Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday dinner with the Brothers.

I thought it would be interesting on this Good Friday to dine with the seventeenth century brethren at the Hospital of St.Cross. This was a hospital in the old sense of the word meaning a place for hospitality, in this case to ‘distressed travellers.’ The hospital was instituted (in England) by the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, and its history was recorded in 1868 in the Memorials of the Hospital of St. Cross and alms house of noble poverty, by Lewis Macnaughten Humbert.
Details of the meals of the brethren for the special days of the year are noted in the book, for the period 'after the restoration of the monarchy’ (specifically in 1675). I have included the whole segment so that you can see the range of food offered on all of the days, including Good Friday.

“The diet and allowances of the brethren are very minutely recorded, both for ordinary and extraordinary occasions. An extract in reference to the latter will be interesting, the more so, as it describes, with few alterations, the present custom. "That there are five Festival days in the year, to wit, - All Saints, Christmas, New Year’s day, Twelfth-day, and Candlemas-day: on which days the brethren have extra-ordinary commons, and on the eve of which days they have a fire of charcoal in the Common Hall, and one jack of six quarts and one pint of beer extraordinary, to drink together by the fire. And on the said Feast-days they have a fire at dinner, and another at supper in the said hall; and they have a sirloin of beef roasted, weighing forty-six pounds and a half, and three large mince pies, and plum broth, and three joints of mutton for their supper, and six quarts and one pint of beer extraordinary at dinner, and six quarts and one pint of beer after dinner, by the fireside; six quarts and a pint at supper, and the like after supper. And on Wednesdays before Shrove-Tuesdays at dinner every brother hath a pancake; and on Shrove-Tuesdays at dinner every brother hath a pancake besides his commons of beef, and six quarts and one pint of beer extraordinary, among them all; and at supper their mutton is roasted, and three hens roasted, and six quarts and a pint of beer extraordinary. And in Lent-time every brother hath in lieu of his commons eight shillings in money paid. And on Palm Sunday the brethren have a green fish, of the value of three shillings and fourpence, and their pot of milk pottage with three pounds of rice boiled in it, and three pies with twenty-four herrings baked in them, and six quarts and one pint of beer extraordinary. And they have on Good Friday, at dinner, in their pot of beer a cast of bread sliced, and three pounds of honey, boiled altogether, which they call honey sop.”

So, honey-sop for Good Friday. Sounds good, doesn’t it? There was no shortage of honey in religious houses on the time – bees were kept primarily to supply wax for candles, and honey was the useful by-product.

I am not going to give you a ‘recipe’ for honey sops, because the text above explains it (‘sops’ are simply pieces of bread soaked in a liquid; it is the word from which we get ‘soup.’) Honey is still the theme however, and I really cannot resist the following recipe for an interesting variation of honey mead.

Walnut Mead.
Put seven pounds of honey to every two gallons of water, and boil it three quarters of an hour. To every gallon of liquor put about twenty-four walnut leaves, pour your liquor boiling hot over them, and let it stand all night. Then take out the leaves, and pour in a cupful of yeast, and let it work two or three days and then make it up. Let it work two or three days and then make it up. After it has stood three months bottle it cork it tight and keep it for use
The accomplished housekeeper, and universal cook, by T. Williams (1797)

Quotation for the Day.
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.
Mahatma Ghandi.

1 comment:

Marcheline said...

Ghandi had obviously heard about the South Beach dieters. *wink*