Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Sauces Galore.

I thought it might be interesting to look briefly at some of the ‘traditional’ sauces served with certain foods, and see how many have stood the test of time. It was tempting to go back as far as possible, but I decided on the seventeenth century as the recipes and ideas seem more accessible to many of us.

An interesting book called Panzoologicomineralogia, or, a Compleat History of Animals and Minerals … published in Oxford in 1661 gives us an interesting perspective. In the chapter on animals the author includes their use as meats, even going so far as to tell which sauces were considered appropriate for each. The specific choices were in accordance with the prevailing medical opinion of the day, which was still largely rooted in the ancient humoral theory.

As for Sawces therefore, they are either hot, serving, if the stomach want appetite, by reason of cold and raw humours furring it, and dulling the sense of feeling in its orifices, &c; are made of dill, fennel, mints, organy, parsly, dried gilliflowers, galingal, mustard seed, garlick, onions, leekes, juniper-berries, sage, time, vervain, betony, salt, cinamon, ginger, mace, cloves, nutmegs, pepper, pills of citrons, limons, and orenges, grains, cubebs, &c.mixe 1.2. or 3. of them, as need requireth, with wine or vinegar, made strong of rosemary or gilliflowers: or cold, helping the stomach and appetite, hurt by much choler, or adust and putrifyed phlegm; as those made of sorrel, lettuce, spinache, purselane, or saunders; mixt with vinegar, verjuice, cider, alegar, or water; or the pulp of prunes, apples, and currens &c. some help also for slow digestion, which is caused by coldnesse of the stomach or hardnesse of the meat, and helped by hot things; mustard therefore is to be used with beefe, and all kinds of salted flesh and fish; and onion sauce with duck, widgin, teal, and all water foule; salt and pepper with venison, and galingal sawce with the flesh of cygnets; garlicke or onions boiled in milk with stubble goose; and sugar and mustard with red deere, crane, shoveler, and bustard; and others are for temperate meats, and speedy of digestion; as pork, mutton, lamb, veale, kid, hen, capon, pullet, chicken, rabbet, partridge, and pheasant &c these therefore must have temperate sauces; as mustard and green-sauce for pork, verjuice and salt for mutton, juyce of orenges or limmons with wine, salt and sugar for capons, pheasants and partridges; water and pepper for wood-cocks; vinegar and butter, or the gravet of rosted meat with rabbets, pigeons, or chickens; for such meats, their sawces being too cold or too hot, would quickly corrupt in the stomach, being else most nourishing of their own nature; but others are to be corrected by artificial preparation, and appropriated sawce, which nature has made queazy or heavy to indifferent stomachs. These are the chief meats, sawces, or matter of Aliment ……

Now, isn’t that an impressive repertoire of sauce ingredients and sauces? There certainly some good ideas back in the good old days. Why have we forgotten some of them? Galingal doesn’t figure large in too many English recipes nowadays. And when did you last use gilliflowers in your sauce?

The recipe for the day is from Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife (1668)

To make an excellent Sauce for a rost Capon, you shall take Onions, and having sliced and peeled them, boyl them in fair water with Pepper, Salt, and a few bread crums: then put unto it a spoonful or two of claret Wine, the juyce of an Orange, and three or four slices of Lemmon peel: all these shred together, and so pour it upon the Capon being broke up.

Quotation for the Day.

What is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander, but it is not necessarily sauce for the chicken, the duck, the turkey or the Guinea hen.
Alice B Toklas.

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