Four YouTube videos feature the recipes of Mrs. Beeton and her story in a BBC2 show, The Marvellous Mrs. Beeton, hosted by Sophie Dahl. Check the first of four videos here, then find the other videos in YouTube’s sidebar.
Edwardian Promenade lists these videos in its YouTube account. (A visit to the site is well worth your time.) Thank you, Karen Reedy-Wilcox, for pointing out these videos.
Posts Tagged ‘Cookery’
Four YouTube videos feature the recipes of Mrs. Beeton and her story in a BBC2 show, The Marvellous Mrs. Beeton, hosted by Sophie Dahl. Check the first of four videos here, then find the other videos in YouTube’s sidebar.
This image comes from The Library of Congress’s digital collection, and sits in John Trusler’s The honours of the table, or, Rules for behaviour during meals : with the whole art of carving, illustrated by a variety of cuts. Together with directions for going to market, and the method of distinguishing good provisions from bad; to which is added a number of hints or concise lessons for the improvement of youth, on all occasions in life. By the author of Principles of politeness, &c. … For the use of young people, London, 1791
My tenderest emotions go toward that veal, for it did not have much time on this earth to use its knuckle. And yet, Mr. Trusler writes of this delicacy with such feeling.
Posted in jane austen, Popular culture, Regency Customs, Regency food, Regency Life, Regency style, Regency World, tagged Cookery, food and cookery, ice cream in georgian england on September 29, 2008 | 10 Comments »
The orange wine will want our care soon. But in the meantime, for elegance and ease and luxury, the Hattons and Milles’ dine here to-day, and I shall eat ice and drink French wine, and be above vulgar economy. Luckily the pleasures of friendship, of unreserved conversation, of similarity of taste and opinions, will make good amends for orange wine.- Jane Austen to Cassandra, Godmersham, June 20, 1808
Jane wrote casually of eating ice in a day when the preservation of huge chunks of river and pond ice was no mean feat. Solid blocks of ice were hewn from nearby frozen ponds and rivers in winter, then hauled by teams of horses and men to a suitable storage space. Ships also brought in chunks of ice from glaciers and icebergs.
In early days, deep underground chambers whose doors faced north kept the temperatures freezing inside their heavily insulated structures, preserving the ice for up to two years. By the 17th and 18th centuries, owners of great houses built icehouses adjacent to their dwellings. These storage spaces had double insulated walls and double doors that kept the warm air out. The cold chambers also kept water, milk, butter, and other perishables refrigerated. Iced food remained the province of the rich, who could afford to build an ice house and pay servants who shaved the ice and prepared ices, ice sculptures, bombes, and ice cream. Experiments in flavors and designs abounded:
In the late 17th and early 18th century, long before refrigeration was available, Europeans were making ices and ice creams. Although they were often unsure about freezing techniques, they began experimenting with flavors immediately. Confectioners tried everything from breadcrumbs to grated cheese to candied orange flowers in these new frozen treats. They molded them into fanciful shapes and served them with style and flair. Once in a while, they stumbled – putting foie gras or puréed asparagus in ice cream, for example – but most of their experiments were successful. They led the way to the wonderful range of flavors we enjoy today. (Histories, Legends, and Myths of Ices and Ice Cream)
The great chefs were especially creative in the use of ice for preserving food, and making exotic foods. In a day before electricity, intricately carved ice sculptures of swans and cherubs and the like were all the rage in Europe. The great French chef Antonin Careme used iced water to make his spun sugar sculptures and kept desserts on ice and the pastry room cool to keep the unbaked pastries cool. (Crème du Carême)
Recipes for creating ices and ice cream haven’t changed much, but the methods have. By the mid 19th century small portable iceboxes and an ice cream maker had been invented, replacing laborious hand stirring with a handcrank until the mixture thickened. The following is an 18th-century ice cream recipe that illustrates how labor intensive and time consuming ice cream making had once been:
Pare, stone and scald twelve ripe Apricots, beat them fine in a Marble Mortar, put to them six Ounces of double refined Sugar, a Pint of scalding Cream, work it through a Hair Sieve, put it into a Tin that has a close Cover, set it in a Tub of Ice broken small, and a large Quantity of Salt put amongst it, when you see your Cream grow thick round the Edges of your Tin, stir it and set it in again ’till it all grows quite thick, when your Cream is all Froze up, take it out of your Tin, and put it in the Mould you intend it to be turned out of, then put on the Lid, and have ready another Tub with Ice and Salt in as before, put your Mould in the Middle, and lay your Ice under and over it, let it stand four or five Hours, dip your Tin in warm Water when you turn it out; if it be Summer, you must not turn it out ’till the Moment you want it; you may use any Sort of Fruit if you have not Apricots, only observe to work it fine. – Ice cream recipe from The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald, 1769, page 228:
- Georgian Ices and Victorian Bombes is another informative post from Historic Food, one of the most interesting and historical food sites on the web. In it you will find a wealth of illustrations, photos, and information about making ice cream.
