Thursday, April 05, 2012

An Easter Pickle.

Today, the day before Good Friday, is, according to the Christian calendar, Maundy Thursday – otherwise known as Holy Thursday or Green Thursday. Previous posts on Maundy Thursday (here and here) explain the day and the traditions, but it is worth quickly summarising the theories about the name before we move on to the recipe for the day.

The most commonly accepted theory is that the name derives from the first word of the Latin Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos ("A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you.") The phase is sung during the traditional ceremony in which a bishop or priest or royal personage (or his/her agent) represents Christ’s washing of the feet of the apostles, and performs the same service to a token number of the poor.

Alternatively, the name derives from the French mendier (and the English maund) which means to beg (think of the word ‘mendicant’ for beggar.) In this context, the word references the Maundy or Maundsor baskets or purses which held the alms given to those selected poor folk by the English king or queen on this day.

Enough on words. I came across an interesting recipe in The Times of May 23, 1938 which purports to be taken from manuscript of stillroom recipes. I can only assume the connection is that the pickle would liven up the meagre fare on the last couple of days of Lent.

Maundy Pickle.
Chop together very finely one pound of peeled apples, one pound of peeled cucumbers, half a pound of onions. When well mixed spread on a dish and sprinkle with half a  pound of salt. Let it remain for 24 hours, stirring it now and then with a wooden spoon. Then put it into a colander and press it down with a weight to extract all the water. After this has been carefully done tip it into a jar and cover it with vinegar. Add half an ounce of black ground pepper, a small spoon of cayenne, and four ounces of salt. When carefully mixed, bottle. It can be eaten after a fortnight.

Quotation for the Day.

The very thought of them, like the smell, is offensive....But whatever other uses are made of the cucumber, I entreat the reader not to use it in the form of pickles. These, of almost all the forms of vegetable substances, seem to me worst adapted to the human stomach; and I cannot but hope will be shunned by every reader. 
The Young House-keeper, by William Andrus Alcott (1846)

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