Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Food for Journeys, Part 3.

As you read this I will be somewhere in the air, en route home to Australia after a wonderful few weeks in the UK. I continue with the theme of food for travelling, and, technology-willing, this story will reach you about the usual time.

In yesterday’s post, we considered the sorts of new food that travellers eat in new places, courtesy of the land and its existing inhabitants. Of course, sensible travellers go prepared with supplies from home, and they take their preferences with them too. Here is a novel idea for preserving fish.

Russian Method Of Preserving Fish.
When the Russians desire to keep fish perfectly fresh, to be carried a long journey in a hot climate, they dip them into hot beeswax, which acts like an air-tight covering. In this way they are taken to Malta, sweet, even in summer.
Practical American Cookery and Domestic Economy, Elizabeth M. Hall; 1860

There are numerous recipes for preserving milk for long journeys – and presumably for infants and children this may have been important. It is difficult however, to imagine the necessity or desire for cream to be so great that an American or European traveller would wish for a recipe – but here is one example:

To Preserve Cream.
Take four quarts of new cream; it must be of the richest quality, and have no milk mixed with it. Put it into a preserving kettle, and simmer it gently over the fire; carefully taking off whatever scum may rise -to the top, till nothing more appears. Then stir, gradually, into it four pounds of double-refined loaf-sugar that has been finely powdered and sifted. Let the cream and sugar boil briskly together half an hour; skimming it, if . necessary, and afterwards stirring it as long as it continues on the fire. Put it into small bottles; and when it is cold, cork it, and secure the corks with melted rosin. This cream, if properly prepared, will keep perfectly good during a long sea voyage.
Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery; Eliza Leslie, 1831.

As for dripping (the fat collected from roasting meat), it is nowadays totally shunned by the nutrition police. Once upon a time the very quality that makes us discard it - its greasy calorie count - made it extremely desirable, particularly for pastry-making (encasing meat in a dense ‘coffin’ being another great preserving method). The book The Housekeeper's Instructor, Or, Universal Family Cook, by William Augustus Henderson (1805) has an entire section devoted to food for long voyages, and includes this recipe (note the suggestion to minimise its pilfering by rats!)

To preserve Dripping.
This is one, among many other useful articles at sea, and in order that it may properly keep for that purpose, it must be made in the following manner: Take six pounds of good beef dripping, boil it in some soft water, strain it into a pan, and let it stand till it is cold. Then take off the hard fat and scrape off the gravy which sticks to the inside. Do this eight times, and when it is cold and hard take it off clean from the water, and put it into a large saucepan, with six bay-leaves, twelve cloves, half a pound of salt, and a quarter of a pound of whole pepper. Let the fat be all melted, and just hot enough to strain through a ceve into a stone-pot. Then let it stand till it is quite cold, and cover it up. In this manner you may do what quantity you please. It is a very good maxim to keep the pot upside down, to prevent its being destroyed by the rats. It will keep good any voyage, and make as fine puff-pafte crust as any butter whatever.

Quotation for the Day.

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own country-men, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds.
Caleb Colton

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Food for Journeys, Part 2.

One of the great travel experiences is the opportunity to taste new foods – how much more exciting must this have been in times past, when so little was known of other places?

History is full of stories of the strange foods eaten by adventurers and explorers out of curiosity, as well as, at times, absolute necessity, and some of these have featured in this blog before (see the links below). There are many stories too, of such men (for they are virtually always men) being saved from starvation by thanks to gifts of food from the local ‘savages’.

Sometimes of course, the sharing of food between the indigenous people and their visitors was a friendly and joyful experience, as in the following description of an event that took place in early in the seventeenth century, and recorded some decades later in New-England's memorial 1669 by Nathaniel Morton, William Bradford, Thomas Prince, Edward Winslow

1621 (?): Tuesday [July … ]. At nine this morning, we set out travel fifteen miles westward to Namasket by three in the afternoon. The people entertain us with joy, give us bread they call Maizum, and the spawn of shads which they now have in great plenty, and we eat with spoons. By sunset we get eight miles further to a Ware, where we find many of the Namascheuks, i.e. Namasket men a fishing having caught abundance of bass; who welcome us also, and there we lodge.

Recipe for the Day.

We don’t know how the shad roe in the story above was prepared, but here are simple instructions from Mrs. Fryer's Loose-Leaf Cook Book, published in the USA, 1922

Shad Roe.
Shad roe may be baked, broiled, or fried. To broil, wipe dry; sprinkle with pepper and salt and cook five minutes on each side. Butter well and stand in the oven for a few minutes; then serve garnished with parsley and lemon. To fry, proceed as with fish, but cook the roe for ten minutes first in boiling water.

Explorer Food.
This list may not be exhaustive, but here are some stories from this blog about explorers and their food:

Stories featuring the Australian explorer Ludwig Leichardt are here, here, and here.

Stories from the Lewis and Clark expedition across the North American continent are here, here, and here.

A story about Australian explorer John Horrocks is here
A story about David Livingstone in deepest, darkest Africa is here.
A story about Australian explorer Ernest Giles eating parrot soup, here.

Australian explorer John Oxley has a fish dinner, here.

A story about Australian explorer John Eyre is here.

Quotation for the Day.
When we examine the story of a nation's eating habits, describing the changing fashions of preparation and presentation and discussing the development of ifs cuisine throughout the ages, then we find an outline of the nation's history, harking back to those distant days when a scattered tribe lurked in dismal caves, feeding on raw fish and plants and the hot. quivering flesh of wild beasts, lately slain with a rude spear.
Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Food for Journeys, Part 1.

For the next few days I will be on the move, travelling from Norfolk to London to Singapore to Brisbane (including a tedious seven hours in the limbo-land of Singapore airport), so my mind will once again be pre-occupied with the pre-eminent travel question of “what shall I get to eat?” (I no longer travel in terror of running out of reading material, thanks to my wonderful e-reader).

To ensure that you still get your daily stories, they will be pre-posted to pop up at the usual time. Naturally, in view of my pre-occupation this week, they will be about travel food - as seen through the eyes of travellers and cookbook writers across the centuries and around the globe.

To start with, I take you back to the thirteenth century, to Andalusia. The recipe is from an anonymous cookbook translated by Charles Perry, and made freely available to us all (grateful thanks!) here. It is for a pasty, which “is very good on journeys”. I can only hope to get something as delicious over the next few days.