- Lemon Ice: The Jane Austen Centre published a recipe for making lemon ice similar to one made in the 18th century. The article adds additional information about the origins of ice cream.
- Ice Cream and Chocolate Parlor since 1700 describes an Italian ice cream parlor that has been in existence for over 300 years. Their specialty is an almond ice cream that is probably as easy to make and flavorful as the one below.
- Histories, Legends, and Myths of Ices and Ice Cream provides a timeline and interesting tidbits of information about ices and ice cream over the ages.
Posted in jane austen, Regency Customs, Regency Drink, Regency food, Regency Life, Regency style, tagged Cookery, early hot chocolate, History of hot chocolate, origin of chocolate pots on August 9, 2008 | 9 Comments »
The General between his cocoa and his newspaper, had luckily no leisure for noticing her… Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
When sixteenth-century explorers brought cocoa beans from Mexico to Seville in 1585, little did they realize how much their exotic taste would appeal to European palates. Or perhaps they did. At that time hot chocolate was flavored with a mix of peppers and spices.
The first recipe for a chocolate drink was published in Spain in 1644 by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma in his book, A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate. The spices included hot chiles, and the recipe goes as follows:
100 cacao beans 2 chiles (black pepper may be substituted) A handful of anise “Ear flower” * 1 vanilla pod 2 ounces cinnamon 12 almonds or hazelnuts pound sugar Achiote (annatto seeds) to taste -
All of these ingredients were boiled together and then frothed with a molinillo, the traditional Aztec carved wooden tool. The achiote was used to redden the color of the drink.From Chiles and Chocolate
*Also known as “xochinacaztli” (Nahuatl) or “orejuela” (Spanish).
“Chiles and Chocolate” goes on to provide another chocolate recipe published in France 50 years later. This one has significantly reduced the amount of chili peppers. The recipe was published in 1692 by M. St. Disdier of France, who was in the chocolate business:
2 pounds prepared cacao 1 pound fine sugar 1/3 ounce cinnamon 1/24 ounce powdered cloves 1/24 ounce Indian pepper (chile) 1 1/4 ounce vanilla
A paste was made of these dried ingredients on a heated stone and then it was boiled to make hot chocolate.
The primary difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate today is that hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, which lacks the fat of cocoa butter. Hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate bars mixed with cream.
