A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Monday, May 9, 2011

Victorian Dining: Recipes

I was looking at Francatelli's suggested Victorian Christmas menu I posted a couple days ago and got to wondering if it was possible to actually recreate one of these courses.

As it turns out, it can be done very easily. Charles Elme Francatelli was a prolific writer and many of his books on Victorian food and manners are openly available on the Internet.
His book, The Modern Cook, A Practical Guide to the Culinary Arts in all its Branches is available on Google Books free of charge.

Another book, A Cook's Guide and Housekeeper's and Butler's Assistant has an entire Web site devoted to it. It is from here that the Christmas menu I described is listed. So, choosing one of the recipes from that menu at random, here are the directions for preparing Salad a la Rachel directly from the book so that you too can eat like a Victorian.

Salad a la Rachel: 

Prepare the shred celery and eggs as in the foregoing case; season them with Prince of Wales' sauce*, pile up lightly in the salad-bowl, garnish round the base of the salad with thin slices of German sausage or ham; sprinkle over the surface, first, the powdered yolks of eggs, and next, some black truffles shred fine.

This has a very charming effect, and is considered a wonderful stimulant.

*The Prince of Wales Sauce: 

First, prepare the following ingredients, viz.: four hard yolks of eggs, four anchovies washed and wiped, a handful of tarragon, chervil, burnet, chives; these to be well parboiled, and afterwards pressed in a cloth to extract all the water; a tablespoonful of capers, the same of French mustard, and three raw yolks of eggs; place all these in a mortar, bruise them together with a pestle, and then proceed to work in nearly half a pint of salad-oil, and half a gill [1/4 cup] of tarragon vinegar by degrees.
When this is done, rub the sauce thus produced through a hair sieve or tammy.

I wouldn't suggest serving this directly on your best majolica plates because the dressing is bound to steep into the soft earthenware body and cause a stain, but it will give you an idea of what food being served on majolica was like.

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