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 Dish of the Day - II

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Mon 30 Apr 2018, 10:56

30 April 1598 – In a move to promote civil unity after decades of religious conflict, the Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV of France, granting Calvinist Protestants, the Huguenots, substantial rights. (The exact date isn’t actually known: the Edict itself just says "avril" but it is generally held to have come into effect on the last day of the month).

Henry IV also had personal reasons for supporting the Edict. Prior to assuming the throne in 1589 he had espoused Protestantism, and he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause: he had converted to Catholicism in 1593 only in order to secure his position as king, supposedly saying "Paris is well worth a Mass". The Edict succeeded in restoring peace and internal unity to France, though it pleased neither party: Catholics rejected the apparent recognition of Protestantism as a permanent element in French society and still hoped to enforce religious uniformity, while Protestants didn't think the Edict went far enough in giving them parity with Catholics.


Henry IV, aka, le bon roi Henry, or Henry le Grand.

The story goes that in April 1598 after a game of jeu de palme (tennis) Henry was discussing the planned Edict and the future of the kingdom with the Duc de Savoie, and famously said:
"Si Dieu me donne encore de la vie, je feray qu’il n’y aura point de labourer en mon royaume, qui n’ait moyen d’avoir une poule dans son pot."
"If God continues to give me life, I will ensure that there is no labourer in my kingdom who lacks the means to have a chicken in his pot."


However the quote is first recorded only some 60 years later by Hardouin de Pérefixe in his 'Histoire du Roy Henry le Grand' (1661). Hardouin was Archbishop of Paris and also the private tutor of Henry’s grandson, Louis XIV, the Sun King, and his Histoire was a didactic work whose primary purpose was to educate the young king into a better understanding of the caring nature of his regal duties. Furthermore while Henry’s word, labourer, often gets translated as peasant, in 16th century French un labourer was not quite like its modern meaning of just a lowly unskilled manual worker. Labourer then meant a ploughman, husbandman or small-holder, but crucially someone who worked their own land and so who was financially independent (and already taxed), and not a landless peasant working someone else's land. Henry certainly didn’t expect, nor was he encouraging, the impoverished masses as a whole to aspire to having a chicken in the pot every Sunday, and his words were directed at those, rather fewer families, who were somewhat higher up the social and financial scale than the dirt poor peasants. Nevertheless even for these agricultrural labourers, a whole chicken for a family once a week, was generally far more extravagant than they could ever hope for.

Nevertheless the phrase became a rallying cry for the French peasant. Shortly before the French Revolution, in the mid 1770s, a popular song was doing the rounds celebrating the fall of René de Maupeou, who had been Louis XV’s Chancellor, but was dismissed on the accession of Louis XVI in 1774. [The song also mentions Robert Turgot, who was an economic advisor under Maupeou, and Joseph Terray who had been Controller-General of Finance, until they too both fell from power with the death of Louis XV].

La poule au pot
Depuis longtemps était promise.
La poule au pot
Attendait dès longemps.
Turgot Terray n'est plus, la nappe est mise; 
L'on va bientôt mettre à sa guise,
La poule au pot.

Maupeou n'est plus,
Thémis reprendre la balance;
Maupeou n'est plus,
Ce monstre a fait aux vertus
Reparaissez Dieu d'abondance,
Riez français, faites bonbance.
Maupeou n'est plus.


The chicken in the pot
Had long been promised.
The chicken in the pot
Had long been awaited.
Turgot Terray is no more, the table is set;  
We'll soon put him in the spot,
The chicken in the pot.


Maupeou is no more,
Thémis [ie good council or fairness] recaptures the balance;
Maupeou is no more,
This monster has given way to virtues.
Reappear, God of plenty,
Laugh, Frenchmen, and revel.
Maupeou is no more.


And during the Revolution "a chicken in every pot!" was an oft-repeated slogan. The phrase even found its way to the USA where in 1928 Herbert Hoover’s Presidential campaign promised, "a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard", albeit to much ridicule from his Democrat rivals.

So today’s dish is that French classic one-pot dish, poule au pot ... that is a whole chicken, suitably stuffed and seasoned, and then boiled with vegetables to give both a soup and a chicken dish. Recipes abound and it is one of the staples of any rural French housewife’s repertoire, however just for historical interest there is this particular one from the rather odd little cookbook entitled, '99 practical methods of utilizing boiled beef and the original recipe for stewed chicken', written by the pseudonymous 'Babet', and "translated from the French by A.R." (published in New York in 1893). In the introduction it claims, rather implausibly, to be the recipe for the actual dish that was once served at Henry IV’s court:

King Henry the Fourth's Recipe for Stewed Chicken.
(The Poule-au-pot)

The poule-au-pot, which good King Henry desired to have form the Sunday dinner of every peasant in the land, is a succulent dish too much neglected in these days, when dainty living is tending to replace the rustic cooking of the good old days.
But as the mere suggestion of a dish usually arouses a desire to taste it, we will give the recipe for the famous chicken, which, in spite of its apparent simplicity, is a choice morsel.
Get a good, fat hen, and buy it alive if possible, or at least, not drawn. Put aside the liver, gizzard, heart, lungs, head, neck, and wings, and any eggs which it may contain. Bone the head, neck, and wings, and mince the whole with ham, lard, bread crumbs dipped in milk, salt, pepper, spices, sweet herbs, parsley, and garlic, for we must remember that Henry the Fourth was a Béarnais, and that garlic is found in all the cooking of that part of the country.
When the hash is ready, add the yolks of eggs and put the stuffing into the hen. (Chestnuts and slices of truffle may also be put in the stuffing, but are not in the ancient, classic recipe.) Sew the opening, tie with string, and cook as follows:
All is in readiness for the pot-au-feu. Skim it, add the vegetables, and put in the chicken, which you allow to cook gently. Withdraw it before the flesh loosens from the bones, which would occur very quickly in the case of a young bird. From time to time lift it on a skimmer and prick with a knife, to ascertain the degree to which it has cooked.
Prepare upon a platter a bed of parsley, or, better yet, of cress. Take the hen from the pot, remove the strings, and lay it on the platter, sprinkling fine salt over it. It should be eaten very hot. The stuffing should be firm enough to cut in slices. The bouillon obtained by this process is exquisite, and the fowl loses none of its flavor. Taste it, and become convinced of King Henry the Fourth's solicitude for the well-being of the peasants of France.


Or for something much more authentic and closer to Henry IV’s time, there is this recipe for a stuffed and boiled capon from 'L’Ouverture de Cuisine', written by Lancelot de Casteau and published in 1604. Lancelot de Casteau had been the mastercook to three successive Prince-Bishops of Liege, and his cookbook was one of the first to go beyond medieval-style recipes and to describe the then, very new, French-style of haute cuisine. His book was very popular in its time and was referenced by several other later writers, but it was believed that all copies had been lost until a single privately owned copy came up for sale in 1958, and this copy is now held in the Royal Library of Belgium (and can be browsed online via the Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique):

    

Chappon boully farcy.
Prennez des castaignes qui soyent cuites, & les hachés auec vn peu de graisse de boeuf, & mettez dedans quatre iaulnes d'oeuf, muscade, & poiure, vn peu de mariolaine haschee, & mettés de cela tout plein le ventre du chapon, & couderés le ventre qu'il n'en sorte rien dehors: puis le mettez boulir qu'il soit bien cuit, puis prennés des cardes qui soient aussi bien cuites, & les mettés bien estuuer auec du vin, mariolaine hachee, du beurre, vn peu de muscade estampee de capes de Maiorque qui soyent bien laués en eau chaude, & mettez les boullir auec: estant bien boullis iettez sur le chapon, & point autre bouillon.

Stuffed boiled capon.
Take chestnuts that have been cooked, & chop them with a little beef fat, & put therein four egg yolks, nutmeg, & pepper, a little chopped marjoram, & put it there to fill the capon's stomach, & sew the stomach that nothing can come out: then put it to boil that it will be well cooked, then take cardoons that are also well cooked, & put them to stew well with wine, chopped marjoram, butter, a little ground nutmeg, some the capers of Majorca that have been well washed in hot water, & put to boil with it: when well boiled cast on the capon, & no other broth.


King Henry might have been full of solicitude for the peasants of France, but aside from the unlikely chance of their ever becoming sufficiently prosperous to be able to slaughter a chicken every week, to make this recipe they'd also need beef-suet, eggs, wine, and expensive imported nutmeg. They'd have to be pretty well-off peasants indeed to afford all that!