According to Khodorowsky and Robert: “The vogue for drinking chocolate, already established in Spain, reached the British Isles thanks to a Frenchman, who in 1657 opened the first chocolate factory in London. Unlike in France, where it was a pleasure strictly limited to the aristocracy, this ‘excellent West Indian drink’ was made available to the middle classes from the outset. Soon, alongside the coffee houses which made their appearance from 1652, there opened the first chocolate houses. London was also the setting, in 1674, for a historic invention: solid chocolate, presented in the form of ‘Spanish rolls’ or pastilles, and sold by the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll shop.” – The Gates of Vienna: The History of Cacao and Chocolate
After 1700 chiles disappeared as a major ingredient in chocolate drinks, although they were still used in traditional Mexican mole sauces. In Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History, Sidney Mintz offers a plausible explanation for the replacement of sugar for chiles:
The seemingly unquenchable desire for sugar in the modern world is not simply the outcome of the tongue’s biologically based affinity for sweetness, but rather the historical result of a conjuncture of factors. As Mintz traces sugar’s transformation from a medicinal additive to a luxury good among the upper classes, he argues that sugar “embodied the social position of the wealthy and powerful.” He points to “sugar’s usefulness as a mark of rank—to validate one’s social position. To elevate others, or to define them as inferior.” Sugar use traveled down to other classes in large part because their members accepted the meanings of their social superiors: “those who controlled the society held a commanding position not only in regard to the availability of sugar, but also in regard to at least some of the meanings that sugar products acquired … the simultaneous control of both the foods themselves and the meanings they are made to connote can be a means of a pacific domination.” – Tasting Empire: Chocolate – History cooperative
During the 18th century, techniques were invented to improve the grinding of cocoa beans and by the end of that century chocolate was prepared with milk and sugar. It wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate was molded into shapes and eaten as solid bars.
Even with the new grinding mills, the process of making chocolate remained laborious. Jim Gay, who makes chocolate in Colonial Williamsburg, explained in an article for American Heritage Chocolate:
The chocolate production process [he] follows involves “roasting cocoa beans, shelling them, crushing them in a large mixing bowl and transferring them to a heated grinding stone. Using an iron rolling pin, the cocoa beans are ground into a liquid and sugar and spices are added.” Gay explained that 18th-century chocolate “isn’t something you’re used to.” Its less sweet than modern chocolate and grittier because its impossible to grind the particles that finely using hand-made processes. Gay also said that “each month [the chocolate] has a slightly different texture and flavor; the flavor profiles always [change].” – http://www.dogstreetjournal.com/story/3152
The craze for drinking tea, chocolate, and coffee during this period resulted in an increased demand for porcelain and ceramic tea sets, chocolate pots, and coffee mugs. In response to public demand porcelain manufactures began to make specialized vessels that reflected the unique requirements that each beverage demanded in brewing and presentation, and which led to instantly identifiable tea, chocolate, andd coffee set. Coffee pots were generally taller and slimmer than short round tea pots, which were designed to keep boiling water hot. As in the image below, spouts were placed low on the body of small chocolate pots, which also sported a straight handle.
In comparison to chocolate pots, coffee pot spouts were long and sometimes arched, while the chocolate pot spout was fairly short (see image below). The inside of a coffee pot spout typically had a filter, or small partition with holes that kept the grounds from getting into the cup. A chocolate pot was made with a hinged finial that allowed for the insertion of a swizzle stick for stirring the hot chocolate. To prevent their loss, some of these finials were attached to the pot with a silver chain.
Due to the complexity of making the beverage, chocolate never attained the same popularity as coffee. By the latter part of the 18th century coffee houses had sprung up by the hundreds in London, and although the craze for chocolate had largely gone out of fashion by 1750, one of the most famous chocolate houses, White’s, still leaves a lasting impression:
The fame of St. James’s Street rests mainly upon its association with the coffee or chocolate houses and clubs which for some two and a half centuries have made it and Pall Mall the social rendezvous of masculine aristocratic society in London. This association dates back to the reign of William III, and more particularly to the fire of January 1697/8 which ravaged the Palace of Whitehall and resulted in the removal of the Court to St. James’s. Only two chocolate houses- White’s (1693) and Ozinda’s (1694)-are known to have been in existence in St. James’s Street and Pall Mall before the fire, but the succeeding years saw the establishment of the Cocoa Tree (1698), the Smyrna (1702), the Thatched House Tavern (1704 or 1705) and the St. James’s Coffee House (1705), all catering for the new client created in the neighbourhood by the presence of the Court of St. James.- Jermyn Street Asscociation
More links on the topic:
- This chocolate drink recipe from the 19th Century more closely approximates the hot chocolate we make today: Scrape fine one square of Baker’s chocolate (which will be an ounce). Put it in a pint of boiling water and milk, mixed in equal parts. Boil ten minutes, and during this time mill it or whip it with a Dover egg-whip (one with a wheel), which will make it foam beautifully. Sweeten to the taste, at table.- From Housekeeping in old Virginia (1879) pg 63
- Read more about hot chocolate in this excellent article from the Jane Austen Centre.