Recipe for Barmakiyya
It is made with a hen, pigeons, doves, small birds or lamb. Take what you have of them, after cleaning, and cut up and put in a pot with salt, an onion, pepper, coriander and lavender or cinnamon, some murri naqî', and oil. Put it on a gentle fire until it is nearly done and the sauce is dried. Take it out and fry it in fresh oil without overdoing it, and leave it aside. Then take fine flour and semolina, make a well-made dough with leaven, and if it has some oil it will be more flavorful. Then roll out from it a flatbread and put inside it the fried and cooked meat of these birds, cover it with another flatbread and stick the ends together. Put it in the oven, and when the bread is done, take it out. It is very good on journeys. You might make it with fish and that can be used for journeying too.

Quotation for the Day.

Here I am, safely returned over those peaks from a journey far more beautiful and strange than anything I had hoped for or imagined - how is it that this safe return brings such regret?
Peter Matthiessen

Friday, September 25, 2009

Water of Life.

I wind up my time here in Dublin with some ‘Irish’ recipes – by which I mean those named ‘Irish’ by cookbook writers of the past. They may or may not be authentically Irish – but what does that mean anyway? A griddle cake made from potatoes may be called boxty in Ireland (as was discussed in yesterday’s post), but there are potato cakes of some form or another wherever there are potatoes, so perhaps after all it is only the name that is authentically Irish.

It seems that the Irish may have invented whisky, although we will never know for sure, as the art of distillation is very ancient. It does seem however that we must certainly give them credit for the name. The word ‘whisky’ apparently derives from the Irish Gaelic ‘Uisge Beatha’, which translates as ‘water of life’ – or aqua vitae, or eau de vie, if you like. Strong ‘waters’, or ‘cordials’ were popular once upon a time for their perceived medicinal value. Here is a recipe, purporting to be Irish, for Water of Life.

Prime Irish Usquebaugh.
Put into a large glass or stone bottle three pints of brandy: half an ounce each of saffron, liquorice, jujubes, and raisins of the sun; and a quarter of an ounce each of coriander seeds and cinnamon. Then melt a pound and a half of sugar in a pint of water, put it to the rest, and let the whole infuse three weeks; after which time, pour off the clear liquor. This is an excellent cordial, and much esteemed by the Parisians, to whom it was originally introduced by a celebrated general officer in the Irish brigade.
A Modern System of Domestic Cookery, M. Radcliffe, 1839

What else is intrinsically Irish? ‘Irish Stew’ seems to be a relatively modern phrase, and the dish is, after all, merely one version of pot au feu, or a hot pot, or some other nation’s one-pot dinner. Perhaps it is Irish because it contains sheep and potatoes, two ingredients strongly identified with Ireland? I have never been clear on the quintessential difference between Irish Stew and Lancashire Hot Pot (also usually mutton and potatoes), and suspect there is none. There are an infinite number of interpretations of ‘Irish Stew’, and we have had several in previous posts (here, here, and here), so I will forbear from giving you another one today.

The beverage and main courses being settled, here are the ‘Irish’ dessert options for you.

Irish Cream Cheese
Take a quart of very thick cream, and stir well into it two spoonfuls of salt. Double a napkin in two, and lay it in a punchbowl. Pour the cream into it; turn the four corners over the cream, and let it stand for two days. Put it into a dry cloth within a little wooden cheese vat; turn it into dry cloths twice a day until it is quite dry, and it will be fit to eat in a few days. Keep it in clean cloths in a cool place.
The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, and New Dinner Table Directory, Lady Charlotte Campbell Bury, 1844.

Irish Pancakes.
Beat eight yolks and four whites of eggs, strain them into a pint of cream, sweeten with sugar, and add a grated nutmeg. Stir three ounces of butter over the fire,, and as it melts pour it to the cream, which should be warm when the eggs are put to it. Mix it smooth with nearly half a pint of flour; and fry the pancakes very thin the first with a bit of butter but not the others. Serve up several at a time one upon another.
The cook and housekeeper's complete and universal dictionary, Mary Eaton, 1822

Quotation for the Day.

Uisce Beatha: an Irish or Erse word for the Water of Life. It is a compounded and distilled spirit, being drawn on aromaticks, and the Irish sort is particularly distinguished for its pleasant and mild flavor. In Scotland it is somewhat hotter, and by corruption in Scottish they call it Whisky.
Dr Samuel Johnson, in his Dictionary of 1750.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I had the opportunity to sample three different forms of ‘boxty’ (or boxtie) in Dublin last night. Foolishly, I had ordered Irish Stew to follow. Boxty is an Irish potato cake, and there are numerous regional variations – boiled, baked, fried, and with (or without) various additional ingredients. My sample platter at Gallagher’s Boxty House was listed as an appetiser and was a modern version of the concept as it was served with two sauces for dipping – blue cheese and honey-whisky.

Boxty is perfectly explained in an edition of The Dublin University Magazine of 1854.

"In the formation of potato starch the fibrous portion of the tuber, when separated and squeezed from the watery part, was mixed with coarse flour or oatmeal, and by the addition of a little kitchen stuff [i.e fat rendered from meat]or butter formed into a cake popularly known in the vest as boxtie, and in the south denominated “buck bread”, “Scotchy”, or “stampy”. This was so much admired, that the children in country parts used to make a grater out of the side of an old tin can, by punching it with an awl in order to rasp lumpers for a feast of boxtie. If we have reserved to the last, the potato-cake, made by bruising with the bottom of a tin porringer, two cold well-boiled potatoes, and mixing therewith a pound of the finest flour, the yolk of a fresh egg, a print of butter, and a sup of new-milk, the whole being well kneaded then pounded with a rolling pin, made into a cake five eighths of an inch thick, cut into squares and diamonds, baked on a griddle, and when properly browned and mottled, each piece torn asunder like a muffin, and a bit of butter slipt in to melt in the interior, and then eaten at tea or breakfast but particularly at the former, it is because it was the most widely disseminated, and universally admired form of potato-eating known to all tea-drinkers and cup-tossers from Cape Clear to the Causeway."

So then, boxty can be a griddle cake (or scone), a fried potatoe cake, a type of boiled (or baked) potato ‘pudding’ (for want of a better word), or something nearer a pancake. It can be made with grated raw potato or mashed up cooked potato. It can be sole food or soul food or far too solid an appetiser.

And, as an added bonus for our consideration, in the short description given above, we have two interesting word usages – ‘lumper’, for potato, and ‘a print’ of butter, meaning a single moulded block.

Quotation for the Day.

Boxty on the griddle
Boxty in the pan
If you don't eat boxty
You'll never get your man.
Traditional Song.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bountiful Barley.

I am visiting Dublin for a few days, and naturally my sightseeing focus is on ‘food’ – using the term as widely as seems appropriate. Few would argue the inclusion of beer and whisky in that definition, so today I visited the Guinness Storehouse (free pint at the end) and the Jameson’s Whisky Distillery (free nip at the end).

