Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Highwayman Food.

I am now settled temporarily in Dublin, and - wonder of wonders! seem to have good internet access. In the muddle I "lost" yesterdays' planned post, so here it is, a day late:

September 21 in 1705 was the birthday of Dick Turpin, the romantically infamous English highwayman whose most legendary act was an impossible ride from London to York (a distance of 200 miles) in eleven hours on his famous mare, Black Bess.

What has this to do with food, do you ask? Only this – that I came across a thoroughly twentieth century recipe for Oysters Dick Turpin, and, having seen his grave in York on my last visit there, I was intrigued. It is a variation on the Angels on Horseback theme. I guess the black prune represents Black Bess?

Oysters Dick Turpin.
For these a large prune is hollowed out and filled first with a good pinch of pounded butter [and?] almonds and then with a large oyster. A small piece of fat bacon is wrapped around the prune, and the whole crisply fried.
The Times Nov 11, 1922

The same newspaper feature “On Oysters” had another “adaptation” of the Angel on Horseback idea – although it is an adaptation I do not understand, as it is a multi-ingredient, very fiddly construction, and there are no prunes. Surely prunes are essential to Angels on Horseback?

For an entrée the Angel on Horseback can be delightfully adapted as follows:
Let twenty-four oysters boil in their own liquor, then drain them and reserve a half pint of the liquor. Chop the oysters very fine, mix with this liquor, and just bring it to the boil. Then add three mushrooms and a small cupful of the white meat of a chicken, both chopped fine, and mixed with half a cupful of cream. Melt a tablespoonful of butter, and mix with two tablespoonfuls of flour, and stir into the stock, which should be boiling. Add a tablespoonful of chopped parsley, twelve drops of onion juice, salt and pepper, and then the yolks of two eggs.When all is well mixed, set it aside to grow cold. Then make into little rolls, about two inches by an inch, cut slices of bacon as thin as possible – about half a pound will be wanted – wrap each roll of the mixture in bacon, dip into a light batter, and fry in boiling fat, serving immediately.

Quotation for the Day.
What will happen to me, as the oyster said when he very inadvertently swallowed the gooseberry bush, nobody can tell.
Edward Lear (1812-1888)


Anonymous said...

So jealous that you're in Dublin - I left part of my heart there many years ago.
At the time it was hardly trendy foodie central, but I found many things intriguing:

Irish Breakfast with Pudding: Which I learnt - the hard way - didn't mean dessert... but you can exist till 3pm on it.

Irish Potatoes: Best in the world

Irish Bacon: Ditto. Seems to be boiled like a mini lump of corned beef and served as a main meal.

Galway Seafood: Again, best in the world

Bewley's Cafe: Do the cakes and buns still taste and look wonderful?

Hot Whiskey: People sitting in pubs drinking wine glasses of whiskey and hot water, with cloves floating in it.

Oh dear, I just want to jump on a plane...

Anonymous said...

"Surely prunes are essential to Angels on Horseback?"

Certainly not. Where prunes are involved, these are Devils on Horseback. (I also have my own variation using smoked mussels, which are Saints on Horseback...)

The Old Foodie said...

desperance - of course, you are right; I can only plead that I have lost the plot with the recent travelling. I love the "Saints on Horseback" idea!

The Old Foodie said...

Wendy - I did not get to Bewleys today - but it is on my list, so I will let you know what I think.