Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Breakfast at the top.

On this day in 1750, the very wealthy French writer Mme. Anne-Marie Fiquet du Bocage breakfasted with the very wealthy English socialite and writer Mrs. Elizabeth Montague (whom she incorrectly refers to as ‘Lady Montagu.’) Mme. de Bocage kept up a regular correspondence with her sister while she travelled in England and Europe, and her report of the visit gives a fascinating insight into life at the top of the social pyramid at the time.

"In the morning, breakfasts, which enchant as much by the exquisite viands as by the richness of the plate on which they are served up, agreeably bring together the people of the country and strangers. We breakfasted in this manner to-day, April 8, 1750, at Lady Montagu's in a closet lined with painted paper of Pekin, and furnished with the choicest movables of China. A long table, covered with the finest linen, presented to the view a thousand glittering cups, which contained coffee, chocolate, biscuits, cream, butter, toasts, and exquisite tea. You must understand that there is no good tea to be had anywhere but in London. The mistress of the house, who deserves to be served at the table of the gods, poured it out herself. This is the custom, and, in order to conform to it, the dress of the English ladies, which suits exactly to their stature, the white apron and the pretty straw-hat become them with the greatest propriety, not only in their own apartments, but at noon, in St. James's Park, where they walk with the stately and majestic gait of nymphs."

Here is a nice eighteenth century recipe, perfectly do-able today, for a fine biscuit suitable for breakfast or after-dinner coffee, or any occasion really. It is from Bradshaw’s valuable family jewel. ... Containing all that relates to cookery, pastry, ... bread making, oat cakes, &c. With a great number of other necessary articles, ... By Mrs. Penelope Bradshaw, and the late ingenious Mr. Lambart (1748)

To make Bisket Drops.
Beat six eggs in a Pan with a Whisk, very well, put in a Pound of sifted Sugar, by Degrees, beat it a little longer, then drain your Whisk, and sift in something more than a Pound of Flour, and put in Carraway-Seeds as you like it; then with a Spoon and Knife lay them round (what Size you please) on Wafer-paper, laid on a Wire, and dust them very well with sifted Sugar, and bake them in a moderate Oven; when they are cool, chip off the Wafer around the Edges, and put them in a Box for Use.

Quotation for the Day.

Powdermilk biscuits: Heavens, they're tasty and expeditious! They're made from whole wheat, to give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. … Powder Milk biscuits: Buy them ready-made in the big blue box with the picture of the biscuit on the front, or in the brown bag with the dark stains that indicate freshness.
Garrison Keillor.


Shay said...

Somehow it's never occurred to me that nymphs would have stately and majestic gaits.

The Old Foodie said...

you have clearly been moving in the wrong circles, Shay. You need more majestic nymphs in your life.