- Chocolate pots, Gourmet Sleuth
- Marie Antoinette and Chocolate
- Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of MesoAmerican Aesthetics, Marcy Norton
- Cocoa and Chocolate, Sir Arthur William Knapp, 1920
Posted in Regency style, jane austen, Regency food, Regency World, Jane Austen's life, Regency Life, Regency Drink, tagged Cookery, Regency food, Almack's, Regency drinks, ratafia, orgeat syrup, madeira, cordial waters on April 19, 2008 | 7 Comments »
It’s spring, and the Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre recommends some drinks with the author in his blog: gin with Fitzgerald, tea with Dr. Johnson, and madeira with Jane Austen. He chose madeira for Jane because it is “a little sweeter and lighter than sherry, which would also be suitable.” Other popular fortified wines of the time were sherry and port. Only gentleman drank the latter, as well as claret, an expensive French bordeaux.
The patronesses of Almack’s served orgeat and ratafia, two sugary sweet drinks. Refreshments at this tony establishment were supposed to be insipid, but both drinks have strong flavors.
Orgeat syrup, made with almond extract, sugar, and orange flower water, was (and still is) added as a flavoring to punch, hot chocolate, coffee, sparking water, or cocktails. This thick, sticky, and opaque milky liquid would have been considered too sweet by itself, and a small amount went a long way. A non-alcoholic orgeat lemonade would have consisted of orgeat syrup, lemonade, and soda water, and might well have been the sort of drink served at an Assembly.
Ratafia, which denotes almost any alcoholic or flavored water, could be made in several ways – distilled or with an infusion of fruits and spices. Ratafia’s alcoholic base would have consisted of marc brandy and the unfermented juice of the grape. The length of time for fermentation for this drink varies. A liquer made in mid-December, for example, could be ready to serve two months later on Valentine’s Day. One recipe for dark brown ratafia suggested that it be stored in an oak barrel for at least two years.
Capillaire, another drink of that era, seems similar to ratafia in that it is described as any simple syrup flavored with orange flowers. I was not able to find out more about this drink, other than as a vague reference.
As mentioned above, Mr. McIntyre chose madeira for Jane. This sweet, fortified wine was hugely popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, especially in Colonial America. Brandy was added to the wine to stop the conversion of alcohol from the sugars in the grapes.
British laws prohibited the exportation of wines to the colonies except for Madeira. This brandy-laced wine became so popular in colonial America that nearly 25% of all Madeira wine was shipped there. An interesting chemical reaction occurred inside the casks during the long, hot, and rocky sea voyage across the ocean – the wine improved vastly in flavor. “Why these wines, exposed to constant rocking, extreme heat, and the barrels often found soaking in bilge water, were not ruined, is a mystery.” (Into Wine) It was popularly thought at the time that for Madeira to age well, the wine had to cross the equator in order to heat up sufficiently. In those days, as now, the wine was offered as an aparatif, or with cheese or desserts after dinner.
