Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Australian Drinking Terms, 1859.

I came across a lovely little article in The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) of March 31, 1859 recently, and wanted to share it with you.

Merchants keep the bottle in their offices, and the first question put to you, even by respectable men, is, "What are you going to drink?"  In fact, not to drink is considered a crime. Aut bibat, aut abeat - which means, in Australia, if you will not "stand" you may walk. Here, too, as in America, the bottle has its literature. To pay for liquor for another is to "stand" or to "shout," or to sacrifice." The measure is called a ''nobbler," or a “breakdown," and the following are a few of the names of the favorite beverages :-A stonefence, ginger-beer and brandy; a spider, lemonade and brandy; a sensation, half-a-glass of sherry ; a constitutional, glass of gin and bitters ; a cocktail, brandy, bitters, and sugar ; a smash, ice, brandy, and water ; a julip, brandy, sugar, and peppermint ; a maiden, peppermint or cloves ; a Catherine Hayes, claret, sugar, and orange ; a Madame Bishop, port, sugar, and nutmeg ; a Lola Montez,  old tom, ginger, lemon, and hot water; a land of hope, lemon syrup. At some of the taverns they serve bread and-cheese, salads, and sandwiches for luncheon. The vernacular for these stands thus - Bread-and-cheese, roll and rind; salad, Nebuchadnezzar.
Southern Lights and Shadows; or, Life in. Australia. By Fran Fowler.

Now, this article brings up a number of questions.  For example - who was Catherine Hayes? Most sources say she was the Irish-born opera singer who caused a sensation when she arrived in Sydney in 1854. In spite of the time-lag however, I wonder if she was the Catharine Hayes who was executed for the particularly nasty murder and dismemberment of her husband in about 1726? He was made drunk on claret before the deed was committed, and surely the claret could represent the bloody mess made by his murderers in their attempts to dispose of his body.
For the Nebuchadnezzar connection we must go to the biblical Book of Daniel, which tells us that the legendary King of Babylon was severely punished by God for his pride – his punishment lasting seven years, during which time (amongst many other things) he was “driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen.”

In place of the recipe for the day, I give you some general advice on making a salad from The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.)  of July 7, 1877:-

SALAD. A salad well prepared is a changing compound, and, when taken with plenty of oil, very wholesome, attractive, and agreeable; "badly prepared it is an abomination. A Spanish proverb says that, four persons are needed to make a good salad—a spendthrift to throw in the oil, a miser to drop in the vinegar, a lawyer to administer the seasoning, and a madman to stir the whole together. Lettuce is generally supposed to form the foundation of a salad, but there are few fresh vegetables that may not be used; and on the continent every known vegetable is, when plainly dressed, used cold for salads ; and cold meat, fish, and game are served in the same way. Amongst the vegetables appropriate for salads may be named asparagus, artichokes, beetroot boiled, basil, celery, chives, cucumbers, chervil, cauliflowers, dandelion-leaves, endive, French beans, garlic, lettuces of all kinds, lentils, mustard and cress, mint, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, shallots, sorrel, tarragon, tomatoes, Windsor beans, and watercress. Though a variety in salads is easily secured, great care is necessary in the preparation of the dish, and three or four rules must be closely observed if the salad is to be a success. First, the vegetables must be young, freshly cut, in season, and in good condition. If possible, they should be gathered early in the morning, or late in the evening, and should be kept in a cool damp place. Secondly, the vegetables should not be allowed to lie long in water. If withered, they may be put in for a short time to render them a little crisp, but if fresh, they should be simply rinsed through the water and dried immediately. Thirdly - and this point requires most careful attention - the vegetables must be rendered perfectly dry after washing. The best way of doing this is to drain the salad, and shake it first in a colander, or salad-basket, and afterwards in a clean napkin held by the corners, and shaken lightly till the salad is dry. Fourthly, cut the salad with a silver knife, or tear it in shreds; do not prepare it until a short time before it is wanted, and on no account mix the salad-dressing with it until the last moment. It is a very usual and excellent plan to pour the liquid into the bottom of the bowl, lay the shred vegetables upon it, and mix the salad at table. A wooden fork and spoon are the best for this purpose. Salads may be garnished in various ways, and afford ample opportunity for the display of artistic taste. Boiled beetroot cut into slices, stamped into fancy shapes, or cut into trellis-work, sliced cucumbers, olives, hard boiled eggs cut into quarters or rings, radishes, nasturtium leaves, and flowers, etc, may all be used. When these are arranged tastefully the salad presents a very attractive appearance.—
Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery.

And here is a recipe for salad dressing taken from another Australian newspaper of the era:

Salad Dressing to Keep.
Mix the yolks of two unboiled eggs in a basin with a teaspoonful of salt; whisk ; then add by small quantities, one pint of the finest Florence oil (salad); mix thoroughly, and add one tablespoonful of made mustard, three tablespoonfuls of vinegar, one of tarragon vinegar, a dessertspoonful of elder vinegar; add to the whole a small spoonful of pounded sugar, a little cayenne, and a small quantity of salt. Bottle for use.
Australian Town and Country Journal, 6 October 1877.

I am not at all sure how I started off with a story about nineteenth century Australian drinking slang, and ended up with salad recipes, but there it is.

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