Almost all of the menu-a-day cookery books which have been published since the early nineteenth century forget entirely the poor folk who have a birthday or some other anniversary on February 29th (I am thinking of my brother and sister-in-law whose wedding anniversary it is today.)
One author who did not forget was the French aristocrat-turned-food columnist, the Baron Brisse, who wrote 366 Menus and 1200 Recipes of the Baron Brisse, in 1868. The menu indicates that the date was a fast day in that year. I give you the dinner menu for the day and a recipe from the English translation of 1896.
BILLOF FARE FOR FAST DAY.
Purée of green peas and rice.
Cod à la Hollandaise.
Pickled cabbage and oysters.
Vegetable salad with smoked salmon.
Blanc-mange of almonds.
Blanch one pound of sweet almonds and half an ounce of bitter almonds, soak in cold water, so as to make them perfectly white, pound in a mortar and moisten gradually with two pints of milk, squeeze through a cloth into a bowl. Dissolve two ounces of gelatine and three quarters of a pound of sugar in a pint and a half of water, when cold add to the milk of almonds, flavour with a little orange-flower water, pour into a mould, and place in the refrigerator for two hours, by which time it will have set.
Quotation for the Day.
In cookery, above all things, “Nothing can come of nothing.”