Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Currant Jelly with that?

Here is a wonderful story about how we came to eat sweet preserves with meat. Is it true or not? who cares? I am saying it is story, not history. Bear in mind as you read this that the clear distinction between sweet and savory ingredients is a relatively modern concept – it was certainly not a startling new idea in 1715, the date of our story. Nor was the absence of potatoes on the dinner table in 1715 a strange situation – they were far from daily fare in Europe and Britain at that time. Perhaps, after all, it the story speaks more truth about food fashion and foodie-paparazzi, rather than the food itself.

“Currant jelly with hare was first eaten in 1715. There were no potatoes at table, when the Duchesse de Pentonville (then an emigrant), asked what there was. ‘Nothing but confitures’ was the reply of the maĆ®tre d’hotel. ‘Bring me the confitures then’, siad the lively Duchesse; and she selected the currant-jelly, much to the amusement of all the nobles present. The king, however, hearing of this, ordered hare for dinner, purposely to try it with the currant-jelly, and he like it so well that he continued it for six days together; and so the currant-jelly spread all over London till it became an established fashion in the best English society.”

I have a very graphic mental image here of currant jelly spread all over London ……

Red or white currant jelly.
Strip off your fruit, and put it in a jug, stand the jug in a kettle of water, and let it boil one hour, then throw your currants into a fine sieve, and press out all the juice, to every pint of which add one pound of loaf sugar; put it in your preserving pan over a clear fire, and stir it till it becomes jelly, observing to scum it carefully; when done, pour it into glasses, and when cold, lay some brandy paper on top: then cover with white paper, pricked full of holes.
Modern domestic cookery, and useful receipt book, by E.Hammond. London, 1819.

Quotation for the Day.

The Law of Raspberry Jam: the wider any culture is spread, the thinner it gets.
Alvin Toffler.

1 comment:

Liz + Louka said...

My 3 year old loves the Ikea meatballs with "jam" (I think it's lingonberry sauce).