Thursday, August 20, 2015

Scottish Kitchen Words? (1808)

I want to indulge another of my little whims today - my love of old words related to food and cooking. I found a couple of interesting examples recently in a lovely book with the full and glorious title of ‘An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: illustrating the words in their different significations, by examples from ancient and modern writers; shewing their affinity to those of other languages, and especially the northern; explaining many terms, which, though now obsolete in England’ by John Jamieson, published in 1808.

Word number one is ‘kitchen.’ Not an old word, it is true, but an old usage:

KITCHEN, s. 1. Any thing eaten with bread; corresponding to Lat. opsonium, S.
“The cottagers and poorer sort of people have not always what is called kitchen, that is milk or beer, to their meals.” P. Speymouth, Morays. Statist. Acc. Xiv. 401. Here, however, the term is used in a very limited sense.
“Salt herrings too made a great part of their kitchen (opsonium,)  a word that here signifies whatever gives a relish to bread or porridge.” P. Inveresk, M. Loth. Statist. Acc, xvi. 39.
2. “An allowance instead of milk, butter, small beer, and some other articles of less value.”
“There are about ane 100 ploughmen and carters, whose annual wages are from L.4 to L.5 in money, 20s for kitchen, &c.” Statist. Acc. Cramond, i. 218.

A similar situation exists with word number two, which is ‘lunch.’

      LUNCH, s. A large piece of any thing, especially of what is edible; as bread, cheese,             &c. S.
-          Drink gaed round, in cogs an’ caups,
Amang the furms an’ benches;
An’ cheese an’ bread, frae women’s laps,
Was dealt about in lunches
An’ dawds that day.
Burns, iii. 27.

So, an early nineteenth century Scotsman could have had lunch for (or with) his kitchen – which I find very interesting, amusing, and generally very satisfying.

There is only one cookery book from which to source the recipe for the day – the comprehensive (and often amusing in tone) early nineteenth century Scottish classic, The Cook and Housewife's Manual (1826), written by the pseudonymous Mistress Meg Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone.) With all the talk about bread and cheese, the obvious choice (also because it is another of my favourite themes) is a variation of Welsh Rabbit, called, of course, Scotch Rabbit. I have given Hannah Glasse’s 1747 version of this dish, but Mistress Dodds’ is a little more detailed, so here goes:

Scotch Rabbit.
Cut, toast, and butter the bread as in last receipt, and keep it hot. Grate down mellow Stilton, Gouda, or good Dunlop cheese; and if not fat put to it some bits of fresh butter. Put this into a cheese-toaster with a hot water reservoir and add to it a glassful of well-flavoured brown Stout porter, a large tea-spoonful of made mustard, and pepper, very finely ground, to taste. Stir the mixture till it is completely dissolved, brown it, and then filling the reservoir with boiling water, serve the cheese, with the hot toasts on a separate dish.

Observations.—This is one of the best preparations of the kind that we are acquainted with. Some gourmands use red wine instead of porter, but the latter liquor is much better adapted to the flavor of cheese. Others use a proportion of soft putrid cheese, or the whole of it in that state. This is, of course a matter of taste, and beyond the jurisdiction of any culinary dictator. To dip the toasts in hot porter makes another good variety of this preparation. 


Kate McDermott/Art of the Pie said...

Love this, Janet! Do you have any idea what the frae women’s laps might refer to?

Mantelli said...

What is a cheese toaster?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Mantelli
A cheese toaster was a piece of equipment for melting cheese, which was then scraped onto the toast (which was toasted by the fire.)