I am currently staying in the city of Norwich, in Norfolk with my cousins. I want to pay homage to this lovely city, so I decided to remove my generic scheduled post and find something of local culinary interest.
There has been a market in Norwich for many centuries. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book, but most likely had already been in existence for a very long time. I dont know, and have not been able to find out in the short time available, if the city had any great repute as a centre of culinary excellence in medieval times (a topic for a future post, perhaps?), but the gastronomy was certainly considered a worthy topic for a short article in the Norwich Magazine of December 1835.
La Mothe Le Vayer was the first who solemnly proposed to recognize cookery as one of the fine arts; and under the denomination of gastrology, to compile learned quartos on the science of enhancing the physical and moral pleasures of the palate. The ear, he contends, if given to man for need, is employed for luxury; and we hold it honorable to listen to sweet music, or to fine oratory. The eye may have been intended only to guard us against a post; but ,who is content with its necessary office? For a fine prospect we laboriously climb a hill: for the painter Schneider's inside view of a pantry we gladly exchange our gold. And shall an organ, no less exquisitely sensible than the ear and the eye, whose percipiency gives to all the pleasures of taste their generic name, be less regarded then they, less honoured, less philosophized about? Some flavours are naturally pleasing, as of milk, honey and grapes. Yet the highest relish of these foods evidently consists in the associated ideas which they happen to excite, in the accessory imaginary perceptions which accompany them. Who likes milk in the country? Who does not enjoy it in the heart of London, when he can obtain a draught fresh from the cow, foaming in the jug, scattering its musky fragrance, and calling up before the fancy rural ideas of green meadows, corn-clad hills, and smokeless air. Honey soon cloys ; but let the honey be that of Hybla, famous in the classic page, and the Sicilian traveller will suck it up with delight. The grape, which hardly ripens on our garden-walls, is still a welcome dish at the dessert; because it awakens so many thoughts of mirth and grace derived from Bacchanalian songs. Some flavours are naturally displeasing, as of an oyster, or an olive; yet from being tasted in the society of friendship, or rank, and mingled in our recollection with the joys of life, they often become exquisitely enticing. Now if it be true that the moral power of every mouthful exceeds its physical power, and that the accessory ideas have more influence on the likes and dislikes of the palate, than the direct sensation occasioned by the thing applied, eating (q. e. d.) must be as well entitled as language itself, to be studied. It is well that words should be individually euphonical; but it chiefly imports that the excited ideas should delight and stimulate. It is well that food should be wholesome; but it chiefly signifies that it should beckon into the soul agreeable trains of thought, about its far fetched material, or its traditional preparation.
As the recipe for the day, I give you a delightful pudding from Things a Lady Would Like to Know Concerning Domestic Management (London, 1875) by Henry Southgate.
Steep in 1 1/2 pints of cream 3 oz of fine white bread-crumbs. Pound into a paste 1/2 pint of blanched almonds in a small quantity of orange-flower water. Beat up the whites of 4 and the yolks of 8 eggs with 1/4 lb of lump-sugar in powder. Mix these together with 1/4 lb of butter melted. Stir well over a slow fire till the mixture is tolerably thick. Place puff paste at the bottom and round the sides of the dish, pour in the ingredients, and bake for half an hour.
Quotation for the Day.
.... [in] the apt and wise words of the lamented Rev. F.W. Robinson, of Brighton:"The glory of womanhood is no common glory; it is that of unsensualizing coarse and common things, the objects of mere sense, meat and drink and household cares, - elevating them by the spirit in which she ministers them into something transfigured and sublime."
From the Preface of Things a Lady Would Like to Know Concerning Domestic Management (London, 1875) by Henry Southgate.