Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pancakes, 16th C Style

I have been slowly working my way through the list of the Top Ten Forgotten British Foods, as decided in a competition run by the Guild of Fine Food Retailers in 2006. Today it is the turn of the Sixteenth Century Pancake. Links to previous posts on foods from the list appear below. There are two remaining, after today – Fife Brooth and Rabbit with Prunes.

I went to the marvelous Gervase Markham for the recipe for the day, and here it is:

The best pancake.
To make the best pancake, take two or three eggs, and break them into a dish, and beat them well; then add a pretty quantity of fair running water, and beat all well together; then put in cloves, mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and season it with salt; which done, make it as thick as you think good with fine wheat flour; then fry the cakes as thin as may be with sweet butter, or sweet seam, and make them brown, and so serve them up with sugar strewed upon them. There be some which mix pancakes with new milk or cream, but that makes them tough, cloying, and not crisp, pleasant and savoury as running water.
The English Husewife(1615), Gervase Markham.

I am not sure why this dish made the list. The basic concept has remained unchanged since the sixteenth century and before. I think we will all agree that Bath Chaps, Squirrel Pie and several others on the list are all but ‘forgotten’, but surely a basic pancake recipe does not qualify?

6. Rabbit with Prunes
7. Fife Brooth
9. 16th C Pancakes


Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

I first thought that "seam" was a typo for "cream", but that is contradicted a few sentences later. I finally found a definition of "seam" that readers might like to know. It's fat, grease, or lard, and is also spelled "seame" or "seyme".

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Alys: I wasnt sure myself, but didnt have time to look it up. When I started this blog, I intended to gloss every old unusual word, but that idea quickly went by the board - barely enough time some days to write the post itself! I am always very grateful when someone else steps in to fill in the gaps!