A single recipe can speak volumes about an era and a way of life, and a country. Don’t believe me? Then convince me that the following recipe speaks of anything other than life ("Upstairs" of course) in Victorian England:
Beverage for the Pocket Flask.
Melt or dissolve by a gentle heat l oz. of black currant jelly in pint of syrup; when cold, add the same quantity of rum. In summer the above is best; for the winter months, do as follows :—Pick fine dry black currants, put them into a stone jar, and then the jar in a saucepan of boiling water till the juice is extracted; strain, and to every pint add ½ lb. of loaf sugar; give one boil, and skim well; when cold add the same quantity of rum (or gin, if you prefer it), shake well, and bottle.
The Country House: A Collection of Useful Information and Recipes … by I.E.B.C. (1866)
Need more convincing? The following recipes are from the same source:
Milk and whisky; quantity according to taste, the less spirit the better. It is food and drink both.
No. 1.—Place a large tumbler before you, put therein a coffee-cup of hot (very strong) Mocha coffee, pure, a piece of sugar according to taste (it ought not to be too sweet), a handsome dash of pure cognac, then fill the same up with pure cold water, and drink it after stirring it well up.
No. 2.—Lemon and water, with or without sugar.
Put two or three slices of very brown toast in a bowl; grate over the same a little nutmeg; then pour in a quart of ale (milk preferable) and two-thirds of a bottle of sherry; sweeten with syrup, and (immediately before drinking) add a bottle of soda-water; a little clove or cinnamon may be added, if approved of.
The Country House is my new old cookery book crush, so be aware, I will be giving you a few more Upper Class Victorian Country treats over the next few days.