Today I am heading off for a few days in Sydney, to cheer on my daughter as she competes in a half-marathon. And to have some peripheral fun too, of course (shopping, eating, etc). I thought I would start the fun by keeping to a ‘Sydney’ theme this next couple of days, and the first thing my memory turned up was a recipe for ‘Veal-Sydney’ from Eliza Acton’s classic Modern Cookery for Private Families, published in 1845.
I have long been intrigued by the name of the dish, but have absolutely no idea where it comes from, or what it means. Miss Acton’s exact recipe is repeated in a couple of other nineteenth century cookery books, but the only other version I have come across is in the Manchester Times (Manchester, England) in May, 1886 – and it is essentially an abbreviated version of the former. I have also seen the dish is listed on one menu from 1897. Other than these miserable gleanings, it remains a mystery.
Anyone out there have any ideas? Cockney rhyming slang for ‘steak and kidney’ is ‘Kate and Sydney’, but there is no kidney in this dish, and even if there were, it would be a bit of a credibility stretch to think that was the basis for the name. Here is the recipe. I eagerly await your insightful comments, informed opinions, and wild guesses as to the origin of the name.
Pour boiling on an ounce and a half of fine bread crumbs nearly half a pint of good veal stock or gravy, and let them stand till cool; mix with them then, two ounces of beef suet shred very small, half a pound of cold roast veal carefully trimmed from the brown edges, skin, and fat, and finely minced; the grated rind of half a lemon, nearly a teaspoonful of salt, a little cayenne, the third of a tea-spoonful of mace or nutmeg, and four well beaten eggs. Whisk up the whole well together, put it into a buttered dish, and bake it from three quarters of an hour to an hour. Cream may be used instead of gravy when more convenient, but this last will give the letter flavour. A little clarified butter put into the dish before the other ingredients are poured in will be an improvement.
Bread crumbs 1 ½ oz; gravy or cream, nearly ½ pint; beef suet 2 oz; cold veal ½ lb; rind of ½ lemon; salt, small teaspoonful; third as much mace and nutmeg; little cayenne; eggs 4 large or 5 small; ¾ to 1 hour.
Mix one and a half ounce of breadcrumbs with half a pint of gravy, two ounces of beef suet, half a pound of cold veal, half the grated rind of a lemon, a small teaspoonful of salt, one-third as much each of mace and nutmeg, and a fourth of cayenne pepper, and four eggs. Bake one hour.
Manchester Times, 1886
Quotation for the Day.
God sendeth and giveth both mouth and meat.
Thomas Tusser (1524-1580)