Friday, March 23, 2012

Twelve Golden Rules for Women Cooks

Twelve Golden Rules for Women-Cooks.

To be hung up over every Kitchen Chimney in the Kingdom.

I.             Never Get Drunk - until the last dish be served up.
II.            Never Be Saucy - unless you happen to be in your airs and can't help it: but then, take, care to have the last word.
III.          Never Be Sulky - unless you have a great dinner to dress: your mistress will then be sure to coax you.
IV.          Never Spoil A Joint - unless you have been unjustly found fault with - (which must be the fact if you have been accused at all) in which case, if complaint be made of its having been under-done - you may, next time, roast it to a cinder; and if that should not give satisfaction - you may, the following day send it up raw.
V.            Never Get Dinner Ready At The Time It Is Ordered- unless you know that the family are not ready for it; in which case, send it up to a moment: if it be cold and spoiled, that, you know, will not be your fault.
VI.          Never Admit That You Are In The Wrong - unless the devil will so have it that you can't help it. If you should transgress your orders, stand stoutly to it -that they were such as you have followed; and if you hav'nt brass enough for that -say, you thought they were.
VII.         Never Take Snuff - unless when you are mixing a stew, or stirring the soup. Nor ever examine the latter without holding a lighted tallow-candle obliquely over the pot: if it should not enable you to see quite to the bottom, what drops from it will at least enrich the contents; and when you taste it - be sure to throw back what remains in your spoon.
VIII.       Never Wash Your Hands - until after you have made the pies: you must do it then, and to do it sooner is only to waste time and soap.
IX.          Never Give Warning To Quit Your Place - until you are quite sure that it will put the family to the greatest inconvenience, and then, be off at a moment; say, "your father's dead, or your mother's "dying, and you can't stay if it was "ever so." If warning be given to you - from that moment you may spoil everything that comes under your hands.
X.            Never Tell Tales Of The Family You Are With - unless they should be to their disadvantage: nor ever speak well of your last mistress, unless it be to contrast her with the present.
XI.          Never Cheat - unless you can do it without being discovered: but if you don't yourself cheat, never prevent others  - " your master can afford it" -  "sarvice is no inheritance" - and, "poor sarvants and tradesfolk must "live."
XII.         Never Tell A Lie - when you can get as much by telling the truth: nor ever tell the truth, when you can get more by telling a lie.
XIII.       Never Support A Sweetheart Out Of The House - unless you can't get one in.

N.B. Lest any fastidious critic, unlearned in the mysteries of the kitchen, should betray his ignorance by commenting on the number of our Rules, let it be understood, that, as at Newmarket pounds once meant guineas, so Cooks ever count by the BAKER’S DOZEN.

The rules given above are to be found in Essays, moral, philosophical, and stomachical, on the important science of good-living, (1823), by the rather mysterious and presumably pseudonymous Launcelot Sturgeon Esq. The Honourable Launcelot dedicates his book to ‘The Right Worshipful The Court of Aldermen’, and describes himself as ‘Fellow of the Beef-Steak Club, and Honorary Member of several Foreign Pic-Nics, &c., &c., &c.’ I do hope someone can tell us who he might be.

I tried, in the interests of gender equity, to find Twelve Golden Rules for Man-Cooks, but to date I have not been unable to do so. Sorry, gentlemen, you will just have to wing it for the time being. 

Launcelot makes comments about various cooking techniques, and give opinions and instructions which one hesitates to call recipes, but that nevertheless will serve that function for us today. Here he is, waxing lyrical on ‘the braise.

“The bottom of a stewpan is strewed with slices of bacon and of beef, chopped carrots, onions, celery, fine-herbs, salt, pepper, mace, and allspice: upon this bed – more fragrant than if it were of roses- is laid, in soft repose, the  joint which is the special object of your care: which is then wrapped in a downy covering of the same materials, and the curtain of the lid is cautiously closed upon it. It is then placed in the warm chamber of the portable furnace, and left to slumber in a state of gentle transpiration, under the guardian protection of a sylph of the kitchen, during as many hours a s the priestess of the temple may deem salutary. When at length it is taken up, it rivals the charm of Dianna newly risen from the bath; and when dressed in all its splendour – that is, dished with its sauce – we question whether the homage paid to the most admired beauty in the drawing-room was ever half so ardent or sincere as that which it receives when it makes its entrée at the table.”

Quotation for the Day.

As eating is the main object of life, so, dining being the most important action of the day, it is impossible to pay too great attention to everything which has any affinity to it.
Launcelot Sturgeon.

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