Thursday, November 22, 2007

School Food Chapter II

November 22 …

Just in case your little darlings are still complaining about school and school food, here is a second story to use in a (probably futile) attempt to make them feel grateful.

It is taken from the writing of William Makepeace Thackeray (writing as Mr. A.M. Titmarsh) about his visit to Ireland, and in particular to the Agricultural Seminary of Templemoyle where seventy scholars “some young and some expounded into six feet and whiskers – all, however, are made to maintain exactly the same discipline, whether whiskered or not”, but which “is one of the very few public establishments in Ireland where pupils of the two religious denominations are received, and where no religious disputes have taken place.”


Eleven ounces of oatmeal made in stirabout – one pint of sweet milk.
Sunday-Three quarters of a pound of beef stewed with pepper and onions, or one-half pound of corned beef with cabbage, and three and one-half pounds of potatoes. Monday—One-half pound of pickled beef, three and a half pounds of potatoes—one pint of buttermilk.
Tuesday-Broth made of one-half pound of beef, with leeks, cabbage, and parsley, and three and a half pounds of potatoes.
Wednesday - Two ounces of butter, eight ounces of oatmeal made into bread, three and one-half pounds of potatoes, and one pint of sweet milk.
Thursday – Half a pound of pickled pork, with cabbage or turnips, and three and a half pounds of potatoes.
Friday—Two ounces of butter, eight ounces wheat meal made into bread, one pint of sweet milk or fresh buttermilk, three and a half pounds of potatoes.
Saturday—Two ounces of butter, one pound of potatoes mashed, eight ounces of wheat meal made into bread, two and a half pounds of potatoes, one pint of buttermilk.
In summer, flummery made of one pound of oatmeal seeds, and one pint of sweet milk. In winter, three and a half pounds of potatoes and one pint of buttermilk or sweet milk.

I was intrigued by the idea of “flummery” made from oatmeal seeds and milk. Surely this sort of “flummery” represents a re-branding of “frumenty”- the ancient grain porridge that was the staple food of peasants for centuries. Did the students observe any discernable difference between this “flummery” and the daily breakfast stirabout?

Mostly today we think of “flummery” as being a light fruity jellied dessert without any grain at all, like this one from Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery (1870’s)

Melt two ounces of gelatine in a pint and a half of water; add a wine-glass of sherry and half a glass of brandy, with the juice of three lemons, and sugar enough to sweeten. Stir into the liquid when cold a pint of double cream which has been whisked until it began to thicken. If mixed while warm the lemon juice will curdle it. Moulds should be dipped in water or oiled, and the flummery should be allowed to set a day before turning out. Blanched almonds, slit lengthwise, stuck round the flummery, or preserved cherries, look well.
Sufficient for two moulds.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Oranges and Lemons.

Quotation for the Day …

The age of your children is a key factor in how quickly you are served in a restaurant. We once had a waiter in Canada who said, 'Could I get you your check?' and we answered, 'How about the menu first? Erma Bombeck.

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