It is only a few nights until the annual celebration of the birth of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, on January 25, 1759. I thought that I would give you an “on this day” menu several days in advance this time, to allow you time to prepare, should you wish to re-enact a spectacular nineteenth century dinner. You will need plenty of time to plan the meal I have for you today, believe me!
Those of you with Scottish heritage, or wish you had, or are Scotophiles (is that even a word?) will need no reminding of the significance of this great event. For the rest of you, I explained the traditional rituals and food of Burns’ Night in a story several years ago called And so the Lord be thankit.
Today I want to show you how the night was celebrated in New York in 1869. The event took place at the Metropolitan Hotel, and the lucky guests sat down to a fine feast indeed. Or did they?
IN HONOR OF
At the Metropolitan Hotel, Monday, January 25th, 1869.
Oysters On Half Shell.
Scotch Broth, with barley
Boiled Salmon, a la Macgregor.
Leg of Mutton, a la Wallace. Tenderloin, larded, a la Manhattan.
Capon, a l'Ecossaise. Turkey, giblet sauce.
Calf's Head, tomato sauce. Ham, glace, au champagne.
Buffalo Tongue. Goose, apple sauce.
Robert Burns, sur le Globe, en Galantine.
Terrine de Foies Gras, historie
Gros Pate de Gibier, aux truffes.
Brochette sur pout, au beurre de Montpellier.
Les Jambonneaux de de Volaille, a la Queen Mary.
Les Ballotine de Lievre.
Turban of Fillet of Grouse, a la perigueux.
Sweetbreads, en pannier, aux petits pois.
Epigramme d’Agneaux, a la Soubise.
Terrapin, en caisse, a la Metropolitane.
Small Croustade, a la Montglas.
Timbale of Macaroni.
Boudin of Chicken.
Punch, a la Romaine.
Canvass Back Duck. Broiled Quail, on toast.
Saddle of Venison. Partridge, barde.
Boiled and Mashed Potatoes. Cream Spinach.
Baked Sweet Potatoes. Fried Parsnips.
Mashed Turnips. Stewed Tomatoes.
Pyramid of Honor to Robert Burns. Representation of the Union.
Group of Poetical Designs. Grand Nougat Lyre, mounted.
National Sea Side Salute. Transparent Pyramid, a la cactus.
Rose Bush, a la natural. Bon-Bon Basket, on scrolls.
Floral Cornucopia, mounted. Variety Pyramid, Indian style.
Caledonia Pudding, champagne sauce. Ornamented Charlotte Russe, a la vanille.
Apple, Orange, Mince, Cocoanut Pies. Gateaux, au creme, a l'Edinburgh.
Fancy Hock Wine Jelly. Cheese, a la Napolitaine.
Champagne Jelly. Sherry Wine Jelly.
Fancy Confectionery. Vanilla Ice Cream.
Fruits and Coffee.
[Poor Burns! how he would have enjoyed such a dinner.]
The wine list supplied by the Metropolitan Hotel was in every way as impressive as the bill of fare, and it was surely a great night.
But no haggis?! The absence of the dish itself would surely have had Mr. Burns turning in his grave on this night. And by definition therefore, the ceremony of piping in the haggis – surely the high point and rationale for the whole evening – would also have been missing. Keep turning, Mr. Burns, keep turning.
As my protest against the lack of tradition on this traditional night in 1869, I eschew the concept of American-Scottish food, and give you a contemporary recipe for a sweet-savoury Italo-French-Anglo dish of Timbale of Macaroni:
TIMBALE OF MACARONI A LA FLORENTINE.
Decorate a plain mould with some nouilles-paste mixed with a little sugar; then line the mould with some thin strips of fine short-paste, which must be placed exactly in the same manner as when lining a charlotte-mould with bread; fill the timbale with flour; cover it in with some of the paste, and bake it for about one hour; it must then be again emptied; and all the flour brushed out with a paste-brush, put back into the mould, and kept in the screen until wanted. While the timbale is being made, parboil half a pound of Naples macaroni in water for about a quarter of an hour, then drain it on a sieve, and afterwards put it into a stewpan with a pat of butter, a pint of milk, and the same quantity of cream, four ounces of sugar, a stick of vanilla, and very little salt; then set the macaroni to boil very gently over a slow fire until it is thoroughly done, by which time the macaroni will have entirely absorbed the milk, &c.; then add about one ounce of grated Parmesan cheese; toss the whole well together over the fire; remove the stick of vanilla, and fill the timbale with the macaroni; then turn it out of the mould on to its dish; shake over it some finely-pounded sugar; glaze it with the hot salamander, and send to table.
The Cook’s Guide, by Charles Elmé Francatelli (London, 1864)