Last edited by Meles meles on Fri 04 May 2018, 16:56; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : re-worked the tortuous prose of the last paragraph)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Tue 01 May 2018, 16:26

1 May 1851 – The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, or just The Great Exhibition, opened in Hyde Park, London. Housed in a huge temporary glass structure, the Crystal Palace, it remained open until 15 October 1851, during which time it was visited by over 6 million people – equivalent to a third of the population of Britain at the time. Although the Great Exhibition was a platform on which countries from around the world could display their achievements, Britain sought to prove its own superiority in almost every field where strength, durability, utility and quality were concerned, whether in iron and steel, steam engines, machinery, textiles, domestic appliances, scientific instruments, musical instruments, sculpture or jewellery.


1st May 1851 - Queen Victoria opens the exhibition.

Despite the doom-mongers predicting the masses of visitors would be just an accident waiting to happen or that they might even become a revolutionary mob, the exhibition suffered no major incident. At its close it was judged a great success and had made a financial surplus of £186,000 (approaching £20 million at current rates). This money was used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, which were built in the area to the south of the exhibition alongside the already existing Imperial Institute. Some of the surplus was also used to set up an educational trust to provide grants and scholarships for industrial research; which it continues to do today.

The thousands of visitors (average daily attendance was 42,800) required catering on an almost unheard of scale. For example records show that 943,691 “London Bath buns” were sold just by the food outlets at the exhibition itself, while the Schwepps stand alone sold over a million bottles of their soda water (The commissioners of the Exhibition would not allow the sale of any alcoholic drinks). At the other end of the business, so to speak, there were the first coin-operated public toilets. Designed by George Jennings and installed in the "Retiring Rooms", these saw 827,280 visitors paying the 1 penny fee to use them (and thereafter "Spending a penny" became a euphemism for using a toilet).


The main gallery of the Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition.

Such was the demand for cheap take-away food that the exhibition has been credited with initiating the popularity of the Bath bun, while at the same time devaluing it. It certainly seems that it is from about this time that a clear distinction starts to be made between the true Bath bun made in the environs of Bath, and the rather cruder version made outside of Somerset, now generally called the London Bath bun or even sometimes simply the London bun.

According to the traditional story, popularised by the Sally Lunn House (bakery and tea-room) in Bath, in 1680 a Huguenot refugee, Solange Luyon (or Sally Lunn as she came to be called) came to Bath via Bristol from France. She found work with a baker in the city and introduced a light, rich, egg and butter, brioche ‘bun’ topped with caraway seeds or crushed caraway comfits, similar to many traditional French festival breads. These Sally Lunn buns became popular amongst visitors taking Bath’s spa waters and the original recipe was passed on with the deeds to Sally Lunn’s house and is still made "by hand" to this unique, secret recipe, exclusively by, yes, you guessed it, the Sally Lunn House bakery. But there is no evidence to support this story nor even that a person called Solange Luyon or Sally Lunn ever existed. In fact the name may well be simply a corruption of solilem, which is a similar brioche type of cake from Alsace.

There is a passing mention of "Sally Lunn and saffron cake" in a 1776 poem about Dublin by the Irish poet William Preston, and the first recorded mention of the bun in Somerset is as part of a detox regime in Philip Thicknesse's 1780 guidebook to taking the waters at Bath. Thicknesse describes how he would daily see visitors drinking 2-3 pints of Bath water and then "sit down to a meal of Sally Lunns or hot spungy rolls, made high by burnt butter", but he didn't recommend the practice as he says his brother died after this kind of breakfast!


A modern Sally Lunn.

The first known published receipt for Sally Lunns is a delightful verse version; from 'The Monthly magazine' (vol.2) of 1796:

RECEIPT TO MAKE A SALLY LUN
A well-known cake at Bath
Written by the late Major DREWE, of Exeter

NO more I heed the muffin zest
The Yorkshire cake or bun
Sweet Muse of Pastry teach me how
To make a Sally Lun.

Take thou of luscious wholesome cream
What the full pint contains
Warm as the native Mood which glows
In youthful virgin's veins

Hast thou not seen in olive rind
The wall-tree's rounded nut
Of juicy butter just its size
In thy clean pastry put

Hast thou not seen the golden yolk
In Chrystal shrine immur'd
Whence brooded o'er by sostring wing
Forth springs the warrior bird?

Oh save three birds from savage man
And combat's sanguine hour
Cush in three yolk, the seeds of life
And on the butter pour

Take then a cup that hold the juice
Fam'd China's fairest pride
Let foaming yeast its concave fill
And froth adown its side

But seek thou first for neatness sake
The Naiad's crystal stream
Swift let it round the concave play
And o'er the surface gleam

Of salt more keen than that of Greece
Which cooks not poets use
Sprinkle thou then with sparing hand
And thro the mass diffuse

Then let it rest disturb'd no more
Safe in its steady feat
Till thrice Time's warning bell hath struck
Nor yet the hour compleat

And now let Fancy revel free
By no stern rule confin'd
On glittr'ing tin in varied form
Each Sally-Lun be twin'd

But heed thou west to lift thy thought
To me thy power divine
Then to the oven's glowing mouth
The woud'rous work consign


..... certainly a classier presentation than your average Jamie Oliver recipe.

Meanwhile recipes for similar brioche buns can be found in publications dating back to early in the 18th century. In particular what are called Bath buns are very similar to Sally Lunns. The Bath physician, William Oliver, claimed to have been the first to coin the name Bath Bun in 1763 for his bun recipe that he prescribed for people taking the curative waters, but Elizabeth Cleland already had a recipe for Bath Cakes in her book 'A New and Easy Method of Cookery' published in 1755 . In any event Oliver’s Bath buns proved too rich and fattening for his rheumatic and gouty patients, and so he then invented the Bath Oliver biscuit and prescribed them instead. Regardless of who first created the Bath bun, they soon became very popular in Georgian England, not just in Bath but also in and around London (Jane Austen wrote in a letter in 1801 of, "disordering my stomach with Bath Bunns", ie she’d scoffed too many).

To meet the huge demand for Bath buns during the Great Exhibition, inevitably some corners were cut. In particular there were dark rumours that the butter was being adulterated, or even completely replaced, by pork lard, while the delicate French-style sugar dragée and caraway seed coating was all too often replaced by artificially-coloured icing, scattered with cheap raisins or bits of sugared peel.  Nevertheless these ‘London Bath buns’ still sold like, well, hot cakes.


Modern Bath buns.

Here’s Elizabeth Cleland’s recipe for Bath cakes from 'A New and Easy Method of Cookery' (1755).

Bath Cakes.
TAKE a Quart of Flour, a Pound of Butter, ten Ounces of confected Carraways, six Eggs, and but three Whites, six Spoonfuls of Barm, and a little Cream; mix all together, then put them in the Flour, the Butter and Cream must be melted; don't let it be too hot, then put it to the Barm and Eggs; work the Dough well, and set it to the Fire to rise; the shake in the Carraways, and make it into little Cakes, and bake them on floured Papers in a quick Oven.


And here's another recipe for Bath buns from 'A modern system of domestic cookery' (1822)  by Mary Radcliffe.

Excellent Bath Buns.
Take two pounds of fine flour, a pint of ale yeast, with a glass of mountain wine and a little orange-flower water, and three beaten eggs; knead the whole together with some warm cream, a little nutmeg, and a very little salt. Lay it before the fire till it rises very light; and then knead in a pound of fresh butter, and a pound of large round caraway or Scotch comfits. Make them up in the usual form of buns, or any other shape or size, and bake them on floured papers, in a quick oven. These buns are truly excellent; and, by leaving out the comfits, and substituting milk for the cream, and mountain wine, &c a very good, cheap, and common bun may be easily made.

You can see how the Bath bun then became somewhat debased by comparing Mary Radcliffes "Excellent" recipe to that written towards the end of the century as given in 'The Bread and Biscuit Baker's and Sugar-Boiler's Assistant', written by Robert Wells in 1890. He also includes a recipe for a Bath-type "London bun":

Bath Buns.
1 lb. of flour, 8 ozs. of butter, 8 ozs. of sugar, 4 eggs, a little warm milk, 1 oz. of Parisian yeast, some citron peel cut small, and half a nutmeg grated. This will make fourteen two penny buns.
Rub the butter in with the flour, make a bay and break in the eggs, add the yeast with sufficient milk to make the whole into a dough of moderate consistency, and put in a warm place to prove. When it has risen enough mix in the peel, a little essence of lemon, and the sugar, which should be in small pieces about the size of peas. Divide into pieces for buns, prove and bake in gentle heat. They may be washed with egg and dusted with sugar before proving.

