Monday, August 11, 2008

On the Naming of Dishes, Part 4.

It never ceases to amaze me – the sheer number of dishes named after clerical and other religious folk and the general religious life. Rather more than named after the local plumber or apothecary or doctor. The tradition is quite a few hundred years old, at least. Off the top of my head, there is La Varenne’s ‘Pie after the Cardinal’s Way’ in the mid-seventeenth century, and M. Menon a century later with Tenche au Pontiffe and Eggs à la Huguenotte (sometimes called Presbyterian Eggs), for starters. We have enjoyed some of them already on this blog – Pig White Monks Fashion, Nuns’ Cakes, Nuns’ Sighs, Macaroni à la Pontiffe, and Monastery Soup, for example. There are many more, and I have a couple up my sleeve for the near future.

The more recent ones, from Britain in the nineteenth century – seem to be predominantly sweet puddings. There are many variations of the Curate’s pudding, My lady abesses’ pudding, and The novice’s pudding just to give you the idea. Why is this? There are a lot of questions going begging here. Is the English vicar particularly sweet-toothed? Or poor and underfed? Is it a way of sweetening him up so he will pass on a good word about you?

Just to prove that it is not only the English that curry favour with their local heavenly advocates and advisors, here is an American version from Good housekeeping's book of menus, recipes, and household discoveries, published about 1922.

Caramel Bavarian Cream, Parsonage Style.
2 cupfuls milk , 4 egg yolks, 2 tablespoonfuls sugar 1 teaspoonful vanilla, ¾ cupful sugar 2 tablespooonfuls granulated gelatin, 2 cupfuls cream ½ cupful cold water.
Scald the milk and pour over the egg-yolks beaten slightly with the two tablespoonfuls of sugar. Caramelize the three-fourths cupful sugar and dissolve in the boiling water. Add to the soft custard. Add the gelatin which has been softened in the cold water. Strain into a bowl and set in ice water; when it begins to thicken add the vanilla and the two cupfuls of cream beaten stiff. Mold and chill. If cream is not at hand, the whites of eggs beaten stiff can be used in its place, the result being different, but still delicious.

Now, can anyone tell me (random guesses allowed) what makes this variation on the well-known theme of Bavarian Cream - ‘Parsonage Style’?

I eagerly await your examples from other religious persuasions. I can only think of the eggplant dish called something like ‘The Imam Fainted’ - supposedly on account of the profligate use of olive oil in its preparation. Do we have The Rabbi’s Rhubarb Tart? The Shaman’s Sherbet? The Pagan’s Popovers?

Quotation for the Day …

We plan, we toil, we suffer-in the hope of what? A camel-load of idol's eyes? The title deeds of Radio City? The empire of Asia? A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs. J.B.Priestley.


Unknown said...

Dear god,
I was skimming, too fast I now see, through your post when I read "My lady abesses’ pudding..." as "My lady's abscess pudding..."

I'm going to have to read more slowly from now on. This was too disturbing.

The Old Foodie said...

The really scary thing is that some old remedies for poultices could almost be puddings ....

Anonymous said...

Well, the recipe I have for
Bavarian Cream (from a cookbook of Bavarian recipes--I live in Munich) calls for kirsch (black-cherry brandy) --so perhaps it's Parsonage style because it's the tetotaller version?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Mercy - I didnt think of that explanation. Not all clergymen are teetotallers of course, but perhaps the man who filled the role in this particular parish was? Either that or he was awful and the idea was death by cholesterol?

Shay said...

and my personal favorite "pets de nonne."

Anonymous said...

In the Netherlands, mulled wine is
called Bishop's Wine.
I don't think the clergy were
ever anywhere known for

Anonymous said...

martha: in the states in the 19th century, there were a lot of clergy known for teetotalism. See also the Women's Christian Temperance Union. It was quite a religious fad at the time, and a lot of the tent preachers preached against the evils of alcohol.