May 15 ...
Dr. William Kitchiner and his Magazine of Taste is our inspiration for the week. It proves that spice mixes are not a new idea. It is probably fair to say that Dr. Kitchiner was the inventor of the concept in the first few decades of the nineteenth century. The box itself is an even more impressive idea and has a lot of appeal in this plastic world – in fact I would quite like one myself, if I could find someone to make it for me out of mahogany (another beautiful timber would do), with the correct number of compartments.
It has not been easy to decide which recipes to include this week, but I found myself slightly intrigued by ‘Pea Powder’. I assumed it must consist of dried peas, simply pre-ground to speed up the cooking process. It is not. It is a flavouring powder (of course) with the most amazing power of suggestion.
Pound together in a marble mortar half an ounce each of dried Mint and Sage, a drachm of Celery Seed, and a quarter drachm of Cayenne Pepper; rub them through a fine sieve. This gives a very savoury relish to Pea Soup, and to Watergruel, which, by its help, if the eater of it has not the most lively imagination, he may fancy he is sipping good Pease Soup.
Another essential sauce in Dr. Kitchiner’s box is Soy (position 15 in his box) and he uses it in many recipes. He does not attempt to fake it, which is surprising, given that he does not hesitate to tell how to make all manner of other sauces and catsups. Luckily, one of his contemporaries gave instructions for the genuine article:
SOY, is a liquid condiment, or sauce, imported chiefly from
[A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines: Containing a Clear Exposition ... Andrew Ure, 1847]
Dr Kitchiner’s Magazine of Taste - impressive as it is - contains only a small fraction of the essences, quintessences, sauce bases, and powders on his book. Tomorrow we will enjoy some of its omissions.
Tomorrow’s Story …
Quotation for the Day …
A well made sauce will make even an elephant or a grandfather palatable. Grimod de la Reynière.