It is time to take a cruise again. This time we are on board the R.M.S Tantallon Castle, en route to South Africa. The time is “shortly before the unfortunate events of the last days of 1895 and the first of 1896” (presumably the Jameson Raid, between the two Boer Wars.) Our virtual host on this vicarious voyage is a Scotsman, David S. Salmond, who wrote about the real journey in
Diary of a Trip to South Africa on R.M.S. Tantallon Castle, published in 1899.
He and his wife board the ship in Blackwall, London, on April 4. At one point in his narrative he gives the menu for a single day’s meals. I like to have fun with these menus, and try to decide what I would have chosen to eat. What would you have selected?
Breakfast, from 8.30 till 10.30 Porridge, grilled bloaters, grilled bacon and straw potatoes, poached eggs on toast, fried and boiled eggs, plain omelette, minced mutton collops and
poached egg, devilled kidneys, chops and steak from the grill (to order), curried mutton, straw and mashed potatoes, rolls and toast. Cold: Boiled ham, German sausage. Tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Luncheon, at 1. Pea soup, mutton cutlets, French beans sauté, savoury hot pot, boiled calfs head, bath chap and parsley sauce, chops and steaks from the grill (to order), baked and mashed potatoes, stewed apples with rice, shortbread. Cold: Salmon en Mayonnaise, sardines, roast shoulder of mutton with mint sauce, roast chicken, boiled York ham, game pie, pickled pork ; roast veal and ham, chicken and ham sausage; celery, cucumber ; Stilton, Cheddar, and
Gorgonzola cheese ; caraway-seed buns, oat-cakes, pulled bread fruit; coffee.
Dinner, 6.30. Olives farcies, anchovy eggs ; consommé royale; fried cod steaks, Dutch sauce; mutton cutletes a la reforme, chicken and truffle patties; roast loin of beef with horseradish, leg of mutton boned and stuffed, onion sauce, corned ox tongue with carrots; roast goose, apple sauce,. Ptarmigan, curried veal a la Bombay; saute ands boiled potatoes, cauliflower, parsley sauce, Canton pudding, lemon jellies, Swiss apple tart, Polish cakes; Stilton, Cheddar,
and Gorgonzola cheese, macaroni au gratin; pine-apples, French plums, oranges, Barcelona nuts; coffee.
Three things on that menu intrigue me: Polish Cakes, Canton Pudding, and Barcelona Nuts. Google tells me that Barcelona nuts are a type of hazelnut (or filbert) so I know I would like them. Polish cakes seems to be a generic name for delicious pastries – but perhaps the recipe below is more specifically correct? Canton Pudding remains elusive; if you know of it, please let us know.
Roll out a piece of puff paste and cut it into squares; then with some yolk of egg and a paste brush touch each corner of the squares, and the middle, and press them down with your finger; brush them lightly over with the yolk of egg, which should be diluted with a few drops of water—about eighteen will be sufficient for a dish; bake them in rather a quick oven; when they are done sift sugar over them, and glaze them with a salamander; while the paste is hot make a little hole in the centre, which is to be filled with marmalade, or with good puff paste: there is an immense variety of pastry to be made, which the ingenuity of the cook will invent.
The Young Cook's Guide, with Practical Observations… (1836) by I. Roberts.