Both ‘attractions’ are well worth the visit if you are in Dublin for a while. I was reminded of how incredibly useful is barley - the prime ingredient in both beverages. Barley is essential of course in Artificial Asses’ Milk too, as we have found out previously, and in good old-fashioned Barley Water, which we have not had a recipe for to date. Then there is barley bread, the basic food of many peasant communities over the centuries. But what of barley in soup?

I saw (and tasted) barley in various stages of preparation – crushed, roasted, malted – but not pearled. What is pearl barley – the standard form (although not the universally preferred form*) used for soup? This is barley which has been hulled, steam processed, then polished to remove more of the remaining bran – leaving it marginally less nutritious but significantly more cookable and palatable.

Here is the inimitable Dr Kitchiner’s recipe and medicinal opinion for Barley Water, from his Cook’s Oracle (1822)

Barley Water.
Take a couple of ounces of Pearl Barley; wash it clean with cold water; put it into half a pint of boiling water and let it boil for five minutes; pour off this water and add to it two quarts of boiling water; boil it to two pints and strain it.

The above is simple Barley Water:- to a quart of this is frequently added
Two ounces of Figs sliced;
The same of Raisins stoned;
Half an ounce of Liquorice sliced and bruised;
And a pint of water.
Boil till it is reduced to a quart and strain.

Obs:- These Drinks are intended to assuage thirst in ardent Fevers, and inflammatory disorders, for which plenty of mild diluting liquor is one of the principal remedies: - and if not suggested by the Medical attendant, is frequently demanded by honest Instinct in terms too plain to be misunderstood; - the Stomach sympathizes with every fibre of the human frame, and no part of it can be distressed without in some degree offending the Stomach;- therefore it is of the utmost importance to soothe this grand Organ by rendering every thing we offer to it as elegant and agreeable as the nature of the case will admit of; the Barley drink prepared according to the second receipt will be received with pleasure by the most delicate palate.

* Mistress Dods has very strong views on the virtues of pot barley vs pearl barley in Scotch Barley Broth.

Quotation for the Day.

In the age of acorns, before the times of Ceres, a single barley-corn had been of more value to mankind than all the diamonds of the mines of India.
Henry Brooke.

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)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dublin Turbot.

Today I should be in Dublin. Today this post may appear later than usual, due to the vagaries of internet access while travelling – the vagaries that interfere no matter how well planned one thinks one is, and the vagaries that provide some of the interest and adventure of travel. And, of course, the fact that I did not get around to pre-posting this week’s stories as I did last week!

I don’t know what the modern fish and seafood situation is in Dublin, but will find out in the next few days. In the meanwhile, I trust in its reputation, and give you some comments and a recipe from Maria Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, published in 1844.

“Turbot is said to improve by keeping for a day or two; but the acknowledged superiority of the Dublin Bay turbot arises from it being dressed immediately upon being caught: it then tastes as if it had been boiled in cream.”

May either be boiled in vinegar, salt and water, or in the following marinade. One part of wine to two of water, simmered for a quarter of an hour ,with a bundle of Sweet herbs two bay leaves three onions, one stuck with cloves, three carrots chopped, three turnips sliced a large piece of butter, some salt and whole pepper, the liquor to be strained and allowed to grow cold before using. The garnish for turbot is made thus:- Take the spawn out of the inside of a lobster, dry it well before the fire and shift through a sieve, then scatter it over the turbot.

P.S. In lieu of a quotation (I do not have access to my sources today), I hereby faithfully promise a full report on my visit to the Pudding Club in Mickleton in the Cotswolds. I am proud to report that I managed to sample all seven of the traditional British puds on offer that night.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cambridge Sauce.

There must be a Cambridge Sauce, surely? Having established the tenuous history of Oxford Sauce yesterday, I felt obliged to seek out the existence and history of Cambridge Sauce. I did not have much success. I could not believe that Cambridge would let it self be out-reciped by its traditional opponent, but there is even less in the usual resources on sauces named for it than there is for Oxford. And once again, The Oxford English Dictionary does not mention any such thing as Cambridge sauce, which is of course highly significant.

There is however, in spite of the OED’s omission, such a thing as Cambridge Sauce to be found. It appears in The Modern Cook (1860) by the very-briefly cook to Queen Victoria, Charles Elmé Francatelli. It appears in very little else, I am afraid, so I am not sure of its historic relevance.

Cambridge Sauce.
Take the yolks of six eggs boiled hard, the fillets of four anchovies, cleaned, and put them into a mortar with a tablespoonful of French capers, some tarragon, chervil, chives, and a little burnet, blanched; pound these well together with a teaspoonful of English mustard, the same quantity of French, and some pepper and salt; moisten with good salad oil, and a little tarragon vinegar, taking care that the sauce be kept rather thick. Having sufficiently moistened the sauce take it out of the mortar into the tammy, placed over a dish for that purpose, and proceed to rub the sauce through the tammy in the same manner as a purée; pass the back part of a knife along the under part of the tammy in order to detach therefrom any adhesive particles; take the sauce up into a small basin, to be kept on the ice till wanted for use, and just before sending to table add some chopped parsley. Observe that this sauce be kept about the same degree of thickness as reduced velouté sauce; salt must be used in moderation owing to the presence of anchovies in the composition.

By way of recompense for the paucity of sauce recipes, I also give you Cambridge Pudding.

Cambridge Pudding.
Beat up four eggs with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 of flour very smoothly; then add 1 lb raisins and 1 lb of the fat of a cold loin of veal, or of suet, evenly chopped; butter a mould, put in the pudding, tie it tightly in a cloth, and let it boil five hours.
Murray’s Modern Cookery Book, London, 1851.

Quotation for the Day.

Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oxford Sauce.

The “English” sauce today is Oxford Sauce, and it presents an interesting challenge. It is commonly said to be the “traditional” sauce for brawn (specifically Oxford Brawn), yet there is a real dearth of recipes and information on it. The Oxford English Dictionary does not acknowledge it at all, which must be significant surely?

It is particularly interesting that the recipes that do exist for Oxford Sauce often begin with “proceed as for Cumberland Sauce , but ..."  and it does indeed sound almost identical to that port and orange “traditional” sauce. Here is Escoffier’s description:

Oxford sauce: A British sauce of red currant jelly dissolved with port and flavored with shallots, orange zest and mustard; usually served with game.

The earliest recipe I have found so far is from the intriguingly named The Englishwoman in India: information for ladies on their outfit, furniture … , published in 1864. The recipe is not at all similar to Cumberland Sauce however.

