Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine
William Carew Hazlitt
Part 1 out of 3
The Book-Lover's Library
Edited by Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A.
OLD COOKERY BOOKS AND ANCIENT CUISINE
W. CAREW HAZLITT
_THE BOOK-LOVERS LIBRARY_ was first published in the following styles:
No. 1.--Printed on antique paper, in cloth bevelled with rough edges,
price 4s. 6d.
No. 2.--Printed on hand-made paper, in Roxburgh, half morocco, with
gilt top: 250 only are printed, for sale in England, price 7s. 6d.
No. 3.--Large paper edition, on hand-made paper; of which 50 copies
only are printed, and bound in Roxburgh, for sale in England, price L1
There are a few sets left, and can be had on application to the
Man has been distinguished from other animals in various ways; but
perhaps there is no particular in which he exhibits so marked a
difference from the rest of creation--not even in the prehensile
faculty resident in his hand--as in the objection to raw food, meat,
and vegetables. He approximates to his inferior contemporaries only in
the matter of fruit, salads, and oysters, not to mention wild-duck.
He entertains no sympathy with the cannibal, who judges the flavour of
his enemy improved by temporary commitment to a subterranean
larder; yet, to be sure, he keeps his grouse and his venison till it
approaches the condition of spoon-meat.
It naturally ensues, from the absence or scantiness of explicit or
systematic information connected with the opening stages of such
inquiries as the present, that the student is compelled to draw his
own inferences from indirect or unwitting allusion; but so long as
conjecture and hypothesis are not too freely indulged, this class of
evidence is, as a rule, tolerably trustworthy, and is, moreover, open
When we pass from an examination of the state of the question as
regarded Cookery in very early times among us, before an even
more valuable art--that of Printing--was discovered, we shall find
ourselves face to face with a rich and long chronological series of
books on the Mystery, the titles and fore-fronts of which are often
not without a kind of fragrance and _gout_.
As the space allotted to me is limited, and as the sketch left by
Warner of the convivial habits and household arrangements of
the Saxons or Normans in this island, as well as of the monastic
institutions, is more copious than any which I could offer, it may be
best to refer simply to his elaborate preface. But it may be pointed
out generally that the establishment of the Norman sway not only
purged of some of their Anglo-Danish barbarism the tables of the
nobility and the higher classes, but did much to spread among the
poor a thriftier manipulation of the articles of food by a resort to
broths, messes, and hot-pots. In the poorer districts, in Normandy
as well as in Brittany, Duke William would probably find very little
alteration in the mode of preparing victuals from that which was in
use in his day, eight hundred years ago, if (like another Arthur)
he should return among his ancient compatriots; but in his adopted
country he would see that there had been a considerable revolt from
the common saucepan--not to add from the pseudo-Arthurian bag-pudding;
and that the English artisan, if he could get a rump-steak or a leg of
mutton once a week, was content to starve on the other six days.
Those who desire to be more amply informed of the domestic economy
of the ancient court, and to study the _minutiae_, into which I am
precluded from entering, can easily gratify themselves in the pages
of "The Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal
Household," 1790; "The Northumberland Household Book;" and the
various printed volumes of "Privy Purse Expenses" of royal and
great personages, including "The Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield
The late Mr. Green, in his "History of the English People" (1880-3, 4
vols. 8vo), does not seem to have concerned himself about the kitchens
or gardens of the nation which he undertook to describe. Yet, what
conspicuous elements these have been in our social and domestic
progress, and what civilising factors!
To a proper and accurate appreciation of the cookery of ancient times
among ourselves, a knowledge of its condition in other more or
less neighbouring countries, and of the surrounding influences and
conditions which marked the dawn of the art in England, and its slow
transition to a luxurious excess, would be in strictness necessary;
but I am tempted to refer the reader to an admirable series of papers
which appeared on this subject in Barker's "Domestic Architecture,"
and were collected in 1861, under the title of "Our English Home: its
Early History and Progress." In this little volume the author, who
does not give his name, has drawn together in a succinct compass the
collateral information which will help to render the following pages
more luminous and interesting. An essay might be written on the
appointments of the table only, their introduction, development, and
The history and antiquities of the Culinary Art among the Greeks
are handled with his usual care and skill by M.J.A. St. John in his
"Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece," 1842; and in the _Biblia_
or Hebrew Scriptures we get an indirect insight into the method of
cooking from the forms of sacrifice.
The earliest legend which remains to us of Hellenic gastronomy is
associated with cannibalism. It is the story of Pelops--an episode
almost pre-Homeric, where a certain rudimentary knowledge of dressing
flesh, and even of disguising its real nature, is implied in the tale,
as it descends to us; and the next in order of times is perhaps
the familiar passage in the _Odyssey_, recounting the adventures of
Odysseus and his companions in the cave of Polyphemus. Here, again,
we are introduced to a rude society of cave-dwellers, who eat human
flesh, if not as an habitual diet, yet not only without reluctance,
but with relish and enjoyment.
The _Phagetica_ of Ennius, of which fragments remain, seems to be the
most ancient treatise of the kind in Roman literature. It is supposed
to relate an account of edible fishes; but in a complete state the
work may very well have amounted to a general Manual on the subject.
In relation even to Homer, the _Phagetica_ is comparatively modern,
following the _Odyssey_ at a distance of some six centuries; and in
the interval it is extremely likely that anthropophagy had become
rarer among the Greeks, and that if they still continued to be cooking
animals, they were relinquishing the practice of cooking one another.
Mr. Ferguson, again, has built on Athenaeus and other authorities a
highly valuable paper on "The Formation of the Palate," and the late
Mr. Coote, in the forty-first volume of "Archaeologia," has a second
on the "Cuisine Bourgeoise" of ancient Rome. These two essays, with
the "Fairfax Inventories" communicated to the forty-eighth volume of
the "Archaeologia" by Mr. Peacock, cover much of the ground which had
been scarcely traversed before by any scientific English inquirer. The
importance of an insight into the culinary economy of the Romans lies
in the obligations under which the more western nations of Europe are
to it for nearly all that they at first knew upon the subject. The
Romans, on their part, were borrowers in this, as in other, sciences
from Greece, where the arts of cookery and medicine were associated,
and were studied by physicians of the greatest eminence; and to Greece
these mysteries found their way from Oriental sources. But the school
of cookery which the Romans introduced into Britain was gradually
superseded in large measure by one more agreeable to the climate and
physical demands of the people; and the free use of animal food, which
was probably never a leading feature in the diet of the Italians as
a community, and may be treated as an incidence of imperial luxury,
proved not merely innocuous, but actually beneficial to a more
So little is to be collected--in the shape of direct testimony, next
to nothing--of the domestic life of the Britons--that it is only by
conjecture that one arrives at the conclusion that the original diet
of our countrymen consisted of vegetables, wild fruit, the honey of
wild bees--which is still extensively used in this country,--a coarse
sort of bread, and milk. The latter was evidently treated as a very
precious article of consumption, and its value was enhanced by the
absence of oil and the apparent want of butter. Mr. Ferguson supposes,
from some remains of newly-born calves, that our ancestors sacrificed
the young of the cow rather than submit to a loss of the milk; but it
was, on the contrary, an early superstition, and may be, on obvious
grounds, a fact, that the presence of the young increased the yield
in the mother, and that the removal of the calf was detrimental. The
Italian invaders augmented and enriched the fare, without, perhaps,
materially altering its character; and the first decided reformation
in the mode of living here was doubtless achieved by the Saxon and
Danish settlers; for those in the south, who had migrated hither
from the Low Countries, ate little flesh, and indeed, as to certain
animals, cherished, according to Caesar, religious scruples against
It was to the hunting tribes, who came to us from regions even bleaker
and more exacting than our own, that the southern counties owed the
taste for venison and a call for some nourishment more sustaining than
farinaceous substances, green stuff and milk, as well as a gradual
dissipation of the prejudice against the hare, the goose, and the
hen as articles of food, which the "Commentaries" record. It is
characteristic of the nature of our nationality, however, that while
the Anglo-Saxons and their successors refused to confine themselves
to the fare which was more or less adequate to the purposes of
archaic pastoral life in this island, they by no means renounced their
partiality for farm and garden produce, but by a fusion of culinary
tastes and experiences akin to fusion of race and blood, laid the
basis of the splendid _cuisine_ of the Plantagenet and Tudor periods.
Our cookery is, like our tongue, an amalgam.
But the Roman historian saw little or nothing of our country except
those portions which lay along or near the southern coast; the rest of
his narrative was founded on hearsay; and he admits that the people in
the interior--those beyond the range of his personal knowledge, more
particularly the northern tribes and the Scots--were flesh-eaters,
by which he probably intends, not consumers of cattle, but of the
venison, game, and fish which abounded in their forests and rivers.
The various parts of this country were in Caesar's day, and very long
after, more distinct from each other for all purposes of communication
and intercourse than we are now from Spain or from Switzerland; and
the foreign influences which affected the South Britons made no mark
on those petty states which lay at a distance, and whose diet was
governed by purely local conditions. The dwellers northward were by
nature hunters and fishermen, and became only by Act of Parliament
poachers, smugglers, and illicit distillers; the province of the male
portion of the family was to find food for the rest; and a pair of
spurs laid on an empty trencher was well understood by the goodman as
a token that the larder was empty and replenishable.
There are new books on all subjects, of which it is comparatively easy
within a moderate compass to afford an intelligible, perhaps even
a sufficient, account. But there are others which I, for my part,
hesitate to touch, and which do not seem to be amenable to the law
of selection. "Studies in Nidderland," by Mr. Joseph Lucas, is one of
these. It was a labour of love, and it is full of records of singular
survivals to our time of archaisms of all descriptions, culinary and
gardening utensils not forgotten. There is one point, which I may
perhaps advert to, and it is the square of wood with a handle, which
the folk in that part of Yorkshire employed, in lieu of the ladle, for
stirring, and the stone ovens for baking, which, the author tells us,
occur also in a part of Surrey. But the volume should be read as a
whole. We have of such too few.
Under the name of a Roman epicure, Coelius Apicius, has come down
to us what may be accepted as the most ancient European "Book of
Cookery." I think that the idea widely entertained as to this work
having proceeded from the pen of a man, after whom it was christened,
has no more substantial basis than a theory would have that the
"Arabian Nights" were composed by Haroun al Raschid. Warner, in the
introduction to his "Antiquitates Culinariae," 1791, adduces as a
specimen of the rest two receipts from this collection, shewing how
the Roman cook of the Apician epoch was wont to dress a hog's paunch,
and to manufacture sauce for a boiled chicken. Of the three persons
who bore the name, it seems to be thought most likely that the one who
lived under Trajan was the true godfather of the Culinary Manual.
One of Massinger's characters (Holdfast) in the "City Madam," 1658,
is made to charge the gourmets of his time with all the sins of
extravagance perpetrated in their most luxurious and fantastic
epoch. The object was to amuse the audience; but in England no "court
gluttony," much less country Christmas, ever saw buttered eggs which
had cost L30, or pies of carps' tongues, or pheasants drenched with
ambergris, or sauce for a peacock made of the gravy of three fat
wethers, or sucking pigs at twenty marks each.
Both Apicius and our Joe Miller died within L80,000 of being
beggars--Miller something the nigher to that goal; and there was this
community of insincerity also, that neither really wrote the books
which carry their names. Miller could not make a joke or understand
one when anybody else made it. His Roman foregoer, who would certainly
never have gone for his dinner to Clare Market, relished good dishes,
even if he could not cook them.
It appears not unlikely that the Romish clergy, whose monastic
vows committed them to a secluded life, were thus led to seek some
compensation for the loss of other worldly pleasures in those of the
table; and that, when one considers the luxury of the old abbeys, one
ought to recollect at the same time, that it was perhaps in this case
as it was in regard to letters and the arts, and that we are under a
certain amount of obligation to the monks for modifying the barbarism
of the table, and encouraging a study of gastronomy.
