Thursday, April 23, 2009

St.George's Day.

Today is St.George’s Day, so we must celebrate England. I have been looking for an excuse to give you a wonderful metaphorical recipe for The Celestial and Terrestrial Cream of Great Britain, so today is an excellent excuse. It comes from The Gastronomic Regenerator, by Alexis Soyer – who, even if he was French by birth, became the British Victorian celebrity chef. He has featured many times in stories on this blog (you will just have to do a “Soyer” search via the box in the sidebar, if you are interested). The “recipe” is preceded by a lengthy story, which I will omit, lest you become tired before you get to the good bit, which is:

Procure, if possible, the antique Vase of the Roman Capitol; the Cup of Hebe; the Strength of Hercules; and the Power of Jupiter;

Then proceed as follows :
Have ready the chaste Vase (on the glittering rim of which three doves are resting in peace), and in it deposit a smile from the Duchess of Sutherland, from which Terrestrial Déesse it will be most graceful; then add a Lesson from the Duchess of Northumberland; the Happy Remembrance of Lady Byron ; an Invitation from the Marchioness of Exeter; a Walk in the Fairy Palace of the Duchess of Buckingham; an Honour of the Marchioness of Douro; a Sketch fron Lady Westmorland; Lady Chesterfield's Conversation; the Deportment of the Marchioness of Aylesbury; the Affability of Lady Marcus Hill; some Romances of Mrs. Norton; A Mite of Gold from Miss Coutts; A Royal Dress from the Duchess of Buccleugh; a Reception from the Duchess of Leinster; a Fragment of the Works of Lady Blessington; a Ministerial Secret from Lady Peel; a Gift from the Duchess of Bedford; an Interview with Madame de Bunsen; a Diplomatic Reminiscence from the Marchioness of Clanricarde; an Autocratic Thought from the Baroness Brunow; a Reflection from Lady John Russell; an Amiable Word from Lady Wilton; the Protection of the Countess de St. Aulaire; a Seraphic Strain from Lady Essex; a Poetical Gift of the Baroness de la Calabrala; a Welcome from Lady Alice Peel; the Sylph-like Form of the Marchioness of Abercorn; a Soiree of the Duchess of Beaufort; a Reverence of the Viscountess Jocelyn ; and the Goodwill of Lady Palmerston.
Season with the Piquante Observation of the Marchioness of Londonderry; the Stately Mien of the Countess of Jersey; the Tresor of the Baroness Kothchild; the Noble Devotion of Lady Sale; the Knowledge of the Fine Arts of the Marchioness of Lansdowne; the Charity of the Lady De Grey; a Criticism from the Viscountess of Melville:—with a Musical Accompaniment from the whole; and Portraits of all these Ladies taken from the Book of Celebrated Beauties.
Amalgamate scientifically; and should you find this Appareil, (which is without a parallel,) does not mix well, do not regard the expense for the completion of a dish worthy of the Gods !
Endeavour to procure, no matter at what price, a Virtuous Maxim from the Book of Education of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent; a Kiss from the Infant Princess Alice; an Innocent Trick of the Princess Royal; a Benevolent Visit from the Duchess of Gloucester; a Maternal Sentiment of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge; a Compliment from the Princess Augusta de Mecklenbourg; the future Hopes of the Young Princess Mary;-
And the Munificence of Her Majesty Queen Adelaide.
Cover the Vase with the Reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, and let it simmer for half a century, or more, if possible, over a Fire of Immortal Roses.
Then uncover, with the greatest care and precision, this Mysterious Vase; garnish the top with the Aurora of a Spring Morning; several Rays of the Sun of France; the Serenity of an Italian Sky; and the Universal Appreciation of the Peace of Europe.
Add a few Beams of the Aurora Borealis; sprinkle over with the Virgin Snow of Mont Blanc; glaze with an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius; cause the Star of the Shepherd to dart over it; and remove, as quickly as possible, this chef-d'oeuvre of the nineteenth century from the Volcanic District.
Then fill Hebe's Enchanted Cup with a religious Balm, and with it surround this mighty Cream of Immortality.
Terminate with the Silvery Light of the Pale Queen of Night, without disturbing a Ray of the Brilliancy of the brightest Queen of the Day.
NOTE. " We are authorised by the Author to inform his readers, that even up to this moment of finishing the printing, no answer has been received from the Gourmet before mentioned, stating his opinions with regard to the Cream of Great Britain, on account, as we have been informed, of his cook not having as yet been able to complete the Dish.—J. E. Adlard."

