Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On Belly-cheare.

November 7 ...

Those of us who are founding members of the Society of Abligurands take our Belly-cheare very seriously, although hopefully this is not reflected in the size of our actual bellies. Methinks we should consider as our patron Dr Samuel Johnson, who has previously graced our pages on more than one occasion. He famously stated that he ‘enjoyed his belly very much’, and, moreover, he had no trust in those who did not do the same, figuring that if they didn’t care what they ate, they wouldn’t care about anything very much at all.

The word belly has two basic meanings; it means ‘that part of the (human or animal) body which lies between the breast and the thighs, and contains the bowels’ and it also refers to a ‘bag, skin-bag, purse, pod, husk’. The OED is uncertain of the relationship between the two uses, although it seems to me to be self-evident, a bag including a ‘skin-bag’ as it apparently does. It is a lovely word, and very useful in its extended forms too. As society members we enjoy sharing our belly-timber (or our belly-joy, or belly-care, or belly-matter) with our belly-friends, and sometimes we meet over a belly-vengeance (small beer).

‘Belly’ can also refer to ‘a joint of meat’, and very delicious it can be too when the joint is from a pig. The following recipe might be a change for the Christmas table – although the final instruction to keep ‘a long time’ (before refrigeration!) in salt water would hardly be considered safe today.

Mock Brawn.
Take the head and a piece of the belly part of a young porker, and rub it well with saltpetre. Let it lie three days, and then wash it clean. Split the head, and boil it; take out the bones, and cut it in pieces. Then take four or five ox feet boiled tender, cut them in thin pieces, and lay them in the belly piece with the head cut small. Then roll it up tight with sheet tin, and boil it four or five hours. When it comes out, set it up on one end, put a trencher on it within the tin, press it down with a large weight, and let it stand all night. The next morning, take it out of the tin, and bind it with a fillet. Put it into cold salt and water, and it will be fit for use. It will keep a long time, if you put fresh salt and water to it every four days.
[The London art of cookery … John Farley; 1792]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Kitchen Bags.

Quotation for the Day …

A fully gorged belly never produced a sprightly mind. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

1 comment:

Karen Resta said...

I like the recipe but first must find my young porker.