Our source for the week, Adam's Luxury and Eve's Cookery, or, the Kitchen-Garden display’d, (1744), has, I think, singlehandedly put to rest the myths that vegetables were essentially neglected by our ancestors, and if they were served at all, the recipes were uninspiring.
One of the other things the book demonstrates is that at the time, many of the plant foods that we consider as salad vegetables were much more likely to be cooked before serving. As a sweeping generalisation, raw vegetables and fruits were considered with some suspicion in the past as being unhealthy. Remember the story of Samuel Pepys, who believed his neighbour died from eating ‘cowcumbers’? This was the topic of my very first blog post over five years ago.
One of the other things that stands out in cookery books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is the number of recipes for cooking the vegetables that we now mostly eat raw in salads. When was the last time you had a dish of celery or cucumber cooked, as a side dish? I I am not talking about a couple of sticks of celery added to a stew, or cucumber to a stir-fry here, I am talking about these vegetables performing solo.
From our cookery book of the week, I give you a couple of ideas worth reviving.
Cellery with Cream.
Tie up your Branches and boil them tender; then cut them into Bits three Inches long, and put to them half a Pint of Cream, four Yolks of Eggs, a little Butter, and season it with Salt. Shake it together and serve it.
A Regalia of Cucumbers.
Slice twelve Cucumbers, put them in a Cloth, beat and squeeze them dry, flower and fry them brown; then add half a Gill of Claret, a little Gravy [broth], and some Salt, Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, and Butter work’d in Flower; toss them together, and serve them.
Quotation for the Day.
We can get fuel from fruit, from that shrub by the roadside, or from apples, weeds, saw-dust - almost anything! There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There is enough alcohol in one year's yield of a hectare of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the field for a hundred years. And it remains for someone to find out how this fuel can be produced commercially - better fuel at a cheaper price than we know now.
I am accustomed to having barely-cooked vegetables: peas, beans, carrots, etc.
But in a now-closed Greek Restaurant, we routinely had "stewed" vegetables - celery, beans, spinach - that ought to have been appalling, but were delicious because the braising liquid was so delicious.
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