There are more ways to fame than even Horace suspected. The road to
immortality is not one but manifold. A man can but do what he can. As
the poet writes and the painter fills with his inspiration the
mute and void canvas, so doth the Cook his part. There was formerly
apopular work in France entitled "Le Cuisinier Royal," by MM. Viard
and Fouret, who describe themselves as "Hommes de Bouche." The
twelfth edition lies before me, a thick octavo volume, dated 1805. The
title-page is succeeded by an anonymous address to the reader, at the
foot of which occurs a peremptory warning to pilferers of dishes or
parts thereof; in other words, to piratical invaders of the copyright
of Monsieur Barba. There is a preface equally unclaimed by signatures
or initials, but as it is in the singular number the two _hommes
de bouche_ can scarcely have written it; perchance it was M. Barba
aforesaid, lord-proprietor of these not-to-be-touched treasures; but
anyhow the writer had a very solemn feeling of the debt which he had
conferred on society by making the contents public for the twelfth
time, and he concludes with a mixture of sentiments, which it is very
difficult to define: "Dans la paix de ma conscience, non moins que
dans l'orgueil d'avoir si honorablement rempli cette importante
mission, je m'ecrierai avec le poete des gourmands et des amoureux:
"Exegi monumentum aere perennius
Non omnis moriar."
THE EARLY ENGLISHMAN AND HIS FOOD.
William of Malmesbury particularly dwells on the broad line of
distinction still existing between the southern English and the folk
of the more northerly districts in his day, twelve hundred years after
the visit of Caesar. He says that they were then (about A.D. 1150)
as different as if they had been different races; and so in fact they
were--different in their origin, in their language, and their diet.
In his "Folk-lore Relics of Early Village Life," 1883, Mr. Gomme
devotes a chapter to "Early Domestic Customs," and quotes Henry's
"History of Great Britain" for a highly curious clue to the primitive
mode of dressing food, and partaking of it, among the Britons. Among
the Anglo-Saxons the choice of poultry and game was fairly wide.
Alexander Neckani, in his "Treatise on Utensils (twelfth century)"
gives fowls, cocks, peacocks, the cock of the wood (the woodcock, not
the capercailzie), thrushes, pheasants, and several more; and pigeons
were only too plentiful. The hare and the rabbit were well enough
known, and with the leveret form part of an enumeration of wild
animals (_animalium ferarum_) in a pictorial vocabulary of the
fifteenth century. But in the very early accounts or lists, although
they must have soon been brought into requisition, they are not
specifically cited as current dishes. How far this is attributable to
the alleged repugnance of the Britons to use the hare for the table,
as Caesar apprises us that they kept it only _voluptatis causa_, it
is hard to say; but the way in which the author of the "Commentaries"
puts it induces the persuasion that by _lepus_ he means not the hare,
but the rabbit, as the former would scarcely be domesticated.
Neckam gives very minute directions for the preparation of pork for
the table. He appears to have considered that broiling on the grill
was the best way; the gridiron had supplanted the hot stones or
bricks in more fashionable households, and he recommends a brisk fire,
perhaps with an eye to the skilful development of the crackling. He
died without the happiness of bringing his archi-episcopal nostrils in
contact with the sage and onions of wiser generations, and thinks
that a little salt is enough. But, as we have before explained, Neckam
prescribed for great folks. These refinements were unknown beyond the
precincts of the palace and the castle.
In the ancient cookery-book, the "Menagier de Paris," 1393, which
offers numerous points of similarity to our native culinary lore, the
resources of the cuisine are represented as amplified by receipts
for dressing hedgehogs, squirrels, magpies, and jackdaws--small deer,
which the English experts did not affect, although I believe that the
hedgehog is frequently used to this day by country folk, both here and
abroad, and in India. It has white, rabbit-like flesh.
In an eleventh century vocabulary we meet with a tolerably rich
variety of fish, of which the consumption was relatively larger in
former times. The Saxons fished both with the basket and the net.
Among the fish here enumerated are the whale (which was largely used
for food), the dolphin, porpoise, crab, oyster, herring, cockle,
smelt, and eel. But in the supplement to Alfric's vocabulary, and in
another belonging to the same epoch, there are important additions
to this list: the salmon, the trout, the lobster, the bleak, with the
whelk and other shell-fish. But we do not notice the turbot, sole, and
many other varieties, which became familiar in the next generation
or so. The turbot and sole are indeed included in the "Treatise on
Utensils" of Neckam, as are likewise the lamprey (of which King John
is said to have been very fond), bleak, gudgeon, conger, plaice,
limpet, ray, and mackerel.
The fifteenth century, if I may judge from a vocabulary of that date
in Wright's collection, acquired a much larger choice of fish, and
some of the names approximate more nearly to those in modern use. We
meet with the sturgeon, the whiting, the roach, the miller's thumb,
the thomback, the codling, the perch, the gudgeon, the turbot, the
pike, the tench, and the haddock. It is worth noticing also that
a distinction was now drawn between the fisherman and the
fishmonger--the man who caught the fish and he who sold it--_piscator_
and _piscarius_; and in the vocabulary itself the leonine line is
cited: "Piscator prendit, quod piscarius bene vendit."
The whale was considerably brought into requisition for gastronomic
purposes. It was found on the royal table, as well as on that of the
Lord Mayor of London. The cook either roasted it, and served it up on
the spit, or boiled it and sent it in with peas; the tongue and the
tail were favourite parts.
The porpoise, however, was brought into the hall whole, and was carved
or _under-tranched_ by the officer in attendance. It was eaten with
mustard. The _piece de resistance_ at a banquet which Wolsey gave
to some of his official acquaintances in 1509, was a young porpoise,
which had cost eight shillings; it was on the same occasion that His
Eminence partook of strawberries and cream, perhaps; he is reported to
have been the person who made that pleasant combination fashionable.
The grampus, or sea-wolf, was another article of food which bears
testimony to the coarse palate of the early Englishman, and at
the same time may afford a clue to the partiality for disguising
condiments and spices. But it appears from an entry in his Privy Purse
Expenses, under September 8, 1498, that Henry the Seventh thought a
porpoise a valuable commodity and a fit dish for an ambassador, for on
that date twenty-one shillings were paid to Cardinal Morton's servant,
who had procured one for some envoy then in London, perhaps the French
representative, who is the recipient of a complimentary gratuity of
L49 10s. on April 12, 1499, at his departure from England.
In the fifteenth century the existing stock of fish for culinary
purposes received, if we may trust the vocabularies, a few accessions;
as, for instance, the bream, the skate, the flounder, and the bake.
In "Piers of Fulham (14th century)," we hear of the good store of fat
eels imported into England from the Low Countries, and to be had cheap
by anyone who watched the tides; but the author reprehends the growing
luxury of using the livers of young fish before they were large enough
to be brought to the table.
The most comprehensive catalogue of fish brought to table in the time
of Charles I. is in a pamphlet of 1644, inserted among my "Fugitive
Tracts," 1875; and includes the oyster, which used to be eaten at
breakfast with wine, the crab, lobster, sturgeon, salmon, ling,
flounder, plaice, whiting, sprat, herring, pike, bream, roach, dace,
and eel. The writer states that the sprat and herring were used in
Lent. The sound of the stock-fish, boiled in wort or thin ale till
they were tender, then laid on a cloth and dried, and finally cut into
strips, was thought a good receipt for book-glue.
An acquaintance is in possession of an old cookery-book which exhibits
the gamut of the fish as it lies in the frying-pan, reducing its
supposed lament to musical notation. Here is an ingenious refinement
and a delicate piece of irony, which Walton and Cotton might have
liked to forestall.
The 15th century _Nominale_ enriches the catalogue of dishes then in
vogue. It specifies almond-milk, rice, gruel, fish-broth or soup,
a sort of _fricassee_ of fowl, collops, a pie, a pasty, a tart, a
tartlet, a charlet (minced pork), apple-juice, a dish called jussell
made of eggs and grated bread with seasoning of sage and saffron, and
the three generic heads of sod or boiled, roast, and fried meats. In
addition to the fish-soup, they had wine-soup, water-soup, ale-soup;
and the flawn is reinforced by the _froise_. Instead of one Latin
equivalent for a pudding, it is of moment to record that there are now
three: nor should we overlook the rasher and the sausage. It is
the earliest place where we get some of our familiar articles of
diet--beef, mutton, pork, veal--under their modern names; and about
the same time such terms present themselves as "a broth," "a browis,"
"a pottage," "a mess."
Of the dishes which have been specified, the _froise_ corresponded to
an _omelette au lard_ of modern French cookery, having strips of bacon
in it. The tansy was an omelette of another description, made chiefly
with eggs and chopped herbs. As the former was a common dish in the
monasteries, it is not improbable that it was one grateful to the
palate. In Lydgate's "Story of Thebes," a sort of sequel to the
"Canterbury Tales," the pilgrims invite the poet to join the
supper-table, where there were these tasty omelettes: moile, made of
marrow and grated bread, and haggis, which is supposed to be identical
with the Scottish dish so called. Lydgate, who belonged to the
monastery of Bury St. Edmunds, doubtless set on the table at
Canterbury some of the dainties with which he was familiar at home;
and this practice, which runs through all romantic and imaginative
literature, constitutes, in our appreciation, its principal worth.
We love and cherish it for its very sins against chronological and
topographical fitness--its contempt of all unities. Men transferred
local circumstances and a local colouring to their pictures of distant
countries and manners. They argued the unknown from what they saw
under their own eyes. They portrayed to us what, so far as the scenes
and characters of their story went, was undeceivingly false, but what
on the contrary, had it not been so, would never have been unveiled
respecting themselves and their time.
The expenditure on festive occasions seems, from some of the entries
in the "Northumberland Household Book," to present a strong contrast
to the ordinary dietary allowed to the members of a noble and wealthy
household, especially on fish days, in the earlier Tudor era (1512).
The noontide breakfast provided for the Percy establishment was of a
very modest character: my lord and my lady had, for example, a loaf of
bread, two manchets (loaves of finer bread), a quart of beer and one
of wine, two pieces of salt fish, and six baked herrings or a dish
of sprats. My lord Percy and Master Thomas Percy had half a loaf of
household bread, a manchet, a pottle of beer, a dish of butter, a
piece of salt fish, and a dish of sprats or three white herrings; and
the nursery breakfast for my lady Margaret and Master Ingram Percy was
much the same. But on flesh days my lord and lady fared better, for
they had a loaf of bread, two manchets, a quart of beer and the same
of wine, and half a chine of mutton or boiled beef; while the nursery
repast consisted of a manchet, a quart of beer, and three boiled
mutton breasts; and so on: whence it is deducible that in the Percy
family, perhaps in all other great houses, the members and the ladies
and gentlemen in waiting partook of their earliest meal apart in their
respective chambers, and met only at six to dine or sup.
The beer, which was an invariable part of the _menu_, was perhaps
brewed from hops which, according to Harrison elsewhere quoted, were,
after a long discontinuance, again coming into use about this time.
But it would be a light-bodied drink which was allotted to the
consumption at all events of Masters Thomas and Ingram Percy, and
even of my Lady Margaret. It is clearly not irrelevant to my object
to correct the general impression that the great families continued
throughout the year to support the strain which the system of keeping
open house must have involved. For, as Warner has stated, there were
intervals during which the aristocracy permitted themselves to unbend,
and shook off the trammels imposed on them by their social rank and
responsibility. This was known as "keeping secret house," or, in other
words, my lord became for a season incognito, and retired to one of
his remoter properties for relaxation and repose. Our kings in some
measure did the same; for they held their revels only, as a rule, at
stated times and places. William I. is said to have kept his Easter
at Winchester, his Whitsuntide at Westminster, and his Christmas at
Gloucester. Even these antique grandees had to work on some plan. It
could not be all mirth and jollity.
