shallots, Mushrooms, Salt, and fine Spices, mixed with six Yolks of raw Eggs; cut Dices of Ham and Bacon, to mix with the Farce; stuff the Pig with this as if it was whole, tie it well, and cover the Back with thin Slices of Lard, and tie it in a Napkin to boil in Broth and a Pint of White Wine, a Nosegay of Parsley, green Shallots, one Clove of Garlick, two of Spices, Thyme and Laurel, sliced Onions, Carrots and other Roots, Pepper and Salt; when done, if you propose to serve it hot, wipe it clean, and serve with what Sauce you please; if for cold, let it cool in the Braze, then take off the Napkin, and lare; scrape the Fat gently, and serve upon a Napkin with green Parsley round it.
[The professed cook: or the modern art of cookery, pastry, and confectionary, made plain and easy. Consisting of the most approved methods in the French as well as English cookery; Menon 1769]

Any ideas about the name will be gratefully considered. And while you are thinking on it, how about the 'Parson’s Nose'?

Tomorrow’s Story …

Escoffier in America.

Last year …

On this day we read about the Renaissance Mannerist painter Jacopo Carrucci da Pontormo.

Quotation for the Day ...

The fact is that it takes more than ingredients and technique to cook a good meal. A good cook puts something of himself into the preparation -- he cooks with enjoyment, anticipation, spontaneity, and he is willing to experiment.
Pearl Bailey. Preface, "Pearl's Kitchen," 1973


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Isn't it true that food, at its heart, is a very spiritual thing?

The Old Foodie said...

That's always been my belief t.w.

Barbara said...

Isn't the Parson's Nose a chickens neck....... or is it the other end?

The Old Foodie said...

It is definitely the 'other' end. Also called the Pope's Nose I believe. A delicacy to some, so perhaps to be generously served to the visiting parson (although the Pope is hardly likely to call in at dinner time).??

Peggy Brunache said...

A moving post! Thank you for that! For many of us, food is spiritual...something beyond words for description. It's sad that we don't have cookery books like Pearl Bailey or Edna Lewis (made they rest in peace).

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Peggy. without spiritual and social elements, food is just fuel isnt it?

Dolores Stephenson said...

Love spiritual references! Pearl Bailey's Book is a keepsake in my library of woman's rituals.