Friday, September 26, 2008

A Georgian Dinner.

This is Georgian week and I can do no better than give you a menu from our old friend Parson Parson James Woodforde. In his diary on this day in 1780 he wrote:

“Mr Custance ...asked me to dine with the Company at Ringland at 2 o’clock ….We had for dinner a Calf’s Head, boiled Fowl and tongue, a Saddle of Mutton rosted on the Side Table, and a fine Swan rosted with Currant Jelly Sauce for the first course. The Second Course a couple of Wild Fowl called Dun Fowls, Larks, Blamange, Tarts etc etc and a good Desert of Fruit after amongst which was a Damson Cheese. I never eat a bit of Swan before, and think it good eating with sweet sauce. The Swan was killed 3 weeks before it was eat and not yet the lest bad taste in it.”

Swan might have impressed Parson James, but I have never fancied it, which is just as well as it is as impossible to get as the elusive Bath Chaps I have been seeking this week. If you want to roast a swan, and can get one legally, there is a previous post on how to do it.

A Damson Cheese is the dish of the day. A ‘cheese’ can be anything that is made in a mould, like cheese. It is a French concept, so in France you can have a fromage glacĂ©, if you want ice-cream, or if you really want to get confused you can order a fromage d’Italie, which is sometimes a Bologna sausage. The idea is very old. It is overcooked jam, really. The modern version are the fruit ‘cheeses’ made into chewy little strips for children’s lunch boxes, or little blocks of quince paste to put on the cheese platter. It is the candy you have when you should be having fruit.

Here is Mrs. Rundell (1824) again.

Damson Cheese.
Bake or boil the fruit in a stone jar in a saucepan of water, or on a hot hearth. Pour off some of the juice, and to every two pounds of fruit weigh half a pound of sugar. Set the fruit over a fire in the pan, let it boil quickly till it begins to look dry; take out the stones and add the sugar, stir it well in, and simmer two hours slowly, then boil it quickly half an hour, till the sides of the pan candy; pour the jam then into potting-pans or dishes about an inche thick, so that it may cut firm. If the skins be disliked, then the juice is not to be taken out; but after the frist process, the fruit is to be pulped through a very coarse sieve with the juice, and managed as above. The stones are to be cracked, or some of them, and the kernels boiled with the jam. All the juice may be left in and boiled to evaporate, but do not add the sugar until it has done so. The above looks well in shapes.


Ferdzy said...

"take out the stones..."

Uh-huh. What she's not mentioning is that the little bastards are clingstones. So "take out the stones" is a step that takes about 3 hours. I love damsons, but man.

I think I'd love me some damson cheese, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to actually make any.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Ferdzy. I guess the other option would be to chuck them in the pan stones and all, then fish out the stones as the fruit broke up and cooked? would that work? or get a servant?