Cordial waters or Liquers d’Italien had enjoyed a long reputation as wholesome, medicinal drinks, and personal recipes abounded. One 1820 recipe for Yellow Escubac included adding the following ingredients:
One ounce of saffron, one ounce of Damascus raisins, one ounce of cinnamon, three pounds of sugar, one ounce of liquorice, one ounce of corianders, three pints of brandy, two pints of water. Pound these ingredients, and dissolve the sugar in two pints of water; put the whole in ajar to infuse for a month, taking care to stir it up every second day, or third at farthest. – From: G.A. Jarrin, The Italian Confectioner (London: 1820)
Unlike Mr. McIntyre, I would have chosen a slightly different drink for Jane, a French wine perhaps, or, as Jane wrote to Cassandra, the orange wine, which would want “our care soon.” Whatever her choice of drink, a lady was not supposed to get drunk or tipsy, but as Dr. Jennifer Kloester allows, in an age that was generous in serving drink, sobriety would not have been easy state to maintain:
In general, upper-class women did not get drunk, although the prevalence of alcohol in society sometimes made this difficult. The arrack-punch served at Vauxhall Gardens was drunk by both men and women, despite a reputation for potency. It was said to have been made from the grains of the Benjamin flower mixed with rum and was freely imbibed on gala nights. Some men preferred to mix their own punch as Freddy did in Cotillion and rum punch (rum, lemon, arrack and sugar), Regent’s punch (various fruits, rum, brandy, hock, Curaçao, Madeira and champagne) and Negus (port, lemon, sugar and spices) were popular brews. Fortified wines such as Madeira and sherry were also popular with men and some women during the Regency but red wines such as claret, burgundy and port tended to be the more exclusive province of male drinkers. Brandy, gin and rum were drunk by upper-class men, although they often chose to drink the rougher forms of these spirits in the less salubrious surroundings of the inns and taverns of the poorer quarters of London. – Georgette Heyer’s Regency World
Learn more about Madeira and other alcoholic drinks that could be served to ladies of the Regency era in these links:
- Click here for my post on: Syllabub or Sillabub, Straight from the Cow: We Just Don’t Drink It Like This Any More
Dance image from Wikimedia Commons.
“Who you callin’ a silly bub, and what’s that you’re offering me?”- Mentioned on three occasions in Samuel Pepys’ diary — in 1662, 1663 and 1668
When we think of Christmases past, including the traditions and foods that Jane Austen and her kin would have enjoyed, we think of yule logs, kissing boughs, and festive drinks, such as apple toddy, milk punch, and syllabub, a less potent alcoholic and cream mixture than eggnog.
Over time, the precise recipes have changed. According to British Culture, British Customs, and British Traditions, “In the seventeenth century, a milkmaid would send a stream of new, warm milk directly from a cow into a bowl of spiced cider or ale. A light curd would form on top with a lovely whey underneath. This, according to Elizabeth David, was the original syllabub. Today’s syllabub is more solid (its origins can also be traced to the seventeenth century, albeit to the upper classes) and mixes sherry and/or brandy, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and double cream into a custard-like dessert or an eggnog-like beverage, depending upon the cook.”
“In the hour or two that the syllabub was set aside, a curd formed over the ale. With the possible addition of a layer of cream on top, the syllabub was ready to drink. The solids that formed on top of a syllabub were eaten with a spoon, the wine at the bottom drunk.”* Historic Food offers another detailed account of the history and making of this fascinating drink. I’ve also found a stanza from a traditional song that includes drinking syllabub under a cow, which sits below.
You hawk, you hunt, you lie upon pallets,
You eat, you drink (the Lord knows how !);We sit upon hillocks, and pick up our sallets, And drink up a syllabub under a cow.
With a fading.
In The Universal Cook: And City and Country Housekeeper, John Francis Collingwood and John Woollams, the Principal Cooks at The Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand in the late 18th century, offer precisely such a recipe for syllabub. One supposes that these instructions might be difficult to follow today except for the most determined country person:
A Syllabub Under a Cow
Having put a bottle of red or white wine, ale or cyder, into a China bowl, sweeten it with sugar, and grate in some nutmeg. Then hold it under the cow, and milk into it until it has a fine froth on the top. Strew over it a handful of currants cleaned, washed, and picked, and plumbed before the fire.