A recital of some of the articles on sale in a baker's or
confectioner's shop in 1563, occurs in Newbery's "Dives Pragmaticus":
simnels, buns, cakes, biscuits, comfits, caraways, and cracknels: and
this is the first occurrence of the bun that I have hitherto been able
to detect. The same tract supplies us with a few other items germane
to my subject: figs, almonds, long pepper, dates, prunes, and nutmegs.
It is curious to watch how by degrees the kitchen department was
furnished with articles which nowadays are viewed as the commonest
necessaries of life.
In the 17th century the increased communication with the Continent
made us by degrees larger partakers of the discoveries of foreign
cooks. Noblemen and gentlemen travelling abroad brought back with them
receipts for making the dishes which they had tasted in the course
of their tours. In the "Compleat Cook," 1655 and 1662, the beneficial
operation of actual experience of this kind, and of the introduction
of such books as the "Receipts for Dutch Victual" and "Epulario, or
the Italian Banquet," to English readers and students, is manifest
enough; for in the latter volume we get such entries as these: "To
make a Portugal dish;" "To make a Virginia dish;" "A Persian dish;" "A
Spanish olio;" and then there are receipts "To make a Posset the
Earl of Arundel's way;" "To make the Lady Abergavenny's Cheese;"
"The Jacobin's Pottage;" "To make Mrs. Leeds' Cheesecakes;" "The Lord
Conway His Lordship's receipt for the making of Amber Puddings;" "The
Countess of Rutland's receipt of making the Rare Banbury Cake, which
was so much praised as her daughter's (the Right Honourable Lady
Chaworth) Pudding," and "To make Poor Knights"--the last a medley in
which bread, cream, and eggs were the leading materials.
Warner, however, in the "Additional Notes and Observations" to his
"Antiquitates Culinariae," 1791, expresses himself adversely to
the foreign systems of cookery from an English point of view.
"Notwithstanding," he remarks, "the partiality of our countrymen
to French cookery, yet that mode of disguising meat in this kingdom
(except perhaps in the hottest part of the hottest season of the year)
is an absurdity. It is _here_ the art of _spoiling good meat_. The
same art, indeed, in the South of France; where the climate is much
warmer, and the flesh of the animal lean and insipid, is highly
valuable; it is the art of making _bad meat eatable_." At the same
time, he acknowledges the superior thrift and intelligence of the
French cooks, and instances the frog and the horse. "The frog is
considered in this country as a disgusting animal, altogether unfit
for the purposes of the kitchen; whereas, by the efforts of French
cookery, the thighs of this little creature are converted into a
delicate and estimable dish." So sings, too (save the mark!), _our_
Charles Lamb, so far back as 1822, after his visit to Paris. It
seems that in Elizabeth's reign a _powdered_, or pickled horse was
considered a suitable dish by a French general entertaining at dinner
some English officers.
It is difficult to avoid an impression that Warner has some reason,
when he suggests that the immoderate use of condiments was brought
to us by the dwellers under a higher temperature, and was not really
demanded in such a climate as that of England, where meat can be
kept sweet in ordinary seasons, much longer even than in France or in
Italy. But let us bear in mind, too, how different from our own the
old English _cuisine_ was, and how many strange beasts calling for
lubricants it comprehended within its range.
An edifying insight into the old Scottish _cuisine_ among people of
the better sort is afforded by Fynes Morisoh, in his description of a
stay at a knight's house in North Britain in 1598.
"Myself," he says, "was at a knight's house, who had many servants
to attend him, that brought in his meat with their heads covered
with blue caps, the table being more than half furnished with great
platters of porridge, each having a little piece of sodden meat; and
when the tables were served, the servants did sit down with us; but
the upper mess, instead of porridge, had a pullet with some prunes in
the broth. And I observed no art of cookery, or furniture of
household stuff, but rather rude neglect of both, though myself and
my companion, sent by the Governor of Berwick upon bordering affairs,
were entertained in the best manner. The Scots ... vulgarly eat
hearth-cakes of oats, but in cities have also wheaten bread, which,
for the most part, was bought by courtiers, gentlemen, and the best
sort of citizens. When I lived at Berwick, the Scots weekly upon the
market day _obtained leave in writing of the governor_ to buy peas and
beans, whereof, as also of wheat, their merchants to this day (1617)
send great quantities from London into Scotland. They drink pure wine,
not with sugar, as the English, yet at feasts they put comfits in the
wine, after the French manner: but they had not our vintners' fraud to
mix their wines."
He proceeds to say that he noticed no regular inns, with signs hanging
out, but that private householders would entertain passengers on
entreaty, or where acquaintance was claimed. The last statement is
interestingly corroborated by the account which Taylor the Water-Poet
printed in 1618 of his journey to Scotland, and which he termed his
"Penniless Pilgrimage or Moneyless Perambulation," in the course of
which he purports to have depended entirely on private hospitality.
A friend says: "The Scotch were long very poor. Only their fish,
oatmeal, and whiskey kept them alive. Fish was very cheap." This
remark sounds the key-note of a great English want--cheaper fish.
Of meat we already eat enough, or too much; but of fish we might eat
more, if it could be brought at a low price to our doors. It is a
noteworthy collateral fact that in the Lord Mayor of London's Pageant
of 1590 there is a representation of the double advantage which would
accrue if the unemployed poor were engaged to facilitate and cheapen
the supply of fish to the City; and here we are, three centuries
forward, with the want still very imperfectly answered.
Besides the bread and oatmeal above named, the bannock played its
part. "The Land o' Cakes" was more than a trim and pretty phrase:
there was in it a deep eloquence; it marked a wide national demand and
The "Penny Magazine" for 1842 has a good and suggestive paper on
"Feasts and Entertainments," with extracts from some of the early
dramatists and a woodcut of "a new French cook, to devise fine
kickshaws and toys." One curious point is brought out here in the
phrase "boiled _jiggets_ of mutton," which shews that the French
_gigot_ for a leg of mutton was formerly in use here. Like many other
Gallicisms, it lingered in Scotland down to our own time.
The cut of the French cook above mentioned is a modern composition;
and indeed some of the excerpts from Ben Jonson and other writers are
of an extravagant and hyperbolical cast,--better calculated to amuse
an audience than to instruct the student.
Mr. Lucas remarks: "It is probable that we are more dependent upon
animal food than we used to be. In their early days, the present
generation of dalesmen fed almost exclusively upon oatmeal; either as
'hasty-pudding,'--that is, Scotch oatmeal which had been _ground over
again_, so as to be nearly as fine as flour;... or 'lumpy,'--that is,
boiled quickly and not thoroughly stirred; or else in one of the
three kinds of cake which they call 'fermented,' viz., 'riddle cake,'
'held-on cake,' or 'turn-down cake,' which is made from oatcake batter
poured on the 'bak' ston'' from the ladle, and then spread with the
back of the ladle. It does not rise like an oatcake. Or of a fourth
kind called 'clap cake.' They also made 'tiffany cakes' of wheaten
flour, which was separated from the bran by being worked through a
hair-sieve _tiffany_, or _temse_:--south of England _Tammy_,--with a
brush called the _Brush shank_."
ROYAL FEASTS AND SAVAGE POMP.
In Rose's "School of Instructions for the Officers of the Mouth,"
1682, the staff of a great French establishment is described as a
Master of the Household, a Master Carver, a Master Butler, a Master
Confectioner, a Master Cook, and a Master Pastryman. The author, who
was himself one of the cooks in our royal kitchen, tells Sir Stephen
Fox, to whom he dedicates his book, that he had entered on it after
he had completed one of a very different nature: "The Theatre of the
World, or a Prospect of Human Misery."
At the time that the "School of Instructions" was written, the French
and ourselves had both progressed very greatly in the Art of Cookery
and in the development of the _menu_. DelaHay Street, Westminster,
near Bird-Cage Walk, suggests a time when a hedge ran along the
western side of it towards the Park, in lieu of brick or stone walls;
but the fact is that we have here a curious association with the
office, just quoted from Rose, of Master Confectioner. For of the plot
of ground on which the street, or at any rate a portion of it stands,
the old proprieter was Peter DelaHaye, master confectioner of Charles
II. at the very period of the publication of Rose's book. His name
occurs in the title-deeds of one of the houses on the Park side, which
since his day has had only five owners, and has been, since 1840, the
freehold of an old and valued friend of the present writer.
It may be worth pointing out, that the Confectionery and Pastry were
two distinct departments, each with its superintendent and staff. The
fondness for confections had spread from Italy--which itself in turn
borrowed the taste from the East--to France and England; and, as we
perceive from the descriptions furnished in books, these were often of
a very elaborate and costly character.
The volume is of the less interest for us, as it is a translation from
the French, and consequently does not throw a direct light on our own
kitchens at this period. But of course collaterally it presents
many features of likeness and analogy, and may be compared with
Braithwaite's earlier view to which I shall presently advert.
The following anecdote is given in the Epistle to Fox: "Many do
believe the French way of working is cheapest; but let these examine
this book, and then they may see (for their satisfaction) which is the
best husbandry, to extract gold out of herbs, or to make a pottage of
a stone, by the example of two soldiers, who in their quarters were
minded to have a pottage; the first of them coming into a house and
asking for all things necessary to the making of one, was as soon told
that he could have none of these things there, whereupon he went away,
and the other coming in with a stone in his knap-sack, asked only for
a Pot to boil his stone in, that he might make a dish of broth of it
for his supper, which was quickly granted him; and when the stone had
boiled a little while, then he asked for a small bit of beef, then for
a piece of mutton, and so for veal, bacon, etc., till by little and
little he got all things requisite, and he made an excellent pottage
of his stone, at as cheap a rate (it may be) as the cook extracted
Gold from Herbs."
The kitchen-staff of a noble establishment in the first quarter of the
seventeenth century we glean from Braithwaite's "Rules and Orders for
the Government of the House of an Earl," which, if the "M.L." for whom
the piece was composed was his future wife, Mistress Lawson, cannot
have seen the light later than 1617, in which year they were married.
He specifies--(1) a yeoman and groom for the cellar; (2) a yeoman and
groom for the pantry; (3) a yeoman and groom for the buttery; (3a)
a yeoman for the ewery; (4) a yeoman purveyor; (5) a master-cook,
under-cooks, and three pastry-men; (6) a yeoman and groom in the
scullery, one to be in the larder and slaughter-house; (7) an
achator or buyer; (8) three conducts [query, errand-boys] and three
The writer also admits us to a rather fuller acquaintance with the
mode in which the marketing was done. He says that the officers, among
other matters, "must be able to judge, not only of the prices, but
also of the goodness of all kinds of corn, cattle, and household
provisions; and the better to enable themselves thereto, are
oftentimes to ride to fairs and great markets, and there to have
conference with graziers and purveyors." The higher officers were to
see that the master was not deceived by purveyors and buyers, and that
other men's cattle did not feed on my lord's pastures; they were to
take care that the clerk of the kitchen kept his day-book "in that
perfect and good order, that at the end of every week or month it be
pied out," and that a true docket of all kinds of provisions be set
down. They were to see that the powdered and salted meats in the
larder were properly kept; and vigilant supervision was to be
exercised over the cellar, buttery, and other departments, even to the
prevention of paring the tallow lights.
Braithwaite dedicates a section to each officer; but I have only space
to transcribe, by way of sample, the opening portion of his account
of "The Officer of the Kitchen:" "The Master-Cook should be a man of
years; well-experienced, whereby the younger cooks will be drawn the
better to obey his directions. In ancient times noblemen contented
themselves to be served with such as had been bred in their own
houses, but of late times none could please some but Italians and
Frenchmen, or at best brought up in the Court, or under London cooks:
nor would the old manner of baking, boiling, and roasting please them,
but the boiled meats must be after the French fashion, the dishes
garnished about with sugar and preserved plums, the meat covered over
with orangeade, preserved lemons, and with divers other preserved and
conserved stuff fetched from the confectioner's: more lemons and sugar
spent in boiling fish to serve at one meal than might well serve
the whole expense of the house in a day." He goes on to describe and
ridicule the new fashion of placing arms and crests on the dishes.