Another Way. - 4 lbs. of flour, 1 lb. of butter, 6 ozs. of sugar, 4 ozs. of yeast, 4 eggs, and sufficient milk to make all into a dough; add essence of lemon.
Warm the milk, add the sugar and yeast with sufficient flour to make a ferment; when ready, add butter, eggs, and remainder of flour, with currants or peel to taste. Weigh or divide into 3 ozs. each, mould them up round egg on top rolled in castor sugar; slightly prove, bake in moderate oven.

[i]
London Buns.
Take 1 pint of milk warmed in a basin, add 2 ozs. of yeast, 8 ozs. of moist sugar, and make a dough with sufficient flour.
When the sponge is ready add 12 ozs. of butter, a pinch of salt, and have ready 4 ozs. of chopped peel. Mix all in the dough with 2 eggs and lemon, and prove. When about half proved wash over with yolk of egg. Put sugar on top when full proved.

Although frankly even that recipe suggests a considerably better bun than the sad travesty I was once served some years ago at a company training "do" . It was a cloyingly sweet but otherwise completely bland ordinary bread roll, , sugar-iced, somewhat perfunctorily, and then sprinkled with 'hundreds-and-thousands', yet it still had the effrontery to call itself a 'Bath bun'.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 03 Sep 2018, 19:04; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : some typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Wed 02 May 2018, 22:50

@Meles meles wrote:
Today is also the anniversary of this:

9 March 1839 – The end of the First Franco-Mexican War.

Few wars can claim to have been sparked by a dispute over some fancy cream cakes and custard tarts, but in the annals of culinary-inspired combat, the so-called ‘Pastry War’ (Spanish: Guerra de los pasteles, French: Guerre des Pâtisseries) between France and Mexico takes the cake, so to speak.

It all began in 1821 when Mexico broke away from the Spanish Empire. The result was a series of governments with about 20 different presidents over the next 20 years, as different factions vied for control of the new country. In 1828, President Guadalupe Victoria kicked Lorenzo de Zavala (Mexico’s state governor) out of office. Unfortunately for Victoria, Zavala had the support of General Antonio López de Santa Anna. As a result, Mexico City was plunged into its usual chaos as supporters of both sides battled each other for control of the government. In the aftermath, Zavala won. Neither side cared about civilian casualties or the damage they wrought – something all of Mexico would later regret for decades to come. For among the things destroyed was a pastry shop in the Tacubaya district belonging to French-born Monsieur Remontel: not only had Mexican soldiers destroyed his shop but they had also looted his supplies and merchandise. Furious, Remontel asked the government for compensation, but they ignored him. Rebuffed by the Mexican government in his attempt at compensation Remontel took his case directly to his native country and the French King Louis-Philippe. 

The pastry chef found a welcome ear in Paris. The French government was already angered over unpaid Mexican debts that had been incurred during the Texas Revolution of 1836, and in the Spring of 1838 it demanded compensation of 600,000 pesos, including an astronomical 60,000 pesos for Remontel’s pastry shop, (which had been valued at less than 1,000 pesos). When the Mexican Congress rejected the ultimatum, the French navy began a blockade of key seaports along the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Rio Grande. To get around the blockade, Mexicans had to smuggle goods in and out of Corpus Christi in the Republic of Texas (which hadn’t yet joined the American Union).

But then America also entered the fray. Distrustful of Mexico and anxious to maintain cordial relations with France, the US joined the blockade by sending an armed United States revenue schooner. This put the neutral Texans in a bind. They were concerned over how the Americans might react and they feared that the French might blockade them as well. Still, the money was good, so for the time being they continued to aid the smugglers. However things changed in July 1838 when Mexico sent soldiers into Corpus Christi Bay to secure their supplies. Texas responded by raising a large militia which reached the bay on 7 August. The Mexicans fled, leaving behind over 100 barrels of flour and some steam engine parts, which is how Flour Bluff in Texas got its name.

The stalemate dragged on until 27th November 1838 when French warships bombarded the island fortress of San Juan de Ulua that guarded the important port city of Veracruz. Mexico declared war on France, and its president ordered the conscription of all men who could bear arms. Within days however French marines raided the city and captured nearly the entire Mexican navy. Desperate to repel the invaders, Mexico turned to grizzled warrior Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the former president and military general who only the year before had returned home in disgrace after his humiliating defeat at the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, which had led to the creation of the independent Republic of Texas. Brought out from his forced retirement, the general who had proven so ruthless at the Battle of the Alamo left his Veracruz hacienda and organized a makeshift army that drove the French forces from the city and back to their ships. But unfortunately for Santa Anna, as he galloped after the invaders, some grapeshot fired from a cannon killed his horse and severely wounded his left leg. Doctors determined the limb could not be saved and were forced to amputate the leg, which Santa Anna buried at his home in Veracruz.

Less than four months later the Pastry War was over. British diplomats brokered a peace agreement in which Mexico agreed to pay France’s demand of 600,000 pesos, including the cost of Remontel’s pastry shop. On 9 March 1839 Remontel got his money and French forces withdrew from the country.



Mexico however was broke ... and then things just got worse.

Santa Anna the self-proclaimed ‘Napoleon of the West’ was none too shy to remind Mexicans that he had sacrificed a limb for his country and in 1842 reclaimed the Presidency. The dictatorial Santa Anna exhumed his shrivelled leg from Veracruz, paraded it to Mexico City in an ornate coach and buried it beneath a huge monument in an elaborate state funeral that included cannon salvos, poetry and lofty orations. But Santa Anna’s severed leg did not remain in its second resting place for long. In 1844 public opinion again turned against him: rioters tore down his statues and dug up his leg, which they dragged through the streets of Mexico City while shouting, "Death to the cripple!". Santa Anna duly stepped (hopped?) down, and went into exile in Spanish Cuba.

Then in 1845 the United States of America annexed Texas, which immediately prompted the Mexican-American War (1846–1848). Santa Anna was once again dragged out of retirement to lead the Mexican army into Texas. However during the Battle of Cerro Gordo on 18 April 1847, the Fourth Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry launched a surprise attack on Santa Anna’s camp. He escaped but left his wooden leg behind – which is why it now rests in the Illinois State Military Museum. Following defeat in the Mexican-American War, in 1848 Santa Anna again went into exile, this time in Jamaica.

But Texas was lost and Mexico was still broke and struggling to pay its reparations to France.

On 17 July 1861 Mexican President Benito Juarez suspended all loan-interest payments to foreign countries. This primarily affected France but Britain and Spain were also creditors and so on 31 October 1861, France, Britain and Spain agreed to a joint effort to extract repayment from the Mexican government (the US were occupied with the American Civil War and thus were unable to enforce their Monroe Doctrine). However when the British and the Spanish discovered that France had unilaterally planned to seize Mexico in pursuit of its own imperial ambitions, they withdrew from the coalition. The subsequent French invasion of the Mexican Republic created the Second Mexican Empire (1861–67) with the country as a client state of France. In Mexico the Roman Catholic Church, upper-class conservatives, and some Indian communities welcomed, accepted, and even collaborated with the French to install an Austrian archduke, as the Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico. But after much guerrilla warfare the French Empire eventually withdrew from Mexico and abandoned Maximillian, who was subsequently executed on 19 June 1867.

After Mexico took back its independence, one of its early leaders was Porfirio Díaz, who would eventually serve seven terms as president over almost 30 years. Díaz, a well-known Francophile, commissioned French-style architecture and collected French artwork and during his time French customs, culture and cuisine became more widely established than ever they had been during the time when Mexico was a French client state.

So here is a brief selection of typical Franco-Mexican pastries ... which are just the sort of things Monsieur Remontal probably made in his patisserie, until it was ransacked by soldiers in 1839 and the whole sorry saga kicked off.

Cuernos ("horns" in Spanish) can be either single or double-shaped, the latter revealing its French croissant ancestry. Like croissants cuernos are very light flaky pastry constructions made by repeatedly folding layers of filo pastry and butter. In Mexico there are traditional plain versions, but also some filled with vanilla cream, chocolate, or caramel, like a French cream horn.


Orejas ("ears" in Spanish) are very similar to what in France are known as palmiers or as palmeras in Spain (both meaning palm trees) from their resemblance to palm leaves. They seem to have originally come to France from north Africa probably following the French conquest of Algeria (1830–34) but possibly even as early as Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt (1798–1801). Again they are made of light flaky pastry, but sweet, and in Mexico they often come dusted with cinnamon or chocolate.


Orejas

Crepas con cajeta are the Mexican iteration of the French sweet crepe but the popular cajeta filling (sweetened caremelized goat’s milk) gives it a unique Mexican identity.


