Tuesday, May 15, 2012

School Fare, 1748.

The English theologian John Wesley (1703-1791) founded a school for the sons of Methodist ministers, near Bristol, in 1748. Kingswood school still exists, although on a different site from the original, and it now takes girl pupils. In the eighteenth century, the education of girls was a low priority, but if it was offered, it took place in the home. Perhaps those girls had a lucky escape – day to day life was tough at Kingswood.

Parents handed over all control to the school when their sons were accepted at Kingswood. There were no holidays. There was no playtime. The boys were woken at four in the morning, no matter what the season. Until eight at night they studied, prayed, and did chores. The only change in the routine was on Sunday, when there was no school (but it was not a play-day.)

There were three brief meal breaks for breakfast, dinner, and supper, but the fare was Spartan. Breakfast consisted of water porridge or milk porridge (alternate days); dinner included meat and apple puddings except on Fridays when vegetables and dumplings were served; supper was bread and butter or cheese and milk (alternate days.) Think of the school-age boys of your acquaintance, and consider how they would cope with the Kingswood routine and diet, and no parental support.

The general picture of hardship makes it difficult to avoid the assumption that the food  at the school was not provided in the abundance required and relished by growing boys, and that it was not deliciously and elegantly prepared. I suspect the ‘apple pudding’ was of the stodgy, suet-y variety, so for the recipe for the day I give you a much more appetizing version.
To make a baked Apple Pudding.
Half a pound of apples well boiled and pounded, half a pound of butter beaten to a cream, and mixed with the apples before they are cold, and six eggs with the whites well beaten and strained, half a pound of sugar, pounded and sifted, the rinds of two lemons, well boiled and beaten; sift the peel into clean water twice in the boiling, put a thin crust in the bottom and rims of your dish. Half an hour with bake it.
The Experienced English Housekeeper, (1786) by Elizabeth Raffald.

Quotation for the Day.

He receives comfort like cold porridge.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.


Mama Hen said...

Sounds appetizing, although I'd some cinnamon and nutmeg! When it says 6 eggs with the whites beaten and strained, does that mean the yolks are not used at all?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Mama Hen: I like the idea of the spices! My take on the instructions is that the yolks are added, but separately from the whites. Usually the recipes at that time specify if the yolks are to be left out.

Dale said...

This sounds pretty much like the modern recipe for Apple Amber - a yolky, lemony apple mixture in a pre-baked pastry crust with meringue piled up on top of it and cooked again on a low temperature to set the meringue.

At least that's what I think she did with the egg whites!