It seems that all the refuse was the perquisite of the cook and his
subordinates in a regulated proportion, and the same in the bakery and
other branches; but, as may be supposed, in these matters gross abuses
In the "Leisure Hour" for 1884 was printed a series of papers on
"English Homes in the Olden Times." The eleventh deals with service
and wages, and is noticed here because it affords a recital of the
orders made for his household by John Harington the elder in 1566,
and renewed by John Harington the younger, his son and High Sheriff of
Somersetshire, in 1592.
This code of domestic discipline for an Elizabethan establishment
comprises the observance of decorum and duty at table, and is at least
as valuable and curious as those metrical canons and precepts which
form the volume (Babees' Book) edited for the Early English Text
There is rather too general a dislike on the part of antiquaries
to take cognisance of matter inserted in popular periodicals upon
subjects of an archaeological character; but of course the loose and
flimsy treatment which this class of topics as a rule receives in the
light literature of the day makes it perilous to use information
so forthcoming in evidence or quotation. Articles must be rendered
palatable to the general reader, and thus become worthless for all
Most of the early descriptions and handbooks of instruction turn,
naturally enough, on the demands and enjoyments of the great. There
is in the treatise of Walter de Bibblesworth (14th century) a very
interesting and edifying account of the arrangement of courses for
some important banquet. The boar's head holds the place of honour in
the list, and venison follows, and various dishes of roast. Among the
birds to be served up we see cranes, peacocks, swans, and wild geese;
and of the smaller varieties, fieldfares, plovers, and larks. There
were wines; but the writer only particularises them as white and red.
The haunch of venison was then an ordinary dish, as well as kid. They
seem to have sometimes roasted and sometimes boiled them. Not only
the pheasant and partridge appear, but the quail,--which is at present
scarcer in this country, though so plentiful abroad,--the duck, and
In connection with venison, it is worth while to draw attention to a
passage in the "Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII" where, under date
of August 8, 1505, a woman receives 3s. _d_. for clarifying deer suet
for the King. This was not for culinary but for medicinal purposes, as
it was then, and much later, employed as an ointment.
Both William I. and his son the Red King maintained, as Warner shews
us, a splendid table; and we have particulars of the princely scale on
which an Abbot of Canterbury celebrated his installation in 1309. The
archbishops of those times, if they exercised inordinate authority, at
any rate dispensed in a magnificent manner among the poor and infirm
a large portion of their revenues. They stood in the place of
corporations and Poor Law Guardians. Their very vices were not without
a certain fascinating grandeur; and the pleasures of the table in
which our Plantagenet rulers outstripped even their precursors, the
earlier sovereigns of that line, were enhanced and multiplied by the
Crusades, by the commencing spirit of discovery, and by the foreign
intermarriages, which became so frequent.
A far more thorough conquest than that which the day of Hastings
signalised was accomplished by an army of a more pacific kind, which
crossed the Channel piecemeal, bringing in their hands, not bows and
swords, but new dishes and new wines. These invaders of our soil were
doubtless welcomed as benefactors by the proud nobles of the Courts
of Edward II. and Richard II., as well as by Royalty itself; and the
descriptions which have been preserved of the banquets held on special
occasions in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and even of
the ordinary style of living of some, make our City feasts of to-day
shrink into insignificance. But we must always remember that the
extravagant luxury and hospitality of the old time were germane and
proper to it, component parts of the social framework.
It is to be remarked that some of the most disturbed and disastrous
epochs in our annals are those to which we have to go for records of
the greatest exploits in gastronomy and lavish expenditure of public
money on comparatively unprofitable objects. During the period from
the accession of Rufus to the death of Henry III., and again under the
rule of Richard II., the taste for magnificent parade and sumptuous
entertainments almost reached its climax. The notion of improving the
condition of the poor had not yet dawned on the mind of the governing
class; to make the artizan and the operative self-supporting and
self-respectful was a movement not merely unformulated, but a
conception beyond the parturient faculty of a member of the Jacquerie.
The king, prince, bishop, noble, of unawakened England met their
constituents at dinner in a fashion once or twice in a lifetime, and
when the guests below the salt had seen the ways of greatness, they
departed to fulfil their several callings. These were political
demonstrations with a clear and (for the age) not irrational object;
but for the modern public dinner, over which I should be happy to
preach the funeral sermon, there is not often this or any other plea.
The redistribution of wealth and its diversion into more fruitful
channels has already done something for the people; and in the future
that lies before some of us they will do vastly more. All Augaea will
be flushed out.
In some of these superb feasts, such as that at the marriage of Henry
IV. in 1403, there were two series of courses, three of meat, and
three of fish and sweets; in which we see our present fashion to a
certain extent reversed. But at the coronation of Henry V. in 1421,
only three courses were served, and those mixed. The taste for what
were termed "subtleties," had come in, and among the dishes at this
latter entertainment occur, "A pelican sitting on her nest with her
young," and "an image of St. Catherine holding a book and disputing
with the doctors." These vagaries became so common, that few dinners
of importance were accounted complete without one or more.
One of the minor "subtleties" was a peacock in full panoply. The bird
was first skinned, and the feathers, tail, head and neck having been
laid on a table, and sprinkled with cummin, the body was roasted,
glazed with raw egg-yolk, and after being left to cool, was sewn back
again into the skin and so brought to table as the last course. In
1466, at the enthronement of Archbishop Nevile, no fewer than 104
peacocks were dressed.
The most extraordinary display of fish at table on a single occasion
took place at the enthronement feast of Archbishop Warham in 1504; it
occurred on a fast day; and consequently no meat, poultry or game was
included in the _menu_, but ample compensation was found in the lavish
assortment of confectionery, spices, beer and wine. Of wine of various
vintages there were upwards of 12 pipes, and of ale and beer, thirty
tuns, including four of London and six of Kentish ale.
The narratives which have descended to us of the prodigious banquets
given on special occasions by our early kings, prelates and nobles,
are apt to inspire the general reader with an admiration of the
splendid hospitality of bygone times. But, as I have already
suggested, these festivities were occasional and at long intervals,
and during the intervening space the great ones and the small ones of
mediaeval and early England did not indulge in this riotous sort of
living, but "kept secret house," as it was called, both after their
own fashion. The extremes of prodigality and squalor were more
strongly marked among the poorer classes while this country was in
a semi-barbarous condition, and even the aristocracy by no means
maintained the same domestic state throughout the year as their modern
representatives. There are not those ostentatious displays of wealth
and generosity, which used to signalise certain political events, such
as the coronation of a monarch or the enthronement of a primate; the
mode of living has grown more uniform and consistent, since between
the vilain and his lord has interposed himself the middle-class
Englishman, with a hand held out to either.
A few may not spend so much, but as a people we spend more on our
table. A good dinner to a shepherd or a porter was formerly more than
a nine days' wonder; it was like a beacon seen through a mist. But now
he is better fed, clothed and housed than the bold baron, whose serf
he would have been in the good old days; and the bold baron, on his
part, no longer keeps secret house unless he chooses, and observes, if
a more monotonous, a more secure and comfortable tenor of life.
This change is of course due to a cause which lies very near the
surface--to the gradual effacement of the deeply-cut separating lines
between the orders of society, and the stealthy uprise of the class,
which is fast gathering all power into its own hands.
The first attempt to illustrate this branch of the art must have been
made by Alexander Neckam in the twelfth century; at least I am not
aware of any older treatise in which the furniture and apparatus of a
kitchen are set forth.
But it is needless to say that Neckam merely dealt with a theme, which
had been familiar many centuries before his time, and compiled
his treatise, "De Utensilibus," as Bishop Alfric had his earlier
"Colloquy," with an educational, not a culinary, object, and with a
view to facilitate the knowledge of Latin among his scholars. It is
rather interesting to know that he was a native of St. Albans, where
he was born in 1157. He died in 1217, so that the composition of this
work of his (one of many) may be referred to the close of the twelfth
century. Its value is, in a certain sense, impaired by the almost
complete absence of English terms; Latin and (so called) Norman-French
being the languages almost exclusively employed in it. But we have
good reason indeed to be grateful for such a legacy in any shape, and
when we consider the tendency of ways of life to pass unchanged from
one generation to another, and when we think how many archaic and
(to our apprehension) almost barbarous fashions and forms in domestic
management lingered within living recollection, it will not be
hazarding much after all to presume that the particulars so casually
supplied to us by Neckam have an application alike before and after.
A student should also bear in mind that, from the strong Anglo-Gallic
complexion of our society and manners in early days, the accounts
collected by Lacroix are largely applicable to this country, and the
same facilities for administering to the comfort and luxuries of the
table, which he furnishes as illustrative of the gradual outgrowth
from the wood fire and the pot-au-feu among his own countrymen,
or certain classes of them, may be received as something like
counterparts of what we possessed in England at or about the same
period. We keep the phrase _pot luck_; but, for most of those who use
it, it has parted with all its meaning. This said production of
Neckam of St. Albans purports to be a guide to young housekeepers.
It instructs them what they will require, if they desire to see their
establishment well-ordered; but we soon perceive that the author has
in view the arrangements indispensable for a family of high rank and
pretensions; and it may be once for all observed that this kind of
literature seldom proves of much service to us in an investigation
of the state of the poor, until we come to the fifteenth or even
sixteenth century, when the artists of Germany and the Low Countries
began to delineate those scenes in industrial and servile life, which
time and change have rendered so valuable.
Where their superiors in rank regarded them as little more than
mechanical instruments for carrying on the business of life, the poor
have left behind them few records of their mode of sustenance and of
the food which enabled them to follow their daily toil. The anecdotes,
whatever they may be worth, of Alfred and the burnt cakes, and of Tom
Thumb's mamma and her Christmas pudding, made in a bowl, of which the
principal material was pork, stand almost alone; for we get, wherever
we look, nothing but descriptions by learned and educated men of their
equals or betters, how they fed and what they ate--their houses, their
furniture, their weapons, and their dress. Even in the passage of
the old fabliau of the "King and the Hermit" the latter, instead of
admitting us to a cottage interior, has a servant to wait on him,
brings out a tablecloth, lights two candles, and lays before his
disguised guest venison and wine. In most of our own romances, and
in the epics of antiquity, we have to be satisfied with vague and
splendid generalisations. We do not learn much of the dishes which
were on the tables, how they were cooked, and how [Greek: oi polloi]
The _Liber_, or rather _Codex, Princeps_ in the very long and
extensive catalogue of works on English Cookery, is a vellum roll
called the Form of Cury, and is supposed to have been written about
the beginning of the fifteenth century by the master-cook of Richard
II who reigned from 1377 to 1399, and spent the public money in eating
and drinking, instead of wasting it, as his grandfather had done, in
foreign wars. This singular relic was once in the Harleian collection,
but did not pass with the rest of the MSS. to the British Museum;
it is now however, Additional MS. 5016, having been presented to the
Library by Mr. Gustavus Brander. It was edited by Dr. Pegge in 1780,
and included by Warner in his "Antiquitates Culinariae," 1791. The
Roll comprises 196 receipts, and commences with a sort of preamble
and a Table of Contents. In the former it is worth noting that the
enterprise was undertaken "by the assent and avisement of masters of
physic and of philosophy, that dwelled in his (Richard II.'s) court,"
which illustrates the ancient alliance between medicine and cookery,
which has not till lately been dissolved. The directions were to
enable a man "to make common pottages and common meats for the
household, as they should be made, craftily and wholesomely;" so that
this body of cookery was not prepared exclusively for the use of the
royal kitchen, but for those who had not the taste or wish for what
are termed, in contra-distinction, in the next sentence, "curious
pottages, and meats, and subtleties." It is to be conjectured that
copies of such a MS. were multiplied, and from time to time reproduced
with suitable changes; but with the exception of two different, though
nearly coeval, collections, embracing 31 and 162 receipts or nyms, and
also successively printed by Pegge and Warner, there is no apparent
trace of any systematic compilation of this nature at so remote a
The "Form of Cury" was in the 28 Eliz., in the possession of the
Stafford family, and was in that year presented to the Queen by
Edward, Lord Stafford, as is to be gathered from a Latin memorandum
at the end, in his lordship's hand, preserved by Pegge and Warner in
their editions. The fellowship between the arts of healing and cooking
is brought to our recollection by a leonine verse at the end of one of
the shorter separate collections above described:--
"Explicit de Coquina
Quae est optima Medicina."