Crepas

.... and then there are the numerous entirely indigenous creations like, conchas (shells), besos (kisses) and marranitos / cochinitos / puerquitos (little pigs).

Meles meles,

" In Mexico the Roman Catholic Church, upper-class conservatives, and some Indian communities welcomed, accepted, and even collaborated with the French to install an Austrian archduke, as the Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico. But after much guerrilla warfare the French Empire eventually withdrew from Mexico and abandoned Maximillian, who was subsequently executed on 19 June 1867."

Yes Maximilian I
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico
And his wife: our Charlotte, sister of Leopold II and first cousin of both Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlota_of_Mexico
She had a tragic life: from the wiki:
"The empress was sent to Europe in 1866 to find help from family.[4] She was received both by the French Emperor and later by the Pope in audience, without success. She was possessed by the idea that she would be killed by poison and refused to eat normal food. Her secretary Batti was horrified when she drank public water from the fountains in Rome,[4] she even bought a cat to taste her food. King Leopold was shocked and sent the count of Flanders to Italy to visit his sister. The Empress who was very depressed and unstable took her court to Miramare, Maximilian's castle near Trieste, Italy, on advice of her brother the Count of Flanders.[4] Dr. Riedel, Director of the Lunatic Asylum of Vienna visited her, to report the Emperor.

While the Empress was resting the Emperor of Austria and the King of Belgium sent delegations to Miramare Castle. The Count of Bombelles,[4] and Dr Von Jilek a friend of the Emperor of Mexico were sent to Miramare.[4] The King of Belgium sent baron Auguste Goffinet on mission to get his sister home. Emperor Maximilian was captured by Mexican Republican forces and executed on 19 June 1867. Now archduchess again, she was obedient to the Austrian court, and Count Karl of Bombelles tried to keep her in Miramare. Discussions between the imperial court and Brussels became more important, because of the heritage. The emperor placed Charlotte under custody of his brother Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria. The king sent his wife to Vienna to visit her Cousin emperor Franz-Josef and take care of Charlotte.
There she was kept in observance by a team of medical and imperial guards. The king sent Jan Frans Bulckens (1813–1876) [4] Psychiatrist of Belgium to his sister.[4] The medical team decided that the empress could not be told of the execution of her husband. With medical approval, Queen Marie Henriette gave her sister-in-law a faked Telegram, from her husband to come back to Brussels.
This worked and the empress-dowager left Miramare for the last time. Together with her sister-in law, Queen Marie Henriette and the Belgian delegation they left for Belgium. After she left Miramare was returned property to the imperial Court.
Historians think that after the death of the Emperor in Mexico, Charlotte only had status of a rich dowager. For the Viennese court and imperial family it was of financial interest to keep her in Miramare. There her fortune was guarded under care of Eduard von Radonetz, the prefect of Miramare. When she was in Belgium the Viennese court would need to pay her dowry to Leopold in Belgium. This theory is confirmed by André Castelot.[5]

At the end the Austrian delegation allowed the empress and her sister in law leave to Belgium where the king gifted her court at Bouchout Castle in Meise, Belgium. During the final years of his life the king cared for his sister. The dowager wrote notes of profound gratitude of the care she received of her brother and nephews.[6]
During World War I, her Belgian estate was surrounded by the occupying German army, but the estate itself was sacrosanct because Austria-Hungary was one of Germany's chief allies and she was the widowed sister-in-law of the Austrian emperor.
As Carlota's illness progressed, her paranoia faded. She remained deeply in love with her husband. After his death, she cherished all of the surviving possessions they had enjoyed in common. The bias of the historiography of the time makes it difficult to assess to what extent she suffered from alleged mental conditions such as psychosis, paranoia and monomania.[citation needed]
Carlota died of pneumonia brought on by influenza at Bouchout Castle on 19 January 1927, and is buried in the Royal Crypt of the Church of Our Lady of Laeken.

She was the last surviving child of Leopold I."

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Thu 03 May 2018, 23:26

@Meles meles wrote:
30 April 1598 – In a move to promote civil unity after decades of religious conflict, the Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV of France, granting Calvinist Protestants, the Huguenots, substantial rights. (The exact date isn’t actually known: the Edict itself just says "avril" but it is generally held to have come into effect on the last day of the month).

Henry IV also had personal reasons for supporting the Edict. Prior to assuming the throne in 1589 he had espoused Protestantism, and he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause: he had converted to Catholicism in 1593 only in order to secure his position as king, supposedly saying "Paris is well worth a Mass". The Edict succeeded in restoring peace and internal unity to France, though it pleased neither party: Catholics rejected the apparent recognition of Protestantism as a permanent element in French society and still hoped to enforce religious uniformity, while Protestants didn't think the Edict went far enough in giving them parity with Catholics.
Meles meles,

just lost a post, the first in a few weeks, just by tapping on the "preview" after my elaborated message was finished. Again the fearfull "no post specified" window...tomorrow I will repost while I have it still all in my head. And I know, I can divide the window in two halves and type my text in the other half and then copy and past, but I find that so cumbersome Embarassed

Nevertheless kind regards and good night from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: nd perhaps   Sat 05 May 2018, 23:21

@PaulRyckier wrote:
@Meles meles wrote:
30 April 1598 – In a move to promote civil unity after decades of religious conflict, the Edict of Nantes was signed by Henry IV of France, granting Calvinist Protestants, the Huguenots, substantial rights. (The exact date isn’t actually known: the Edict itself just says "avril" but it is generally held to have come into effect on the last day of the month).

Henry IV also had personal reasons for supporting the Edict. Prior to assuming the throne in 1589 he had espoused Protestantism, and he remained sympathetic to the Protestant cause: he had converted to Catholicism in 1593 only in order to secure his position as king, supposedly saying "Paris is well worth a Mass". The Edict succeeded in restoring peace and internal unity to France, though it pleased neither party: Catholics rejected the apparent recognition of Protestantism as a permanent element in French society and still hoped to enforce religious uniformity, while Protestants didn't think the Edict went far enough in giving them parity with Catholics.
Meles meles,

just lost a post, the first in a few weeks, just by tapping on the "preview" after my elaborated message was finished. Again the fearfull "no post specified" window...tomorrow I will repost while I have it still all in my head. And I know, I can divide the window in two halves and type my text in the other half and then copy and past, but I find that so cumbersome Embarassed

Nevertheless kind regards and good night from your friend Paul.


Meles meles,

I know it is a "what if" and mostly there are too much intangibles and possibilities to guess what would be the result of that what if. But it is always interesting to construct the what if with the real events as starting point to better understand what later happened in reality...

Of course the pragmatic Henry IV was able to bring again a certain level of peace in the kingdom and perhaps that other pragmatist his grandson Charles II of Britain had it learned too from Henry IV.

But what if, Louis XIV, going against the will of the Catholics, had maintained the Edict? Couldn't he do that as an absolutist monarch?
Wouldn't that have been better for the economy of his country...the Hugenots not flying to the Dutch Republic and the several monarchies in the HRE? A bit as in the Dutch Republic with the Catholics, allowed to do their thing as long as they didn't came in the public with their religion? But even there there was a lot of trouble between the liberals of the Staten-Generaal of Holland and those of the other provinces. The later William III of Britain as Stadhouder in the Republic supporting the more populist Protestant faction (perhaps for his proper gain?).
And yes perhaps it wasn't possible for the Sun King to have two factions in the kingdom not tended at a reconciliation as proven by documents about the hate between the factions exploited by their respective leadership...9 religious wars in French history...that's perhaps more than in Britain...although one can't perhaps compare, while they both had their specificity in that field?

And perhaps the absolutist king (l'état c'est moi) wasn't interested at all to have a trouble maker as the Protestant faction in his kingdom? (see the nordmann replies in the recent religion authority thread here on the same forum...)

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sun 06 May 2018, 11:25

Indeed Paul, the flight of the Huguenots to the Dutch Republic, Britain and Scandinavia certainly gave an economic boost to all those countries, with commensurate harm to France. But I suppose Louis XIV would have argued that the presence of Protestants within France was already damaging the state in that they were a potentially seditious movement. Religious tolerance in France was always by royal edict (Henry IV's Edict of Nantes giving tolerance; and Louis XIV's Edict of Fontainbleau removing tolerance) - it was never a popular policy, and even before Louis revoked Henry's Edict there had been years of widespread unofficial persecution of Protestants. As you say, Louis was very much an absolutist king ruling by divine right, and I think he essentially saw the Huguenots and other heretical sects simply as an affront to his vision of a perfect autocracy. Also remember that at this time nearly every other European state only permitted the majority state religion, so Henry IV's experiment in religious tolerance was actually almost unique.

