Friday, September 10, 2010

At a Sicilian Coffee House.

I have been hoarding today’s little gem for some time. The wait has been worth it, for there is always some extra value when the story can begin with the intriguing phrase ‘On This Day.’

The bill of fare of a coffeehouse in Palermo on this day in 1806 was considered interesting enough to be described in The Times some months later.

In the Coffeehouse of M.Francis Geraci in Centorinara’s street num. 98, at Palermo, a Company of four people served with three dishes of meat and poultry eight dishes of sausage, cheese, olives, fruits, greens, &c. for desert, bread, and two bottles of wine, will pay six dollars.
If the people were more than the said four, every person exceeding that number will pay one dollar.
A company of four people served with six dishes of Meat & poultry, sixteen dishes of sausage, cheese, olives &c, for deserts, bread, two bottles of wine, a dish of sweet-meats, ice, and coffee, will pay two dollars.
If the company would have more things than the above-mentioned, they will pay according to the following prices.
Lionell-wine, Port-wine, Canaries-wine, Malaga-wine &c half a Dollar for every bottle.
Moscato-wine & Mulvassi-wine (these are sweet wines) two shillings a bottle.
A large Cup of Cofee with milk & sugar, six pence.
A little cup of coffee with sugar, one penny.
A Glass of ice of any kind six pence.
Biscuits half a penny each.
A Dish of sausage one Shilling.
A Bottle of Rosolio of Pugioli, of several kinds, half a Dollar.
A small bottle of Rosolio of the same Geraci one shilling.
Those people then, which will have a dinner as before has been mentioned, must advise the said Geraci at least one hour before, in order that he could dress it, & they must leave some money, in order that in case, they should miss their engagement, the said money will remain to Geraci to amend for the loss he will suffer for the dinner left him.
                    Palermo, Sicily, Sept. 10, 1806

Italian Biscuit.
Beat the whites of nine eggs to a froth, then put in the yolks and beat them; add a pound and a half of fine sugar, beaten and sifted, and a pound and a half of fine flour, putting in a little at a time, till it is all in; beat it well for an hour, drop it on wafer paper, with a few caraway comfits on the top; shake a little sugar over it, and bake it in a quick oven; for if it is slow, they will run.
Every Woman Her Own House-keeper: or, the ladies’ library … by John Perkins,

(Note – In 1806, the instruction to ‘beat it all well for an hour’ meant ‘beat by hand’!)

If you are keen to know more about Sicilian food, I can do no better than refer you to my friend Marisa's blog, All Things Sicilian and More.

Quotation for the Day.

A tavola non si invecchia (You don't age while seated for a meal.)
Italian proverb.


Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Great post. Well written and very engaging. I've bookmarked your blog and am looking forward to reading your updates.

Sharlene T. said...

That was definitely worth waiting for... thank you so much for your efforts and sharing... now, if we could just bring those prices forward... come visit when you can...