Monday, December 29, 2008

To Make a Dunelm.

Those of you who read this blog regularly will be fully aware that I love words – particularly odd food words. I have an interesting and mysterious one for you today, and am hoping one of you can shed some light on it.

Several cookbooks from the first half of the nineteenth century have recipes for “A Dunelm of … ” The venerable Oxford English Dictionary does not know “dunelm”, which is a poor start to researching the topic. Wikipedia comes partly to the rescue with the definition of “A Scottish hash of chicken or veal with mushrooms and cream” , but then confuses the issue by saying that “Dunelm” is also an abbreviation for “Dunelmensis” - the old Latin name for Durham, which is in the North of England, not Scotland. The very comprehensive Dictionary of the Scots Language does not own it as a Scottish word, so I remain baffled, but intrigued.

The recipes must therefore speak for themselves. A “Dunelm” seems to be a good way to use up leftover cooked meat, whilst avoiding the use of the word “hash”.

A Dunelm Of Chicken.
TAKE a few fresh mushrooms, peeled and dressed as for stewing; mince them very small, and put to them some butter, salt, and cream. When put into a sauce-pan, stir over a gentle fire till the mushrooms are nearly done. Then add the white part of a roasted fowl, after being minced very small. When sufficiently heated, it may be served up.
Culina Famulatrix Medicinæ, Alexander Hunter, 1804

Dunelm of Veal, Fowl, Rabbit, Venison, or Butcher's Meat.
Stew some mushrooms very gently for an hour and a half in butter, with mace, salt, and pepper; let them cool, and mince them; dust in flour till the butter becomes a roux, and work in by degrees a little cream, till it obtains the consistency of a sauce; simmer and cook it smooth; mince the meat the same size and quantity of the mushrooms. Butcher's meat requires onions, and venison civet and port wine.
Domestic Economy, and Cookery, for rich and poor, by A Lady (Maria Rundell), 1827

Quotation for the Day …

The army from Asia introduced a foreign luxury to Rome; it was then the meals began to require more dishes and more expenditure . . . the cook, who had up to that time been employed as a slave of low price, become dear: what had been nothing but a métier was elevated to an art.
Livy (Titus Livius), Roman historian (59-17 B.C.)


Anonymous said...


Your post today reminds me of an idea I had the other day, to look for glossaries of old and obsolete culinary terms. I found the following, but it concerns American terminology:

No Dunelm.

The Old Foodie said...

HI Cindy: these are some that I use:

Prospect Books Glossary

Cindy Renfrow’s Glossary of Medieval and Renaissance Culinary Terms

Gode Cookery glossary of medieval food and cooking terms.

Oregon State University Food Resource (mostly 19th and 20th C cooking terms)

Culinary Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Technical Terms (1898)

I will now put links to them in the side-bar of the blog! Thanks for the idea!