I have an interesting menu for you today, and hope that one of you can help clarify the background. The event occurred in South Africa in late 1897, and I came across the menu, in of all things, an Australian newspaper - The Queenslander of 9 October 1897.
The following menu is copied from the “Matabele Times,” published in Bulowayo. It is the menu of the “Reform” banquet, given at Johannesburg. It is somewhat original, and in a degree reflects the lifestyle there:-
Hors d’Oeuvres All sorts and conditions of men.
Consomme Cauon a la pipe. More Gombgligations.
Saumon du Rhin a la “regrets” Landed by a “Zeiler” from a
“Wessel” and sold by a “Coster.”
Petites Bouchees a la “document handed in.” Jaag hulle in en sluite hulle op.
Filet de boeuf a la Koos Plessis Bully beef and cold water.
Mousse de Volaille a la “Plank Bed.” Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.
Salad a la “Visiting Day” Faithful wives.
Asperges sauce mousseline And True Friends.
Mazarin au Punch The mixture, as before.
Bombe Gregorowski. Dood Vonnis: two years, ₤2000, and banishment.
Corbeille de fruits a la commutation. ₤25,000, ₤2000, and “Green Politick.”
Petit fours. Forgive and forget.
Sherry George Gonlet
Schloss Joh’berg ’36 Liquers [sic]
Chateau Lafitte, ’74 “Ships Drinks.”
I have a feeling that I could learn a lot about the situation in South Africa between the two Boer Wars (1880-1881 and 1899- 1902) if only I could unravel some of the “clues” hidden in what is clearly a political statement as much as it is a menu. A brief flirt with Google Translate helped with a couple of the Afrikaaner phrases:
Jaag hulle in en sluite hulle op = “put them in and lock them up”
Dood Vonnis = doodvonnis = death warrant
If you can add any insights, I would be most grateful!
Now, to the dish of the day. My first impulse was to give you the recogniseable dishes of the day – the Potage Bagration. This was named by Antonin Carême for the famous Russian general of the Napoleonic era, Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration, who died at the battle of Borodino in 1812, and who was said to be more interested in dining than in his military career. As it turns out however, I have already given a recipe for this soup in a previous post (here.)
So, let us skip to dessert. When in doubt, choose ice-cream, yes? As the exact style of Bombe Gregorowski must presumably remain forever a mystery, I give you Auguste Escoffier’s Bombe Africaine, from his Guide to Modern Cookery (1907 ed.) Some general instructions for preparing and moulding bombes precede the specific instructions for each variety, of which there must be about a hundred in the book.
BOMBES (Generic Recipe)
Originally, Bombes were made from an ordinary ice preparation, in spherical moulds; hence their name, which is once more justified by their arrangement, consisting as it used to do of superposed and concentric layers, the outermost of which was very thin. Nowadays, Bombes are more often moulded in the shape of shells, but the preparation from which they are made is much more delicate than it was formerly.
PREPARATION FOR BOMBES
Gradually mix thirty-two egg-yolks with one quart of syrup at 28°. Put the whole on a very moderate fire, whisking it as for a Génoise, and, when the preparation is firm enough and taken off the fire, continue whisking it over ice until it is quite cold. Then
add the selected flavour, and one and one-third quarts of stiffly-whipped cream.
THE MOULDING OF BOMBES
First clothe the bottom and sides of a mould with the ice preparation denoted by the name of the Bombe. This coat, which should vary in thickness in accordance with the size of the mould, should be somewhat thin, and made from an ordinary ice preparation, which is suited better than any other kind to this class of dish.
The middle is then filled with a Bombe preparation, flavoured as directed, or with a Mousse preparation. The whole is then covered with a round piece of white paper, and the mould is hermetically sealed with its cover, set to freeze, and left for two or three hours in the ice.
When about to serve, take the mould out of the ice; wash it with cold water; dip it quickly in tepid water; dry it with a towel, and overturn the mould on a napkin or on a block of
Clothe the mould with chocolate ice, and fill it with an apricot Bombe-preparation.