The "Form of Cury" will amply remunerate a study. It presents the
earliest mention, so far as I can discern, of olive oil, cloves, mace,
and gourds. In the receipts for making Aigredouce and Bardolf, sugar,
that indispensable feature in the _cuisine_, makes its appearance; but
it does so, I should add, in such a way as to lead to the belief
that the use of sugar was at this time becoming more general. The
difficulty, at first, seems to have been in refining it. We encounter
here, too, onions under the name borrowed from the French instead of
the Anglo-Saxon form "ynne leac"; and the prescriptions for making
messes of almonds, pork, peas, and beans are numerous. There is
"Saracen sauce," moreover, possibly as old as the Crusades, and pig
with sage stuffing (from which it was but one step to duck). More
than one species of "galantine" was already known; and I observe the
distinction, in one of the smaller collections printed by Warner,
between the tartlet formed of meat and the tartlet _de fritures_,
of which the latter approaches more nearly our notion. The imperfect
comprehension of harmonies, which is illustrated by the prehistoric
bag-pudding of King Arthur, still continued in the unnatural union of
flesh with sweets. It is now confined to the cottage, whence Arthur
may have himself introduced it at Court and to the Knights of the
In this authority, several of the dishes were to be cooked in _white
grease_, which Warner interprets into _lard_; others demanded olive
oil; but there is no allusion to butter. Among the receipts are
some for dishes "in gravy"; rabbits and chickens were to be treated
similarly; and the gravy appears to have consisted merely of the
broth in which they were boiled, and which was flavoured with pounded
almonds, powdered ginger, and sugar.
The "Liber Cure Cocorum," which is apparently extant only in a
fifteenth century MS., is a metrical treatise, instructing its
readers how to prepare certain dishes, condiments and accessories; and
presents, for the most part, a repetition of what has already occurred
in earlier and more comprehensive undertakings. It is a curious aid
to our knowledge of the manner in which the table of the well-to-do
Englishman was furnished in the time of Henry VI., and it is so far
special, that it deals with the subject more from a middle-class point
of view than the "Regulations for the Royal Household," and other
similar compilations, which I have to bring under notice. The names,
as usual, are often misleading, as in _blanc manger_, which is very
different from our _blanc-mange_; and the receipt for "goose in a hog
pot" leaves one in doubt as to its adaptability to the modern
palate. The poetical ambition of the author has proved a source of
embarrassment here and there; and in the receipt "for a service on a
fish-day" the practitioner is prayed within four lines to cover his
white herring for God's sake, and lay mustard over his red for God's
love, because _sake_ and _love_ rhyme with _take_ and _above_.
The next collection of receipts, which exists in a complete and
homogeneous shape, is the "Noble Book of Cookery," of which an early
MS. copy at Holkham was edited in 1882 by Mrs. Napier, but which
had already been printed by Pynson in 1500, and subsequently by
his successor, John Byddell. This interesting and important volume
commences with a series of descriptions of certain royal and noble
entertainments given on various occasions from the time of Henry
IV. to that of Edward IV., and then proceeds to furnish a series
of directions for the cook of a king's or prince's household; for,
although both at the outset and the conclusion we are told that these
dishes were calculated for all estates, it is abundantly obvious that
they were such as never then, or very long subsequently, reached much
lower than the court or the aristocracy. There is a less complete copy
here of the feast at the enthronement of Archbishop Nevile. I regret
that neither of the old printed copies is at present accessible. That
of 1500 was formerly in the library at Bulstrode, and I was given by
the late Mr. Bradshaw to understand that the same copy (no other
being known) is probably at Longleat. By referring to Herbert's
"Typographical Antiquities," anyone may see that, if his account (so
far as it goes) is to be trusted, the printed copy varies from the
Holkham MS. in many verbal particulars, and gives the date of Nevile's
Feast as 1465.
The compilation usually known as the "Book of St. Albans," 1486, is,
perhaps, next to the "Noble Book of Cookery," the oldest receptacle
for information on the subject in hand. The former, however, deals
with cookery only in an incidental and special way. Like Arnold's
Chronicle, the St. Albans volume is a miscellany comprehending nearly
all the matters that were apt to interest the few educated persons
who were qualified to peruse its pages; and amid a variety of allied
topics we come here across a catalogue of terms used in speaking of
certain dishes of that day. The reference is to the prevailing methods
of dressing and carving. A deer was said to be broken, a cony unlaced,
a pheasant, partridge, or quail winged, a pigeon or a woodcock
thighed, a plover minced, a mallard unbraced. They spoke of a salmon
or a gurnard as chined, a sole as loined, a haddock as sided, an eel
as trousoned, a pike as splatted, and a trout as gobbeted.
It must, I think, be predicated of Tusser's "Husbandry," of which the
last edition published in the writer's lifetime is that of 1580, that
it seems rather to reproduce precepts which occur elsewhere than to
supply the reader with the fruits of his own direct observation. But
there are certain points in it which are curious and original. He
tells the ploughman that, after confession on Shrove Tuesday, he may
go and thresh the fat hen, and if he is blindfold, kill her, and then
dine on fritters and pancakes. At other times, seed-cakes, wafers, and
other light confections.
It appears to have been usual for the farmer at that date to allow his
hinds roast meat twice a week, on Sundays and on Thursday nights; but
perhaps this was a generous extreme, as Tusser is unusually liberal in
Tobias Venner, a Somersetshire man, brought out in 1620 his "Via Recta
ad Vitam Longam." He was evidently a very intelligent person, and
affords us the result of his professional experience and personal
observation. He considered two meals a day sufficient for all
ordinary people,--breakfast at eleven and supper at six (as at the
universities); but he thought that children and the aged or infirm
could not be tied by any rule. He condemns "bull's beef" as rank,
unpleasant, and indigestible, and holds it best for the labourer;
which seems to indicate more than anything else the low state of
knowledge in the grazier, when Venner wrote: but there is something
beyond friendly counsel where our author dissuades the poor from
eating partridges, because they are calculated to promote asthma.
"Wherefore," he ingenuously says, "when they shall chance to meet with
a covey of young partridges, they were much better to bestow them upon
such, for whom they are convenient!"
Salmon, turbot, and sturgeon he also reckoned hard of digestion, and
injurious, if taken to excess; nor does he approve of herrings and
sprats; and anchovies he characterises as the meat of drunkards. It is
the first that we have heard of them.
He was not a bad judge of what was palatable, and prescribes as an
agreeable and wholesome meal a couple of poached eggs with a little
salt and vinegar, and a few corns of pepper, some bread and butter,
and a draught of pure claret. He gives a receipt--the earliest I have
seen in print--for making metheglin or hydromel. He does not object
to furmety or junket, or indeed to custards, if they are eaten at
the proper seasons, and in the middle or at the end of meals. But he
dislikes mushrooms, and advises you to wash out your mouth, and rub
your teeth and gums with a dry cloth, after drinking milk.
The potato, however, he praises as nutritious and pleasant to the
taste, yet, as Gerarde the herbalist also says, flatulent. Venner
refers to a mode of sopping them in wine as existing in his time. They
were sometimes roasted in the embers, and there were other ways of
dressing them. John Forster, of Hanlop, in Bucks, wrote a pamphlet in
1664 to shew that the more extended cultivation of this root would be
a great national benefit.
Venner, who practised in the spring and autumn at Bath as a physician,
had no relish for the poorer classes, who did not fare well at the
hands of their superiors in any sense in the excellent old days. But
he liked the Quality, in which he embraced the Universities, and he
tenders them, among other little hints, the information that green
ginger was good for the memory, and conserve of roses (not the salad
of roses immortalised by Apuleius) was a capital posset against
bed-time. "A conserve of rosemary and sage," says he, "to be often
used by students, especially mornings fasting, doth greatly delight
The military ascendency of Spain did not fail to influence the
culinary civilisation of those countries to which it temporarily
extended its rule; and in a Venetian work entitled "Epulario, or the
Italian Banquet," printed in 1549, we recognise the Spanish tone which
had in the sixteenth century communicated itself to the cookery of the
Peninsula, shewing that Charles V. and his son carried at least one
art with them as an indemnity for the havoc which they committed.
The nursery rhyme of "Sing a song of sixpence" receives a singular and
diverting illustration from the pages of this "Epulario," where occurs
a receipt "to make Pies that the Birds may be alive in them, and fly
out when it is cut up." Some of the other more salient beads relate
to the mode of dressing sundry dishes in the Roman and Catalonian
fashion, and teach us how to seethe gourds, as they did in Spain, and
to make mustard after the manner of Padua.
I propose here to register certain contributions to our acquaintance
with early culinary ideas and practices, which I have not specifically
1. The Book of Carving. W. de Worde. 4to, 1508, 1513. Reprinted down
2. A Proper New Book of Cookery. 12mo, 1546. Often reprinted. It is a
recension of the "Book of Cookery," 1500.
3. The Treasury of Commodious Conceits and Hidden Secrets. By John
Partridge. 12mo, 1580, 1586; and under the title of "Treasury of
Hidden Secrets," 4to, 1596, 1600, 1637, 1653.
4. A Book of Cookery. Gathered by A.W. 12mo, 1584, 1591, etc.
5. The Good Housewife's Jewel. By Thomas Dawson. In two Parts, 12mo,
1585. A copy of Part 2 of this date is in the British Museum.
6. The Good Housewife's Treasury. 12 mo, 1588.
7. Cookery for all manner of Dutch Victual. Licensed in 1590, but not
8. The Good Housewife's Handmaid for the Kitchen. 8vo, 1594.
9. The Ladies' Practice; or, a plain and easy direction for ladies and
gentlewomen. By John Murrell. Licensed in 1617. Printed in 1621, and
with additions in 1638, 1641, and 1650.
10. A Book of Cookery. By George Crewe. Licensed in 1623, but not
11. A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen. 12mo, 1630.
12. The Ladies' Cabinet Opened. By Patrick, Lord Ruthven. 4to, 1639;
13. A Curious Treasury of Twenty Rare Secrets. Published by La
Fountaine, an expert Operator. 4to, 1649.
14. A New Dispensatory of Fourty Physical Receipts. Published by
Salvatore Winter of Naples, an expert Operator. 4to, 1649. Second
edition, enlarged: same date.
The three last are rather in the class of miscellanies.
15. Health's Improvement; or, Rules comprising the discovering the
Nature, Method, and Manner of preparing all sorts of Food used in this
Nation. By Thomas Muffet (or Moffat), M.D. Corrected and enlarged by
Christopher Bennett, M.D. 4to, 1655.
16. The Queen's Closet opened. Incomparable secrets in physick,
chirurgery, Preserving, Candying, and Cookery.... Transcribed from the
true copies of her Majesties own Receipt Books. By W.M., one of her
late Servants.... London, 1655, 8vo. The same, corrected and revised,
with many new and large Additions. 8vo, 1683.
17. The Perfect Cook: being the most exact directions for the making
all kinds of pastes, with the perfect way teaching how to raise,
season, and make all sorts of pies.... As also the Perfect English
Cook.... To which is added the way of dressing all manner of Flesh. By
M. Marmette. London, 1686, 12mo.
The writer of the "French Gardener," of which I have had occasion to
say a good deal in my small volume on that subject, also produced,
"Les Delices de la Campagne," which Evelyn excused himself from
translating because, whatever experience he had in the garden, he had
none, he says, in the shambles; and it was for those who affected
such matters to get it done, but not by him who did the "French Cook"
[Footnote: I have not seen this book, nor is it under that title
in the catalogue of the British Museum]. He seems to imply that the
latter, though an excellent work in its way, had not only been marred
in the translation, but was not so practically advantageous to us
as it might have been, "for want of skill in the kitchen"--in
other words, an evil, which still prevails, was then appreciated
by intelligent observers--the English cook did not understand her
business, and the English mistress, as a rule, was equally ignorant.
