Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notable Things about Fowl.

Yesterday we received some interesting insight into historical methods of prolonging the life of fresh food from the book of the week (A Thousand Notable Things, 1815, original version late sixteenth century). One of those methods was for keeping fowl meat fresher for longer, in the time well before refrigeration. The threat of salmonella and other unpleasant bugs springs to the forefront of the mind today, but in 1815 the public (and the scientific community) lived in blissful ignorance of microbes, as it was still several decades away from Louis Pasteur’s seminal work, and the development of Germ Theory.

I wondered what else the book had to say about the preparation of fowl for the table.

Out of the Fig Tree there comes such a sharp Vapour, that if a Hen be hanged thereon, it will so prepare her that she will be soon and easily roasted. Plut. And the like will be if the feathers be plucked off from the Fowls, and then laid or covered a day or two in a heap of Wheat. - It is confirmed by experience, saith Mizatdus

How to tell if it is boiled enough:

If the bottom of a Seething Pot, with Meat, newly taken from the fire, may be touched or felt without harm or danger of burning, then certainly the same Meat is boiled enough; but if it be hot, and not sufferable, then it is not sufficiently sod. This I know to be true, for I have seen the trial thereof.

Quotation for the Day.

As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets, I'll take roast chicken and dumplings.
Hattie McDaniel


Hungry Passport said...

Thanks for this entry! I love reading old accounts of how to cook. We're so accustomed to our digital thermometers, timers and single-job gadgetry that it's a pleasure to be reminded of how things used to be done--and done quite well without all the fancy equipment. It's also helpful to know about these techniques so we won't short circuit if the thermometer dies at a crucial point.

Not to be too self-promoting here, but I had the opportunity to peruse some 100+ year old cookery books, and I made a few notes in my blog on them--not that many of us will butcher our own terrapin or puzzle over when to slaughter a hog! If you're interested the link is

Thanks again! Carol

Elizabeth said...

I'm giving you the Sunshine Award!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Hungry Passport: I agree - cookbooks are a great history resource!
Thanks Elizabeth, I am honoured!