Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An Election Breakfast.

With the Big Election Race underway, a number of bloggers with a food history bent have been discussing Election Cakes (see a previous post from this blog on them HERE.)

Today, I thought I would give you something a little different – the bill of fare for an Election Breakfast in an English County (probably Westmoreland), in April 1761. It was given at the house of a candidate – but I have no idea whether it was to give an optimistic start to the day, to drum up last minute support, to feed the election workers, or to celebrate a success.

It was for a large number of people, obviously.

31 Pigeon Pies.
24 Sirloins of Beef.
6 Collars of Beef, sliced.
10 Hams, sliced.
244 Chickens to the Hams.
6 Dozen of Tongues, sliced.
10 Buttocks of Beef.
11 Ach-bones of Ditto.
13 Quarters of Veal.
44 Ditto House-lamb.
56 Pound of Cheese.
8 Pound of Chocolate [this was drinking chocolate].
5 Pound of Coffee.
20 Dozen Bottles of Strong Beer.
10 Hogsheads of Ditto.
3 Ditto of Wine.
2 Ditto of Punch.

It does seem like rather a lot of booze for breakfast, doesn’t it? I guess the media were not so attentive at that time.

“Punch” was usually “Milk Punch” at this time (which makes it closer to breakfast food, I guess), and we have had an early eighteenth century recipe for Milk Punch in a previous post. The following one is a little more interesting, because it also has Seville Oranges in it – and being in large quantity and prepared ahead of time, perhaps it might make a good Christmas Party beverage?

Milk Punch.
Pare fifteen Seville oranges very thin, infuse the parings twelve hours in ten quarts of brandy; ready boiled and cold, fifteen quarts of water, put to this seven pounds and a half of loaf sugar, mix the water and brandy together; add the juice of the orange [s?]; and of twelve lemons, strain it, put to it one pint of new milk; barrel it, stop it close, let it stand a month or six weeks. It will keep for years, the older the better.
The lady’s assistant for regulating and supplying her table, being a complete system of cookery, Mason, Charlotte. 1778.

Only one pint of milk in thirty gallons of brandy and water – it is clearly token milk punch. In the Olden Days, before Germ Theory, it was known that keeping out the air allowed things to be preseved, although no-one knew why it worked. Here is an eighteenth century recipe for ensuring a good supply of juice for punch (ready for the next election, perhaps?).

A Method to preserve the JUICE of SEVILE ORANGES or LEMONS all the Year for PUNCH, SAUCE, JULEPS, and other Purposes.
When you have got what Quantity you think proper of good sound Oranges, or so forth, squeeze them into a Flannel or Jelly Bag, thro’ which the Juice must pass till it is clear; which done you must put it into a deep Glass Vessel, well covered, and let it stand till it hath by fermenting purg’d itself of all Superfluities; then take Sallad Oil enough to cover it over, and pour upon it in the same Manner as it is on Florence Wine; then put it in a cool Place where the Sun doth not shine, which will preserve it so that the Air can’t have any Effect on it; but the Grounds and Lees will sink to the Bottom, betwixt which and the Oil, the Liquor intended for Use, will stand, which you must draw out by a Tin Crane put into it gently, taking care not to disturb the Grounds, and yet to put it deep enough to avoid drawing off the Oil, which will still follow the Juice, and continually preserve it from Putrefaction.
Note, You may likewise by the above Method preserve most Juices of Herbs, Flowers, &c.
From: The compleat confectioner; or, the art of candying and preserving in its utmost perfection. Mary Eales. 1753

Quotation for the Day …

Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

1 comment:

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I actually found your Election Cake post earlier this month and baked Election Cake this year. It's a very practical Yankee cake with a "Yes We Can" kind of attitude.