One of the engravings in the "French Gardener" represents women
rolling out paste, preparing vegetables, and boiling conserves.
There is a rather quaint and attractive class of miscellaneous
receipt-books, not made so on account of any particular merit in
their contents, but by reason of their association with some person
of quality. MS. Sloane 1367, is a narrow octavo volume, for instance,
containing "My Lady Rennelagh's choice Receipts: as also some of Capt.
Gvilt's, who valued them above gold." The value for us, however, is
solely in the link with a noble family and the little touch about the
Captain. There are many more such in public and private libraries, and
they are often mere transcripts from printed works--select assemblages
of directions for dressing food and curing diseases, formed for
domestic reference before the advent of Dr. Buchan, and Mrs. Glasse,
and Mrs. Rundell.
Among a valuable and extensive assemblage of English and foreign
cookery books in the Patent Office Library, Mr. Ordish has obligingly
pointed out to me a curious 4to MS., on the cover of which occurs,
"Mrs. Mary Dacres her booke, 1666."
Even in the latter part of the seventeenth century the old-fashioned
dishes, better suited to the country than to the Court taste, remained
in fashion, and are included in receipt-books, even in that published
by Joseph Cooper, who had been head-cook to Charles I, and who styles
his 1654 volume "The Art of Cookery Refined and Augmented." He gives
us two varieties of oatmeal pudding, French barley pudding, and hasty
pudding in a bag. There is a direction for frying mushrooms, which
were growing more into favour at the table than in the days when
Castelvetri, whom I cite in my monograph on Gardening, was among us.
Another dainty is an ox-palate pie.
Cooper's Preface is quaint, and surely modest enough. "Though the
cheats," says he, "of some preceding pieces that treated on this
subject (whose Title-pages, like the contents of a weekly Pamphlet,
promised much more than the Books performed) may have provided this
but a cold intertainment at its first coming abroad; yet I know it
will not stay long in the world, before every rational reader will
clear it of all alliance to those false pretenders. Ladies, forgive
my confidence, if I tell you, that I know this piece will prove your
Yet Cooper's performance, in spite of its droll, self-complacent vein
in the address to the Reader, is a judicious and useful selection,
and was, in fact, far more serviceable to the middle-class gentry
than some of those which had gone before. It adapted itself to sundry
conditions of men; but it kept in view those whose purses were not
richly lined enough to pay for dainties and "subtleties." It is
pleasant to see that, after the countless centuries which had run
out since Arthur, the bag-pudding and hot-pot maintained their
ground--good, wholesome, country fare.
After the fall of the Monarchy in 1648, the _chef de cuisine_ probably
found his occupation gone, like a greater man before him; and the
world may owe to enforced repose this condescension to the pen by the
deposed minister of a king.
Soon after the Restoration it was that some Royalist brought out a
small volume called "The Court and Kitchen of Elizabeth, commonly
called Joan Cromwell, the wife of the late Usurper, truly described
and represented," 12mo, 1664. Its design was to throw ridicule on the
parsimony of the Protectoral household. But he recites some excellent
dishes which made their appearance at Oliver's table: Dutch puddings,
Scotch collops of veal, marrow puddings, sack posset, boiled
woodcocks, and warden pies. He seems to have understood that eight
stone of beef were cooked every morning for the establishment, and all
scraps were diligently collected, and given alternately to the poor
of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. The
writer acquaints us that, when the Protector entertained the French
ambassador and the Parliament, after the Sindercome affair, he only
spent L1,000 over the banquet, of which the Lady Protectress managed
to save L200. Cromwell and his wife, we are told, did not care for
suppers, but contented themselves with eggs and slops.
A story is told here of Cromwell and his wife sitting down to a
loin of veal, and his calling for an orange, which was the sauce he
preferred to that joint, and her highness telling him that he could
not have one, for they were not to be had under a groat.
The Mansion House still retains the ancient usage of distributing the
relics of a great feast afterwards among the poor, as Cromwell is said
just above to have made a rule of his household. It was a practice
highly essential in the absence of any organised system of relief.
The reign of Charles II., which witnessed a relationship with France
of a very different character from that which the English maintained
during the Plantagenet and earlier Tudor rule, was favourable to the
naturalisation of the Parisian school of cookery, and numerous works
were published at and about that time, in which the development of
knowledge in this direction is shown to have taken place _pari passu_
with the advance in gardening and arboriculture under the auspices of
In 1683 we come to a little volume entitled "The Young Cook's
Monitor," by M.H., who made it public for the benefit of his (or her)
scholars; a really valuable and comprehensive manual, wherein, without
any attempt at arrangement, there is an ample assemblage of directions
for preparing for the table all kinds of joints, made dishes, soups
and broths, _frigacies_, puddings, pies, tarts, tansies, and jellies.
Receipts for pickling are included, and two ways are shown how we
should treat turnips after this wise. Some of the ingredients
proposed for sauces seem to our ears rather prodigious. In one place
a contemporary peruser has inserted an ironical calculation in MS. to
the effect that, whereas a cod's head could be bought for fourpence,
the condiments recommended for it were not to be had for less than
nine shillings. The book teaches us to make Scotch collops, to pickle
lemons and quinces, to make French bread, to collar beef, pork, or
eels, to make gooseberry fool, to dry beef after the Dutch fashion, to
make sack posset two ways, to candy flowers (violets, roses, etc.) for
salads, to pickle walnuts like mangoes, to make flummery, to make a
carp pie, to pickle French beans and cucumbers, to make damson and
quince wines, to make a French pudding (called a Pomeroy pudding), to
make a leg of pork like a Westphalia ham, to make mutton as beef, and
to pot beef to eat like venison.
These and many other precepts has M.H. left behind him; and a sort of
companion volume, printed a little before, goes mainly over the same
ground, to wit, "Rare and Excellent Receipts Experienced and Taught
by Mrs. Mary Tillinghast, and now printed for the use of her scholars
only," 1678. The lady appealed to a limited constituency, like M.H.;
but her pages, such as they are (for there are but thirty), are now
_publici juris_. The lesson to be drawn from Mistress Tillinghast's
printed labours is that, among our ancestors in 1678, pies and pasties
of all sorts, and sweet pastry, were in increased vogue. Her slender
volume is filled with elucidations on the proper manufacture of paste
of various sorts; and in addition to the pies designated by M.H. we
encounter a Lombard pie, a Battalia pie, an artichoke pie, a potato
(or secret) pie, a chadron [Footnote: A pie chiefly composed of a
calf's chadroa] pie, and a herring pie. The fair author takes care
to instruct us as to the sauces or dressings which are to accompany
certain of her dishes.
"The Book of Cookery," 1500, of which there was a reprint by John
Byddell about 1530 was often republished, with certain modifications,
down to 1650, under the titles of "A Proper New Book of Cookery,"
or "The Book of Cookery." Notwithstanding the presence of many
competitors, it continued to be a public favourite, and perhaps
answered the wants of those who did not desire to see on their tables
the foreign novelties introduced by travellers, or advertised in
collections of receipts borrowed from other languages.
In fact, the first half of the seventeenth century did not witness
many accessions to the store of literature on this subject. But from
the time of the Commonwealth, the supply of works of reference for the
housekeeper and the cook became much more regular and extensive. In
1653, Selden's friend, the Countess of Kent, brought out her "Choice
Manual of Physic and Chirurgery," annexing to it receipts for
preserving and candying; and there were a few others, about the same
time, of whose works I shall add here a short list:--
1. The Accomplished Cook. By Robert May. 8vo, 1660. Fifth edition,
2. The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected. By Will. Rabisha. 8vo, 1661.
3. The Queen-like Closet: a Rich Cabinet, stored with all manner of
rare receipts. By Hannah Wolley. 8vo, 1670.
4. The True Way of Preserving and Candying, and making several sorts
of Sweetmeats. Anon. 8vo, 1681.
5. The Complete Servant-Maid. 12 mo, 1682-3.
6. A Choice Collection of Select Remedies.... Together with excellent
Directions for Cooking, and also for Preserving and Conserving. By G.
Hartman [a Chemist]. 8vo, 1684.
7. A Treatise of Cleanness in Meats and Drinks, of the Preparation of
Food, etc. By Thomas Tryon. 4to, 1682.
8. The Genteel Housekeeper's Pastime; or, The mode of Carving at the
Table represented in a Pack of Playing Cards. 8vo, 1693.
9. A New Art of Brewing Beer, Ale, and other sorts of Liquors. By T.
Tryon. 12mo, 1690-91.
10. The Way to get Wealth; or, A New and Ready Way to make
twenty-three sorts of Wines, equal to that of France ... also to make
Cyder.... By the same. 12mo, 1702.
11. A Treatise of Foods in General. By Louis Lemery. Translated into
English. 8vo, 1704.
12. England's Newest Way in all sorts of Cookery. By Henry Howard,
Free Cook of London. Second edition, 8vo, 1708.
13. Royal Cookery; or, the Complete Court-Cook. By Patrick Lamb, Esq.,
near 50 years Master-Cook to their late Majesties King Charles II.,
King James II., King William, Mary, and to her present Majesty, Queen
Anne. 8vo, 1710. Third edition, 8vo, 1726.
14. The Queen's Royal Cookery. By J. Hall, Free Cook of London. 12mo,
15. Mrs. Mary Eales' Receipts, Confectioner to her late Majesty, Queen
Anne. 8vo, 1718.
16. A Collection of three hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physic, and
Surgery. In two parts, 8vo, 1729.
17. The Complete City and Country Cook. By Charles Carter. 8vo, 1732.
18. The Complete Housewife. Seventh edition, 8vo, 1736.
19. The Complete Family Piece: A very choice Collection of Receipts.
Second edition, 8vo, 1737.
20. The Modern Cook. By Vincent La Chapelle, Cook to the Prince of
Orange. Third edition. 8vo, 1744.
21. A Treatise of all sorts of Foods. By L. Lemery. Translated by D.
Hay, M.D. 8vo, 1745.
This completes the list of books, so far as they have fallen in my
way, or been pointed out by the kindness of friends, down to the
middle of the last century.
It was probably Charles, Duke of Bolton (1698-1722), who was at one
time Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and who in the beginning of his ducal
career, at all events, resided in St. James's Street, that possessed
successively as head-cooks John Nott and John Middleton. To each of
these artists we owe a volume of considerable pretensions, and the
"Cook's and Confectioner's Dictionary," 1723, by the former, is
positively a very entertaining and cyclopedic publication. Nott
inscribes his book "To all Good Housewives," and declares that he
placed an Introduction before it merely because fashion had made it
as strange for a book to appear without one as for a man to be seen
in church without a neckcloth or a lady without a hoop-petticoat. He
congratulates himself and his readers on living in a land flowing with
milk and honey, quotes the saw about God sending meat and somebody
else sending cooks, and accounts for his omission of pigments by
saying, like a gallant man, that his countrywomen little needed such
things. Nott opens with _Some Divertisements in Cookery, us'd at
Festival-Times, as Twelfth-Day, etc._, which are highly curious,
and his dictionary itself presents the novelty of being arranged,
lexicon-wise, alphabetically. He seems to have been a fairly-read and
intelligent man, and cites, in the course of his work, many celebrated
names and receipts. Thus we have:--To brew ale Sir Jonas Moore's way;
to make Dr. Butler's purging ale; ale of health and strength, by the
Viscount St. Albans; almond butter the Cambridge way; to dress a leg
of mutton _a la Dauphine_; to dress mutton the Turkish way; to stew
a pike the City way. Dr. Twin's, Dr. Blacksmith's, and Dr. Atkin's
almond butter; an amber pudding, according to the Lord Conway's
receipt; the Countess of Rutland's Banbury cake; to make Oxford cake;
to make Portugal cakes; and so on. Nott embraces every branch of his
subject, and furnishes us with bills of fare for every month of the
year, terms and rules of carving, and the manner of setting out
a dessert of fruits and sweetmeats. There is a singular process
explained for making China broth, into which an ounce of china is
to enter. Many new ways had been gradually found of utilising the
materials for food, and vegetables were growing more plentiful. The
carrot was used in soups, puddings, and tarts. Asparagus and spinach,
which are wanting in all the earlier authorities, were common, and the
barberry had come into favour. We now begin to notice more frequent
mention of marmalades, blanc-manges, creams, biscuits, and sweet
cakes. There is a receipt for a carraway cake, for a cabbage pudding,
and for a chocolate tart.
