Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Bill of Fare for August in 1710.

As those of you who are regular readers know, I am particularly fond of household manuals which have their content arranged alphabetically, so that, for example, gammon (of Bacon) is immediately followed by gangrene (‘How to Treat’.) I am also particularly fond of books which give suggestions for daily or seasonal menus. A book which satisfies both of these criteria (and which is therefore a very particular favourite) is William Salmon’s The Family Dictionary. The first edition, if I remember correctly, was pubished in 1695, but today’s extract comes from the 1710 edition.

May I give you the recommendations for a Bill of Fare for dinner in August (in the Northern hemisphere, of course)?

Bills of Fare for August: Scotch Collops of Veal, a boiled Brest of Mutton with Turneps, a Fricasie of Pigeons, a stewed Calves-Head, four Goslins or young Geese; four Capones, Tarts, Custards. Second Course, Twelve Dotterels, six larded; Tarts Royal of Fruit, Furmenty, a Heath Pout Pye, marinated Smelts, Gammon of Bacon, Selsey Cockles stewed or roasted.

I was most intrigued by the ‘Heath pout pie.’ A ‘pout’ may be a ‘a fish of the genus Trisopterus or related genera of the family Gadidae’ (OED) but this does not seem a likely item for the second course of a dinner of that era – and ‘heath’ would be difficult to explain in that context.

The answer was found in An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1841) by John Jamieson, which states: ‘POUT: A young partridge or moorfowl.’ Sometimes also ‘pout’ is a corruption of ‘poult,’ meaning ‘the young of the domestic fowl; a chick. Also (now usually): the young of the turkey, pheasant, guineafowl, and various game birds’ (OED.)

So, I guess I had better give you an early eighteenth century recipe for Partridge Pie?

A Partridge Pie.
Truss two brace of partridges in the same manner as you do a fowl for boiling. Put some shallots into a marble mortar, with some parsley cut small, the liver of the partridges, and twice the quantity of bacon. Beat these well together, and season them with pepper, salt, and a blade or two of mace. When these are all pounded pounded to a paste, add to them some fresh mushrooms. Raise the crust for the pie, and cover the bottom of it with the seasoning. Then lay the partridges, without any stuffing in them, and put the remainder of the seasoning about the sides, and between the partridges. Mix together some pepper and salt, a little mace, some shalots shred fine, fresh mushrooms, and a little bacon beat fine in a mortar. Strew this over the partridges, and lay on some thin slices of bacon. Then put on the lid, send it to the oven, and two hours will bake it. When it is done, remove the lid, take out the slices of bacon, and skim off the fat. Pour in a point of rich veal gravy, squeeze in the juice of an orange, and send it hot to table.

The Accomplished Housekeeper, and Universal Cook (1717) by T. Williams.

1 comment:

Shay said...

My mother's copy of "The Joy of Cooking" was from the early 1950's. In the index, opossum was listed right after opera creams.