Wednesday, November 03, 2010

An Unusual Dinner Venue.

A ‘celebrated ale brewer’ of London gave a dinner to his customers on this day in 1804, in a most unusual venue that would never be used again for such an event. Messrs. Stretton and Smith had just taken delivery of a copper ‘of a most astonishing magnitude’, and the guests – all 769 of them – sat down at tables and benches set ‘amphitheatrical style’ inside the vessel itself.

The bill of fare was:

2 Buttocks of Beef, weighing each 84 lbs.
9 Dozen of roasted and boiled Ducks.
22 Tongues
11 Dozen of roasted and boiled Fowls
17 Hams
5 Dozen fat geese, roasted and boiled
136 Dozen of wine of all sorts.
12 barrels of famous Ale and Porter galore.

In the new mash tub adjoining the copper (and also of large magnitude) 304 draymen were feasted equally sumptuously. The newspaper report noted that

“… after all hands had taken their skinfulls, in the most harmonious and convivial manner, one of the jolly donors rose up, thanked them for their company with a most beautiful panegyric on the efficacy of wholesome ale, and concluded by roaring out like a stentor “Gentlemen, hold up your copper faces.” Since then, we understand that all those who have dined in the copper are dignified with the pleasant appellation of Copper-face.”

Recipe for the Day.

The yeast from ale and beer-making was important to home bakers right up until the mid-nineteenth century as a rising agent for bread and cakes. There is a legacy of this perhaps, in modern recipes for beer batter.

From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1802), by John Mollard, I give you:

To prepare a Batter for frying the following different articles, being a sufficient quantity for one Dish.
Take four ounces of best flour sifted, a little salt and pepper, three eggs, and a gill of beer; beat them together with a wooden spoon or a whisk for ten minutes. Let it be of a good thickness to adhere to the different articles.

Fried Celery.
Cut celery heads three inchs long; boil them till half done, wipe them dry and add to the batter. Have ready boiling lard, take out the heads singly with a fork, fry them of a light colour, drain them dry, and serve them up with fried parsley under.

Fried Artichoke Bottoms.
Let the chokes be boiled till the leaves can be taken away, then cut the bottoms into halves and fry them in batter as the beforementioned articles; then serve them up with melted butter in a sauceboat with a little ground pepper in it.

Quotation for the Day.

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery, and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself “It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.”
Jack Handy.

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