Oxford Sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon made mustard
1 saltspoon salt
½ saltspoon pepper
3 tablespoons best salad oil
2 tablespoons strong vinegar.

The next recipe I found was in - of all things, in view of our other insights this week - an American cookery book - Mrs Elliott’s Housewife, published in 1870. The recipe is also unlike Cumberland sauce, and is slightly different from the above as it contains allspice, cayenne, and horseradish as the flavouring agents.

So, my question to you is – how old or commonly used does something have to be to be called “traditional”?

Quotation for the Day.

Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish.
Henry Miller.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yorkshire Sauce.

Today we continue on our quest to unravel some of the secrets of “English Sauces” – that is, sauces apparently named for English towns and counties. It is the turn of Yorkshire Sauce.

A recipe for Yorkshire Sauce in the American cookbook The Steward’s Handbook and Guide to Party Catering, by Jessup Whitehead (Chicago, 1903) sounds suspiciously like Cumberland Sauce – which is intriguing as we considered yesterday that the latter might possibly have come by its name in America. Is Yorkshire Sauce then another example of American naming? I have been unable so far to find any reference to Yorkshire Sauce in any English cookery book, which perhaps reinforces the theory. Here is Jessup Whitehead’s recipe – you will see how similar it is to yesterday’s Cumberland Sauce:

Yorkshire Sauce.
Orange sauce for ham; espagnole, currant jelly, port wine, orange juice and boiled rind cut in shreds.

The Oxford English Dictionary does not have any reference to Yorkshire Sauce, but it does have a relatively lengthy entry on Yorkshire Relish, which it defines as “the proprietary name of a kind of savoury sauce.” The proprietary sauce was manufactured by Goodall Backhouse and Co. of Leeds, and the first reference is to it is in the Trade Marks Journal of 1877. The name was the subject of a legal dispute in 1895, the manufacturers attempting to prevent a rival company marketing their own product under the same name. The plaintiffs’ case was successfully argued by scientists who analysed the composition of both products, and concluded that, amongst other things, “a marked peculiarity of the imitation ‘relish’ was the large amount of cream of tartar it contained in the form of crystals”, and there were significant differences in specific gravity, and the type of sugar used.

Ironically, Whitehead’s book also acknowledges the proprietary relish, and gives a recipe for an imitation:

Bottled Table Sauce.
The recipe for making the genuine Yorkshire Relish is probably known only to the manufacturers. However, the following is said to yield a good imitation of that popular sauce:
1 oz. garlic, 1 teaspoonful cayenne, 2 tablespoonfuls Indian soy, 2 tablespoonfuls mushroom ketchup, and 1 pt. vinegar; boil altogether 10 minutes and strain, and bottle
when cold.

It would seem sensible to go to a Yorkshire source for ideas on Yorkshire-named recipes. From the Yorkshire Observer recipe collection of the 1930’s we have:

Yorkshire Relish.
½ oz. cloves,
¼ oz. cayenne pods,
1 oz. peppercorns.
Put in pan with one pint of water, boil 20 min then add
1 quart of vinegar
½ lb sugar,
¼ lb salt, and
2d.[dessertspoons?] burnt sugar.
Boil altogether for 5 min. Strain and it is ready for use when cold.
(Mrs.Scargill, Batley)

Then, just to confuse or enrich the subject further, here is a sweet version (from an American source) - a lemon-essence flavoured hard sauce to put on your pudding.

Yorkshire Sauce
Three ounces of butter
Five table spoonfuls of powdered sugar
Three drops of essence of lemon
Nutmeg or cinnamon to the taste.
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, and add the lemon and spice.
This sauce is eaten with baked puddings, fritters, &c. Some add a tea spoonful of brandy.
The National Cookbook, by Hannah McBouvier, Philadelphia 1866

Quotation for the Day.

Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with Give us pasta with a hundred fillings.
Robert Farrar Capon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cumberland Sauce.

Now for some sauces named for English towns and counties. I want to consider just how “authentic” or “traditional” they really are, and welcome your comments.

We have previously considered what is the best-known sauce named for an English town or county - Worcester(shire) sauce. Today I want to sample Cumberland Sauce.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Cumberland Sauce as “a piquant sauce served esp. with cold meat”. It does not guess at primary ingredients, but generally speaking today it is taken to mean a wine sauce with redcurrants, flavoured with orange. The tradition of serving sharp, sour, fruity sauces with rich meat, especially game is very ancient, yet the OED gives the first supporting reference from 1878.

Strangely, I have found references to it that pre-date the first in the OED – from American sources: one from 1856, and one from 1870 on the menu of a New Orleans hotel. Is it then an American invention, or some sort of around-the-world reattribution, as in the case of the “Virginia Potato”?

Dr. Kitchiner in his famous Cook’s Oracle of 1817 gives a currant sauce recipe that is a Cumberland-sauce prototype or variant:

Wine Sauce for Venison or Hare.
A quarter of a pint of claret or port wine, the same quantity of plain unflavoured mutton gravy, and a tablespoon of currant jelly; let it just boil up, and send it to table in a sauce boat.”

Alexis Soyer gave a recipe (1846) for a port-wine based sauce for Boar’s Head which contains what we think of as the required citrus note in the form of Seville orange rind (along with mustard) – but he gave it a German attribution.

The “authenticity” argument will likely never be settled in the case of Cumberland Sauce. Perhaps the real question is, when did the (red)currant sauce become named for Cumberland (and was it for the English County or one of its aristocratic inhabitants – a Duke, perhaps?) There are a myriad versions of the basic idea in cookery books of the last hundred years or so. Here is one from The Times newspaper of February 7, 1938. Is is “authentic”? How far from the “traditional” version is it?

Gelée Cumberland.
A quite delicious substitute for Cumberland Sauce is Gelée Cumberland.
Take the very thinly peeled rind of an orange, a small piece of lemon peel, two tablespoonfuls of redcurrant jelly, a gill of clear soup and a teaspoon of Worcester Sauce.
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boils slowly, then strain through a bit of muslin into a small glass bowl and let it set. Serve with cold meats or ham. One chef adds a bit of ground ginger for those who like it highly seasoned.

Quotation for the Day.

I’ve been married so long I am on my third bottle of Tabasco sauce.
Susan Vass.

Monday, September 14, 2009

English Sauces.

I thought that it might be fun to have a week of on the topic of English sauces, for no other reason than I will be in the country for a little while longer yet, and the local cuisine is on my mind. I also want to question the idea that England did not (and does not) do sauces well. We are all over-familiar with the variations of the hoary old sayings about the inverse number of religions vs sauces in England compared to France [England has fifty religions and one sauce, France has one religion and hundreds of sauces]. Is it true? That is my question.