Nevertheless when Louis XIV was younger (aged 19 and so admittedly still largely under the influence of his chief minister, Mazarin) France had briefly, and rather untypically, entered into a league with that arch-Protestant state the Commonwealth of England and Scotland under Oliver Cromwell, against the Spanish. The French feared the Spanish with their Habsburg possessions in the Netherlands were getting close to completely encirling France; while Cromwell's Commonwealth was concerned about Spanish influence in the Carribean and the Low Countries, as well as their support for Charles (later Charles II) the exiled claimant to the British throne. At the Battle of the Dunes (Dunkuerque) in 1658 this Anglo-French league actually saw Puritan English 'Roundheads' fighting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Royalist, Catholic, French soldiers ... against a Catholic Spanish army, which also included English and French soldiers loyal to the English Royalist cause.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 09 May 2018, 14:21; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : spellin')
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sun 06 May 2018, 22:56

Meles meles,

thank you very much for your reaction.

"Nevertheless when Louis XIV was younger (aged 19 and so admittedly still largely under the influence of his chief minister, Mazarin) France had briefly, and rather untypically, entered into a league with that arch-Protestant state the Commonwealth of England and Scotland under Oliver Cromwell, against the Spanish. The French feared the Spanish with their Habsburg possessions in the Netherlands were getting close to completely encirling France; while Cromwell's Commonwealth was concerned about Spanish influence in the Carribean and the Low Countries, as well as their support for Charles (later Charles II) the exiled claimant to the British throne. At the Battle of the Dunes (Dunkuerque) in 1658 this Anglo-French league actually saw Puritan English 'Roundheads' fighting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Catholic French soldiers ... against a Catholic Spanish army, which also included English and French soldiers loyal to the English Royalist cause."

Yes "raison d'état" (and also "il principe", "the end justifies the means) the French as a Cardinal de Richelieu made even an alliance with the Turks all to counteract the Habsburgs both in Spain and in Austria. And this cooperation dated already from the time of Francis I (François I)
I knew only from my lessons history about Richelieu but now see that it already was long term...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Ottoman_alliance
And there was even a minor role from Persia...about that too... it is since my research about the history of the tulip, that I read about Persia and its relation with Turkey...perhaps it is interesting to remember that there was also a Turkey and a Persia (although minor) in the European history of that time...
I wonder, as we are on the dish thread, if that Jean Frangipani has something to do with you can guess...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Frangipani

And while I wanted to point to the emergence of the nation state in Europe there was a hint to that for France in this related question:
https://www.quora.com/Why-did-France-side-with-the-Protestants-during-the-30-Years-War
"We are also at the beginning of absolutism in France since 1648 settles the question of the Burgundian inheritance (passed to the Holy Roman Empire after the Hundred Years War), which is thus recovered in large part and that there are no longer any great opponents to the King within France (There still will be the episode of the Fronde, a sort of rebellion of the princes of no great consequences from 1649 to 1653). Society ceases to be founded on a conception of the good accepted by all, and civil peace is established by resorting to what men have in common: the fear of violent death. In the form of absolutism, theorized by Bodin and Hobbes, the modern State was born, an entity exercising within its borders the monopoly of legitimate violence and defending itself outside by a national army."

Although I guess the Britain of Queen Elisabeth I was already the first socalled nationstate...and that because both had already a history of nations?...Burgundy was a newcomer?...Italy were city states...as the HRE, where Austria emerged and Spain only reborn since the Reconquista?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Mon 07 May 2018, 11:41

Another one that courted the Ottomans was Charles XII of Sweden. Once known as 'the Lion of the North' and the 'Swedish Meteor' for his early military prowess, Charles, who acceded to the throne in 1697 at the age of 15, had bitten off rather more than he could chew when he took on Russia (in almost exactly the same way that both Napoleon and Hitler under-estimated the size and resources of Mother Russia). The Swedish march on Moscow was initially successful but then with the supply lines over-extended they were defeated by a huge Russian army at the battle of Poltava (June 1709) and Charles was forced to surrender. Charles and the remnants of his army took refuge in what is now Moldova, then part of the Ottoman empire and he spent the following six years in exile in the Ottoman Empire's Balkan provinces and in Turkey. He returned to Sweden in 1714 to lead an assault on Norway, trying to evict the Danish king from the war once more in order to aim all his forces at the Russians. The campaign met with frustration and ultimate failure, concluding with his death at the Siege of Fredriksten in 1718.

And since we are indeed in a foody thread I should mention that during his years of exile Charles acquired a taste for Ottoman cuisine and so returned to Sweden with the recipe not just for köfte, the spiced lamb and beef meatballs that in time became the Swedish staple köttbullar, but also for the popular stuffed cabbage dish now known in Sweden as kåldolmar. He is also considered responsible for importing and popularising the Turkish habit of drinking coffee, which became so widespread in Sweden in the later 18th century that King Gustav III briefly banned it.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Mon 07 May 2018, 22:39

Meles meles,

thank you for this story that I wasn't aware of...one as I thinks that he knows a lot about European history...and has to be exposed to his lacunes in his knowledge Wink ...chapeau MM for you broader knowledge...where learned you that all...
The Swedes and the köfte...one wouldn't believe it...
And coffee...it can be that we have it overhere via Austria and the Turks..have to check...
And about that "frangipane" that delicious thing from our belgian "pâtissiers"...not Jean Frangipane as I asked as a suggestion... but an even greater can of worms...
http://khkeeler.blogspot.be/2017/01/plant-story-mysterious-marquis.html
https://www.marthastewart.com/1157490/frangipane-filling


Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Thu 04 Oct 2018, 20:21

Now that the above lot of historical culinary nonsense has had time to be digested, it's time to serve up a few more courses (and here naturally it's strictly Service à la Russe, with dishes coming bit by bit, rather than all served up at the same time, à la Française).

4 October 1957 – On this day Sputnik-1 was launched from the Tyuratam launch site in the Kazakh SSR (now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome) to become the first artificial earth satellite. Sputnik-1 was a 58cm diameter polished metal sphere with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable even by radio amateurs, and the 65° inclination and the duration of orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited earth. The satellite’s signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957, and then Sputnik burned up on re-entering the atmosphere on 4 January 1958.


 
The USSR’s successful launch of Sputnik-1 caught the USA by surprise despite the Soviets having provided details before the launch and having asked amateur astronomers, radio enthusiasts and commercial radio stations around the world to help monitor the satellite. This sudden unexpected technological advance provoked a period of public fear and anxiety in Western nations about the perceived technological gap between the United States and the Soviet Union. Suddenly the night sky was transformed from a serene celestial dome to a place of menace from which unseen attacks might be launched on the capitalist world. But at the same time there was tremendous excitement that the shackles of gravity had been broken and human dreams of space exploration were about to be realised.
 
While the US military and government were grappling with the political implications of Sputnik, ordinary people responded by using the spacecraft in adverts or adopting its distinctive shape into fashion accessories and even foods as a way perhaps to Americanize Russia’s accomplishment and to make the challenge seem less scary and foreign. There were Sputnik hamburgers, Sputnik sundaes, Sputnik sandwiches and Sputnik finger foods.
 


The caption from this newspaper photograph reads: "Not to be outdone - Harriet Phydros samples a Sputnikburger which an Atlanta café rushed onto the menu. It's garnished with Russian dressing and caviar, topped by satellite olive and cocktail hotdog". (The hot dog is presumably a reference to Laika the dog, who went into orbit in Sputnik-2 later in 1957).
 
And of course there were Sputnik cocktails. There are several versions of these floating around but this one - combining Russian oomph and western sour grapes - seems to be fairly typical:
 
Sputnik Cocktail
45ml Russian vodka
15 ml Fernet Branca (a bitter Italian digestive liqueur)
15 ml fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
 
Shake together with ice, strain and serve with an olive or melon ball transformed by the addition of 3 or 4 toothpicks/cocktail sticks into a resemblance of the Sputnik satellite.

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Fri 05 Oct 2018, 13:49

Some of the kids at my primary school used to sing (to the tune of Perry Como's Catch a Falling Star) "Catch a falling sputnik, put it in a matchbox never let it fly away, Catch a falling sputnik put it in a matchbox send it to the USA".  I may be on the wrong thread because MM had mentioned recently collecting fungi and I had mentioned that if I went "scavenging" fungi I would no doubt have picked poisonous ones.  I think I should have said "foraging".  I looked up the meaning of "scavenging" or "scavenge" and it seems to have a meaning in keeping with using discarded materials whereas the fungi were growing in their natural habitat rather than having been discarded.  https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/scavenge

I'm still using the French beans and courgettes (well there's only one courgette left now) that a lady living up the road put out for passers-by to help themselves because she had a glut.

