Yes, the "HP" in "HP sauce" - Britain's famous spicy brown condiment - does stand for "Houses of Parliament", which explains the famous image of the building on the label. The name was registered in 1895 by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham, England. There are a couple of theories about the name, and one day I will try to unravel the truth.
The popular story is that Garton heard that the restaurant in the Houses of Parliament were serving the sauce, and so, quite sensibly, he decided to capitalise on the connection and so re-named his sauce. The other story is that he had purchased the original recipe from a man called Harry Palmer ("H.P") - the original name being "Harry Palmer's Famous Epsom Sauce", and the connection with the Houses was just too good a marketing opportunity.
An alternative truth is that the name was launched in 1903 by Edwin Sampson Moore, who bought the recipe from Garton, for £150 - Garton needing the money to settle some debts. I should mention that a variation of the first variation of the story is that it was Palmer who had the debts, hence his sale to Garton.
See how complicated history is? And we are only talking of a deal made a little over a hundred years ago. I have earmarked this puzzle for future research, but it is at the bottom of a very long list.
The recipe I have chosen for the day is an example of the ubiquity of commercial sauces as ingredients in British cookery. In this particular recipe it is not HP, but ‘Cre-fydd sauce’ that is the flavour addition. It is from The young housewife's daily assistant: on all matters relating to cookery and housekeeping (1864.)
Braised Fowl And White Sauce, With Braised Beef And Chestnuts.
Procure the following articles: - A fine fowl trussed for boiling, one pound and a half of the upper side of the round of beef, three-quarters of an inch thick, six rashers of ribs of bacon, the third of an inch thick (without bone or skin), butter, milk, a gill of cream, garlic, shalots, one carrot, one head of celery, fifteen chestnuts, two lemons, oil, &c. &c. Mix together a tablespoonful of salad oil, the strained juice of a lemon, a saltspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of white pepper, a grain of cayenne, a saltspoonful of flour of mustard, the eighth part of a nutmeg, grated, a piece of garlic the size of a pea, bruised, and three tablespoonfuls of 'Cre-fydd Sauce.' Rub this well into the beef, and let it remain (closely-covered) for twenty-four hours. Clean and cut up small, the heart of the celery, the carrot, and two shalots. Put them into a stewpan with an ounce of butter. Lay in the beef, pour over the sauce, and three-quarters of a pint of cold water. Place the fowl upon the beef, with two ounces of butter spread over the breast, and the bacon laid over that. Peel the chestnuts with a sharp knife, and lay them round the fowl. Boil up quickly, baste the fowl with the gravy, then simmer as gently as possible for two hours and a half. Mix a tablespoonful of baked flour into half a pint of new milk; boil ten minutes; add the cream; place the fowl on a hot dish, with the bacon round it, pour the white sauce over. Lay the beef on a hot dish ; pour over the gravy and vegetables; add the strained juice of a lemon, and send both dishes to table immediately.
Note.—If you have no Cre-fydd sauce, use instead a tablespoonful of port wine, a teaspoonful of soy, a teaspoonful of brandy, and a saltspoonful of chutney.
Quotation for the Day.“Be not angry or sour at table; whatever may happen put on the cheerful mien, for good humor makes one dish a feast.”