Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tea, Beer, Medicine, and Caudles.

One good lead leads to another I often find, and my forays over the last couple of days into The complete family-piece: and, country gentleman, and farmer's best guide (published in London in 1737) turned out to prove the point yet again. A recipe for a ‘Tea Caudle’ in this useful and practical manual jumped out at me and begged to be befriended and posted (tea plus wine in the form of custard – what’s not to like?) so here it is – with friends.

First, a reminder. A caudle is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘a warm drink consisting of thin gruel, mixed with wine or ale, sweetened and spiced, given chiefly to sick people, esp. women in childbed; also to their visitors,’ as well as a sort of sauce or gravy to pour into a traditional raised pie. I have previously given a recipe for a beer caudle, so to justify the title of this post, I give it again today:

Beer Caudle.
Warm a gallon of small beer, and put into it three quarters of a pint of oatmeal, and a little allspice and ginger, both pounded. Boil it half an hour and sweeten it to your taste.
The Times (London, 24 July 1795)

And here is the tea caudle from my inspirational book of the week:-

To make a Tea Caudle.
Make a Quart of strong Green Tea, and pour it out into a Skillet, and set it over the Fire; then beat the Yolks of four Eggs, and mix with them a Pint of white Wine, a grated Nutmeg, Sugar to your Taste, and put altogether, stir it over the Fire till ‘tis very hot, then drink in China Dishes as a Caudle.
The complete family-piece: and, country gentleman, and farmer's best guide (1737)

The caudle has a proud lineage. Here is a recipe from the early fifteenth century:

Nym eyren [eggs], & sweng wel to-gedere / chauf ale & do therto / lie it with amydon [wheat starch], do therto a porcion of sugur, or a perty of hony, & a perti of safron; boille hit, & ȝif [serve] hit forth.
Laud MS. 553 (c.1420)

And my favourite, for you dyspeptic old men out there (you know who you are.)

To make a Caudle to comfort the stomacke, good for an old man.
Take a pinte of good Muscadine, and as much of good stale ale, mingle them to-gether, then take the yolkes of twelue or thirteene Egges newe laide, beat well the Egges firste by themselves, with the wine and ale, and so boyle it together, and put thereto a quarterne of Suger, and a fewe whole Mace, and so stirre it well, til it seeth a good while, and when it is well sod, put therin a few slices of bread if you will, and so let it soke a while, and it will be right good and wholesome.
The Good Huswifes Jewell (1596) by Thomas Dawson.

And now, by far the most intriguing version, from a book of medicines written by the famous scientist Robert Boyle, who gave us Boyle’s Law, which explains the relationship between pressure and volume of a gas. Boyle was not a physician, but was somewhat hypochondriacal by some accounts, and therefore interested in the art of home medicines:

For the Haemorrhoids, a very successful try’d Medicine.
Take Maiden Leeks (as some call those that grow without having been transplanted) and casting away the green part, make of the bulbous part and sufficient quantity of whole Oatmeal a Caudle, whereof let the Patient eat plentifully.
Medicinal experiments, or a collection of choice and safe remedies for the most part simple and easily prepared (1696) by Robert Boyle.

Finally, moving away from specific medical indications, here is a rather delicious-sounding idea which is really a variation on a theme of almond custard:

An Almond Caudle.
Blanch Jordan Almonds, beat them with a little small Ale, and strayne them out with as much more Ale as you minde to make your Caudle of, then boyle as you do an Egg Caudle, with a little Mace in it, and when it is off the fire sweeten it with Sugar.

The Book of Fruits and Flowers (1653) by Thomas Jenner.

1 comment:

korenni said...

Interesting! So Jordan almonds weren't always comfits -- almonds encased in a sugar shell? Or were they, and that's what they're referring to in the last recipe?