Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to Cook All the Birds, 1849

"The Poultry of the World," 1858, a.k.a. dinner
"Take a fine large olive, stuffed with capers and anchovies, and preserved in the best oil, and put it into a fig pecker; after cutting off its head and legs, put the fig pecker into the body of a fine fat ortolan; put the ortolan, into the body of a sky-lark. Besides cutting off the head and legs, take away all the principal bones, and wrap it in a thick fillet of bacon; put the skylark, thus prepared, into a thrush, trimmed and arranged in a similar way; put the thrush into a fine plump quail; put the quail, without bacon, but wrapped in a vine leaf, into a lapwing, and the lapwing well trussed and covered with thin bacon, into a fine golden plover; put the plover, also rolled up in bacon, into a fine young partridge; put the partridge into a good succulent woodcock, and after surrounding the latter with very thin crusts of bread, put it into a teal; put the teal, well trussed and covered with bacon, into a Guinea-hen, and the Guinea-hen, also surrounded with bacon, into a fine young wild duck, in preference to a tame one; put the duck into a fine plump fowl, and the fowl into a fine large red pheasant; be sure it is very high flavoured; put the pheasant into a fine fat wild goose; put the wild goose into a Guinea-fowl; put the Guinea-fowl into a very fine bustard, and if it should not fit it, fill up the cavities with chesnuts, sausage-meat, and stuffing excellently made. Put these ingredients, thus prepared, into a vessel, hermetically sealed, and closed round with paste; and add onions, stuck with cloves, carrots, small bits of ham, celery, herbs, ground pepper, slices of bacon well seasoned, salt, spices, coriander, and a bit or two of garlic. Let it simmer for twenty-four hours over a slow fire, so arranged as to reach  every part alike. Perhaps, an oven might be better." 
Robert Reynolds, The Professed Cook (trans. from Almanach des Gourmands, 1809)
This monstrosity did, in fact, eat a turducken for breakfast. Bon app├ętit!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Make Good Coffee, 1895

Currier & Ives, 1881 (Library of Congress)
"COFFEE THAT IS GOOD. To make good coffee is apparently not so simple as it may seem, if general results count for anything... There is no better stimulant in the morning than a delicious cup of coffee, and there is no better way of preparing it than according to the following recipe: Do not buy the coffee already ground, for it loses its fine flavor more rapidly when in the ground form than when whole. Have a small coffee mill and grind it yourself. A mixture of two or more kinds of coffee will give the most satisfactory result. Two thirds Java, with one third Mocha, will make a rich, smooth coffee. Now for the recipe: Put one cupful of roasted coffee into a small fryingpan, and stir it over the fire until hot, being careful not to burn it. Grind the coffee rather coarse and put it in a common coffeepot. Beat one egg well, and add three tablespoonfuls of cold water to it. Stir this mixture into the coffee. Pour one quart of boiling water on the coffee, and place the pot on the fire. Stir the coffee until it boils, being careful not to let it boil over; then place on the back of the stove, where it will just bubble, for ten minutes... After it has stood for five minutes, strain it into a hot coffeepot, and send to the table at once." 
C. F. Lawlor, The Mixicologist
Breakfast shortcut: just stir the egg into the coffee!

Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Make an Eel Pie, 1465

Konrad Gesner, Historiae
 "Boil for a while an eel which has been skinned and cut up in pieces. Pass almond juice, with verjuice and rose water, through a sieve into a bowl. It would likewise not be ill advised to make it thicker by pounding in raisins with three or four figs. Then mix orach, torn by hand with parsley and fried in a little oil, an ounce of raisins, also an ounce of pine nuts, a little ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and saffron. Mix into the above-mentioned with your hands until they make one mass. When they are mixed, put in a well-oiled pan with an undercrust, placing pieces of eel in layers, as it were. When it has been semicooked, pour a bit of verjuice, rose water, and sugar into the upper crust, which has been perforated in several places. When it is finally cooked, serve to your enemies, for it has nothing good in it."
Platina, De honesta voluptate et valetudine

Cooking a special meal is a great way to express your feelings for someone. Especially if the feelings are "I'd love for you to leave before dessert."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Manage Your Anger, c. 1150

British Library,
Egerton MS 747, f. 83r
c. 1280-1310

"One who is inclined to wrath should take rose and less sage and pulverize them. When the wrath is rising in him, he should hold this powder to his nostrils. The sage lessens the wrath, and the rose makes him happy."

Hildegard of Bingen, Physica

Feeling some wrath coming on? One sniff of this medieval powder and ahhhhh...