I recently gave you a recipe from The Family Receipt-book, or, Universal Repository of Useful Knowledge and Experience in all the Various Branches of Domestic Economy (London, c.1810) and there is much more fun yet to be had from its contents. The first bit of fun is the complete title. This is even more fun in its ‘real’ state by virtue of the varying fonts, text sizes, and layout, which I can only suggest here:
Useful Knowledge and Experience in all the various Branches of
SCARCE, CURIOUS, AND VALUABLE, SELECT RECEIPTS, AND CHOICE SECRETS, IN
&c. &c. &c.
SPECIFICATIONS OF APPROVED PATENT MEDICINES;
ALL THE MOST SERVICEABLE PREPARATIONS FOR
AND NUMEROUS SUCCESSFUL
Improvements in the Ornamental as well as Useful Arts, Manufactures, &c.
EXTRACTED FROM THE
RECORDS OF THE PATENT OFFICE;
TRANSLATED FROM FOREIGN BOOKS AND JOURNALS, IN ALL THE LANGUAGES OF EUROPE.
THE WHOLE FORMING
A COMPLEAT LIBRARY OF VALUABLE DOMESTIC KNOWLEDGE, and GENERAL ŒCONOMY; selected from the
EXPERIENCE OF AGES, and combined with all the chief MODERN DISCOVERIES and IMPROVEMENTS
of our own and other COUNTRIES, in those Useful and Elegant ARTS which not
only contribute to the HAPPINESS, the CONVENIENCE, and the COMFORT,
of CIVILIZED and SOCIAL LIFE, but even to the
PRESERVATION and PROLONGATION.
of LIFE itself.
So, a book that provides everything you need to know “even to the preservation and prolongation of life itself.” I do not even know that Mr. Google would make so bold a claim, and I am certain that no writer or publisher of the written word today would do so.
One thing which struck me as I browsed this book is the number of times the author (who is not named) uses the word “curious.” I believe curiosity to be a great virtue, so immediately felt a kinship with the mysterious writer. I give you my favourite ‘curious’ recipe from the book, and suspect I will give you more on a future date.
Curious and Fashionable Dish at Paris, called Potage à la Jambe de Bois;
or, Wooden-Leg Soup.
The communicator of this singular receipt, a French writer of much celebrity, describes it with a vivacity suitable to the denomination which it bears. It is, he tells us, a soup of great renown in the old court, taken into favour by the present new order of things: but, though he admits it to be an appendage of the ancient school, and acknowledges that the present professors have much simplified the art, and rendered their cookery better and more wholesome than formerly, so that they feel little disposed for restoring such preparations to honour, the name of this soup having excited the curiosity of many persons, natives as well as foreigners, who are naturally desirous to know the method of preparing it, and it being in truth an excellent restorative, he is induced thus to make public the genuine receipt—Take a shin of beef, and saw off the two ends, leaving the bone more than a foot long; put it into the soup kettle, with some good broth, and a large slice of beef, with the gravy drawn in a stewpan of cold water. When the liquor has been well scummed, it must be seasoned with salt, pepper, and some cloves; then put in two or three dozen carrots, a dozen each of onions, heads of celery, and turnips, a bundle of sweet herbs, and two old hen partridges. The kettle must be set on the fire, early in the morning, and kept very gently boiling, that the soup may be made easier and better. In the mean time, take alarge slice of about two pounds weight round a fine fillet of veal; let it simmer in a stewpan, wetted with some of the soup, after the fat of it has been well skimmed off; then add a dozen headsof celery, and pass the whole into the soup about an hour before serving it up. The soup being sufficiently done, and found to be of a good flavour, put rasped or chipped crusts of the soup bread in a stewpan; wet them with some of the soup from which the fat has been skimmed, and let them simmer a short time. When they are enough, arrange them in the soup dish, garnish them with all sorts of the vegetables contained in the soup, and serve up the whole quite hot. It is easy to see, says the ingenious communicator, that it is this shin of beef, set up with great pomp in the centre, that gave the soup the appellation of wooden-leg soup: and, though we doubt whether it owes its goodness, so much as its name to the shin of beef, the union of the large slice of beef, the ponderous cutlet of veal, and so capital an assemblage of vegetables, even without the old hen partridges, cannot fail to produce an excellent essence, at once healthful, nourishing, and agreeable; and, as before observed, singularly restorative.