Friday, February 06, 2009

Cricket Dinner, Rangoon, 1825.

I have many historic menus left over, now that the manuscript is in for Menus from History. Not being a person to like waste, particularly of work, I suspect that many of them will find their way to you as the days (and years) go by.

The cricket season is upon us, so from this cricket-widow to cricket lovers and haters all, I give you the following little insight into the sheer fortitude of cricket players.

The Officers of the British Army at Rangoon in the early ninteenth century formed a cricket club, and after a “grand match” on January 18, 1825, they dined together. The bill of fare shows “that our gallant countrymen were not so near to starvation as some have represented.”

Bill of Fare for the Cricket Club Dinner
Six tureens of soup, 4 saddles of mutton, 6 legs of mutton (boiled and roasted), 6 fore quarters of mutton, 2 pieces of surloin beef roasted, 2 rounds of beef (corned), 3 Bengal humps, 4 briskets, 6 tongues, 4 geese, 4 stewed ducks, 6 roast duck, 4 ducks smothered in onions, 6 roast fowls, 6 boiled fowls, 4 country capt, 4 fowl pies, 4 gibblet pies, 2 mutton pies, 2 beef steak pies, 4 dishes of mutton chops, 3 roast pigs, 10 plates of yams, 10 plates of potatoes, 10 plates of onions, 10 plates of pumpkin, 4 dishes of prawn curry, 4 dishes of mutton curry, 6 fowl curries, 3 hams, 4 dishes of beefsteak, 2 fillets of veal (roasted), 2 knuckles of veal (boiled), 2 fore quarters of veal (roasted), 2 dishes of veal cutlets, calf’s head, 4 veal pies, 2 dishes of calf's liver and bacon, 2 bullocks hearts, 4 gooseberry tarts, 4 apple tarts, 4 currant tarts, 4 cherry tarts, 4 rice puddings, 4 plumb puddings, 4 dishes of mince pies 2 cheeses, biscuits, bread. Wine cordials and beer in abundance "

A nice little repast for the hungry players, yes? Last I heard there were only eleven men on a cricket team. Even allowing for a few spares and some officials, that sounds like an awful lot of food in the Rangoon heat. No vegetarians on that team, by the looks.

Bengal ‘Humps’ (bullock, usually) were cured like ham or ‘corned’ and spiced like beef, and according to an article published in 1807 had already “long been a favourite dish at the splendid entertainments of the great Lords .. in India” . Presumably what went down well in India was also enjoyed in Burma, as those staunch British colonials developed their own Anglo-Eastern cuisine.

The ‘Country capt.’ on the bill of fare were a favourite chicken dish, and one of my favourite sources from this time (‘A Lady’), gives us a recipe.

A Country Captain.
Cut a fowl in pieces, and shred a large onion very small, and fry it brown in butter. Sprinkle the fowl with fine salt, and dust it over with fine curry-powder, and fry it brown; put all into a stewpan, with a pint of soup, and stew it down to one half: serve it with rice.
Domestic economy, and cookery, for rich and poor, by a lady, 1827

Quotation for the Day …

It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.
Robert Fuoss. Saturday Evening Post.

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