There is undoubtedly a whole thesis in unravelling the various “ingredients” in this recipe. Wouldn’t you love to know what autocratic thought was in the mind of Baroness Brunow, or what piquante observation would be made by the Marchioness of Londonderry? Wouldn’t you love a welcome from Lady Alice Peel, or a glimpse of the Sylph-like Form of the Marchioness of Abercorn?

I must give a “real” recipe too, I suppose. From the same source, a universally popular treat:

Vanilla Cream Ice.
Put the yolks of twelve eggs in a stewpan, with half a pound of sugar, beat well together with a wooden spoon, in another stewpan have a quart of milk and when boiling throw in two sticks of vanilla, draw it from the fire, place on the lid and let remain until partly cold, pour it over the eggs and sugar in the other stewpan, mix well, and place it over the fire (keeping it stirred) until it thickens and adheres to the back of the spoon, when pass it through a tammie into a basin, let remain until cold, then have ready a pewter freezing-pot in an ice-pail well surrounded with ice and salt; put the above preparation into it, place on the lid, which must fit rather tightly, and commence twisting the pot round sharply, keeping it turned for about ten minutes, when take off the lid and with your spatula clear the sides of the interior of the pot, place the lid on again, turn the pot ten minutes longer, when again clear the sides and beat the whole well together until smooth, it being then about half frozen, then add four glasses of noyeau or maresquino and a pint and a half of cream well whipped, beat the whole well together, place the lid upon the top, keep twisting it round a quarter of an hour, clear well from the sides, beat again well together, proceeding thus until the whole is frozen into a stiff but smooth and mellow substance, should you require to keep it sometime before serving, pour the water which has run from the ice out of the pail and add fresh ice and salt; when ready to serve work it up smoothly with your spatula.

Previous St. George’s Day posts are HERE and HERE.

Quotation for the Day.

England is merely and island of beef swimming in a warm gulf stream of gravy.
Katherine Mansfield, The Modern Soul.


KT said...

Well, the cleverness of the first "recipe" is mostly lost on me; but today is my husband's birthday and I made Ice Cream, using a very similar procedure to recipe #2 except I'm lucky to live in a modern age of freezers and automatic ice-cream makers. Also I used coconut cream instead of heavy cream...

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins said...

Saint George is also the patron saint of Ragusa Ibla in Sicily. The modern part of the city of Ragusa was built after a very bad earthquake in1693 and this part of the city has Saint John as their patron saint.
The festival of San Giorgio is celebrated in Ragusa on the last Sunday in May and not on the 23rd April.

The legend of Ragusa’s Saint George was born in Palestine towards the latter part of 200 AD. He slew a terrible dragon whose ferocity could only be appeased when it was offered victims (preferably young and juicy). It just so happened that the princess of Ragusa was to be next sacrifice and George, the courageous soldier and knight, appeared on his horse and with his mighty sword slew the dragon in the name of Christ. Naturally the Ragusani converted and were baptized.
On this celebratory occasion apart from much feasting and dancing devotees go to church where large loaves of bread in the shape of a crown (called cucciddati in Sicilian and not to be confused with the biscuits filled with dried figs) are blessed. The statue is carried around in the streets of Ibla (it lives in the beautiful baroque church of Saint Giorgio where I was baptized) and the bread is then symbolically distributed to those who plant wheat so that they can be granted a good harvest.

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

~~louise~~ said...

Happy St. George's Day, Janet!

What a refreshing post:)

Thanks for sharing...

The Old Foodie said...

Hello my old friend Marisa (go and check out her blog, dear readers)- I didnt know St George was an Italian saint too. Thanks for the lovely bread story.
Louise - thanks! good to hear from you again!