Editing to add that although there has been a great deal of building in the locality where I live since I was a child (when I was a child it was really just the row of houses on this road and on the other side and then you came to the outskirts of the town) there is still a coppice where crab apples and elderberries can be found (though I think they'd probably need a good wash).  I'm probably too late for them this year though.  However, as whatever the variety of rose was grafted on to the bush in the back garden has become taken over entirely by the underlying dog rose/briar rose/eglantine I do have some rose hips.  I think they can be used though obviously not straight off the bush.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Fri 05 Oct 2018, 14:51

I made a gelée of apples/crab-apples and rosehips: very nice and full of vitamin C. I labelled the jars up in French, carefully looking up the French for rosehip, cynorrhodon, only for all the French people staying here to promptly ask what it was as they didn't know the name. Most French know a rosehip as a gratte-cul - 'scratch-bum ' - because of the itchy powder (the seeds) within the pod. But that didn't sound very nice for a jar of jam on the breakfast table, so I've stuck with the more formal and perfectly correct, cynorrhodon, although it does rather sound like some sort of prehistoric animal.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Fri 05 Oct 2018, 21:42

5 October 1600 - The marriage of Marie de Médici to Henry IV of France.

After an infancy and childhood that were fairly normal, though darkened by the death of her mother as well as the sudden and mysterious death of her father the grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco I, at the age of just 27, Marie de Medici (or Maria di' Medici) suddenly, and largely unexpectedly, found herself marrying the king of France, Henry IV. She was 25 years old whilst he was almost 47. For the French sovereign, an inveterate womanizer who had only just obtained an annulment of his previous marriage to Margaret of Valois, the wedding was purely an affair of state rather than of the heart. In addition Henri's debts were astronomical and Marie’s dowry would be 600,000 écus, 350,000 of which would be paid in cash. Marie's opinion of the match is not recorded. The  marriage ceremonies took place in two stages. On 5 October 1600, Henri IV married Marie de Medici by proxy - Marie's uncle, the Grand Duke himself stood if for the French king at the ceremony in the Duomo of Florence.

a few days after the wedding formalities and ceremonies, Marie left her native Tuscany to join her husband in France. Her retinue dropped anchor in Marseille on 3 November 1600 but to Marie’s disappointment Henri was not waiting for her at the dock. Officially he was preoccupied with the conflict with Savoy: in truth he was entirely taken up with his new mistress, Henriette d'Entrages. Marie and Henri finally met for the first time in Lyon on 9 December (Henri arrived late for this rendez-vous too ... six days late) and they were then formally married on 17 December 1600.

Here’s Ruben’s rather allegorical take on the first proxy marriage which he painted over 20 years after the event (and indeed some years after Henri’s death) as one of the 24 huge paintings that Marie commissioned to glorify her life (she was then only recently reconciled with her son, Louis XIII, after several years of having been banished from court following her rather disasterous regency). Rubens had been at the original 1600 wedding as a young man during his tour of Italy: he was there as part of the retinue of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua, but he wasn't an actual guest. Nevertheless he painted himself standing behind Marie, holding a cross and gazing out at the viewer.



A more realistic representation of the event is this one by Jacopo da Empoli (painted about 1624) in which all the participants can be identified and were actually there. Nothing to do with the subject itself but I find it interesting that everyone in the painting is looking not at the bride or groom, but direct at the viewer.



Anyway after the wedding service there was a lavish banquet for a select 300 of the 4,000 invited guests, which was held in the grand Sala dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio. This was organised by Giovanni del Maestro, the Grand Duke's majordomo, who it seems had an almost limitless budget. Michelangelo Buonarroti (the Michelangelo’s great-nephew) was there and noted every detail of how the table was laid, all the dishes (there were more than fifty courses), the sweet confections, and the fabulous sugar sculpures which included an immense representation in sugar paste of the groom mounted on a horse and placed directly opposite Marie in place of her real husband. The ornamentation of the room and the theatrical marvels - which included such delights as live birds hidden in the table napkins and theatrical clouds supended from the ceiling bearing an orchestra of cupids - were all designed by the Florentine sculptor and architect Bernardo Buontalenti.


Bernardo Buontalenti - a copy of a self portrait.

Born in Florence in 1531, Bernardo Buontalenti was a man of many talents. An artist, engineer, architect and theatrical designer (among other abilities). He was said to have been taught painting by Salviati, sculpture by Michelangelo and architecture by Vasari. He entered the service of the Medici family at a young age and would continue in that role throughout his life. His accomplishments were diverse - in Florence alone his work can be seen in the decoration of the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens (including the famous Grotto), the military fortifications of the Forte de Belvedere, and the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello. Buontalenti also built a great court stage in the Uffizi Palace where extravaganzas where held for the Medici family using costumes and scenery of his own design. Having worked on both subterranean grottoes and underground fortifications he became interested in ways of storing winter ice in insulated ice houses, and from this, true renaissance man that he was, Buontalenti went on to experiment with preserving foods by refrigeration and freezing. Hence, so the story goes, he also contributed one of the exciting novelty dishes at Marie’s marriage feast: his famous crema Fiorentina was a frozen cream custard, or what is nowadays known as gelato or ice-cream.

The history of ices and ice cream actually reaches back beyond ancient Rome (Roman emperor Nero served his guests snow flavoured with honey and fruit) and to ancient Chinese and Arabic cultures, which understood how to use salt with ice collected from mountain tops to create freezing temperatures. The word sorbet comes from the Arabic word sherbet or sharbat, meaning a sweet refreshing drink. In the 15th century a Florentine cook called Ruggeri became so famous for his ice sorbettos with sugar and fruit flavourings, that Catherine de Medici (she was from a different branch of the Medici dynasty to Marie) employed him in France after she married the Duke of Orleans, soon to become King Henry II. The French court immediately loved the new ice sweets but rather despised Ruggeri as a low born foreigner, so eventually he returned to his native Florence. Buontalenti probably got his basic ideas from Ruggeri but seems to have been the first to add egg and cream to the freezing mixture and so get a true ice cream.

Buontalenti didn’t record the recipe or method for his 'crema Fiorentina' but the following is a simple recipe which probably describes much the sort of method he originally used. It is adapted from a basic recipe given in 'The Complete Confectioner' (1789) by Frederick Nutt who had served his apprenticeship under the Italian chef Domenico Negri, who had worked in London in the 1760s and helped popularize continental ice cream.

Gelato Buontalenti

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup very finely ground granulated sugar 
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Di Saronno Amaretto or other liquid flavoring (optional as this certainly wasn't in Buontalenti's original gelato recipe).

In a large heavy saucepan bring the milk and about half of the sugar just to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. In a bowl with an whisk beat the yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Add the hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly, and pour into the saucepan. Cook the custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until hot (about 80°C). Do not let it boil. Pour the custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool. Stir in the cream and add the liqueur or other flavouring if using. Chill the custard, covered, until cold, and then finally freeze it by immersing the bowl in a larger, outer bowl containing a freezing mixture of crushed ice and salt. Serve immediately once it has hardened and started to freeze solid.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 06 Oct 2018, 17:17; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : fonts, format & commas)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 06 Oct 2018, 12:05

You so often come up with an apt dish, MM.  Though personally I could have done with something to do with the half apples that I didn't harvest in time from the garden (but I daresay YouTube might be my friend there).
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 06 Oct 2018, 14:27

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
You so often come up with an apt dish, MM ...

Thank you. .... although sometimes, whilst having a brilliant recipe or theme in mind, the problem is then finding a suitable historic anniversay to go with it!

And of course this isn't a blog ... and so anyone can post their own suggestions, ideas, or proposals, for today's historic 'dish'.

Quote :
...  Though personally I could have done with something to do with the half apples that I didn't harvest in time from the garden.

Why not make an apple pie or apple tart? I used up loads of fallen apples in an apple tart just a few days ago and served it up to guests with no complaints (... and with a second tart frozen down for later). But then much simpler is apple crumble - which would of course greatly benefit from the addition of even just a few blackberries foraged from the hedgerows, some figs, or maybe a couple of late plums. Even easier still would be apfelmus - either to freeze and use later as apple sauce/purée, or simply as a dessert just as it is.

