The ancient Livery Companies of Britain held great celebrations on the feast day of their patron saint. Elections for office-bearers were held, and there was of course a great dinner. In 1733, a publication called Quadriennium Annae Postremum, Or, The Political State of Great Britain included the following notice:
On the 25th of July, being S[t.] James’s Day, the Society of Journeymen Taylors made their annual Procession as usual through Dublin. They were all clean and neatly dressed, but more particularly their Master, Steward, and Ensign-Bearers, who were dignified with Hats and Feathers, fringed Linnen and Gloves, and attended with Variety of Musick …
… Their Bill of Fare for Dinner, which is something Extraordinary, consisted chiefly of the following Particulars, viz. 40 found Legs of Mutton, ditto Rumps of Beef, ditto Geese, ditto Gibblet Pyes, 10 Dozen of Chickens, a Cart Load of Cabbage, ditto Turneps and Carrots, and Bread, Butter, Cheese, Beer, Ale, Small-beer and Brandy in Proportion; whether Cucumbers are plenty in that Country we do not know, but we do not hear that there were any of them in the Bill of Fare.
I am most intrigued by the cucumber issue. It would seem that the English writer could not imagine a substantial meal without them. The recipe for the day therefore, is for cucumbers, and the recipe is courtesy of Mrs. Isabella Beeton.
Cucumbers, to Dress.
Ingredients.- 3 tablespoonfuls of salad-oil, 4 tablespoonfuls of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Mode.- Pare the cucumber, cut it equally into very thin slices, and commence cutting from the thick end; if commenced at the stalk, the cucumber will most likely have an exceedingly bitter taste, far from agreeable. For the purpose of slicing cucumber evenly and very thin, we recommend the slice [image of a mandolin] in in preference to an ordinary knife. Put the slices into the dish, sprinkle over salt and pepper, and pour over oil and vinegar in the above proportion; turn the cucumber about, and it is ready to serve. This is a favourite accompaniment to boiled salmon, is a nice addition to all descriptions of salads, and makes a pretty garnish to lobster salad.
Average cost, when scarce, 1s to 2s. 6d.; when cheapest, may be had for 1d. each.
Seasonable. – Forced from the beginning of March to the end of June; in full season in July, August, and September.
Mrs. Beeton’s Dictionary of Every-day Cookery (1865)