Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Bill of Fare for May, in 1737.

Yesterday I gave you a recipe for fresh vermicelli from one of my favourite eighteenth century sources. I have to admit that part of the reason I love this book is on account of its title, which, in full, is:

The Whole Duty of a Woman, or, An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex. Containing Rules, Directions, and Observations, for Their Conduct and Behavior Through All Ages and Circumstances of Life, as Virgins, Wives, Or Widows. With Direction, how to obtain all Useful and Fashionable Accomplishments suitable to the Sex. In which are comprised al Parts of Good Housewifry, particularly Rules and Receipts in Every Kind of Cookery.(1737)

Another reason for particularly enjoying this book is that it contains recommendations for bills of fare for every month in the year – and menus are one of my favourite themes, as you know.  Dinners of any degree of importance whatsoever were at this time arranged in two courses, with each containing both sweet and savoury dishes, with the finer and more elegant dishes appearing in the second course. All dishes for each course were placed on the table in a strictly balanced and hierarchical arrangement – the intention being to create an impressive spectacle as guests entered the dining room. At the end of the first course, all food was removed and the table was re-set with the second-course dishes.

Bearing in mind that this was a Northern hemisphere publication, and it was therefore Springtime, here is the recommended bill of fare for the month of May.

First Course.
Sorrel Soop with Eggs.
Rice Soop.
Briscuit of Beef a la Chalo.
Carp au Court Bouillon.
Olio in a Terrine.
Fricasey of Rabbits.
Breast of Veal ragoo'd.
Beans and Bacon.
Ham and Chickens.
Roast Mutton, with Regalia of Cucumbers. 
Second Course.
Turky Polts.
Green Apricock Tart.
Four Chickens, two larded.
Green Pease.
Artichoke Bottoms with Cream.
Pheasants with Eggs.
Green Geese.
Clary with Eggs.
Morels a la Cream.

Many of the dishes on this menu appear in previous posts on this blog – I have linked to some of them in the menu above, as you will see. I would dearly love to have given you the recipe for ‘Briscuit of Beef a la Chalo’, but this is not included in the book, and has so far proved elusive. Instead I give you a delightful dish of herb fritters, and as a bonus, some artichoke bottoms in cream.

Clary is Salvia sclarea, or Clary Sage. The genus Salvia belongs in the very widespread and prolific mint family. Many species are cultivated as pot herbs, including the common sage (Salvia officinalis.)

Clary fry’d with Eggs.
Wash, pick, and dry your Clary with a Cloth; then beat up the Yolks of six Eggs with a little Flour and Salt, make the Batter light, then dip in every Leaf and fry them singly, and send them up quick and dry.

Artichoke Bottoms with Cream.

Get Artichoke Bottoms, boil them in Water, and when they are boiled, toss them up with Butter in a Stew-pan, then put to them some Cream, with a Bunch of C[h]ives and parsley; thicken your Sauce with the Yolk of an Egg, and put in a little Salt and Nutmeg. Serve them in Plates or Dishes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Poking about looking for beef a la chalo didn't get me anything definite, but what I did see made me wonder if this isn't something from the Raj.