In a post last week we had a recipe for a Pupton of Apples. It consisted of a heavily sweetened apple puree to which egg yolks, bread crumbs, and butter were added, the mixture then being baked, and after baking it was turned out onto a serving dish. Many of us were left confused as to what qualified this dish as a ‘pupton.’
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pupton as deriving from the French poupeton - a ‘kind of ragout or pâté made with minced meat’. Further etymological explanation is limited. The word may related to the Italian polpettone (a large meatball or rissole), or the French poulpe (fleshy tissue), but other confusions are hinted at elsewhere in the dictionary. The Italian polpettone became pulpatoon in English, and the OED defines this as ‘a dish made of rabbits, game birds, etc., in a crust of forcemeat’, and notes that it is ‘apparently sometimes confused with pupton.’
There is nothing in any of the explanations so far that hints of our apple dish, although by the early eighteenth century a pupton or poupeton was broadly interpreted as ‘a baked dish made with meat or fruit.’ Sometimes it could be described as ‘a Mess made in a Stew-pan, as it were a Pie, with thin slices of Bacon laid underneath; Pigeons, Quails, or other sorts of Fowl dress'd in a Ragoo in the middle; and a peculiar Farce or Dish of stuff'd Meat called Godivoe on the top; the whole to be bak'd between two gentle Fires’, and sometimes it was a fruit dish, thickened with breadcrumbs as in the Pupton of Apples which started this discussion.
I admit to still being confused, and will prove it by giving you a recipe for a pulpatoon – or maybe it is a pupton?. It is from The Compleat Housewife, by E.Smith (1736)
To make a Pulpatoon of Pigeon.
Take mushrooms, palates, oysters, sweetbreads, and fry them in butter; then put all these into a strong gravy; give them a heat over the fire, and thicken with an egg and a bit of butter; then half roast six or eight pigeons, and lay them in a crust of forc’d meat, as follows: scrape a pound of veal and two pounds of marrow, and beat it together in a stone mortar; after it is shred very fine; then season it with salt, pepper, spice, and put in hard eggs, anchovies, and oysters; beat all together and make the lid and sides of your pie of it; first, lay a thin crust in your pattipan, then put in your forc’d-meat, then lay an exceedingly thin crust over it, then put in your pigeons and other ingredients, with a little butter on top.
Quotation for the Day.
Food probably has a very great influence on the condition of men. Wine exercises a more visible influence, food does it more slowly but perhaps just as surely. Who knows if a well-prepared soup was not responsible for the pneumatic pump or a poor one for a war?
Georg C. Lichtenberg