Over half a century later, Mrs. Beeton includes this syllabub recipe in her historic and groundbreaking cookery and household management book:
To Make Syllabub
900ml (1½ pints) Milk
600ml (1 pint) Sherry or White Wine
½ Grated Nutmeg
Sugar, to taste
Put the wine into a bowl, with the grated nutmeg and plenty of caster sugar add the milk and whisk.
Clotted cream may be laid on the top, with ground cinnamon or nutmeg and sugar.
A little brandy may be added to the wine before the milk is put in.
In some counties, cider is substituted for the wine, when this is used, brandy must always be added.
Warm milk may be poured on from a spouted jug or teapot, but it must be held very high.
Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.
Seasonable at any time.
Find more information about syllabub in these links:
- Traditional recipe for lemon syllabub at the National Trust
- A Single Syllabub, Jane Austen Centre
Image from Historic Foods
Wassailing goes back to pre-Christian times in a tradition meant to bring luck for the coming year. Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael”, meaning “be well”. At the start of each year, the Saxon lord of the manor would shout ‘waes hael’. The assembled crowd would reply ‘drinc hael’, meaning ‘drink and be healthy’. In cider producing regions, the wassailers went from door to door, with a wassail bowl filled with spiced ale, and sang and drank to the health of those they visited. In return people in the houses gave them drink, money and Christmas food. Traditionally Wassailing was held on Old ‘Twelvy’ Night, before the Georgian Calendar aligned the calendar year to the solar year. The true date for Wassailing, therefore, was the 17th of January.
Listen to a traditional wassailing song on this YouTube link.
In cider producing regions, the tradition varied, and was known as the wassailing of trees:
…it was the custom for the Devonshire people on the eve of Twelfth Day to go after supper into the orchard with a large milk-pan full of cyder with roasted apples in it. Each person took what was called a clayen cup, i.e. an earthenware cup full of cyder, and standing under each of the more fruitful trees, sung —
“Health to thee, good apple-tree,
Well to bear, pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
After drinking part of the contents of the cup, he threw the rest, with the fragments of the roasted apples, at the trees, amid the shouting of the company. Another song sung on such occasions was
“Here’s to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou may’st bud, and whence thou may’st blow,
And whence thou may’st bear apples enow
Hats full! caps full!
And my pockets full, too, huzza!”
Update: Tim writes: Wassailing refers to the practice of both door-to-door carol-singing on Christmas Eve and the apple wassailing on Old Twelth Night. The naming comes from the common imbibing of the wassail. Both traditions co-exist and the carolling occurs not just in cider-growing areas.
Thanks for the information, Tim. I should have been clearer about the distinction between the two traditions at the start of this post. These days wassailing does mean carolling, but it did not always have this connotation.
La Belle Cuisine, Recipe from the Gourmet Archives
4 cups apple cider
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt to taste
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
Freshly grated nutmeg
In a saucepan bring the apple cider to a boil over medium heat, add
the brown sugar and cook mixture, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove pan from heat and add the rum, brandy, orange liqueur,
cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, and fruit slices. Heat mixture over
moderate heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Pour the wassail into wine glasses
and top it with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.
In an era before refrigeration and long term food storage, people ate produce that was fresh and in season. When fresh fruits and vegetables were in poor supply, dishes were heavy in meat and protein. This situation was less likely to be true for the wealthy, who were able to replenish their tables with fresh fruits and vegetables grown in their own greenhouses.
Mrs. Hannah Glasse lists fresh foods by month in her classic cookery book, The Art of Cookery. Here is her list of available foods for November.
MEAT.—Beef, mutton, veal, doe venison.
POULTRY.—Chickens, fowls, geese, larks, pigeons, pullets, rabbits, teal, turkeys, widgeons, wild duck.
