Monday, July 20, 2009

A Cricket (Widow's) Dinner.

It is that time of the year again, I am afraid. The time of the year that it is even more difficult to prise the Aussie (English, Indian, Sri-Lankan, West-Indian ….. ) man away from the screen - because THE CRICKET IS ON! And when the CRICKET IS ON, it is ON FOR FIVE FULL DAYS.

It is an anachronism, today, a single game of sport that lasts for five days. A game in which, to the uninitiated, nothing much exciting appears to happen for long stretches of time, but to the initiated is packed full of strategy and tactics and decisions and little runs and big scores. A legacy of a more leisured age. Perhaps a reassuring legacy in our short-attention-span world of instant gratification? Something to help preserve the ability of the brain to focus on something for more than five minutes?

From this cricket widow, please accept, for your amusement, this satirical “Bill of Fare for a Cricket Dinner”, from Judy, or the London Serio-Comic Journal of June, 1897.

Hors d’Œuvres: Duck’s Eggs; Hundred-and-Thousands.
Potage: Lob-ster Purée.
Poissons: Wicket-Kippers; Whiting, Crease Sauce.
Entrées: Bals Perdus; Chasse-au-Cuir en Tortue.
Releves: Square-legs of Mutton; Hams (Yorkers).
Rôts: Demi-vollailles.
Entremets: Batter Pudding; Oval Jellies.
Dessert: Long Hops; Chestnuts; Stone-wall-fruit.

The hundreds and thousands (of runs? pigeons on the pitch? commentators trivial asides and non-sequiteurs?) are interesting. They are tiny, garishly-coloured sugared pellets or sprinkles – miniscule comfits, really - used to decorate cakes and trifles, and to make fairy bread. They are the pure modern commercial interpretation of the non-pareils made in France since at least the seventeenth century from powdered orris-root and sugar. Orris root is from a species of iris, and has a long history of medicinal use as well as its value to the fragrance industry.

Here is the way to make the real thing.

Nonpareils may be reckoned among the first species of confectionary, and from their great utility will last probably as long as the art itself. Put into the pan over the barrel half a pound of Florence orris-root, pulverized and sifted, and warmed with a gentle fire. Take about half a table spoonful of syrup boiled to a pearl, moisten the powder with it and with your hands make them into small grains; increase the charges by degrees, sift the nonpareils to take off the small particles and dust of the sugar; repeat the sifting often taking care to have sieves of different sizes. At night place the nonpareils in the stove to dry increasing them in size day after day with the finest sugar, and finish as above. Half a pound of orris will make more than a hundred weight of nonpareils.
The Italian Confectioner, William Alexis Jarrin, 1829.

Quotation for the Day.

Anyone who uses the phrase 'easy as taking candy from a baby' has never tried taking candy from a baby.

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