I don’t believe we have vicariously enjoyed a meal in Barbados before – and certainly not in the mid-seventeenth century. Our virtual meal today is courtesy of Richard Ligon, a British man who lost all his money and set off in 1647 for Barbados, to try to make another fortune there. He published the narrative of his adventures as A true & exact history of the island of Barbados : illustrated with a mapp of the island, as also the principall trees and plants there, set forth in their due proportions and shapes, drawne out by their severall and respective scales, by Richard Ligon (1657.)
He describes an impressive meal shortly after his arrival:
….by and by, a Cloath was layde, of Calico, with 4 or 5 Napkins of the same, to serve a dozen men. The first Course was set on the table, ushered in by the Padre himself, (Bernardo, the Mollotto, and Negroes following after,) with every one a dish of fruite, 6 in all, the first was Millions [melons], Platines the second, the third Bonanos, the 5 of Guavers, the 5 of Prickled Peares, the 6 the Custard Apple: but to fill up the table, and make the feast yet more sumptuous, the padre sent his Mollotto, into his own Chamber, for a dish which he reserved for the Close of all the rest, Three Pines in a dish, which were the first that ever I had seene, and as farre beyond the best fruite that growes in England, as the best Abricotis beyond the worst Slow [sloe] or Crab [apple.]
Having well refresh our selves with these excellent fruites, we drank a glass or two of Red Sack; a kinde of wine growing in the Maderas; verie strong, but not verie pleasant, for in this Iland, there is made no wine at all; nor as I thinke of any of grape, so neere the Line upon Ilands in all the world. Having made an end of our fruite, the dishes were taken away and another Course fetcht in; which was of flesh, fishe, and sallats; the sallats being first plac’d upon the table, which I tooke great heed of, being all Novelties to me, but the best and most savourie herbs that every I tasted, verie well season’d with salt, Oyle, and the best vinagre. Severall sorts we had, but not mixt, but in severall dishes, all strange, and all excellent. The first dish of flesh, was a leg of younge sturke, or a wild Calfe, of a yeare old, which was of the Colour of stags flesh, and tasted very like it, full of Nerves and sinews, strong meat and very well Condited; boyl’d tender, and the sauce of savorie herbes, with Spanish Vinagre. Turkyes and Hens we had roasted, a gigget of young goate, fish in abundance of severall kinds, whose names I have forgotten, Snappers, grey and red, Cavallos, Carpions, &c., with others of rare colours and shapes, too many to be named in this leafe; some fryed in oyle, and eaten hot, some souc’t, some marinated; all of these we tasted and were much delighted.
Ligon’s story will be continued tomorrow, but in the meanwhile, I fly forward three hundred years, and celebrate the pineapple with a fine batch of little cakes.
Spiced Pineapple Cup Cakes
2 cups sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sugar cup sour cream
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup seedless raisins
½ cup nuts chopped
1 cup drained crushed pineapple.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices together. Cream butter, add sugar and sour cream and blend. Add eggs, raisins, nuts, pineapple, and mix. Add sifted dry ingredients gradually, stirring until entirely blended and batter is smooth. Place paper baking cups in muffin pans, fill two thirds full and bake in a moderate oven (350 deg.) 25 minutes; 5 dozen small cakes.
Oakland Tribune January 13, 1942