Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Polite Management of the Kitchen.

I have been revisiting one of my favourite cookery books recently. It is A collection of above three hundred receipts in cookery, physick, and surgery, for the Use of all Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and Careful Nurses, by Mary Kettilby, published in 1714.

Now there is a book title we are not likely to see recycled any time soon - the modern ‘good wife or tender mother’ would not find much medical or surgical advice in the modern cookery book!
The lengthy preface includes the following insights:

The Directions relating to COOKERY are Palatable, Useful, and Intelligible, which is more than can be said of any now Publick in that kind ; some great Masters having given us Rules in that Art so strangely odd and fantastical, that 'tis hard to say, Whether the Reading has given more Sport and Diversion, or the Practice more Vexation and Chagrin, in spoiling us many a good Dish, by following their Directions. But so it is, that a Poor Woman must be laugh'd at, for only Sugaring a Mess of Beans ; whilst at Great Name must be had in Admiration, for Contriving Relishes a thousand times more Distastful to the Palate, provided they are but at the same time more Expensive to the Purse. 

The author hopes that the book will instruct ‘Young and Unexperienced Dames’ in ‘the Polite Management of their Kitchins, and the Art of Adorning their Tables with a Splendid Frugality.’ What a marvellous sentence, and a marvellous sentiment! Methinks the world would be a better place for the reinstatement of the concepts of polite management of the kitchen, and adorning the table with splendid frugality.

From the book, my recipe choice today is:

To Dress Hogs Feet and Ears, the best Way.
WHEN they are nicely clean'd, put them into a Pot, with a Bay-leaf, and a large Onion, and as much Water as will cover them; season it with Salt and a little Pepper; bake them with Houshold-Bread; keep them in this Pickle 'till you want them, then take them out and cut them in handsome pieces; fry them, and take for Sauce three spoon-fulls of the Pickle; shake in some Flower, a piece of Butter, and a spoon-full of Mustard: lay the Ears in the middle, the Feet round, and pour the Sauce over.

Quotation for the Day.

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
Laurie Colwin.


Carolina said...

I love the title pages, prefaces, and such in historic cookbooks. Brevity was so NOT the strong suit of those authors! But they do provide us with a snapshot of the times, as well as with some great reading material. HUZZAH!

Marcheline said...

Well said, Laurie Colwin.