Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bon Voyage.

April 8 ...

When Britain took on the Boer republics in 1902, her colonial citizens heeded the call to come to the aid of their mother country. In August 1902 a contingent of New Zealanders, their stints over, travelled home in the ship Britannic. In a pattern that is probably as old as the colonial navies of the world, the officers dined well, the troopers not so well aboard ship. The nicely printed menu for one, and the description of the other, demonstrate the difference quite clearly.

OFFICERS’ MENU.
Anchovies, Olives.
Oyster a la Plessy, Consomme Faubonne.
Baked Bass, Piquante Sauce.
Braised Sheep’s Head, Calves Feet au Pascaline.
Sirloin of Beef, Baked Potatoes, Boiled Chicken, Bacon,
Parsley Sauce, Leg of Mutton a la Bretonne.
Yellow Squash, Cabbage, Boiled Potatoes.
Curried Prawns and Rice, Cold Ox Tongue
Fig Pudding, Apricot Tart, Queen’s Cakes, Ice Cream.
Devilled Sardines on Toast
Dessert.

TROOPERS’ MENU.
Bread issue 6.30; bread good, but only enough for one meal.
Breakfast – Stew: half cooked meat and potatoes, hot water for gravy, plenty of grease; potatoes scarce, about half a dozen among fourteen men, always thrown overboard, not being fit to eat. Coffee: a mixture of tea, coffee, and chocolate, more like the latter; probably sugar in it, but could not say.
Dinner – Soup: Very good. Boiled mutton and sauce; mutton always absolutely raw, sauce flour and pot-water, with plenty of lumps, not bad paste for wall-papering, rather lumpy. Boiled rice and prunes. Rice ground, but a slatey colour, with no sugar; pruned good, generally averaged two per man (tantalising).
Tea – Bully beef and pickles; bully beef good, pickles fair, generally averaging two per man. If at all late one found one’s share gone, as they were generally eaten before the beef arrived. More could be got at the canteen on board at 1s per bottle. Tea, horrible. Butter and jam twice a week: jam, carrots and beetroot.

I bet those troopers would have loved a good suet pudding. A good pudding would have made them much more inclined to overlook the shortcomings in the rest of the bill of fare.

Here is a nice one from the same era, from the Middle Class Cookery Book, by the Manchester School of Domestic Economy and Cookery.

Suet Crust for Roly-Poly Puddings.
½ lb flour
¼ lb Beef Suet
Cold water,
Pinch of salt.
Shred the suet into very thin flakes; mix the salt into the flour; rub the shredded suet will into the flour; mix all to a stiff paste with cold water. Flour the paste-board lightly; turn the paste on to it, an work it with the right hand on the board for three or four minutes. Flour the rolling pin; press it onto the dough to flatten it out; then roll the dough out, rolling always one way. Fold the dough in three, and roll it out again. Repeat this once more, and roll the crust to the size required.

A Lancashire Roly-Poly.
2 apples
2 oz currants
2 Tablespoonfuls Golden Syrup
Spice, if liked, and Grated Lemon Rind.
Mince the apples very fine, spread them with currants on to the crust, and add the golden syrup, or treacle if preferred. Roll up the crust pressing the edges of the sides together as you roll. Slighty wet the top edge, and press the crust lightly so as to close it. Prepare a pudding cloth; put the pudding onto it, roll it tightly up and tie the edges with string or tape.When one edge is tied, pass the string along the pudding and tie the other edge. Put a plate (or drainer) at the bottom of the saucepan; put in the pudding and boil for one hour and a half. The water in the saucepan must be boiling before the pudding is put in, and must continue to boil the whole time, until the pudding is taken out.

Tomorrow’s Story …

“Comeback” meals.

Quotation for the Day …

If you could make a pudding wi' thinking o' the batter, it 'ud be easy getting dinner. George Eliot. Adam Bede, 1859

2 comments:

Sharon said...

Oh god, you've just made me wonder how long it is since I last tasted my mum's jam roly poly. She baked it in the oven rather than steaming it, so it would have a golden crust and bits of semi-burnt jam oozing out of the edges. Then we et it with, of course, custard. Happy memories. When I next go to visit I might ask her to make one. :)

Shay said...

One of the reasons officers "back then" had better food is because they had to pay for it ;-)

If you're going to shell out your hard earned cash on chow, you'll demand better fare than bully beef and hard tack.

(I'm not sure if it is still the case, but when I was on active duty I had to pay for my rations when in the field. Consomme & oysters I can see ponying up for, but c-rats? It was highway robbery).