Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the naming of dishes, Part 2.

July 16 ...

Global citizens that we are, connected to everyone, everywhere, 24/7, it is almost impossible to imagine what life was like in the days when the circle only stretched to your immediate community. For most folk, for most of history, the circle was as far as you could walk in the course of your daily work. For some folk, who could read, knowledge of the wider circle could come from books (and newspapers), depending on which were available. There is a delightful point in the diary of the eighteenth century country Parson James Woodforde (who we have met many times before in this blog) when he has sent ‘the boy’ into the big town on an errand. The boy brings the newspaper back to the village – the news by now days to weeks old. The good parson notes briefly in his diary the news about some sort of kerfuffle in France (i.e the beginnings of the Revolution) – the brief note given perspective by appearing in the midst of great detail about the vitally important trivia of day to day life in the parish.

Are we less on mystery and adventure now, for knowing (or being informed of) so everything that is happening everywhere else? For an island nation (like Britain, or Australia), by definition ‘everywhere else’ is ‘overseas’. ‘Overseas’ is far more mysterious than ‘over the border’. Imagine living a couple of hundred years before the good parson, when a dish was strangely, slightly exotic, so that you knew it was not local, but all that you could guess was that it came from ‘beyond the sea.’

To make a stewe after the guyse of beyonde the sea.
Take a pottel of fayre water, and as much wyne, and a breste of mutton chopt in peces, than set it on the fyre and scome it cleane, than put therto a dyschefull of slyced onyons, and a quantite of synamon, gynger, cloves and mace, wyth salte and stewe them all together, and than serve them with soppes.
[Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye, c1545]

Tomorrow’s Story …

High and mighty tasty?

Quotation for the Day …

The only cooks in the civilized world are French cooks. . . . Other nations understand food in general; the French alone understand cooking, because all their qualities - promptitude, decision, tact - are employed in the art. No foreigner can make a good white sauce. Louis Victor Nestor Roqueplan, 1853.

3 comments:

Shay said...

I have been reading back issues of "Punch" available online at archive.com.

In June of 1914 the average Englishman was convinced that war was brewing, but a civil war and in Ireland.

Who cared about some crackpot agitators in the Balkans?

Jean Rogers said...

Looking at that recipe, I wonder if it comes specifically from Outremer (literally "beyond the sea" but used specifically for the Crusader kingdoms of the Middle East). I don't know if this is consistent with English usage of the period...

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Shay. Thanks for the idea - I didnt know about those old Punch mags.
Jean - I wonder if you are right - I dont know, it is way outside my area of expertise. Might try to find out though.