I am delighted to be in Oxford right now for the annual symposium on food and cookery. One of the highlights is the food. The meals are designed to fit the theme of the symposium - which this year is 'Celebrations' - and are certain to be superbly planned and executed. I will report on the actual meals next week.
In previous years I have given you stories with an Oxford theme during this few days, but today I am going to give you an idea of catering on a completely different scale and quality to that which I will be offered here during the symposium.
Here is the daily bill of fare for the Prussian army during the 'Danish War' of 1848. This amount was for 18,000 men - the hay, straw, and oats presumably being for their horses.
Beef, 20,700 lbs.
Rice, 5200 lbs.
Salt, 1400 lbs.
Bacon, 5200 lbs. (or 2650 lbs. of butter.)
Bread (common), 40,000 lbs.
Do. (white), 1400 lbs.
Sugar, 100 lbs.
Wine, 350 bottles.
Brandy, 5100 bottles.
Cigars (fine), 3300.
Do. (common), 100,000.
Hay, 16,500 lbs.
Straw, 19,800 lbs.
Oats, 325 barrels.
"From which it appears that the Prussian soldier requires forhis private smoking, besides the weed in its grosser form, six cigars a day."
I have had more than my share of computer/iPad/Safari/Blogger problems recently - and they are ongoing (I patiently await some feedback from Blogger), so am going to take the easy option in relation to the recipe for the day. I have not sourced a military recipe for beef and bacon stew with rice. Instead, I give you a completely unrelated, but nontheless interesting recipe from a cookery book published in the year in question - 1848. 'Skins' are sausage skins - that is, animal guts.
After cleaning your skins well, and turning them out, which you do by inserting the meat at the one end, it gradually turns as you fill, so the wrong side must be out when you begin; take of oatmeal what quantity you want; add about half as much suet, plenty of pepper and salt, and a little weak soup of any kind; tie them at short distances; then boil for two hours; they will keep any length of time, if hung up and kept dry; cut and heat them as you want them, either in the Dutch oven, or hy boiling them.
SKIN PUDDINGS WITH CURRANTS.
Clean your skins well, as above; grate a quantity of bread, mix it with about half as much suet, currants, spice, and sugar, the grate of a lemon, and a little nutmeg, a glass of sweet wine, and water; then fill the skins as in the last receipt, and ready in the same way, first boiling, and then heating up as you require them: the skins should be pricked with a large needle, to prevent them bursting. Some people add apples.
The young cook's assistant: being a selection of economical receipts and directions, adapted to the use of families in the middle rank of life; (1848)