Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Olives.

To continue yesterday’s story, the ‘other’ olive is ‘a dish made from slices of beef or veal, typically rolled around a filling of onions and herbs, stewed, and served in gravy.’   The dish with this name has been a feature of English cuisine since at least the sixteenth century, when olives (from the tree) were an expensive imported luxury. Why is it so?
The name seems to be an example of folk etymology – the process by which a word is adapted to another use because of some confusion of pronunciation and meaning. In old manuscripts the same dish is called alowes (or aloes or some other attempt at interpreting a word phonetically) – which comes from the French for small birds (alouette is a lark). After some time in England the word became heard as olives, which are also small, round, and stuffed - and there you have it. The idea also explains why they are also called ‘beef birds’ or oiseaux sans tĂȘtes (headless birds).
To confuse the matter even further, small flat pieces of meat (or fish) rolled around a filling are also called paupiettes (poupiettes, polpettes etc) – derived from the Italian polpa for flesh, or turbans, which is self-explanatory.
Here is Elizabeth Raffald’s take, from her wonderful book The Experienced English Housekeeper (1769)
To Make Veal Olives.
Cut the thick part of a leg of veal in thin slices, flatten them with the broad side of a cleaver, rub them over with the yolk of an egg, strew over every piece a very thin slice of bacon, strew over them a few bread crumbs, a little lemon peel, and parsley chopped smalll, pepper, salt, and nutmeg; roll them up close and skewer them tight, then rub them with the yolk of eggs, and roll them in bread crumbs and parsley
chopped small, put them into a tin dripping-pan to bake or fry them; then take a pint
of good gravy, add to it a spoonful of lemon pickle, the fame of walnut catchup, and one of browning, a little anchovy and Chyan pepper, thicken it with flour and butter, serve them up with forcemeat balls, and strain the gravy hot upon them: garnish with pickles, and strew over them a few pickled mushrooms.

Quotation for the Day …
“If I had magic powers, I should like to wave my golden fork over the confined cookery of Europe and enlarge it to infinity; I would like to . . . offer French nationality to the many hardly known but delicious foreign dishes; ...I would like to put the whole of natural history on the spit, in stews, in fricassees, in court-bouillon, in grills, ..... ”  Jean-Camille Fulbert-Dumonteil (1831-1912)

5 comments:

Cindy Bertelsen said...

Hi Janet,

Just wanted to tell you that for some reason your RSS feed doesn't work for Google Reader.

I'd love to see what you post every day, so if there's anything you can do to make the RSS feeder work v for Google, that'd be great.

Thanks.

Cindy

Anonymous said...

I really look forward to reading your week day postings, which I find informative and interesting. I have been a fan for almost a year now. My step-mother is an Aussie and lives in California, where I also lived until recently, now I am in Virginia. Keep up the great postings!
Obermuda

leisa said...

This was wonderful although Elizabeth's recipe is different to my mothers it reminded me of a family dish I haven't enjoyed for years. I am off to find mum's recipe. I will be back.

Dianne said...

I have just recently found your blog, and I wanted to say: magnificent work! The subject matter is fascinating and your daily treatment of it is wonderfully entertaining. Thanks!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello everyone
Cindy - I had no idea that it wasnt being picked up by Google Reader. I have a few "housekeeping" things to do on the blog - starting in about a week when I have belatedly met a deadline ... I am not technically savvy but will find someone to help me if I cant fix it myself.

Thankyou Anonymous and Dianne - keep reading! (and commenting, please)

Leisa - welcome again. I look forward to your Mum's recipe.