All of the ‘experts’ seem to agree: the signature English sauce is made from melted butter:

“Melted butter, we are indeed told, plays in English cookery nearly the same part as the Lord Mayor’s coach at civic ceremonies, calomel in the practice of medicine, and silver forks in fashionable novels. Melted butter is to English sauces what stock is to French soups – melted butter and eggs, melted butter and parsley, melted butter and capers, melted butter and anchovies – it is still always melted butter.”
The New Monthly Magazine, London, 1866.

Mistress Margaret Dods (the pseudonym of Christian Isobel Johnstone), in The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, (1832) was of the opinion that there were several basic classes of sauce in England, but the most important were based on butter or gravy.
On English sauces in general.
The basis, or, more correctly the vehicle of plain English sauces, is butter, whether melted, oiled, browned, or burnt; or gravy either clear brown or thickened; also water, milk, cream, and wine or some substitute. A numerous class of sauces is composed of vegetables and green fruits, another of shell fish, and a third of flavoured meat gravy.

Her contemporary, Dr William Kitchiner, in The Cook’s Oracle, (1822) agreed on the importance of butter, and gave his recipe, from which we see that he refers to what is essentially a classic white sauce started with a roux.

GOOD MELTED BUTTER cannot be made with mere flour and water; there must be a full and proper proportion of Butter. As it must be always on the Table and is THE FOUNDATION OF ALMOST ALL OUR ENGLISH SAUCES I have tried every way of making it, and I trust at last that I have written a receipt which if the Cook will carefully observe she will constantly succeed in giving satisfaction.
Melted Butter.
Keep a pint stewpan for this purpose only. Cut two ounces of butter into little bits, that it may melt more easily and mix more readily; - put it into the stewpan with a large teaspoonful (i.e. about three drachms) of Flour (some prefer Arrow Root or Potatoe Starch) and two tablespoonsful of Milk.
When thoroughly mixed, - add six tablespoonsful of water; hold it over the fire, and shake it round every minute, (all the while the same way) till it just begins to simmer , then let it stand quietly and boil up. It should be of the thickness of good cream.
Obs. This is the best way of preparing melted butter; - Milk mixes with the butter much more easily and more intimately than water alone can be made to do. This is of proper thickness to be mixed at table with Flavouring Essences, Anchovy, Mushroom, or Cavice, &c. If made merely to pour over vegetables add a little more milk to it.
N.B. If the BUTTER OILS put a spoonful of cold water to it and stir it with a spoon, - if it is very much oiled it must be poured backwards and forwards from the Stewpan to the Sauceboat till it is right again.
MEM. Melted Butter made to be mixed with flavouring Essences, Catsups, &c. should be of the thickness of light Batter, that it may adhere to the Fish &;c

Quotation for the Day.

In England three are sixty different religious sects, and only one sauce.
Francesco Caracciolo, Neapolitan Ambassador to London, attributed, c1790

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oxford John.

Today, everything going according to plan, I will be in Oxford for the annual Symposium on Food and Cookery.

There was a paucity of “London” recipes for yesterday’s theme. Not so with Oxford. With the sole criterion being that “Oxford” must be part of the name, there is much from which to chose. We have previously had Oxford Punch and Oxford Sausages, so what to have today? My favourite is “Oxford John” – an intriguing name for plain old mutton collops, cutlets, or chops. Here is one version of the recipe.

Oxford John.
Cut very thin collops from a leg of mutton, and take out all the sinews and fat; season with pepper, salt, and mace, and strew over a little parsley and two or three shalots; put a lump of butter into a stewpan, and when it is hot put in the collops; stir them with a wooden spoon till three parts done, then add half a pint of stock and a little lemon juice; thicken with flour and butter; let them simmer for four or five minutes when they will be done: put them into a dish, with the sauce, and throw fried pieces of bread cut in dice over and round them garnish: with pickles
The Imperial and Royal Cook, Frederick Nutt, 1809

To follow we will have one of the many versions of:

An Oxford Pudding.
A quarter of a pound of bisket grated, a quarter of a pound of currants clean washed and picked, a quarter of a pound of suet shred small, half a large spoonful of powder-sugar, a very little salt, and some grated nutmeg; mix all well together, then take two yolks of eggs, and make it up in balls as big as a turkey’s egg. Fry them in fresh butter of a fine light brown; for sauce have melted butter and sugar, with a little sack or white wine. You must mind to keep the pan shaking about, that they may be all of a fine light brown.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1784.

And we will finish by sharing a draught from:

The Oxford Grace Cup.
Extract the juice from the peeling of a lemon, and cut the remainder into thin slices; put it into a jug or bowl, and pour on it three half pints of strong home-brewed beer and a bottle of mountain wine; grate a nutmeg into it; sweeten it to your taste; stir till the sugar is dissolved, and then add three or four slices of bread toasted brown. Let it stand two hours, then strain it off into the Grace Cup.
Oxford Nightcaps: being a collection of receipts for making various beverages used in the University, 1835.

And hopefully we might still have sufficient appetite for Oxford Pancakes, Oxford Dumplings, Oxford Brawn (with Oxford Brawn Sauce), Oxford Pie of Soles, Oxford Cake, and Oxford Bishop (another beverage).

Quotation for the Day.

The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner.
Margaret Halsey.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

London Pudding.

I am still in London (Oxford tomorrow), so some London-themed food seems a good fun idea. I have previously given you the curious recipe for London Pie, from the curiously named cookery book of the mid-seventeenth century - Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus, by the physician to King Charles I, Theodore Mayerne, so today we must find the other dishes for our meal.

Pea soup would be appropriate for a London dinner. The the thick yellow smogs that used to plague London before the enactment of the Clean Air Laws used to be called “pea-soupers” – and in turn, the famous historic London restaurant Simpson’s in the Strand calls its pea-soup “London Particular”.

We can wash down our dinner with a draught of “London Ale” – the ale preferred by fourteenth century ale connoisseurs, if we are to believe Chaucer, who mentions it in his Canterbury Tales, and one of the beverages served at the enthronement feast of William Warham as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1504. Was it the superior quality of the Kentish hops that made London ale particularly good? Or was it the water?

We must have a London Pudding to follow the soup and pie. Here are two examples, from the year 1915.

