Monday, April 08, 2013

A Spanish Prison Diet.

The eighteenth century prison reformer John Howard visited many British and foreign gaols in the 1780’s. He left detailed reports in his book The State of The Prisons In England and Wales: With Preliminary Observations, And An Account Of Some Foreign Prisons And Hospitals published in 1784.

Howard’s report of the Spanish prison and hospital at San Fernando make for interesting reading.

The Table of Diet for San Fernando.
Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Twenty ounces of bread, eight ounces of mutton, and two ounces of garvances (i.e. yellow beans dried). 
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Twenty ounces of bread, four ounces of meat, and two ounces of garvances.
At night, four ounces of bread in broth, or three ounces of lentils; or two ounces and a half of jew-beans. 
Fridays and fast days. Twenty ounces of bread, three ounces of dried fish, two ounces of rice, and two ounces and a half of jew-beans.
To make their ollas, they are allowed, on meat days, eight pounds of salt butter; on Fridays, four pounds for supper.
On Fridays, they are allowed, one pound of oil and twenty-five pounds of jew-beans, garvances, and lentils for soupe-maigre.
On meat days,cayenne pepper for sauce.

Diet table for the Infirmary.
Full Diet.
Breakfast. Bread two ounces.
Dinner. Bread eight ounces, meat six ounces.
Supper. Bread six ounces, meat four ounces.
Half Diet.
Breakfast. Bread two ounces.
Dinner. Bread four ounces, meat four ounces.
Supper. The same.
Common Diet.
Breakfast. Broth.
Dinner. Bread two ounces, and broth.
Supper. The same.
Low Diet.
Broth only.

Chocolate, biscuits, wine and other necessaries are allowed the sick; according to discretionary orders from the physician, who is to be guided by the medical rules approved of by the body of physicians at Madrid.
Nurses and others who attend the sick are allowed a diet of ten ounces of meat, sixteen ounces of bread, two ounces of garvances, and half a quarto (about half a pint English) of wine daily.

Olla is a general term in Spain for a variety of ingredients boiled over a slow tie, meat, greens, pepper, &c.

I am not sure what “jew-beans” are, and hope one of you can enlighten me. I have seen suggestions that they are haricot beans or fava beans.
As the recipe for the day, I give you a nice stew from The Jewish manual; or, Practical information in Jewish and modern cookery (1846)
Beef with Celery, And White Beans And Peas.
Soak for twelve hours one pint of dried white peas, and half a pint of the same kind of beans, they must be well soaked, and if very dry, may require longer than twelve hours, put a nice piece of brisket of about eight pounds weight in a stew-pan with the peas and beans, and three heads of celery cut in small pieces, put water enough to cover, and season with pepper and salt only, let it all stew slowly till the meat is extremely tender and the peas and beans quite soft, then add four large lumps of sugar and nearly a tea-cup of vinegar; this is a very fine stew.


Mad Latinist said...

An Argentinian friend points out to me that in some regions frijoles are called judías... an interesting comparison, but whatever "jew-beans" are it must be more specific than that. Maybe black-eyed peas?

And I love that "garvances (i.e. yellow beans dried)"

PietB said...

The U. of Chicago Spanish-English Dictionary, 6th Ed. (Nov., 2012), lists judía blanca, judía pinta, and judía verde as, respectively, navy bean, pinto bean, and green bean (haricot bean). That makes me think the word “judía” simply meant small bean, although the pinto is the bean of choice for frijoles refritos in Mexican cooking.

Peter Hertzmann said...

In the jail where I taught, the inmates were required by the State to receive 2000 calories a day. How the jail arrived at the calories was up to the administration. The diet is mostly carbs form bread, luncheon meat, and peanut butter.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks, Mad Latinist and Piet - even if 'judia' meant a generic small bean, the name suggests that beans were associated with Jews or the idea of Jewishness. I will see what else I can find.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Peter, I dont think I have come across any prison diets that sound appetising or healthy! I guess privately run jails have no incentive to make the meals interesting either - get the calories the cheapest way possible. I cant help thinking that better food would improve the general mood and make for less trouble???