GAME.—Hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcocks.
VEGETABLES.—Beetroot, cabbages, carrots, celery, lettuces, late cucumbers, onions, potatoes, salading, spinach, sprouts,—various herbs.
FRUIT.—Apples, bullaces, chestnuts, filberts, grapes, pears, walnuts.
- Harvest Festival
BBC Food also lists fresh foods in season: parsnips, beetroot, pumpkins, swede*, cabbage, leeks, potatoes, teal, goose, venison, grouse, oyster, chestnuts, cranberries, pears, and quinces. Click on the link to find recipes using these ingredients. *Swedes are a traditional British food. You can read more about them in The British Kitchen, and find a few recipes for preparing them as well. Click here for a Heritage recipe for fish pie. Whether in the U.S. or across The Pond, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.These links discuss the Harvest Festival in more detail.
The Historic Foods website offers a splendid Georgian recipe of gooseberries cut as hops and preserved in syrup.
The first printed version of this once popular recipe is found in Elizabeth Smith’s The Compleat Housewife (London: 1727). The instructions seem complex, but the results, as you can see, are visually delightful. In earlier times gooseberries were dried and candied, or made into a sauce served with fish or goose meat.
For a detailed history of the gooseberry, click on the link above.
Watercolour of Gooseberries by Pamela Sweda
Although England was at war with France during the Regency Era, the upper crust considered it fashionable to hire a French chef. This common practice was considered a folly by cookery book author, Hannah Glasse, who said her fellow Englishmen “would rather be impos’d on by a French Booby, than give Encouragement to a good English Cook!”
For the more ordinary households, the most popular cookery books of the era were written by women: Eliza Smith,1727; Hannah Glasse, 1747; and Elizabeth Raffald,1769. Hanna’s wildly popular book was reprinted 17 times between 1747 and 1803! In those days, the authors borrowed recipes liberally from each other, but Mrs. Glasse’s recipes were more detailed and clearly written than most. “I have attempted a Branch of Cookery which Nobody has yet thought worth their while to write upon…My Intention is to instruct the lower Sort [so that] every servant who can read will be capable of making a tolerable good Cook.”
Reading Hannah’s recipes, we can see how much our tastes in food have changed. Her Cookery Book included recipes for Jugged Pigeons, Potted Venison, Fried Celery, Tipsy Cake, and Salamangundy (a salad made with cuccumber, apples, grapes, herring, red cabbage, hard boiled eggs, and cooked fowl.) As to how the food of the day tasted, here are Jane Austen’s words, scribbled to Cassandra in 1808:
“The Widgeon and the preserved ginger were as delicious as one could wish. But as to our black butter, do not decoy anybody to Southampton by such a lure, for it is all gone …”
From Food: and Cooking in 18th Century Britain: History and Recipes, Jennifer Snead, English Heritage, ISBN 1 85074 084 4
- The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1747
- Regency Cookery Course
- Regency Recipes
- Regency Dinner Parties and Etiquette
- Vinegar Pie
- Food History Site
Whenever Jane Austen came to visit London, her ears would have been assaulted by the din of London street noise. This would include the distinctive cries in the evening from street vendors such as the pie men shouting, “Pies all ‘ot! eel, beef, or mutton pies! Penny pies, all ‘ot–all ‘ot!”
In 1851, Henry Mayhew published London Labor and the London Poor, Vol 1. This social history described the venerable but humble occupation of the ‘street pie men’ and ‘the street-sellers of pea-soup and hot eels.’ These pie men sold their hot food to poor working class families at an affordable price. At one time, over 600 pie men roamed London to sell meat, eel or fruit pies in streets, taverns, summer fairs and at the races. By the time of Henry Mayhew’s history, only about 50 remained, selling their pies from 6 (in the evening, I presume) and staying out all night. The best time for selling pies was between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Eel sellers, however, largely sold their wares from stalls. Around the mid-19th century, these two trades went into a decline when penny-pie shops were established. Some street pie men did not seal off their pies properly, whereas the new shops sold food that was generally safe. Instead of selling pre-made pies, they sold live eels or food with good nutritional value for families to take home and cook. Within a few years the street sellers had almost disappeared.
