Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Not Watermelon Bread.


As promised, this week we are staying with Dictionaire Å’conomique, or, The Family Dictionary (1725.) I often go to the Bread chapter when I am exploring a new (to me) book on food. This week’s source had a long, lovely chapter on the subject, which includes the following interesting piece:

There is another sort of Bread may be made, which, besides it being much better, will keep a Month longer than the common Sort; for which take some Citruls, boil them in Water for so long, till the water becomes clammy, and with it kneading your Flower, make Bread of ‘em: It will, besides the other good Qualities mention’d, yield a  quarter part more; it’s of a yellow  Colour, and very good for those that want cooling, and to keep the Body open.

I did not know what citruls were, so went immediately to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that the word comes from the French citrouille, and refers to ‘the Water-Melon ( Cucumis citrullus); also applied (both in French and English) to the Pumpkin ( Cucurbita pepo.)   I was momentarily excited, thinking I had found instructions for making Watermelon Bread, but clearly this is an early recipe for Pumpkin Bread.  

I have previously given recipes for pumpkin bread and pumpkin yeast (here and here), so today it is the turn of that other major justification for having pumpkin in your garden or kitchen – Pumpkin Soup. The following recipe, from our source for the week, does not specify sieving, or pureeing the soup, but if it did (maybe it is assumed?) it would be similar to the smooth, milk-creamy pumpkin soup which is a winter staple here in Queensland, Australia. It is the earliest example I know of, of soup based on pumpkin. Do you know of any earlier?

In a Citrul Potage with Milk; the Citruls must be cut into very small square Pieces, and fry’d in natural Butter, with Salt, Parsley, Chervil, and fine Herbs: Then put them into an earthen Pot with boiling Milk, and dress them on the soaked Crusts, Garnish the Dish with fry’d Bread, and strew it with white Pepper as it is serving up.

I think that what this all tells us is that there is nothing really new under the sun, or whatever is old is new again, or every idea is older than you think.

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