Monday, May 13, 2013

Sangaree, Anyone?

As you know, I do love a description of a “foreign” meal. I have a very interesting one for you today from Extracts from a Journal Written on the Coast of Chili, Peru, and Mexico, (1826) by Captain Basil Hall.

A Mexican Convité.
In Tepic.  On the 12th of April, I made one of a great dinner-party, a sort of feast, or, as it is called in Spanish, a convite. The hour named was one o'clock, but it was half past one before the company were all assembled. We were first invited into a side-room to take a whet, which, to say the truth, looked more like a substantial luncheon than a sharpener of the appetite; for in the middle of the table was placed a goodly ham, flanked by two huge bowls, one filled with punch, the other with sangaree—a mixture of wine, sugar, lemon-juice, and spirits, and a favourite beverage of all hot climates. At each end of the table stood a dish of cheese, ingeniously carved into the shape of radishes and turnips; and at the corners a dish of olives covered with slices of raw onions, floating about in vinegar. I need not add, there was aguardiente and wine in profusion. Such ample justice was done to this whet, that the dinner, I thought, stood a poor chance of being touched, but in this I was much mistaken.
Forty people sat down to one table. At the top were placed the two principal ladies; on their right sat the military Commander-in-chief, while I was requested to sit on the other side, next to the lady of the house. Then came the Alcalde, the chief civil authority, and so on. The master of the house would on no account sit down, but served at table in the capacity of waiter, assisted most good-naturedly by four or five gentlemen, for whom there were no places, or who preferred making themselves useful in this way to dining in another apartment along with ten or a dozen young men, equally shut out by want of room.
At first a suspicious kind of calm prevailed; but the soup had scarcely been removed before there appeared symptoms of an approaching storm. While we were discussing the olla, the dish which always succeeds the soup, a principal person in company rose up and shouted out," Copas en mano!" handle your glasses! But such was the noise and clatter of plates and tongues, that he had to repeat his mandate several times, and to stretch out his tumbler brim-full of wine, before the distant parts of the company stood up in honour of the toast, which I had expected was to have had some point, but was merely one of the common-places of the day, "Union y Libertad." After this signal there was kept up during the whole dinner a constant discharge of toasts and sentiments; and upon an average, towards the end of dinner, there could be no less than ten or twelve gentlemen on their legs all speaking at once, at the full stretch of their voices, and accompanying every remark with some theatrical gesticulation. Others kept their seats, thinking perhaps that they might thereby have a fairer aim at the table, which rung from end to end with the blows by which these jovial orators sought to enforce their arguments.
Meanwhile the dinner went on as if nothing remarkable was passing; the plates and dishes were changed by the servants and the amateur waiters, with such singular dexterity, that in spite of this vast disorder, the bottle passed in safety, and more and more rapidly; the noise increased; the bawlers became more numerous; and by the time the dinner was well over, the party fell to pieces, and all seemed uproar and confusion ; groups of four or five, and sometimes twice that number, might be scene clustered together, all speaking or singing at once. I never was more astonished than at seeing men, on all other occasions perfect models of decorum, suddenly lose their formality, and act like professed topers and merry-makers. At first, judging by the analogy of Europe, I thought this must needs end in blows, and stood prepared to avoid the bottles and glasses, which were soon likely to be flying about. But after a little while, it was easy to discover more sounds of mirth than of anger; and as the ladies, who must have been accustomed to such scenes, sat very composedly, viewing it all with great delight, I became reassured, and kept my place.

It was a difficult choice, but sangaree is the topic of the day. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sangaree is “a cold drink composed of wine diluted and spiced, used chiefly in tropical countries” and the first reference in English is given as occurring in 1736. The word is a corruption of the Spanish sangria, which literally means “bleeding” and refers (according to the OED,) to “a drink composed of lemon water and red wine.”

Historically, the word sangaree has been applied in the English-speaking world to a whole range of mixed drinks, as shown in How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-vivant's Companion, (1862) by Jerry Thomas.

Port Wine Sangaree.
(Use small bar glass.)
1 ¼ wine-glass of port wine.
1 teaspoonful of sugar.
Fill tumbler two-thirds with ice,
Shake well and grate nutmeg on top.

Sherry Sangaree.
(Use small bar glass.)
1 wine-glass of sherry.
1 teaspoonful of fine sugar.
Fill tumbler one-third with ice, and grate nutmeg on top

Brandy Sangaree.
(Use small bar glass.)
The brandy sangaree is made with the same ingredients as the brandy toddy (see below), omitting the nutmeg. Fill two-thirds full of ice, and dash about a teaspoonful of port wine, so that it will float on top.
Gin Sangaree.
(Use small bar glass.)
The gin sangaree is made with the same ingredients as the gin toddy (see below), omitting the nutmeg. Fill two-thirds full of ice, and dash about a teaspoonful of port wine, so that it will float on the top.

Ale Sangaree.
(Use large bar glass.)
1 teaspoonful of sugar, dissolved in a tablespoonful of water.
Fill the tumbler with ale, and grate nutmeg on top.

Porter Sangaree.
(Use large bar glass.)
This beverage is made the same as an ale sangaree, and is sometimes called porteree.

Brandy Toddy.
(Use small bar glass.)
1 teaspoonful of sugar.
½ wine-glass of water.
1 ditto brandy.                          
1 small lump of ice.
Stir with a spoon.
For a hot brandy toddy, omit the ice and use boiling water.

Gin Toddy.
(Use small bar glass.)
1 teaspoonful of sugar.
½  wine-glass of water.
1 ditto gin.
1 small lump of ice.
Stir with a spoon.

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