I want to consider sixteenth century apples and sixteenth century sauces today. The sauces led me to the apples, actually.
First, the sauces. From The Good Hous-wives Treasurie published in 1588:
Take Vineger, Mustard, Suger and Pepper.
Take halfe Vineger, and halfe Vergis [verjuice], a handful of percelly [parsley] and Sage chopte very small, a Pomewater shredde very small, then take the gravie of the Pigge, with Suger and Pepper and boyle them together.
Sauce for a Gooce.
Take Vineger and appells shred very small, two spoonfuls of musterd a little Pepper and Salte: and take Suger sufficient to sweeten it, then boyle it well together.
Take water, Onions, pepper, and some of the gravie and salte, and boyle together.
And now, the apples. One of the ingredients in the Piggesauce recipe is a ‘pomewater.’ I had to look this word up. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this is ‘a large, juicy, sharp-tasting variety of apple.’ From (at least) the sixteenth into the early eighteenth centuries it was a much favoured variety of cooking apple, but sadly, I understand it no longer exists. It does not take much time perusing cookery books of those previous times to realise just how many apple varieties have been lost, leaving us with only half a dozen common, all-purpose fruits which transport and store well.
Please come back tomorrow for a little more on the pomewater.
Fortunately, some lost apple varieties are being cultivated in the U.S. and sold at farmers markets. Some new varieties, too, with good flavor. Some may never be available to us, though -- when I was in England I was given a Cox apple by a kindly garden-owner. It was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted, totally unlike any apple I could find in the States! At a B&B in Somerset, we had apple juice every morning that was really the nectar of the gods. I just try not to think about it these days (sigh).
Interesting point on the lost apple varieties... reading and preparing historic recipes is such an amazing window into the past. and sometimes a somber reminder of methods and foods we have lost.
p.s. the title of this post made me grin!
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