Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Drug Trade, on Sauces.

I never tire of the ‘food as medicine’ theme. It is an ancient theme indeed - and one which has been undergoing something of a revival over recent decades. The modern thrust tends to be deconstructionist - promoting nutrients rather than food, or at least single specific foods such as the supposed ‘superfoods’ (avocado, berries, etc). The pity is that very little of the advice distributed by professionals in the health and nutrition fields is recipe driven. With many folk feeling themselves de-skilled in the kitchen arts, or time-poor, or just not interested, the default meal is often purchased pre-prepared and its ingredients (and their health-impact) are slightly mysterious.

I love it that the ‘Rx’ symbol used to indicate a medical prescription is actually an abbreviation of the Latin for ‘recipe’(or ‘receipt’). Not so long ago, the medicinal ‘recipe’ aspect was more obvious, and in fact druggists manuals were quite like cookery books, even to the extent of overlapping content. I live in hope of the day when the friendly neighbourhood pharmacist will provide recipes for the daily dinner.

We have touched on this issue before, with selections from the Druggists General Receipt Book (1850) [here, and here]. Today I want to give you some recipes from Pharmaceutical Formulas - A Book of Useful Recipes for the Drug Trade, (the ‘Drug Trade’ – now there’s a phrase with an entirely different connotation today!) published in 1898. It is a book that would be quite at home on your cookery book shelf. It includes recipe for almost 30 sauces of the bottled kind! In some, the measurements are apothecarial (is that a word?), so I have selected those with more accessible units of measurement. Beware – they make industrial quantities!

Newmarket Sauce.
Shallots 40 oz.
Capsicum 1 lb
Cloves 3 oz
Celery-seed 2 oz
Mace 1 oz
Walnut Ketchup 2 qts.
Indian Soy 3 qts.
Beafoy’s acetic acid 1 gals.
Water 6 gals.
Salt 2 lb.
Peel and slice the shallots, bruise the capsicum, cloves, celery-seed and mace, and pour on the other ingredients.

Penny Sauce.
Sauce gruffs* 6 lb.
Vinegar 2 gals.
Sliced garlic 2 oz.
Treacle 3 lbs.
Soy 2 lbs.
Salt 8 oz.
Capsicum ½ oz.
Caramel 1 lb.
Essence of anchovy 8 oz.
Boil the gruffs with the vinegar, garlic, and salt half an hour; strain, add the rest of the ingredients, and boil for another half-hour, and bottle when cold.

*“the accummulated remains of chutney or any kindred sauce preparations.”

Quotation for the Day.

The longer I work in nutrition, the more convinced I become that for the healthy person all foods should be delicious.
Adele Davis.


~~louise~~ said...

I have a few pharmaceutical books which I haven't dug out in ages. I too love the fact that the RX in medicine relates to recipes. I also find it amazing that many of the drugs developed today are derivatives of foods and plants touted from long ago.

I say, bring back the Apothecary!

Great post Janet. I'm wondering if one had to prepare the walnut ketchup before the sauce could be concocted:)

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Louise - fun, isnt it? If you find any nice pharmaceutical recipes, do post them, wont you?
I think that walnut ketchup could also be purchased, but a lot of cookery books had recipes too - but you would need access to a walnut tree as I think fresh green walnuts were needed.
A little more on the topic tomorrow!

Soham B. said...

As a former pharmacy student this post spoke volumes to me.

i suppose that in my evolution as a cook, the basics of compounding lab worked symbiotically with my love for cooking.

for example, the technique a "bueurre manie" (used to thicken soups or stews) is utilized in the formulation of many topical creams and ointments, where you must suspend particles of drug substance in fat (or petroleum jelly) to introduce in a different base.

the list goes on, and it's fascinating. i hope you post more on the subject.

btw, bravo on the blog. i really enjoy it.