Read more about this topic in the following links, especially Henry Mayhew’s. He interviewed actual working pie men and wrote down their observations:
- History of Pie Sellers
- British Food: The Humble Pie
- Food Timeline: Pies and Pastry
- Giant Pies
- Henry Mayhew: London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1
Antonin Careme, 1784 – 1833, was regarded the world’s first celebrity chef, and was credited for creating haute cuisine for the kings and queens of Europe. He made Napoleon’s wedding cake, souffles flecked with gold for the Rothschilds in Paris, and meals for the Romanovs in Russia using such esoteric ingredients as rooster testicles. On January 15, 1817, Antonin supervised the meal served at Brighton Pavilion for the Prince Regent, which included over 100 dishes.
In High Society, Venetia Murray writes:
At the Pavilion, and in other grand households, dinner was still served a la fracaise, which meant that the majority of the dishes were arranged in the middle of the table: the people were supposed to help themselves from the nearest dish and then offer it to their neighbours. If, however, someone fancied one of the other dishes, which might well have been placed at the opposite end of the table, he had to ask a fellow guest within range, or one of the servants, to pass it. It was therefore impossible to sustain a conversation because someone was always interrupting and the servants were always on the move. (p. 182-83)
The chances of the Prince Regent’s guests getting the exact dishes they wanted on the menu would not have been great. At best they would have received a random sampling of such dishes as:
Les poulardes a la Perigueux, La timbale de macaroni a la Napolitaine, La fricassee de poulets a l’Italienne, Les galantines de perdreaux a la gelee, Le petits poulets a l’Indienne, La cote de boeuf auz oignons glaces, Les escalopes de volaille aux truffes, Le vol-au-vent de quenelles a l’Allemande, La brioche au fromage, Les canards sauvages, Les genoises glacess au cafe, Les sckals au beurre, Le fromage bavarois aux avelines, and de petites souffles au chocolat.
Brighton Pavilion and Chateau Rothschild
20 vol-au-vent cases, the diameter of a glass
20 cocks-stones (testes)
10 lambs sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
10 small truffles, pared, chopped, boiled in consomme
20 tiny mushrooms
20 lobster tails
4 fine whole lambs’ brains, boiled and chopped
1 French loaf
2 spoonfuls chicken jelly
2 spoonfuls veloute sauce
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
4 egg yolks
2 chickens, boned
2 calves’ udders
2 pints cream
Crumb a whole French loaf. Add two spoonfuls of poultry jelly, one of veloute, one tablespoon of chopped parsley, two of mushrooms, chopped. Boil and stir as it thickens to a ball. Add two egg yolks. Pound the flesh of two boned chickens through a sieve. Boil two calves’ udders — once cold, pound and pass through a sieve.
Then, mix six ounces of the breadcrumbs panada to ten ounces of the chicken meat, and ten of the calves’ udders and combine and pound for 15 minutes. Add five drams of salt, some nutmeg and the yolks of two more eggs and a spoonful of cold veloute or bechamel. Pound for a further ten minutes. Test by poaching a ball in boiling water — it should form soft, smooth balls.
Make some balls of poultry forcemeat in small coffee spoons, dip them in jelly broth and after draining on a napkin, place them regularly in the vol-au-vent, already half filled with:
a good ragout of cocks-combs and stones (testicles)
lambs’ sweetbreads (thymus and pancreatic glands, washed in water for five hours, until the liquid runs clear)
four fine whole brains
Cover all with an extra thick sauce Allemande.
Learn more about Antonin Careme
- Click here to listen to an NPR podcast about this great chef (the link may say it is outdated, click any way, and you will hear this fascinating story)