The production by his Grace of Bolton's other _chef_, John Middleton,
is "Five Hundred New Receipts in Cookery, Confectionary, Pastry,
Preserving, Conserving, Pickling," and the date is 1734. Middleton
doubtless borrowed a good deal from his predecessor; but he also
appears to have made some improvements in the science. We have here
the methods, to dress pikes _a la sauce Robert_, to make blackcaps
(apples baked in their skins); to make a Wood Street cake; to make
Shrewsbury cakes; to dress a leg of mutton like a gammon of bacon;
to dress eggs _a la Augemotte_; to make a dish of quaking pudding of
several colours; to make an Italian pudding, and to make an Olio. The
eye seems to meet for the first time with hasty pudding, plum-porridge
(an experiment toward the solidification of the older plum-broth),
rolled beef-steaks, samphire, hedgehog cream (so called from its
shape, currants being used for the eyes, and cut almonds for the
bristles), cocks'-combs, orange, spinach and bean tarts, custards
in cups (the 1723 book talks of jellies served on china plates), and
lastly, jam--the real jam of these days, made to last, as we are
told, the whole year. There is an excellent prescription for making
elderberry wine, besides, in which Malaga raisins are to be largely
used. "In one year," says our _chef_, "it will be as good and as
pleasant as French wine."
Let us extract the way "to make Black-caps":--"Take a dozen of good
pippins, cut them in halves, and take out the cores; then place them
on a right Mazarine dish with the skins on, the cut side downwards;
put to them a very little water, scrape on them some loaf sugar, put
them in a hot oven till the skins are burnt black, and your apples
tender; serve them on Plates strew'd over with sugar."
Of these books, I select the preface to "The Complete Housewife," by
E. Smith, 1736, because it appears to be a somewhat more ambitious
endeavour in an introductory way than the authors of such undertakings
usually hazard. From the last paragraph we collect that the writer was
a woman, and throughout she makes us aware that she was a person of
long practical experience. Indeed, as the volume comprehends a variety
of topics, including medicines, Mrs. or Miss Smith must have been
unusually observant, and have had remarkable opportunities of making
herself conversant with matters beyond the ordinary range of culinary
specialists. I propose presently to print a few samples of her
workmanship, and a list of her principal receipts in that section of
the book with which I am just now concerned. First of all, here is the
Preface, which begins, as we see, by a little piece of plagiarism from
"It being grown as unfashionable for a book now to appear in publick
without a preface, as for a lady to appear at a ball without a
hoop-petticoat, I shall conform to custom for fashion-sake, and not
through any necessity. The subject being both common and universal,
needs no arguments to introduce it, and being so necessary for the
gratification of the appetite, stands in need of no encomiums
to allure persons to the practice of it; since there are but few
now-a-days who love not good eating and drinking. Therefore I entirely
quit those two topicks; but having three or four pages to be filled
up previous to the subject it self, I shall employ them on a subject I
think new, and not yet handled by any of the pretenders to the art of
cookery; and that is, the antiquity of it; which if it either instruct
or divert, I shall be satisfied, if you are so.
"Cookrey, confectionary, &c., like all other sciences and arts, had
their infancy, and did not arrive at a state of maturity but by slow
degrees, various experiments, and a long tract of time: for in the
infant-age of the world, when the new inhabitants contented themselves
with the simple provision of nature, viz. the vegetable diet, the
fruits and production of the teeming ground, as they succeeded one
another in their several peculiar seasons, the art of cookery was
unknown; apples, nuts, and herbs, were both meat and sauce, and
mankind stood in no need of any additional sauces, ragoes, &c., but a
good appetite; which a healthful and vigorous constitution, a clear,
wholesome, odoriferous air, moderate exercise, and an exemption from
anxious cares, always supplied them with.
"We read of no palled appetites, but such as proceeded from the decays
of nature by reason of an advanced old age; but on the contrary a
craving stomach, even upon a death-bed, as in Isaac: nor no sicknesses
but those that were both the first and the last, which proceeded from
the struggles of nature, which abhorred the dissolution of soul and
body; no physicians to prescribe for the sick, nor no apothecaries
to compound medicines for two thousand years and upwards. Food and
physick were then one and the same thing.
"But when men began to pass from a vegetable to an animal diet, and
feed on flesh, fowls, and fish, then seasonings grew necessary, both
to render it more palatable and savoury, and also to preserve that
part which was not immediately spent from stinking and corruption: and
probably salt was the first seasoning discover'd; for of salt we read,
"And this seems to be necessary, especially for those who were
advanced in age, whose palates, with their bodies, had lost their
vigour as to taste, whose digestive faculty grew weak and impotent;
and thence proceeded the use of soops and savoury messes; so that
cookery then began to become a science, though luxury had not brought
it to the height of an art. Thus we read, that Jacob made such
palatable pottage, that Esau purchased a mess of it at the extravagant
price of his birthright. And Isaac, before by his last will and
testament he bequeathed his blessing to his son Esau, required him
to make some savoury meat, such as his soul loved, i.e., such as was
relishable to his blunted palate.
"So that seasonings of some sort were then in use; though whether
they were salt, savoury herbs, or roots only; or spices, the fruits
of trees, such as pepper, cloves, nutmeg; bark, as cinnamon; roots, as
ginger, &c., I shall not determine.
"As for the methods of the cookery of those times, boiling or stewing
seems to have been the principal; broiling or roasting the next;
besides which, I presume scarce any other were used for two thousand
years and more; for I remember no other in the history of Genesis.
"That Esau was the first cook, I shall not presume to assert; for
Abraham gave order to dress a fatted calf; but Esau is the first
person mentioned that made any advances beyond plain dressing, as
boiling, roasting, &c. For though we find indeed, that Rebecca his
mother was accomplished with the skill of making savoury meat as
well as he, yet whether he learned it from her, or she from him, is a
question too knotty for me to determine.
"But cookery did not long remain a simple science, or a bare piece
of housewifry or family ceconomy, but in process of time, when luxury
entered the world, it grew to an art, nay a trade; for in I Sam. viii.
13. when the Israelites grew fashionists, and would have a king, that
they might be like the rest of their neighbours, we read of cooks,
"This art being of universal use, and in constant practice, has been
ever since upon the improvement; and we may, I think, with good reason
believe, is arrived at its greatest height and perfection, if it
is not got beyond it, even to its declension; for whatsoever new,
upstart, out-of-the-way messes some humourists have invented, such as
stuffing a roasted leg of mutton with pickled herring, and the like,
are only the sallies of a capricious appetite, and debauching rather
than improving the art itself.
"The art of cookery, &c., is indeed diversified according to the
diversity of nations or countries; and to treat of it in that latitude
would fill an unportable volume; and rather confound than improve
those that would accomplish themselves with it. I shall therefore
confine what I have to communicate within the limits of practicalness
and usefulness, and so within the compass of a manual, that shall
neither burthen the hands to hold, the eyes in reading, nor the mind
"What you will find in the following sheets, are directions generally
for dressing after the best, most natural, and wholesome manner, such
provisions as are the product of our own country, and in such a manner
as is most agreeable to English palates: saving that I have so far
temporized, as, since we have to our disgrace so fondly admired the
French tongue, French modes, and also French messes, to present you
now and then with such receipts of French cookery, as I think may not
be disagreeable to English palates.
"There are indeed already in the world various books that treat on
this subject, and which bear great names, as cooks to kings, princes,
and noblemen, and from which one might justly expect something more
than many, if not most of these I have read, perform, but found
my self deceived in my expectations; for many of them to us are
impracticable, others whimsical, others unpalatable, unless to
depraved palates; some unwholesome, many things copied from old
authors, and recommended without (as I am persuaded) the copiers ever
having had any experience of the palatableness, or had any regard to
the wholesomness of them; which two things ought to be the standing
rules, that no pretenders to cookery ought to deviate from. And I
cannot but believe, that those celebrated performers, notwithstanding
all their professions of having ingenuously communicated their art,
industriously concealed their best receipts from the publick.
"But what I here present the world with is the product of my own
experience, and that for the space of thirty years and upwards; during
which time I have been constantly employed in fashionable and noble
families, in which the provisions ordered according to the following
directions, have had the general approbation of such as have been at
many noble entertainments.
"These receipts are all suitable to English constitutions and
English palates, wholesome, toothsome, all practicable and easy to
be performed. Here are those proper for a frugal, and also for a
sumptuous table, and if rightly observed, will prevent the spoiling
of many a good dish of meat, the waste of many good materials, the
vexation that frequently attends such mismanagements, and the curses
not unfrequently bestowed on cooks with the usual reflection, that
whereas God sends good meat, the devil sends cooks.
"As to those parts that treat of confectionary, pickles, cordials,
English wines, &c., what I have said in relation to cookery is equally
applicable to them also.
"It is true, I have not been so numerous in receipts as some who have
gone before me, but I think I have made amends in giving none but what
are approved and practicable, and fit either for a genteel or a noble
Table; and altho' I have omitted odd and fantastical messes, yet I
have set down a considerable number of receipts.
"The treatise is divided into ten parts: cookery contains above an
hundred receipts, pickles fifty, puddings above fifty, pastry above
forty, cakes forty, creams and jellies above forty, preserving an
hundred, made wines forty, cordial waters and powders above seventy,
medicines and salves above two hundred; in all near eight hundred.
"I have likewise presented you with schemes engraven on copper-plates
for the regular disposition or placing the dishes of provision on the
table according to the best manner, both for summer and winter, first
and second courses, &c.
"As for the receipts for medicines, salves, ointments, good in several
diseases, wounds, hurts, bruises, aches, pains, &c., which amount to
above two hundred, they are generally family receipts, that have never
been made publick; excellent in their kind, and approved remedies,
which have not been obtained by me without much difficulty; and of
such efficacy in distempers, &c., to which they are appropriated, that
they have cured when all other means have failed; and a few of them
which I have communicated to a friend, have procured a very handsome
"They are very proper for those generous, charitable, and Christian
gentlewomen that have a disposition to be serviceable to their poor
country neighbours, labouring under any of the afflicted circumstances
mentioned; who by making the medicines, and generously contributing
as occasions offer, may help the poor in their afflictions, gain
their good-will and wishes, entitle themselves to their blessings and
prayers, and also have the pleasure of seeing the good they do in this
world, and have good reason to hope for a reward (though not by way of
merit) in the world to come.
"As the whole of this collection has cost me much pains and a thirty
years' diligent application, and I have had experience of their use
and efficacy, I hope they will be as kindly accepted, as by me they
are generously offered to the publick: and if they prove to the
advantage of many, the end will be answered that is proposed by her
that is ready to serve the publick in what she may."
SELECT EXTRACTS FROM AN EARLY RECEIPT-BOOK.
The earliest school of English Cookery, which had such a marked
Anglo-Norman complexion, has been familiarised to us by the
publication of Warner's _Antiquitates Culinaricae_, 1791, and more
recently by the appearance of the "Noble Book of Cookery" in Mrs.
