Yesterday I gave you instructions for making a ‘Hogooe’ from Henry Howard’s England's newest way in all sorts of cookery (2e, 1708) and as I transcribed it, it was impossible not to be intrigued by the title of the recipe which followed it:
Take a Quart of Rice, two Quarts of strong Gravy; set it on the Fire very high, and let it stew soberly, but not boil; then put in an Onion stuck with Cloves, and a bunch of Sweet Herbs; then put in a large Pullet, fill the belly with force’d meat and Oysters, with half a pound of Bacon; let these stew together ‘till it’s tender, and about the thickness of Hasty-pudding; then put in the force’d meat ball that you have fried, and some you must stew with it: then take it up and beat the Yolks of three Eggs, and a [……?] quartern of Butter rowled up in flour, and shake them well together, with the Juice of a Limon; and then dish it with the Fowl in the middle, and the Bacon and Forcemeat balls round it; garnish with Limon, and […..?] Bread, round the brims of your Dish, and serve it.
So, how do you explain the name?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word monastic[k], as seems fairly obvious, has various meanings “of or relating to members of a community living under religious vows and generally subject to a fixed rule, as monks, nuns, friars, etc.; of or relating to a monastery or monasteries.” It is hard to see the association with monastic orders and the rich dish given above, is it not?
There are two other meanings of the word monastic[k] given in the OED. One relates to bookbinding, and designates “a method of binding in thick bevelled boards covered in khaki-coloured calf or brown hard-grained morocco, and finished by tooling without gold.’ Perhaps this usage is a nod to the role of monasteries as early libraries, or maybe the brown monkish robes – but I cannot think of a culinary connection. The third usage is in relation to ceramics, and designates “a type of glaze that produces a dull finish” which was the monastic method [of glazing tiles] which came in with the Gothic architecture about the end of the twelfth century.” Unless this is related to the dish above as it may be cooked in a brown ceramic pot, by the same method as a marmite refers to the pot and the contained soup/stew.
I leave it to you now, my friends, to come up with some ideas.
It does sound very rich, so possibly the association is to Tudor-era monasteries and their famously lavish diet?
Monasteries and convents were getting a bad rep for luxurious (and sinful) living as early as the 1300s and by the 1700s were a running joke to non-Catholics. The richness of the dish may have given it its name -- you start with plain, ascetic rice and then add all this fat, delicious stuff (but still call it a rice dish). But I like your idea about the pot better.
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