Friday, July 20, 2012

Garlic and Gillyflowers.

Once again, I want to steal some gems from Panzoologicomineralogia (1661) – that wonderful seventeenth century source on all things zoological, mineralogical, and botanical. In previous posts (here, and here) I focused on the suggestions for various sauces, and today I want to continue with the theme. I have selected a few of the author’s comments on fish, and do hope you enjoy them.

Lobster: clove and gilly-floure vin[e]gar is their best sauce; also buttered with vinegar and pepper they give strong nourishment to an indifferent stomach.

Sea Hauke. Aquila marina. .... Hath a moist and soft flesh ... and rank, therefore to be eaten with alliate sauce. Its an unpleasant fish, and not sweet, therefore only eaten by poor people.

Salmon: they are best sod [boiled] in wine vinegar and salt, or else parboild, being cut into pieces and stuck with cloves, broild upon a gridiron, basted with butter, and served in with sauce made of vineger, cinamon, and sugar.

There are some interesting ideas here for sauces to serve with fish. For lobster, the author appears to suggest ‘clove and gilly-flower vinegar’, suggesting two ingredients. It may be that he meant only the single ingredient of the ‘clove gillyflower’ (Dianthus caryophyllus), or Clove pink – a clove-scented variety of the Carnation.  This flower was widely used in recipes and herbal remedies in the past - a gillyflower sauce for beef was noted in Wynken de Worde’s Book of Kerynge [Carving] (1508.)

Gillyflower Vinegar.
Gillyflowers infused in Vinegar and set in the Sun for certaine dayes, as we do for Rose Vinegar do make a very pleasant and comfortable vinegar, good to be used at times of contagious sickness, and very profitable at all times for such as have feeble spirits.
Acetaria (1699), John Evelyn

The Sea Hauke was a small mystery to me, but I think it refers to the Eagle-ray, now designated Myliobatis Aquila. The suggested accompaniment is none other than garlic sauce – a suitably strongly-flavoured and rank (to some) sauce for the ‘rank flesh’ of this fish. The word comes from Allium, ‘A large genus of Liliaceous plants, of which garlic, the onion, leek, chive, shallot, and the British wild flower Ramsons are species.’

Garlicke Sauce (No. 272.)
Pound two cloves of garlick in a marble mortar, with a piece of fresh butter about as big as a nutmeg; rub it through a double hair sieve, and stir it into half a pint of melted butter, or beef gravy.
Apicius redivivus:or, the Cook’s Oracle,(1817) by William Kitchiner.

As for the salmon, I am greatly intrigued by the idea of the sweet-sour-spicy sauce of vinegar, sugar, and cinnamon suggested by the writer, but am unable to find a specific recipe for you. It would be easy enough to concoct, however, following the basic principles of infusing  the spice in hot vinegar, and sweetening to taste.

I sense a post on flavoured vinegars on the horizon.

Quotation for the Day.

If I had the choice between smoked salmon and tinned salmon, I'd have it tinned. With vinegar.
Harold Wilson.


Les said...

Are these clove scented carnations still available? I searched clove pink and it pulls up carnations but carnations in the US have a very sweet, unclovelike smell. Any knowledge on this?

JB said...

Les, This is probably a Dianthus, commonly called 'Pinks', it is in the Carnation family. Clove scented pinks are quite common ☺

JB said...

Les, these are the clove-scented 'pinks'. They are sold everywhere under the names Dianthus or Pinks.

Deana Sidney said...

Those carnations are available in the US, search under the Latin name. I have wanted to make this for ages but haven't ordered the carnations. There is something wonderful about the scent. I got some pricy murky green perfume absolute that wouldn't be edible but it does give the dark ghost of carnation just misses the lightness the the real flower. I wonder if that comes out in the vinegar??

Lapinbizarre said...

Off topic again, I'm afraid. Pre-Roman olive pit (also celery & coriander seeds) found in UK excavation. V interesting.

Les said...

Thanks JB Bernier.