Monday, September 12, 2011


‘White Pot’ is - or was - a well-known dish associated with Devon, England in times past. I give you a couple of descriptions, so that you can get some sense of it:

From the Oxford English Dictionary:A dish made (chiefly in Devonshire) of milk or cream boiled with various ingredients, as eggs, flour, raisins, sugar, spices, etc.; a kind of custard or milk-pudding.

From A glossary and etymological dictionary, by William Toone, 1834: “A composition made with milk, eggs, bread, sugar, and spice, and baked in a pie: a dish peculiar to the county of Devon.

This style of pudding is not exclusive to Devon of course. Bread custards are eaten all over Britain, and are probably popular enough to qualify as a natural treasure. Why did the Devon variety have its own specific and enduring name and fame? I don’t know the answer, but perhaps the famously rich cream of Devon gave the local variety an especially rich reputation.

I came across a couple of other references to white-pot the other day which put this simple pudding into a slightly different light. The sixteenth century translation of one of the works of the Flemish physician Rembert Dodoens suggests that they may have been made from buckwheat: “The meale of Bockewheate is vsed ... to make pappe, whitpottes and... cakes of light digestion.”

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary made a mistake however when they used a quotation from Thomas Hardy’s The Trumpet Major to support their description of the pudding. The wedding dinner of Loveday and Matilda was to include “Seventy rings of black-pot, a dozen of white-pot, and twenty-five knots of tender ... chitterlings”. The context clearly shows that the ‘white-pot’ in this case refers to ‘white pudding’, or, in other words, ‘white’ sausages made with pork fat and oats or bread.

Naturally, I decided to give you a recipe for white puddings today, but my final choice is not at all what I intended.  Here is a real treat for you:

White Pudding in Skins.
After washing half a pound of rice in warm water, boil it in milk till tender. Put it into a sieve to drain, and beat half a pound of Jordan almonds very fine, with rose-water. Wash and dry a pound of currants, cut a pound of hog’s lard small, beat up six eggs, half a pound of sugar, a nutmeg grated, a stick of cinnamon, some mace, and a little salt. Mix them well together, fill the skins, and boil them.
The new London family cook: or, Town and country housekeeper's guide, by Duncan MacDonald, 1808.

So, how is that for a delicious surprise for your next dinner party or dessert menu? Sweet puddings in the guise of sausages! Guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone’s face, I would think. They would certainly be a fine finale to your White Dinner.

Quotation for the Day.
Cornwall squab-pie, and Devon white pot brings;
And Leicester beans and bacon, food of kings!
Dr King’s Art of Cookery.


Liz + Louka said...

The link to the white themed dinner doesn't work - there's some extra text in front of the http.

The Old Foodie said...

Sorry about that LIzLouka. I have fixed it. I know I should always 'test this link', but sometimes a second or two saved seems tempting!

Les said...

Thanks for the recipe. It looks delicious and is gluten free!

The Old Foodie said...

I am always on the lookout fof GF recipes too - my daughter in law has Coeliac.