“Put a bit of butter into a stew-pan, throw in large oysters and some mushrooms, with pepper, salt, pounded cloves, parsley, and sweet herbs chopped, a dust of flour; stir these about half a minute, then put the oysters on silver skewers, a mushroom between each; roll them in crumbs of bread; broil them; put into the stew-pan a little good gravy, let it be thick and palatable; a little lemon-juice. Serve the oysters on the skewers; the sauce on the dish.”
—From “The lady’s assistant for regulating and supplying the table: being a complete system of cookery… including the fullest and choicest receipts of various kinds.”
Carolyn Smith-Kizer who runs ‘18thC Cuisine‘ writes: It seems the way to a man’s heart has always been through his stomach. If the lady who supplies the bread and honeyed wine is also good in other wifely arts, so much the better.
Here is a plate of barley bread & goat cheese with honey, served with that infamous Pramnian wine in honor of Novel Food, an event celebrating food immortalized in prose or poetry, and a dish that Circe served Odysseus, hoping to tempt him to stay.
Karen Hammonds who runs revolutionarypie.com writes: “Pudding” was once a general term for dessert (and still is in Great Britain), but there were plenty of recipes in old cookbooks for “cake,” so why wasn’t this one of them? The answer seems to be that although it was a cake, this dish was served with a sauce that was poured over the top, resulting in a slightly mushy, pudding-like dessert. The cake itself was also very moist.
As for the term “cottage,” it probably identified this dish as simple and affordable — suitable for farmers or laborers who lived in modest cottages. (It is similar in that sense to cottage pie, an early name for shepherd’s pie.)
Jas Townsend who runs savouringthepast.net writes: This Ship’s Bisket is known by many names. Most of the time it was called just bisket, sometimes it was called hard bisket or brown bisket, sea bisket and ship’s bread. Now many today might want to call it hard tack, but hard tack is really a 19th century term that was popularized during the American civil war.
These 18th century biskets are not like today’s buttery flaky version that we serve along with sausage gravy for breakfast. These biskets were not made to be enjoyed; they were made out of necessity.
Ship’s captains faced a continual challenge of having enough food on board to feed a large crew for a long journey. Food spoilage was really his greatest concern. Fresh bread rapidly became moldy on long trips and stored flour would go rancid and bug ridden, so hard bisket was really born out of necessity.
It was a means of food preservation. If it was prepared and stored properly it would last for a year or more. In addition to preservation, the bisket form also helped in portability and in dividing the rations when it came time. Soldiers and sailors typically got one pound of bread a day and biskets were usually about four ounces so when it came time to distribute them, each sailor or soldier would get four biskets.
Biskets from London were considered to be the highest quality. They were the most resistant to mold and insects. They were really the standard by which all the other bisket maker’s aspired to, but not all biskets were the same quality.
A retro drink enjoying renewed interest found onfood52.com
The Rickey is a highball drink made from gin or bourbon, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the rickey. Originally created with bourbon in Washington, D.C. at Shoomaker’s bar by bartender George A. Williamson in the 1880s, purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey, it became a worldwide sensation when mixed with gin a decade later.
A recipe for the rickey appears as early as Daly’s Bartenders’ Encyclopedia (1903, p. 57) by Tim Daly:
GIN RICKEY. Use a sour glass. Squeeze the juice of one lime into it. 1 small lump of ice. 1 wine glass of Plymouth gin. Fill the glass with syphon seltzer, and serve with small bar spoon.
A cake recipe inspired by a book by Philip Pullman found on theguardian.com
Lunch, in their Bohemian household, consisted of a jug of ale, the remains of a large joint of roast beef, a fruit cake and a bag of apples, which Rosa said she had been given the night before by one of her admirers, a porter in Covent Garden market. They ate it, with the help of one large pocket knife and their fingers. – From “The Ruby in the Smoke” by Philip Pullman
In Context: The Ancient Greeks made pancakes called τηγανίτης (tēganitēs), ταγηνίτης (tagēnitēs) or ταγηνίας (tagēnias), all words deriving from τάγηνον (tagēnon), “frying pan”. The earliest attested references on tagenias are in the works of the 5th century BC poets Cratinus and Magnes. Tagenites were made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk, and were served for breakfast. Another kind of pancake was σταιτίτης (staititēs), from σταίτινος (staitinos), “of flour or dough of spelt”, derived from σταῖς (stais), “flour of spelt”. Athenaeus mentions, in his Deipnosophistae, staititas topped with honey, sesame, and cheese. The Middle English word Pancake appears in English in the 15th century.
The Ancient Romans called their fried concoctions “alia dulcia,” which was Latin for “other sweets”. These were much different from what are known as pancakes today.
Jas. Townsend and Son who runs SavouringThePast writes What do you drink if you’re worn out and need a little kick? An Ade, soda, an energy boost? In the 18th century, before supermarkets had shelves lined with this stuff, many people drank a delicious beverage called Switchel.
Beverages similar to Switchel date all the way back to ancient Greece, and were drank all the way around the world. This recipe was typical of those popular in America from New England all the way to the Caribbean.
Of course regional influences made for local flares. In Vermont, for example, Switchel was made with Maple Syrup and mixed with oatmeal. (The oatmeal was eaten as a snack once the beverage was finished.) While in Trinidad the drink was almost always mixed with special branches from the quararibea turbinata plant. (Also known as the swizzlestick tree.)
Jas. Townsend & Son who runs savoringthepast.net writes: Welcome to our blog, SavoringthePast.net. The purpose of this blog is to open dialog with readers and to share insights regarding the history of food.
Food is a universal connection between people of differing cultures, locations, and ages. It’s easy to take for granted the foods we regularly enjoy, giving little thought to the origins of our favorite dishes or how they may have impacted history or evolved over time. The dinner table has always been a place for friends to gather to exchange ideas and engage in dialog ever since…well…ever since there were dinner tables.
If you are at all interested in food history, old recipes and old cooking methods this is not a blog you would want to miss – Ted