I have just returned to my temporary London home after a wonderful couple of days with my Norfolk cousins. It was a sunny green interlude after the noise and pace (and museums and galleries and shops and fun) of the Big City, and I greedily wish I could have stayed longer.
I have given you 'Norfolk' stories during previous visits, but to search and link to all of them would be far too tedious on holiday, so I merely remind you of Norfolk Dumplings and The Duke of Norfolks' Pudding. What to tell you about today?
The hospitality I have enjoyed this last couple of days got me to thinking of the word itself. It is, of course, from the same root as the word 'hospital'. A hospital was originally not an exclusively medical institiution, but one where hospitality was offered - especially to travellers or to the unfortunate, such as the aged or poor.
There was in Norfolk's major cathedral city of Norwich, from medieval times, a charitable institution called St Giles' Hospital (or the Great Hospital). In the eighteenth century it was still providing hospitality to some of the poor of the city, and the Records of Norwich give the bill of fare provided for these guests in 1732:
"On the North Side in this Room, as also at the East End, in the lower Chamber belonging to the Women, is a Written Table containing a Bill of Fare for the poor People in this Hospital ; as settled at a Court of Mayoralty, March 24. 1732. which is as follows,
On Sunday in the Morning four Ounces of Bread, one Ounce of Butter, and a pint of Beer. At Noon half a pound of Beef, a Pint of Broth, four Ounces of Bread, and a Pint of Beer.
At Night and every Night in the Week, four Ounces of Bread, two Ounces of Cheese, and a Pint of strong Beer. They that love not Cheese, to have one Ounce of Butter; And every Night in the Week to have the same Fare.
On Monday in the Morning a Half-penny Loaf, one Ounce of Butter, and a Pint of Beer. At Noon half a pound of Baked Pudding, four Ounces of Bread, one Ounce of Butter, and a Pint of Beer.
On Tuesday the same as on Sunday.
On Wednesday in the Morning, the same as on Monday. At Noon a Pint of Milk-Broth, four Ounces of Bread, and a Pint of Beer.
On Thursday the same as on Sunday. . . ~ . .
On Friday in the Morning, the same as on Monday. At Noon a Pint of Furmety, four Ounces of Bread, an Ounce of Butter, and a Pint ot Beer.
On Saturday in the Morning, the same as on Sunday. At Noon a Pint of Milk Broth, four Ounces of Bread, an Ounce of Butter, and a Pint of Beer.
From Michaelmas to Lady-day, Pease-porridge instead of Furmety, Mutton for Dinner upon Easter Day, Ascension, Whitsunday, All Saints, Christmas, Epiphany, Shrove Sunday, and Lady day."
I hardly need say that this diet is in great contrast to the one I enjoyed myself during my sojourn in Norfolk, and to emphasise this I give you a very tasty idea from The lady's own cookery book, and new dinner-table directory; Lady Charlotte Campbell Bury (1844)
Take four gallons of the best rum; pare a dozen lemons and a dozen oranges very thin; let the pulp of both steep in the rum twenty-four hours. Put twelve pounds of double-refined sugar into six gallons of water, with the whites of a dozen eggs beat to a froth; boil and scum it well; when cold, put it into the vessel with the rum, together with six quarts of orangejuice, and that of the dozen of lemons, and two quarts of new milk. Shake the vessel so as to mix it; stop it up very close, and let it stand two months before you bottle it.
This quantity makes twelve gallons of the Duke of Norfolk's punch. It is best made in March, as the fruit is then in the greatest perfection
There are very similar receipts (recipes) for Norfolk Punch in various published American cookbooks. What I found amazing, tho, is that it's also in (at least) not one, but TWO American manuscript cookbooks. One is in the book of a Charles Town (Charleston), SC plantation housewife, written in 1770, and the other is in the early 1800s manuscript of a housewife who lived in the country outside Albany, NY. And I just recently made a similar rum punch. Mine had no eggs, tho. I tell you, paring those lemons seemed to take forever!
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