Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Poetical Food.

I do not attempt to hide my love of words, and I admit to thoroughly enjoying yesterday’s fun with pome-granades. I continue with word fun today – in the form of  a ‘poem’. I put this in inverted commas, as I am not sure that my example fits with the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of a poem, which is:
“a piece of writing or an oral composition, often characterized by a metrical structure, in which the expression of feelings, ideas, etc., is typically given intensity or flavour by distinctive diction, rhythm, imagery, etc.”
The ‘poem’ of the day comes from a cookery book, of course. It is My pet recipes tried and true, contributed by the ladies and friends of St. Andrew's Church, Quebec, and published in about 1900. It is a useful aide-memoir for the new housewife (at least I think that is the justification) as to what goes with what, with a sprinking of useful hints and a stern warning to poor cooks.
It is at least in rhyme, which may or may not be an admirable quality in a poem. I leave it to you to judge if it is poetry, if it is good advice, and whether you think that modern cookbooks could be improved with the addition of more poetry.
Rhymes to Remember.
“Always have lobster sauce with salmon,
And put mint sauce your roasted lamb on.
In dressing salad mind this law
With two hard yolks use one raw.
Roast pork, sans apple sauce, past doubt,
Is Hamlet with the Prince left out.
Broil lightly your beefsteak – to fry it
Argues contempt of christian diet.
It gives true epicures the vapors,
To see boiled mutton minus capers.
Boiled turkey, gourmands know of course
Is exquisite with celery sauce.
Roasted in paste, a haunch of mutton
Might make ascetics play the glutton.
To roast spring chickens is to spoil them,
Just split them down the back and broil them.
Shad, stuffed and baked is most delicious,
T’would have electrified Apicius.
Roast veal with rich stock gravy serve,
And pickled mushrooms too, observe.
The cook deserves a hearty cuffing,
Who serves roast fowl with tasteless stuffing.
But one might rhyme for weeks this way,
And still have lots of thing to say:
And so I’ll close, for reader mine,
This is about the hour to dine.
Naturally I have to include a recipe for the book, and as it is turkey season, I give you this version of celery sauce, contributed by Mrs. Theophilus Oliver.
Celery Sauce.
Fifteen ripe tomatoes two peppers, five large onions, seven and a half tablespoons of white sugar, two and one half tablespoons salt, three cups of vinegar, two heads of celery, chop celery and onions, and peppers, and boil all together an hour and a half.
Quotation for the Day …
He’d noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery. It fascinated people. They sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures. And sometime, when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination. But at the end of the day they’d settle quite happily for egg and chips, if it was well done, and maybe had a slice of tomato.
Terry Pratchett.

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