Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who Wants Seconds?

As you can well guess, I am quite chuffed with Mrs. Beeton and her 1823 ways. I must admit however that some of her recipes have made my stomach turn more than once. Here is just a sample of what went to the table of a Victorian middle class family:

Turtle soup, the mode – “to make this soup with less difficulty, cut off the head of the turtle the preceding day.” Apparently they had mildly retarded turtles back then than didn’t have the smarts to pull their head back under the shell. “Hey, what is that sharp shiny object coming at my……” WHACK! “In the morning open the turtle by leaning heavily with a knife on the shell of the animal’s back, whilst you cut this off all around.” Gross, but the use of the word ‘whilst’ makes it more palatable.

Eel pie, the mode – “skin and wash the eels, cut them into pieces two inches long. Due to the difficulty in killing them, they are sold alive. The eels are skinned alive – their heads cut off and then the skin rolled off from the neck down.” The book goes onto describe how the pieces ‘may continue to move even after being skinned and chopped’. Nothing more to say on that but “eel pie anyone?”

If you lived on a farm and had to kill an oxen, ‘the general mode’ for doing so was ‘by striking them a smart blow with a hammer or poleaxe on the head, a little above the eyes. When the blow is skillfully given, the beast is brought down at one blow, and, to prevent recovery, a cane is generally inserted, by which the spinal cord is perforated.’ I am sure what we do today is equally grim, but you don’t hear Martha writing about it. Goodness.

Boiled tongue – when selecting such a thing, ascertain how long it has been dried or pickled, and select one with a smooth tongue that denotes its being young and tender. McDonalds, are you taking notes?

Collared Pig’s Face (a breakfast dish) – GOOD morning indeed! Singe the head carefully, bone it without breaking the skin, and rub it well with salt. Pour a cold brine over it and let it steeped for 10 days. That must smell delicious Mrs. B!

Suckling Pig – “”Put the pig into cold water directly it is killed; let it remain for a few minutes, then immerse it in a large pan of boiling water for two minutes. Take it out, lay it on a table, and pull off the hair as quickly as possible. When the skin looks clean, make a slit down the belly, take out the entrails, well clean the nostrils and ears, wash the pig in cold water, and wipe it thoroughly dry.” WOW – you really had to work for your food back then didn’t you? Again, McDonalds, are you making notes? Take OUT the entrails.

The goes on and includes boiled calf’s feet, boiled calf’s head and other delicacies, but I am sure I have inspired you all enough as it is to run off to the kitchen and whip yourself up a little something to eat. Enjoy!


Blogger Lance Morrison said...

I would be inspired to run off to the chicken, but I can't find a chicken to run off to. Maybe I'll just go to the kitchen, instead.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Robert Mitchell L.L. said...

Kitchen....not chicken. Thanks for the catch!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my, how can one wait ten days for Collared Pig's Face. I wonder what a good side dish would be for this gastronomic delight?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my dear---your grandmother and great grandfather were astute at chopping off chickens heads and howling with laughter 'whilst' the headless torsos ran and sprayed blood all over my legs---'whilst' I screamed and danced....and my dear the smell of singed pin feathers---not to be missed.
auntie karen

8:06 AM  

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