Monday, May 09, 2011

Vegetarianism, 17th C Style.

Thomas Tryon (1634 -1703) was an interesting man for his time – or for any time, for that matter. He was the archetypal self-taught, self-made man who rose from poor beginnings to become a successful businessman (in the hat industry) and widely-read author (especially of books that we would now call ‘self-help.’) He seems to have espoused every possible ethical cause of the time: temperance, pacifism, animal rights, and anti-slavery.

Tryon was also a vegetarian, (although it would be several centuries before the phrase was invented) which was certainly not a common choice in the seventeenth century, for those in a position to choose. He believed that man should not be careless of what goes into his mouth, because essentially – he is what he eats. Here are his words on the subject:

“Likewise this Prince, the Taste or Pallate hath another powerful Officer placed in this great Gate the Mouth, or common Road that leads into the Metropolitan or Human City, which is called the Expulsive Faculty, by whose Innate power it can, at the command of its Superior Prince the Tafte or Pallate, immediatley Expel or Spit forth, (and that with great vigour) what Meat, Drink or other thing is distafteful or unpleasing to the Pallate or Sense of Tasting, so wonderfully hath our Creator guarded the Gate, Road or common Passage, that nothing might pass into the Body or Stomach but only what is proper and agreeable to sustain and preferve the Human Nature in a due regular Temperature and Union.
For if this Gate or common Passage be kept from being violated or forced upon, by Adulterers and Thieves, and that no unclean thing enters, then all the whole Body and Mind is Sound, Healthy, and free from all cloudy Burthensom Diseases.
But on the other side, if the Prince the Pallate, or Superior Officer be adulterated, and hath by intemperance and improper Meats and Drinks lost its intire and natural Taste or true distinguising Power, then presently all the under-graduated Officers and Centinels are thereby made heavy, sleepy, dull, idle, careless and impure, and then this great or wonderful Gate or Road stands open to all Intruders, and there is no Uncleanness nor Intemperance that is withstood but all Viciousness doth freely pass without any Examination of the said Officers or sentinels so that the Human City must needs be Defiled, Wounded and Distempered."

Tryon did not write cookery books, but one of his works is particularly relevant to this blog. It was published in 1696, and its extended title was:

Wisdom’s Dictates: or Aphorisms and Rules, Physical, Moral, and Divine; For Preserving the Health of the Body and the Peace of the Mind, fit to be regarded and practiced by all that would enjoy the Blessings of the present and future World.
To which is added, A Bill of Fare Of Seventy five Noble Dishes of Excellent Food, far exceeding those made of Fish or Flesh, which Banquet I present to the Sons of Wisdom, or such as shall decline that depraved Custom of Eating Flesh and Blood.

My plan for the remainder of this week is to troll through these ‘seventy five noble dishes of excellent food’, and see what we make of them in the twenty-first century. To start with however, I give you a recipe from a very early ‘vegetarian’ cookery book called Primitive Cookery: or, the Kitchen Garden display’d. Containing a Collection of Receipts for preparing a great Variety of Cheap, healthful and palatable Dishes without either Fish, Flesh, or Fowl, published in 1691. Please note that the book is not exclusively vegetarian in the modern sense – it contains at least one recipe which uses ‘mutton-gravy.’

Artichoke Soup.
Wash the bottoms of the artichokes, and boil them in blanched water, putting in a large piece of butter, kneaded up with a little flour and salt. When they are boiled, take them out, mash them through a sieve, as you do pease; then let them simmer in a stew-pan over a gentle fire, putting in butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cloves pounded in a mortar, also a bunch of young onions, thyme, and a bay leaf. When it is almost ready, pound in a mortar some blanched sweet almonds, candied lemon peel, biscuits, bitter almonds, yolks of hard eggs, sugar, and a little orange-flower water; put this to your soup, set it a little over the fire, then serve it.

Quotation for the Day.

Let none of your food be attended with the dying Groans of the innocent Creatures.
Thomas Tryon, 1691


Marcheline said...

I never knew you could blanch water. I'm not even sure how you could tell when it was done.

The Old Foodie said...

I am not sure either, but I took it to mean water brought to the boil. Maybe you can tell when the blanched water is done when it toasts a piece of bread perfectly :)

Fay said...

I think he means a blanc. He goes on to describe it in the next sentence - boiling water, add salt, whisk in some flour maybe some lemon juice and a few herbs and cook the artichokes in that. Supposed to stop them going grey.

The Old Foodie said...

I do think you might be right there, Fay!

quicktragona said...

hola como esta,? me encantan las recetas de esparragos busco siempre nuevas y diferentes, ya que los estamos consumiendo mucho por que tiene propiedades curativas para el cancer de prostata, mi esposo lo come 3 veces al dia, buena receta gracias y saludos.

Kelsey said...

Could you please tell me about the date for the Primitive Cookery book? The earliest I can find for it is 1744. 1691 is the year the first edition of Tryon's Wisdoms Dictates was published.
Thanks for any help you can offer!