Napier's edition, not to mention other aids in the same way, which are
accessible; and it seemed to be doing a better service, when it became
a question of selecting a few specimens of old receipts, to resort
to the representative of a type of culinary philosophy and sentiment
somewhere midway between those which have been rendered easy of
reference and our own. I have therefore given in the few following
pages, in a classified shape, some of the highly curious contents of
E. Smith's "Compleat Housewife," 1736, which maybe securely taken to
exhibit the state of knowledge in England upon this subject in the
last quarter of the seventeenth century and first quarter of the
succeeding one. In the work itself no attempt at arrangement is
I.--MEAT, POULTRY, ETC.
_To make Dutch-beef_:--Take the lean part of a buttock of beef raw;
rub it well with brown sugar all over, and let it lie in a pan or tray
two or three hours, turning it three or four times; then salt it well
with common salt and salt-petre, and let it lie a fortnight, turning
it every day; then roll it very strait in a coarse cloth, and put it
in a cheese-press a day and a night, and hang it to dry in a chimney.
When you boil it, you must put it in a cloth: when 'tis cold, it will
cut out into shivers as Dutch-beef.
_To dry Mutton to cut out in Shivers as Dutch-Beef_:--Take a middling
leg of mutton, then take half a pound of brown sugar, and rub it hard
all over your mutton, and let it lie twenty-four hours; then take an
ounce and half of saltpetre, and mix it with a pound of common salt,
and rub that all over the mutton every other day, till 'tis all on,
and let it lie nine days longer; keep the place free from brine, then
hang it up to dry three days, then smoke it in a chimney where wood is
burnt; the fire must not be too hot; a fortnight will dry it. Boil
it like other hams, and when 'tis cold, cut it out in shivers like
_To stuff a Shoulder or Leg of Mutton with Oysters_:--Take a little
grated bread, some beef-suet, yolks of hard eggs, three anchovies,
a bit of an onion, salt and pepper, thyme and winter-savoury, twelve
oysters, some nutmeg grated; mix all these together, and shred them
very fine, and work them up with raw eggs like a paste, and stuff your
mutton under the skin in the thickest place, or where you please, and
roast it; and for sauce take some of the oyster-liquor, some claret,
two or three anchovies, a little nutmeg, a bit of an onion, the rest
of the oysters: stew all these together, then take out the onion, and
put it under the mutton.
_To marinade a Leg of Lamb_:--Take a leg of lamb, cut it in pieces the
bigness of a half-crown; hack them with the back of a knife; then take
an eschalot, three or four anchovies, some cloves, mace, nutmeg, all
beaten; put your meat in a dish, and strew the seasoning over it, and
put it in a stew-pan, with as much white-wine as will cover it, and
let it be two hours; then put it all together in a frying-pan, and let
it be half enough; then take it out and drain it through a colander,
saving the liquor, and put to your liquor a little pepper and salt,
and half a pint of gravy; dip your meat in yolks of eggs, and fry it
brown in butter; thicken up your sauce with yolks of eggs and
butter, and pour it in the dish with your meat: lay sweet-breads and
forc'd-meat balls over your meat; dip them in eggs, and fry them.
Garnish with lemon.
_A Leg of Mutton a-la-Daube_:--Lard your meat with bacon through, but
slant-way; half roast it; take it off the spit, and put it in a small
pot as will boil it; two quarts of strong broth, a pint of white-wine,
some vinegar, whole spice, bay-leaves, green onions, savoury,
sweet-marjoram; when 'tis stew'd enough, make sauce of some of the
liquor, mushrooms, lemon cut like dice, two or three anchovies:
thicken it with browned butter. Garnish with lemon.
_To fry Cucumbers for Mutton Sauce_:--You must brown some butter in a
pan, and cut the cucumbers in thin slices; drain them from the water,
then fling them into the pan, and when they are fried brown, put in a
little pepper and salt, a bit of an onion and gravy, and let them stew
together, and squeeze in some juice of lemon; shake them well, and put
them under your mutton.
_To make Pockets_:--Cut three slices out of a leg of veal, the length
of a finger, the breadth of three fingers, the thickness of a thumb,
with a sharp penknife; give it a slit through the middle, leaving the
bottom and each side whole, the thickness of a straw; then lard the
top with small fine lards of bacon; then make a forc'd-meat of marrow,
sweet-breads, and lamb-stones just boiled, and make it up after 'tis
seasoned and beaten together with the yolks of two eggs, and put it
into your pockets as if you were filling a pincushion; then sew up the
top with fine thread, flour them, and put melted butter on them, and
bake them; roast three sweet-breads to put between, and serve them
_To make a Florendine of Veal_:--Take the kidney of a loin of veal,
fat and all, and mince it very fine; then chop a few herbs, and put to
it, and add a few currants; season it with cloves, mace, nutmeg, and
a little salt; and put in some yolks of eggs, and a handful of grated
bread, a pippin or two chopt, some candied lemon-peel minced small,
some sack, sugar, and orange-flower-water. Put a sheet of puff-paste
at the bottom of your dish; put this in, and cover it with another;
close it up, and when 'tis baked, scrape sugar on it; and serve it
_To make a Tureiner_:--Take a china pot or bowl, and fill it as
follows: at the bottom lay some fresh butter; then put in three or
four beef-steaks larded with bacon; then cut some veal-steaks from
the leg; hack them, and wash them over with the yolk of an egg, and
afterwards lay it over with forc'd-meat, and roll it up, and lay it
in with young chickens, pigeons and rabbets, some in quarters, some in
halves; sweet-breads, lamb-stones, cocks-combs, palates after they
are boiled, peeled, and cut in slices: tongues, either hogs or
calves, sliced, and some larded with bacon: whole yolks of hard eggs,
pistachia-nuts peeled, forced balls, some round, some like an olive,
lemon sliced, some with the rind on, barberries and oysters: season
all these with pepper, salt, nutmeg, and sweet-herbs, mix'd together
after they are cut very small, and strew it on every thing as you put
it in your pot: then put in a quart of gravy, and some butter on the
top, and cover it close with a lid of puff-paste, pretty thick. Eight
hours will bake it.
_To make Hams of Pork like Westphalia_:--To two large hams, or three
small ones, take three pounds of common salt, and two pounds and half
of brown coarse sugar; mix both together, and rub it well into the
hams, and let them lie seven days, turning them every day, and rub the
salt in them, when you turn them; then take four ounces of salt-petre
beat small, and mix with two handfuls of common salt, and rub that
well in your hams, and let them lie a fortnight longer: then hang them
up high in a chimney to smoke.
_To make a Ragoo of Pigs-Ears_:--Take a quantity of pigs-ears, and
boil them in one half wine and the other water; cut them in small
pieces, then brown a little butter, and put them in, and a pretty deal
of gravy, two anchovies, an eschalot or two, a little mustard, and
some slices of lemon, some salt, and nutmeg; stew all these together,
and shake it up thick. Garnish the dish with barberries.
_To collar a Pig_:--Cut off the head of your pig; then cut the body
asunder; bone it, and cut two collars off each side; then lay it in
water to take out the blood; then take sage and parsley, and shred
them very small, and mix them with pepper, salt, and nutmeg, and strew
some on every side, or collar, and roll it up, and tye it with coarse
tape; so boil them in fair water and salt, till they are very tender:
put two or three blades of mace in the kettle, and when they are
enough, take them up, and lay them in something to cool; strain out
some of the liquor, and add to it some vinegar and salt, a little
white-wine, and three or four bay-leaves; give it a boil up, and when
'tis cold put it to the collars, and keep them for use.
_A Fricasy of Double Tripe_:--Cut your tripe in slices, two inches
long, and put it into a stew-pan; put to it a quarter of a pound of
capers, as much samphire shred, half a pint of strong broth, as much
white-wine, a bunch of sweet-herbs, a lemon shred small; stew all
these together till 'tis tender; then take it off the fire, and
thicken up the liquor with the yolks of three or four eggs, a little
parsley boiled green and chopp'd, some grated nutmeg and salt; shake
it well together. Serve it on sippets. Garnish with lemon.
_To pot a Swan_:--Bone and skin your swan, and beat the flesh in a
mortar, taking out the strings as you beat it; then take some clear
fat bacon, and beat with the swan, and when 'tis of a light flesh
colour, there is bacon enough in it; and when 'tis beaten till 'tis
like dough, 'tis enough; then season it with pepper, salt, cloves,
mace, and nutmeg, all beaten fine; mix it well with your flesh, and
give it a beat or two all together; then put it in an earthen pot,
with a little claret and fair water, and at the top two pounds of
fresh butter spread over it; cover it with coarse paste, and bake it
with bread; then turn it out into a dish, and squeeze it gently to get
out the moisture; then put it in a pot fit for it; and when 'tis cold,
cover it over with clarified butter, and next day paper it up. In this
manner you may do goose, duck, or beef, or hare's flesh.
_To make a Poloe_:--Take a pint of rice, boil it in as much water as
will cover it; when your rice is half boiled, put in your fowl, with a
small onion, a blade or two of mace, some whole pepper, and some salt;
when 'tis enough, put the fowl in the dish, and pour the rice over it.
_To make a Pulpatoon of Pigeons_:--Take mushrooms, palates, oysters,
sweet-breads, and fry them in butter; then put all these into a strong
gravy; give them a heat over the fire, and thicken up with an egg and
a bit of butter; then half roast six or eight pigeons, and lay them
in a crust of forc'd-meat as follows: scrape a pound of veal, and two
pounds of marrow, and beat it together in a stone mortar, after 'tis
shred very fine; then season it with salt, pepper, spice, and put in
hard eggs, anchovies and oysters; beat all together, and make the
lid and sides of your pye of it; first lay a thin crust into your
pattipan, then put on your forc'd-meat; then lay an exceeding thin
crust over them; then put in your pigeons and other ingredients, with
a little butter on the top. Bake it two hours.
_To keep Green Peas till Christmas_:--Shell what quantity you please
of young peas; put them in the pot when the water boils; let them have
four or five warms; then first pour them into a colander, and then
spread a cloth on a table, and put them on that, and dry them well
in it: have bottles ready dry'd, and fill them to the necks, and pour
over them melted mutton-fat, and cork them down very close, that no
air come to them: set them in your cellar, and when you use them, put
them into boiling water, with a spoonful of fine sugar, and a good
piece of butter: and when they are enough, drain and butter them.
II.--MEAT PIES AND PUDDINGS.
_A Battalia Pye_:--Take four small chickens, four squab pigeons, four
sucking rabbets; cut them in pieces, season them with savoury spice,
and lay 'em in the pye, with four sweet-breads sliced, and as many
sheep's-tongues, two shiver'd palates, two pair of lamb-stones, twenty
or thirty coxcombs, with savoury-balls and oysters. Lay on butter, and
close the pye. A lear.
_To make an Olio Pye_:--Make your pye ready; then take the thin
collops of the but-end of a leg of veal; as many as you think will
fill your pye; hack them with the back of a knife, and season them
with pepper, salt, cloves, and mace; wash over your collops with
a bunch of feathers dipped in eggs, and have in readiness a good
hand-full of sweet-herbs shred small; the herbs must be thyme,
parsley, and spinage; and the yolks of eight hard eggs, minced, and a
few oysters parboiled and chopt; some beef-suet shred very fine.
Mix these together, and strew them over your collops, and sprinkle
a little orange-flower-water on them, and roll the collops up very
close, and lay them in your pye, strewing the seasoning that is left
over them; put butter on the top, and close up your pye; when 'tis
drawn, put in gravy, and one anchovy dissolved in it, and pour it in
very hot: and you may put in artichoke-bottoms and chesnuts, if you
please, or sliced lemon, or grapes scalded, or what else is in season;
but if you will make it a right savoury pye leave them out.
_To make a Lumber Pye_:--Take a pound and a half of veal, parboil it,
and when 'tis cold chop it very small, with two pound of beef-suet,
and some candied orange-peel; some sweet-herbs, as thyme,
sweet-marjoram, and an handful of spinage; mince the herbs small
before you put them to the other; so chop all together, and a pippin
or two; then add a handful or two of grated bread, a pound and a half
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