And à propos of the grand banquet for the marriage of Marie de Medici and her (absent) husband Henri IV ... there was a special exhibition in 2015 held in the Pitti Palace (one of Buontalenti's masterpieces) in which they recreated some of the sugar sculptures, the elaborately folded table linen, and the elaborate 'cupboard'. This is from 'Apollo' (The International Art Magazine):

Sweet Triumphs and the Finest of Folds: sugar sculpture and napkins for the Florentine marriage of Maria de’Medici

Apparently so good were some of the original sugar sculptures that copies were immediately made, in bronze, to make long-lasting works of art ... which the modern food historians were then able to use to exactly re-create the  original sugar statues.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Mon 08 Oct 2018, 11:09

I was looking at a crafting blog today - the lady had mentioned that almond extract could be made from almonds or from apricot pits.  I always thought fruit pits could be poisonous (I read something a while ago about somebody becoming ill from eating a surfeit of the insides of cherry stones which contained something that the body converted to cyanide).  It seems the pits have to be cooked properly.  I read a thriller at one time where the murderer did the dastardly deed using bitter almonds but it took time for them to be effective.  Anyway, here is the link www.sewhistorically.com/homemade-almond-extract-with-almonds-or-apricot-pits/  As I said about MM's post about foraging and collecting wild fungi I'd always be too scared of collecting an unsafe fungus and I might be worried about using pits which can be poisonous though I do like the idea of things not going to waste.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Thu 11 Oct 2018, 20:35

A day late but after twelve centuries I doubt it really matters and in any case things spilled over to the morning of October 11th.


10 October 732 – The Battle of Tours (sometimes called the First Battle of Poitiers as the site lies between the two adjacent cities) saw a Frankish army under Charles Martel defeat an Islamic Andalusian army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul al-Rahman. The battle has been viewed as marking the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammed in 632 Islam spread rapidly by conquest both eastwards into Anatolia and westwards along the North African coast. In 711 an Islamic army invaded Spain from North Africa and within a few years had completely defeated the Visigothic kingdoms in Hispania. Then in 719 they crossed the Pyrenees and over-ran the Gallic Visigothic kingdom of Septimania (essentially the region that had been the Roman province of Gallia Narbonnensis along the Mediterranean coast west of the Rhone valley/Provence). From this base Umayyad forces started attacking north into Gaul and by 725 Islamic armies were raiding as far north as the Vosges mountains near the modern border with Germany.

In 731 Abd al-Rahman, the governor/commander of al-Andalus (the muslim province in Hispania), received substantial reinforcements from North Africa and launched a concerted invasion of the Christian kingdom of Aquitaine. Al-Rahman’s army defeated the Aquitanians in battle and the burned their capital of Bordeaux in June 732. The defeated Aquitanian ruler Eudes fled north to the Frankish kingdom with the remnants of his forces in order to plead for help from a fellow Christian, but old enemy: Charles Martel, the leader of the Franks.

Once his army had gathered, Martel marched to the fortified city of Tours, on the border with Aquitaine, to await the Muslim advance and after three months of pillaging Aquitaine, al-Rahman duly obliged. Nevertheless the armies were fairly matched and both were unwilling to enter the bloody business of a battle. An uneasy standoff prevailed for seven days but with winter coming al-Rahman knew that eventually he would have to attack or retreat.


NB. In 732 the various Frankish kingdoms, principalities and duchies had yet to unify and expand into the Carolingian Empire (as shown here), but notice how far north the Islamic advance had got at its furthest point: Tours. It is of course interesting to speculate how the subsequent history of western Europe would have developed if the Franks had lost.

The battle began with thundering cavalry charges from al-Rahman’s army but, unusually for a medieval battle, Martel’s infantry weathered the onslaught and retained their formation. Meanwhile Prince Eudes’ Aquitanian cavalry used superior local knowledge to outflank the Muslim armies and attack their camp from the rear. Christian sources then claim that this caused many Muslim soldiers to panic and attempt to flee to save their loot from the campaign. This trickle became a full retreat, and the sources of both sides confirm that al-Rahman died fighting bravely whilst trying to rally his men in the fortified camp. The battle then ceased for the night, but with much of the Muslim army still at large Martel was cautious about a possible feigned retreat to lure him out into being smashed by the Islamic cavalry. However, searching the hastily abandoned camp and surrounding area revealed that the Muslims had fled south with their loot.

Despite the deaths of al-Rahman and an estimated 25,000 others at Tours, this war was not over and a second equally dangerous raid into Gaul in 735 took four years to repulse. Nevertheless Tours was a hugely important moment in the history of Europe, for though the battle of itself was perhaps not as seismic as some have claimed, it stemmed the tide of Islamic advance and showed the European heirs of Rome that these foreign invaders could be defeated. Martel would later found the famous Carolingian dynasty and it was his celebrated grandson, Charlemagne, who eventually carved out a vast empire that stretched across Europe. Charlemagne also started the reconquest of Christian territories beyond the Pyrenees but the reconquista would not be completed until 1492 and so much of the Iberian penisnsular remained under Islamic control for many centuries.

It would be nice to have an contemporary Islamic dish but I’m unaware of any Umayyad cookbooks surviving from the eighth century. There is a book written by an Arab scribe in the tenth century entitled Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Recipes), however this is a collection of recipes from the high court in Baghdad. The book’s author, Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Sayyar (from an old aristocratic family), stated in his preface that he was specifically asked to record the recipes of "kings and caliphs and lords and leaders" and so the work was probably commissioned by Saif al-Dawlah Al-Hamdani, the culture-minded prince of tenth-century Aleppo. As such its style of cooking is probably not really representative of the cuisine of provincial al-Andalus.

To find something more typically from al-Andalus one has to come forward quite a few centuries. Kitab al-Tabeekh fi ‘l-Maghrib wa ‘l-Andalus fi ‘Asr al-Muwahhidin (The Cookbook of al-Maghrib and Andalusia in the era of the Almohads), was written by an unknown author in 13th century Muslim Spain. There are many recipes to choose from but I thought this one, and in particular the spring version, as suitable to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Tours, for reasons that will become apparent.

Jannâniyya (the Gardener's Dish)
It was the custom among us to make this in the flower and vegetable gardens. If you make it in summer or fall, take saltwort, Swiss chard, gourd, small aubergines, "eyes" of fennel, fox-grapes [?], the best parts of tender gourd and flesh of ribbed cucumber and smooth cucumber; chop all this very small, as vegetables are chopped, and cook with water and salt; then drain off the water. Take a clean pot and in it pour a little water and a lot of oil, pounded onion, garlic, pepper, coriander seed and caraway; put on a moderate fire and when it has boiled, put in the boiled vegetables. When it has finished cooking, add grated or pounded bread and dissolved [sour] dough, and break over it as many eggs as you are able, and squeeze in the juice of tender coriander and of mint, and leave on the hearthstone until the eggs set.
If you make it in spring, then [use] lettuce, fennel, peeled fresh fava beans, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, fresh cilantro and so on, cook it all and add the spices already indicated, plenty of oil, cheese, dissolved [sour] dough and eggs.


The Spring version is basically chopped, cooked carrots and broad beans, mixed with chopped greens, onion, garlic and herbs, and cooked for a few minutes before adding breadcumbs, oil, cheese and eggs, to thicken. It would be suitable to eat as is, as a sort of cake, or as a farci to stuff say a cabbage or marrow.

As such it is quite similar to a speciality of the Poitou-Charentes region around Poitiers (ie where the battle was fought in 732). Farci Poitevin is a type of terrine traditionally made with leafy green vegetables (cabbage, chard, spinach, sorel) mixed with moistened bread crumbs, eggs and flour so that it all binds together (and sometimes also with a little chopped bacon added). This is then traditionally wrapped in cabbage leaves, tied up with string (or wrapped in muslin) and poached very slowly. It is eaten in slices, either hot or cold, as a starter, a main course or as an accompaniment to other dishes.


Farci Poitevin
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Tue 16 Oct 2018, 12:18

16 October 1793 – Queen Marie-Antoinette, widow of Louis XVI (who’d been executed on 21 January) was guillotined in what is now the Place de la Concorde.

    
Left: Marie-Antoinette in 1778 - portrait by Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun.
Right: On her way to the guillotine 16 October 1793 - pen and ink sketch by Jacques-Louis David.

The well-known phrase traditionally attributed to Marie-Antoinette is of course "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" – which is usually rendered in English as "Let them eat cake", supposedly said upon learning that the common people had no bread (in French the saying  actually refers to brioche;  a particular rich bread made with the addition of butter and eggs). As a quotation it is usually meant to demonstrate her disregard for the people, or at least her poor understanding of their situation. However there is no record of her ever having said it.

