There is something eternally interesting about cruise ship menus, especially those from legendary vessels such as the RMS Lusitania. On this day in 1911, the second class passengers aboard the famous ship sat down to the following lunch:
June 3rd 1911
Whitefish, Fines Herbes
Navarin of Lamb, Printaniere
Roast Beef, Sauce Robert
Corned Pig’s Cheek, Spinach
Stewed Carrots in Cream Marrowfat Peas
Roast Beef Boar’s Head Boiled Ham
Lyon Sausage Ox Tongue
Apricots and Rice Small Pastry
Nothing too scary on that menu for the mostly British passengers, I think. But what to choose for the recipe for the day?
In a post some time ago I mentioned Hodge-Podge, but failed to give you an actual recipe. Hodge-Podge is a dish of mixed ingredients, as the name suggests, so there is a huge number of variations, as you might expect. Here is Mrs. Beeton’s version:
[Cold Meat Cookery.] Ingredients.-About 1 lb. of underdone cold mutton, 2 lettuces, 1 pint of green peas, 5 or 6 green onions, 2 oz. of butter, pepper and, salt to taste, 4 teacupful of water. Mode.—Mince the mutton, and cut up the lettuces and onions in slices. Put these in a stewpan, with all the ingredients except the peas, and let these simmer very gently for 1 hour, keeping them well stirred. Boil the peas separately, mix these with the mutton, and serve very hot. Time.—3/4 hour. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons. Seasonable from the end of May to August.
Mrs. Beeton's Dictionary of Every-day Cookery (1865)
The stewed carrots in cream sound rather good, but I was a little put off by the following recipe which calls for the carrots to be cooked for two hours. I know that in the past, vegetable varieties were not so tender as they are nowadays after considerable development by horticulturalists, but two hours sounds extra-ordinarily excessive, doesn’t it?
Take any quantity desired, divide the carrots lengthwise, and boil on Majestic Range until perfectly tender, which will require from one to two hours. When done, have ready a sauce-pan with one or two tablespoons butter, and small cup cream; slice the carrots very thin, and put in the sauce-pan; add salt and pepper, and let stew ten or fifteen minutes, stirring gently once or twice, and serve in a vegetable dish. Some add more milk or cream; when done skim out carrots, and to the cream; add a little flour thickening, or the beaten yolks of one or two eggs. When it boils pour over the carrots and serve. Carrots may also be boiled with meat like turnips or parsnips, but they take longer to cook than either.
Majestic Range Catalog and Cook Book, (Los Angeles) 1893
I hate to say it, but two hours to cook carrots might well have been "right", given the mind-set of how to prepare vegetables. Years and years ago when I visited my pen friend in England, she boiled the potatoes for two hours and thought that was quite proper. (Twenty minutes usually works nowadays.) I don't know that it was the carrot texture that has gotten more tender over the years, but our attitude to vegetable preparation has, in general, reduced the excessive cooking time.
I can remember the far-gone days when carrots were more or less seasonal. In much of the year, they were "mature" carrots that had been in cool storage. Some old recipes direct that you core them, because the paler central portion can become quite woody as they grow. Likewise, the scraping so often directed was to rid them of the hairy rootlets that formed in the sand barrels of the storage cellars. I think modern improvements in refrigeration have pretty much eliminated those concerns.
Goodness! If this is second class, what did the first class passengers get? For that matter, was there a menu for third class/steerage?
Urk on the hodge-podge. I much prefer the Canadian version; see here:
I believe it was humorist Calvin Trillin who once wrote that all well-brought-up English girls boil vegetables for three hours, just in case a guest forgets his teeth.
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