Monday, October 27, 2008

Second Supper.

Before I fold away this idea of more meals in the day (temporarily that is, I have more meals for you yet) – I want to talk about second supper. I must be well on the way to getting honorary Hobbit citizenship now.

Once upon a time, there was rere-supper. Sir Walter Scott described it thus, in 1833, in Woodstock:

“Rere-suppers (quasi arriére) belonged to a species of luxury introduced in the jolly days of King James’s extravagance and continued through the subsequent reign. The supper took place at an early hour, six or seven o’clock at lates – the rere-supper was a postliminary banquet, a horse d’oeuvre, which made its appearance at ten or eleven, and served as an apology for prolonging the entertainment till midnight.”

The name comes from an obsolete form of ‘rear’ – presumably because it happens at the rear-end of the day. Sir Walter may have gotten the description right, but he was wrong about its origin. It was not King James’ idea, second supper had been around since at least the fifteenth century, but seems to have died out during the nineteenth century. The idea must be due for revival, surely? His countrywoman and contemporary, the writer Christian Isobel Johnstone (aka Mistress Margaret (Meg) Dods) discussed the requirements in her wonderful book, The Cook and Housewife’s Manual (1828),

“When a formal supper is set out, the principal dishes are understood to be roasted game or poultry, cold meats sliced, ham, tongue, collared and potted things, grated beef, Dutch herring, kipper, highly-seasoned pies of game, &c. &c., with, ccasionally, soups, - an addition to modern suppers which, after the, heat and fatigue of a ball-room, or large party, is found peculiarly grateful and restorative. Minced white meats, lobsters, oysters, collared eels, and crawfish, dressed in various forms ; sago, rice, the more delicate vegetables, poached eggs, scalloped potatoes, or potatoes in balls, or as Westphalia cakes, are all suitable articles of the solid kind. To these we may add cakes, tarts, possets, creams, jellies in glasses or shapes, custards, preserved or dried fruits, pancakes, fritters, puffs, tartlets, grated cheese, butter in little forms, sandwiches; and the catalogue of the more stimulating dishes, as anchovy toasts, devils, Welsh, English, and Scotch rabbits, roasted onions, salmagundi, smoked sausages sliced, and those other preparations which are best adapted to what among ancient bon vivants was called the rere-supper.”

The Westphalia Cake turns out to be a ham and potato meatloaf. It might be a good idea to file away for the post-Christmas season.

Westphalia Loaves for a Supper Dish, or to eat with Veal, &c.
Grate four ounces of good lean ham, and mix it with a pound of good potatoes, mashed with butter. Add salt, pepper, and two eggs, to bind the ingredients. Mould this into small loaves, or shape it in patty-pans, and fry and serve in a brown gravy, or alone.

P.S. In a previous story we had Pickled Herrings: a French way for a rere-supper, also from Mistress Dods.

P.P.S: "The Old Foodie" will be three years old on Friday! By the birthday there will be 864 posts. Hard to believe - for the Old Foodie at any rate.

Quotation for the Day …

And please don't cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean. I'll cook beautifully for you, a perfectly beautiful breakfast for you, if only you won't have me for supper.

Bilbo Baggins to the Trolls in The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

1 comment:

srhcb said...

That Westphalia Loaf looks pretty good!