I have seen references, here and there on the web, to a “Frosty Morning Drink” - essentially a curried milk beverage - which is sometimes attributed to the famous Isabella Mrs. Beeton herself. I can assure you there is no such beverage in any of Mrs Beeton’s works. The drink is, in other sources, quite authoritatively said to be the invention of a certain Reverend Robert Hunt, who was a founding member of the first English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. This is, to say the least, highly improbable. I can think of no recipes in the English repertoire of the very early seventeenth century which use ‘curry powder,’ but am ready to stand corrected.
Here is the recipe for the Reverend’s drink, as it is repeated and repeated on the web.
Rev. Robert Hunt's Frosty Morning Drink.
Boil one pint of good milk, add a teaspoonful of curry powder and sugar to taste. Drink the mixture whilst hot.
I don’t know when the idea of curried milk as a cold-morning beverage was developed, nor indeed if it should ever have been developed, but I do know that there is a recipe in Chamber's Information for the People, published in London in 1874, for curried milk:
In cold weather, a wholesome and very palatable form of using milk is as follows:
Boil the milk, and add a little salt, sugar, and curry-powder. Use this with bread cut thin and toasted hard, cut in small pieces.
And here is a more familiar concept using milk and curry powder – a sort of sauce suitable for meat or fish.
Take a dessertspoonful of salt, and a teaspoonful of spices, a tablespoonful of flour, and four spoonfuls of cream. Cut four onions and two shalots into slices, and fry them in butter till tender; then take any kind of meat or fish, cut into small pieces, flour and fry them brown; then take the meat out of the frying pan, dredge it with curry powder, put it into a stewpan with the onions, cream, &c., and stew it for half an hour, adding a pint of milk, and, before it is served up, two spoonfuls of lemon pickle.
A New System of Domestic Cookery (1808) by Maria Rundell
I concur with you that the English were likely not using curry at the time of the Jamestown colony in 1607. The earliest English-language recipe using curry which I have so far identified is in Hannah Glasse's 1747 Art of Cookery, and her recipe is based on 'black' pepper corns. She updated the recipe in later editions using ingredients more traditionally associated with curry (the earliest I've found is 1774, but it could have been in her 1767 or 1751 editions).
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