London Pudding.
2 oz. of Allinson steamed cooked oats (to be obtained from any grocer in 2 lb. boxes), 1 large tablespoonful of sugar, ½ pint of milk, 1 oz of butter and 1 pint of custard made with Allinson custard powder. Boil the milk with the oats, butter, sugar, cook gently for 15 minutes, then pour into a pie-dish and add to the mixture 1 pint of custard made according to the recipe given, stir carefully, and bake for 1 ½ or 2 hours; let it cook for a short time before serving.
N.B. This is a most delicious pudding.
The Allinson Vegetarian Cookery Book, 1915.

London Pudding.
(For using up stale buns)
Cut the buns in two, and spread with a little jam; make into sandwiches. Lay at the bottom of a pie-dish and sprinkle with a little grated suet; then beat up two eggs with one dessertspoonful of sugar and three-quarters of a pint of milk. Pour over the buns and bake in a moderate oven. Bits of cake may be used up in the same way.
The Best Way – A Book of Household Hints & Recipes, 1915

Quotation for the Day.

It is lamentably true that, too often, has a carefully planned society dry raid been spoiled because the host noticed that one of his guests was wearing white socks with a black tie, or that the intruder was using his dessert spoon on the hors d’oeuvres.
Donald Ogden Stuart; Perfect Behaviour.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Leftover Sandwiches.

After the sandwich feast of yesterday, I thought we should consider the aftermath of an over-catering situation. Even in the best run households, sometimes there are leftover sandwiches. Even in the worst-run households of yester-year, even leftover sandwiches were not left to go to waste.

The author of one of yesterday’s sources - Something New in Sandwiches (1932) -advised that “Leftover sandwiches can be converted into dainty breakfast or supper dishes or useful everyday puddings …”. Here are a couple of her ideas for recycling the relics of your railway journey, afternoon tea-party, or picnic.

Savoury Slips.
Take fish or other savoury sandwiches, dip them in thin batter, fry golden-brown and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Savoury Balls.
Put ham or similar sandwiches through the mincer, bind with beaten egg, roll into balls, cover with breadcrumbs and fry in deep fat in a frying basket.

Here is a recipe for a batter suitable for frying leftover sandwiches, from the Cookery Gift Book (c 1920’s?)

Leftover Sandwiches.
Leftover sandwiches, whether sweet or savoury, can be utilised by dipping them in batter and frying them in deep fat.
3 oz flour, pinch of salt, 1 dessertspoonful salad oil, 1 gill warm water, 1 or 2 egg whites.
Sift the flour with the salt, make a well in the centre and pour in the oil. Then add the warm water gradually and mix to a smooth batter. Beat it well, and let it stand for an hour or so. When ready to fry the sandwiches, whisk the egg-white stiffly and fold it into the batter. Coat a few of the sandwiches with the prepared batter, and fry in deep fat till they are golden. Then drain them. Coat and fry the other sandwiches in the same way. Serve them as soon as possible, before they lost their crispness.

Quotation for the Day.

Princess was the kind of person who can fry a chicken, wrap it in cool, crisp lettuce leaves, box it, cut sandwiches, and come out of the process with an unruffled temper and an immaculate kitchen.
Edna Ferber, in Fanny Herself.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The British Railway Sandwich.

The passenger railway business began in the north of England with the opening of the Stockton to Darlington railway line on September 27, 1829. For some years the steam locomotive had been used to pull coal-wagons, but on this day, a passenger carriage carrying a number of no doubt very excited and honoured dignitaries was attached. The man they called “The Father of Railways” , George Stephenson (1781-1848) was in the driving seat on that inaugural ride.

Within a few decades railway lines criss-crossed many countries, and made it possible for many more people to become “travellers”. As we do nowadays, before setting off on a rail journey passengers could do their travel homework by reading the accounts and hints from those who had “been there, done that.” A little over two decades after Stephenson’s train line carried the north country notables on that first ride, there were already several guides to would-be passengers. Today’s advice about how to ensure one does not go hungry en route come from Hints to Railway Travellers, and country visitors to London, by an Old Stager (1852)

“Carry your own provisions, by which means you can dine when you are hungry instead of when the railway directors think you ought to be. Chickens cut up, and tongue sliced, with bread,biscuits, cakes and so on are most convenient. Don’t forget the salt. Buy sandwiches if you do buy.
The quickest Express generally gives time for drinking, but if you don t like getting out of the carriage, you can add sherry and water, or brandy and water, to the stock. Ask how long the train stops before you alight and on no account attempt to do so before it stops.”

Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches. Make or buy sandwiches became the standard advice to railway passengers. Railway refreshment room supervisors heard the call, and invented the infamous “British Railway Sandwich.”

It was some time before cookery books devoted to the sandwich were published, but when they did, some even had special sections on sandwiches suitable for railway journeys. One of those books was Something New in Sandwiches, by M. Redington White (1932). Recipes were given for sandwiches in various categories – simple savoury, special savoury, vegetarian, afternoon tea, sweet biscuit etc., and various combinations were suggested for taking onto the train.

Menus for Railway Journeys.

1. Cress, Ham, Tomato, Apple.
2. Cheddar Cheese, Beetroot, Beef, Apricot.
3. Cream Cheese, Celery, Kidney, Green Pea, Lemon.
4. Sausage, Broad Bean, Banana, Orange.
5. Egg, Roe, Lettuce, Strawberry.
6. Sole, Liver, Russian Salad, Melon.
7. Cabbage, Pork, Apple, Walnut.
8. Chicken, Asparagus, Greengage, Orange.

It is good to see that many of the books ensured that the dessert course was covered too. We have had many sandwich recipes before, but here are some sweet ideas from Salads and Sandwiches, by Mary M. Wright (Philadelphia, 1917)

Mint Sandwiches.
Pear preserves, Fresh mint, Bread and butter.
To each pint of thick pear preserves add about a fourth cupful of fresh mint chopped fine. Use as a filler between thin slices of buttered bread.

Ginger and Orange Sandwiches.
Candied orange peel, Preserved ginger, Orange juice, Ginger syrup
Chop the candied orange peel and the preserved ginger until fine, using an equal quantity of each. Mix in enough of ginger syrup and orange juice to make it of the right consistency. Spread on thin slices of bread spread with unsalted butter.

College Sandwiches.
Peanut butter, Sweet milk chocolate
Bread and butter
Grate the chocolate and stir into the peanut butter, and spread on thin slices of buttered bread. These make nourishing sandwiches that are excellent for the children’s school lunches.

Pineapple Sandwiches.
Preserved pineapple, dates, pineapple juice, Bread and Butter
Chop the preserved pineapple, and add half as much chopped dates. Mix into a paste with a little pineapple juice, or syrup from the preserved pineapple. Spread on thin slices of white or brown bread, and form into sandwiches.

