Friday, July 24, 2015

Trembling Beef and Bombarded Veal.

As most of you know, I love old forgotten food words, especially when they are a reminder of foods or meals or related concepts which are no longer part of our lives. Another type of forgotten food word applies to a regular dish which we still make, but for which we have a different (and usually less picturesque or evocative) name. I came across a couple of examples of these recently, and want to share them with you.

A cookery book published in London in 1837 with the title of Two thousand five hundred practical Recipes in Family Cookery includes the following two examples of names you don’t see in cookery books any more. (But then, how many modern cookery books can boast such a number of recipes? Methinks we have traded comprehensive content for glossy pictures.)

BOMBARDED VEAL is a fillet of veal having the bone taken out its place supplied with a rich stuffing of which fat scraped bacon forms a great part, with various condiments to which are added cream and egg; besides which cuts are made into the fillet at about an inch apart, into some of which is put a portion of the stuffing, into others boiled and minced spinach, and into others chopped oysters and beef marrow. In this state having a veal caul wrapped round it, it is placed in a pot with a small quantity of water and baked. The time necessary for its being done will of course depend upon the weight of the fillet. See BAKING. We pass no opinion on this dish.

BEEF TREMBLANT. This is another of those dishes long known and described. It is not compatible with our design to comment upon every term employed in cookery; that would be an endless task; but we may here, once for all, observe that many writers on our art have been extremely careless in regard to the orthography of its terms. Thus, we find this dish has been called beef tremblonque and beef tremblent; we have given the proper French orthography; but why not call it at once trembling or shaking beef? Oh, that is so vulgar! Change the word and how fine it becomes! The following is found in substance in most of our cookery books from Mrs. Glasse downwards to those of the present century. Take a brisket of beef and tie up the fat end tightly; boil it in water seasoned with salt and a handful of allspice, to which add two onions, two turnips, and a carrot, gently, for six hours; in the mean time melt a piece of butter in a stewpan, to which add two spoonsful of flour, and stir till the mixture is smooth; put to it a quart of gravy, a spoonful of catchup, two glasses of wine, and some carrots and turnips, cut as for a haricot; stew all gently till the roots are tender; season with pepper and salt. Skim all the fat clean off, put the beef into the dish and pour the gravy, thus made, over it. You may garnish with pickle of any sort. Of course you will serve it up with proper vegetables, such as greens, carrots, or potatoes, or all of them. Note.—Some will make a gravy instead of the above, with chopped parsley, an onion, pickled cucumbers, a walnut and capers with a pint of gravy, butter rolled in flour, and pepper and salt, boiling the whole for ten or more minutes.

The first usage recorded in the  Oxford English Dictionary to ‘bombarded’ in a culinary sense appears in Hannah Glasse’s Art of Cookery, published in 1747, and refers to this exact dish of stuffed veal. No explanation of this culinary usage is made, but I assume it is intended to invoke the similarity of the shape of the dish with a bomb. You have to admit that ‘Bombarded Veal’ sounds more interesting than ‘Stuffed Veal Fillet.’

The OED has one reference for ‘trembling beef’ dated 1806, but seems to be lacking in confidence about its meaning or origin:

trembling beef   n. some dish of boiled beef (? obs.); cf. trembling-piece n.
1806   A. Hunter Culina (ed. 3) 238   Trembling Beef. Take a brisket of beef, and boil it gently [etc.].

On looking at the associated usage of ‘trembling piece,’ the OED says:

trembling-piece   n.  [French pi├Ęce tremblante] a joint of beef so interlarded with fat as to quiver.
1833   Wilson Fr. & Eng. Dict. at Tremblant,   Trembling-piece.

On looking at the recipe above for Beef Tremblant, I unconvinced that the dish would be quaveringly tender and, but I am totally convinced that it sounds far more tempting than Pot Roast.  What do you think?

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