Sandwich recipes can also be found at:

Quotation for the Day.

If they want to get rid of me, they'll get rid of me through British Rail
Tony Benn, September 1984

Monday, September 07, 2009

Eating in the Air, Part 2.

Today I will be travelling to London after a couple of days in Singapore, so my thoughts are on airline food. I do hope Singapore Airlines does not disappoint me.

We have had a previous post on the topic of early airline food, so today I want to continue the theme with an advertisement (circa 1967) from Trans World Airlines (TWA). Clearly, the airline knew that food was a big drawcard for customers.

Only on TWA: a choice of 7 great dinners … with the world on the side.
The TWA Royal Ambassador First Class menus are something to behold. On transatlantic flights: Broiled Filet Mignon, Curried Squab Chicken, Roast Sirloin of Beef, Roast Rib of Lamb, Poached Turbot in mushroom sauce, Maine Lobster Newburg, Sautée Chicken in sauce suprême. On non-stops coast to coast, another chance to chose from seven gourmet specialities. On all flights, the entrees are cooked to your order, right on the jet.

Robust, rich fare for the seat-bound, don’t you think? What would you have chosen?

The recipe for the day is for the classic Sauce Suprême, from one of my favourite resources - The Book of Sauces, by Charles Herman Senn, c1915

Suprême Sauce.
1 oz. butter, 1 oz. flour, 1 pint chicken stock, 1 small onion, 1 clove, ½ bay leaf, 3 oz. fresh butter, 1 tablespoonful cream, 1 yolk of egg, ½ lemon.
Make a white roux with the butter and flour, and dilute with the chicken stock. Boil up add the onion, clove, half bay-leaf, and let it simmer for fifteen minutes. Skim well, and work in the butter, cream, yolk of egg, and the juice of half a lemon. Whisk well, and pass through a tammy cloth.

[P.S. There is a 1994 menu from Air Force 1 here]

Quotation for the Day.

SAUCE, n. The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment. A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one sauce has only nine hundred and ninety-nine. For every sauce invented and accepted a vice is renounced and forgiven.
Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Traveller’s Bread

Today I set off to England, with the standard quadruple wishes of the traveller firmly in my mind. I hope the weather is kind, the natives friendly, the food delicious, and the money does not run out. As I may be having too much fun to sit at the computer, you will still be receiving these stories at the usual time each day, as they have been posted ahead. I have reserved the right to change them at any time however!

I have little fear on the food front while I am away from Brisbane. I have a couple of days in Singapore on the way over, and am aiming to sample some genuine Nonya cuisine - and the Oxford symposium food will be marvellous, as usual.

Travellers in the past often had to provision themselves for their journeys, and this week I plan to give you some samples of their efforts and ideas. To start with, I give you Traveller’s Bread – according to the author of The Pastrycook and Confectioner’s Guide (London, 1889) - a Yankee recipe. I have no idea why this is particularly useful for travellers, and the author does not offer any explanation. Perhaps it is because the “bread” needs no yeast - which is notoriously difficult to maintain in useable condition during long journeys?

Traveller’s Bread.
This favourite with the Yankees is made by mixing with 1 lb. of flour about ½ lb. of currants, dates, figs, and raisins, all of them except the currants being chopped fine.
Stir, till quite stiff, with the coldest water obtainable – iced is the best – moving the spoon briskly in order to incorporate air with it; now knead in more flour, cut into cakes or rolls about half an inch thick, and bake in a quick oven.
All these American Breads are eaten hot, being torn or broken with the hand – not cut with a knife – and either molasses or butter may be taken with them.

Quotation for the Day.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
James Michener

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Keeping the Innkeeper Honest.

We have had previous stories about sumptuary laws as they have applied to dining (here and here), but until recently I had no idea that in some areas of England in the sixteenth century the law protected the traveller from unscrupulous and greedy innkeepers and other victuallers. As I am about to set off half way around the world, getting a good meal and not been ripped off is a priority concern for me.

At the end of my trip, I will be spending a few days with a lovely cousin and her family in Norfolk. Some laws pertaining to the meals provided and charged to travellers were legislated there in 1566. They are quoted in A general history of the county of Norfolk by John Chambers, published in 1829.

The following extracts from the Mayoralty Books are curious:
1566: Whereas there hath been compalynt to Mr.Mayor and the Justices, of the excessive charges that Gentylmen, Survingmen, and other Travillers be at, when they have occasion to resort to this city, as well for their Dyett as ther Ostles howses, or at other victualling howses, as for their horses meate and grass for ther horses.
Therefor, this day, by the hole concent and adviced of this howse, yt ys ordeyned and agreed, for the Reformacion thereof, that no Inkeeper or Victuler, dwelling within this cittie, shall, from this day tyll the ffeaste of the byrthe of our Lord next comyng, take any more for a dynner or supper of any body than iiiid. [ d = pence] and to provyde for them porage or stew, with befe or mutton boyled, and a stroke of some kynde of roste, and no more; and that from the sayde ffeaste of the byrthe of the Lord until Ester then next following, to ake vd. for for a mele, and no more, and the dyet to be as before ys declared, saving in Lente. And that no Inkeeper, nor any other that use to take horses to grasse within this Cittie, from this day tyll the said ffeaste of the byrthe of our Lorde next coming, shall take above iiid. the daye and nyght for a horse, and yf he tarry but a nyght, then to take iid. and no more.

I wonder if these laws have ever been taken off the books  - will I be able to invoke the law and pay no more than fourpence for a good meal?

How to make stewed Broth either with Veale, Mutton, or Cocke.
Take it and set it on in a faire Pipkin of water, and when it is farie skimmed, take a handefull of good hearbes and put in it, and grated bread, Prunes rasons and Currans, Nutmeg, Pepper and sault, and let them boyle all together.
The Good Hous-wives Treasurie, 1588

Quotation for the Day.

The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life.
George Bernard Shaw.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Preserved Beef, Otherwayes.

Shipboard tales and travellers journeys frequently mention - in a groaning, resigned kind of way - the inevitable, eternal, indestructible salted meat that was the staple protein for officers, crew, and passengers alike. This “salt horse”, as it was not so affectionately called by sailors, was often so old and so tough and so salty that the day’s ration was often towed behind the ship on a long rope before being returned to the galley – such treatment apparently making it marginally more cookable and palatable.

Cookbooks of the time commonly contained instructions for preserving meat for long periods of time. Most commonly this was by “pickling” (ie salting), but many other methods were tried, with varying degrees of success, resulting palatability, and cost. Today I give you several choices.

The Jews Way to pickle Beef, which will go good to the West Indies, and keep a Year good in the Pickle, and with Care will go to the East Indies.
Take any piece of beef without bones, or take the bones out if you intend to keep it above a month; take mace, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper and juniper berries beat fine, and rub the beef well, mix salt and Jamaica pepper, and bay leaves; let it be well seasoned, let it lie in this seasoning a week or ten days, throw in a good deal of garlick and shalot; boil some of the best white wine vinegar, lay your meat in a pan or good vessel for the purpose, with the pickle; and when the vinegar is quite cold, pour it over, cover it close. If it is for a voyage cover it with oil and let the cooper hoop up the barrel very well. This is a good way in a hot country where meat will not keep then it muft be put into the vinegar directly with the seasoning, then you may either roast or stew it but it is best stewed; and add a good deal of onion and parsley chopped fine, some white wine, a little catchup, truffles and morels, a little good gravy, a piece of butter rolled in flour or a little oil, in which the meat and onions ought to stew a quarter of an hour before the other ingredients are put in, then put all in and stir it together, and let it stew till you think it is enough. This is good pickle in a hot country to keep beef or veal that is dressed to eat cold.
The art of cookery made plain and easy, Hannah Glasse (1747)

To Preserve Meat by Treacle.
This experiment has been successfully tried in the following manner. A gentleman put a piece of beef into treacle and turned it often. At the end of a month he ordered it to be washed and boiled, and had the pleasure to find it quite good and more pleasant than the same piece would have been in salt for that time. But the expense of this method must confine it to the opulent.
The Family Receipt Book, by Maria Rundell (1819)

To Preserve Roast Beef.
A piece of beef, on being roasted, some months since, was put into a block tin case; and the vacant space being completely filled with dripping, which covered and surrounded the meat, the top of the case was soldered on; in which state it was conveyed to Philadelphia, where it is stated to have arrived in the same perfect state as when it had been dressed.
The European Magazine And London Review, 1815

Quotation for the Day.

If we are not supposed to eat animals, how come they are made out of meat?
Tom Snyder.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

En route to South Australia.

Emigrants to the new province of South Australia in the early nineteenth century faced a gruelling voyage of many months. A previous post (several years ago) considered the shipboard victualling of a group of emigrants on their way to seek their fortunes in the newly discovered Australian gold-fields of the 1850’s. Today we find out a bit more about the arrangements for the various groups of travellers.

How comfortable the emigrant was on the journey depended on a number of factors, not the least of which was the “class” in which they travelled. There was plenty of advice available for those about to undertake the journey - and one such source was The History of the Rise and Progress of the New British Province of South Australia .. with hints to various classes of emigrants … by John Stephens, published in 1839.

There were essentially three classes of passengers: cabin, intermediate, and “free”. About the meals and provisions, the author of today’s source had a number of comments and suggestions:

“Cabin passengers mess with the captain of the ship, and are entitled to a good dinner of fresh meat every day, and every reasonable comfort; including a pint of wine, and a moderate quantity of spirits and malt liquor each person: so that no private stores are required; but a small assortment of common medicines, and a quantity of Seidlitz, soda and ginger beer powders will be found agreeable under the line, and a supply of sago, arrow-root, and groats, in case of illness, should not be omitted. A small stock of preserved meats may likewise be of service. These stores should be packed so that access can be had to them on board ship if necessary.
To those who can dispense with appearances, and particularly families, an intermediate passage is recommended, as the saving effected (except a small portion which might be expended in extra stores and comforts) would be very desirable on landing in the colony, and would amply compensate for the supposed distinction between the cabin passenger and the intermediate passenger. In such cases a few pounds might be advantageously spent in some of the following articles; viz. tea, sugar, flour, suet, and preserved fruit for puddings, bacon or ham, rice, arrow-root, carbonate of soda and tartaric acid, lime juice, half a dozen bottles of good port wine or bottled porter (a most excellent thing after sea-sickness) a few cases of preserved meats, &c. Five pounds judiciously laid out will procure a good stock of these articles, and persons disposed to be economical, or whose funds are limited may effect a considerable saving by taking their passage in this manner.”

The “free” emigrants were those, generally “from the labouring classes who have not capital enough to be landed proprietors or tenants, if young, honest, and industrious.” Their fare was paid by the emigration authorities, and the emigrants were to provide labour in the new province, and, in their turn, to provide employment for others when they became established themselves. These passengers were required to be under thirty years of age, and it was aimed to ship approximately equal numbers of men and women (for obvious reasons) on each voyage. Children (who would be a liability for the province for some time), were accepted under certain conditions, but usually a fare had to be paid for them. Each free emigrant provided their own bedding for the journey, and were expected to supply the necessary tools of their own trades. As would be expected, their victuals were not luxurious, and were and strictly rationed – but quite likely they were no worse than the usual daily fare for the urban labouring poor.

The following is the dietary for free emigrants to South Australia:- The passengers are in messes of six, or altogether, as may be determined by the surgeon superintendent, and are victualled according to the annexed scale, per head.
Bread ¾ lb daily
Meat ½ lb daily
Water 3 quarts daily
Flour ½ lb daily
Tea ¼ oz daily on alternate days
Coffee ½ oz daily on alternate days
Cocoa 1 oz daily on alternate days
Potatoes ¾ lb 4 days in the week
Suet 1 oz daily
Butter 6 oz per week
Rice 1 lb per week
Sugar ¾ lb per week
Peas 1 pint per week
Raisins ½ lb per week
Vinegar ½ pint per week
Oatmeal ½ pint per week
Mustard ½ oz per week
N.B Women receive the same rations as men; children receive rations in proportion to the charges made for their passage.
In case of illness, barley is served out; and, when the potatoes are expended, 1 oz of rice may be substituted for 3 lbs of potatoes.

It is highly likely that the free emigrants ate a lot of solid suet puddings, both plain and fruity – they were a staple back home on land, and the list of ration ingredients is suggestive. They were filling, and could be made in a number of ways, depending on available ingredients. Here is a basic recipe from the era, from A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Rundell (1833)

Baked Suet Pudding.
Boil a pint of milk; when it become cold, stir into it eight ounces of flour, and six of shred suet; add two eggs and a teaspoonful of salt. If to be plum pudding, put in eight or ten ounces of stoned raisins, and omit the salt.

Quotation for the Day.

The next time I have meat and mashed potatoes, I think I'll put a very large blob of potatoes on my plate with just a little piece of meat. And if someone asks me why I didn't get more meat, I'll just say, "Oh, you mean this?" and pull out a big piece of meat from inside the blob of potatoes, where I've hidden it. Good magic trick, huh?
Jack Handy