The exact phrase appears (uniquely?) in book six of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's semi-autobiography, ‘Confessions’, which he wrote in 1765. Marie Antoinette was then just nine years of age, living with her family in Austria, and still far from being a "great princess". The context of Rousseau's account was his desire to have some bread to accompany some wine he had stolen; however, feeling he was too elegantly dressed to go into an ordinary bakery, he recalled the words of a "great princess":
"At length I remembered the last resort of a great princess who, when told that the peasants had no bread, replied: 'Then let them eat brioche'."

Rousseau does not name the "great princess" and he may well have simply invented the whole anecdote, particularly as his ‘Confessions’ was never intended to be strictly factual. It has been suggested that something like the phrase may have been said by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV a century earlier, or possibly said by one of the daughters of Louis XV. But yet again there’s no real evidence any one of them actually said those words, and certainly not in response to being told people were desperate for bread.

Although there were several poor harvests, no actual famines occurred during the reign of King Louis XVI and there were only two incidents of serious bread shortages, both largely confined to Paris and North-Eastern France. The first occurred in April–May 1775, a few weeks before the king's coronation: the second in 1788 just before the Revolution really kicked off. But on both occasions, far from being callously ignorant of the people’s distress, Marie-Antoinette and Louis actually initiated and led charitable efforts to try and relieve the suffering of the urban poor, for whom cheap bread typically comprised about 50% of their diet.

Nevertheless Marie-Antoinette did become increasingly unpopular in the final years before the outbreak of the Revolution. Not only was she female and foreign but she was increasingly seen as out of touch and frivolous, while her very real extravagance was often cited as factors that only worsened France's dire financial straits. Many anti-monarchists were so convinced, albeit incorrectly, that it was Marie Antoinette who had single-handedly ruined France's finances that they nicknamed her ‘Madame Déficit’. But this was just part of a general campaign of anti-royalist propaganda that saw numerous articles and pamphlets circulated attacking the royal family with exaggerations, fictitious events, and outright lies. Accordingly the ‘cake’ phrase and scenario were most likely made up by publicists at some time - whether before, during, or after the Revolution - and simply attributed to her in support of their own agenda (and wiki gives the earliest appearance in print attributing the phrase to Marie-Antoinette as Alphose Karr’s history ‘Les Guépes’ first published in 1843, half a century after her death).

However, other than her last recorded words - "Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès" (Pardon me, sir, I did not do it on purpose), said after accidentally stepping on her executioner's foot - the most memorable words she said, or rather didn’t say, are still “Let them eat Cake”, and the phrase has unfortunately now become firmly associated with her. But even allowing for the fact that in French it refers to brioche, what she would have understood by ‘cake’ isn’t quite the same as what we would think of today.

A brief history of Cake

Yeast in the form of residues from wine-, or ale-making, has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians to leaven bread. As time progressed the basic bread dough mix has been enriched with eggs, butter, spices and fruit, and sweetened with honey and later sugar, for special occasions such as feast days. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines all had recipes for specially enriched, baked, flour-based ‘cakes’. But for medieval European bakers a cake was often principally a means to make a nutritious food that once baked would keep for many months, though with its sweet (from honey) and spicy (from preservative ingredients like ginger, cinnamon and pepper) it could also double as expensive festival food.

But while bread and cake are obviously very similar products, a distinction started to emerge in that, while bread was baked quickly for immediate use, cakes were baked for much longer at a lower temperature and, at least in England, often crucially turned over during cooking, thereby making an item that was both flat and hard-baked on both top and bottom. A cake was then a hard slab suitable for storing, and so by extension the term came to refer to a hard slab of anything; such as a ‘cake’ of soap. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century as a derivation of an Old Norse word, ‘kaka’ for a hard-baked, long-lasting bread. – suitable for long sea voyages maybe, but hardly the stuff of decadence, sweet indulgence and birthday or wedding celebrations.

But baking, then, wasn’t of course the most controllable method of cooking so many medieval ‘cakes’ – and that’s using the term in its widest sense to include all cooked sweet stuff like biscuits, cookies, macaroons, beignets, galettes, crepes, tarts, flans, turn-overs, and all the rest – were actually often fried, grilled, poached or even roasted on spits. So for many centuries the only true cake usually available was a hard-baked, sweet yeast dough.

Here is a recipe from the mid fifteenth century (Harleian MS 279, circa 1450) for rastons or rastone - a type of brioche either made into round loaves or as a single large cake. After baking the tops were cut off ‘in the manner of a crown’ and the crumb removed leaving hollow shells. This crumb was finely ground and mixed with clarified butter, then poured back into the hollow, the tops replaced and the cake returned to the oven for a few minutes to heat through.

Rastons - Take fayre Flowre, and þe whyte of Eyroun, and þe yolk, a lytel; þan take Warme Berme, and putte al þes to-gederys, and bete hem to-gederys with þe hond tyl it be schort and þikke y-now, and caste Sugre y-now þer-to, and þenne lat reste a whyle; þan kaste in a fayre place in þe oven, and late bake y-now; and þen with a knyf cutte yt round a-boue in maner of a crowne, and kepe þe crust þat þou kyttyst; and þan pyke al þe cromys with-ynne to-gederys, an pike hem smal with þyn knyf, and saue þe sydys and al þe cruste hole with-owte; and þan caste þer-in clarifiyd Botor, and mille þe cromes and þe botor to-gederes, and keuere it a-gen with þe cruste, þat þou kyttest a-way; þan putte it in þe ovyn agen a lytil tyme; and þan take it out, and serue it forth.

A similar brioche-type cake recipe is this one from the late sixteenth century. Note the term Gods Good (meaning either ‘God’s Goodness’ or ‘God is Good’) as a name for ale barm, that is the yeasty foam from beer-making that was used a leavening agent (or at least the original starter)  in nearly all medieval breads and cakes; The term is explained in the “Notices of Norwich Brewers' Marks 1468-69” - as transcribed in the journal, ‘Norfolk Archeology’ No. 5 (1859):
"Berme, otherwise clepid goddis good, withoute tyme of mynde hath frely be goven…. to ye value only of a ferthyng..bicause it cometh of ye grete grace of God."
Barm, otherwise called god is good, without time of mind has been freely given [though it be] to the value only of a farthing, because it comes of the great grace of God”.

Anyway, this is from Thomas Dawson’s ‘The Huswife’s Jewell’ (1596):

To make fine Cakes
Take fine flowre and good Damaske water you must have no other liquour but that, then take sweet butter, two or three yolkes of egges and a good quantity of Suger, and a fewe cloves, and mace, as your Cookes mouth shall serue him [ie add to taste], and a lyttle saffron, and a little Gods good [ale barm] about a sponfull if you put in too much they shall arise, cutte them in squares lyke vnto trenchers, and pricke them well, and let your ouen be well swept and lay them vppon papers and so set them into the ouen. Do not burne them. If they be three or foure days old they bee the better.


The precursors of modern fruit cakes (round ones with icing made from a paste of fine sugar with egg whites) first appeared in the mid-17th century when cakes started to diverge from spicy breads into big, sometimes truly enormous, affairs containing lots of dried fruit and sugar. This was due to increased availability of ingredients (refined sugar from the Carribbean, and dried fruit from North Africa and the Middle East) but also to advances in technology such as more reliable ovens. Cake hoops - round moulds of metal or wood for shaping cakes - were also popular, meaning that whatever the cake tasted like, they at least held their shape. Then as now looks were half the battle.

Here’s a typical one from Kenelm Digby’s recipe book ‘The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelm Digby, Opened’ (1669) … not one for deprecating modesty was KD, and note also the enormous quantities: a peck of flour was the fourth part of a bushel or two gallons (over 9 litres) in volume, and to that is added 6lbs (2.7kg) of butter:

To Make an Excellent Cake
To a Peck of fine flower, take six pounds of fresh butter, which must be tenderly melted, ten pounds of Currants, of Cloves and Mace, half an ounce of each, an ounce of Cinnamon, half an ounce of Nutmegs, four ounces of Sugar, one pint of Sack mixed with a quart at least of thick barm of Ale (as soon as it is settled, to have the thick fall to the bottom, which will be, when it is about two days old) half a pint of Rose-water; half a quarter of an ounce of Saffron. Then make your paste, strewing the spices, finely beaten, upon the flower: Then put the melted butter (but even just melted) to it; then the barm, and other liquors: and put it into the oven well heated presently. For the better baking of it, put it in a hoop, and let it stand in the oven one hour and half. You Ice the Cake with the whites of two Eggs, a small quantity of Rose-water, and some Sugar.


A soft dough can also be ‘risen’ with eggs: the protein from the egg encloses bubbles of air produced by the beating process – which was very arduous in the days before food processors. This recipe from Mrs. Raffald’s ‘The Experienced English Housekeeper’ (1769) required well over an hour of hand-beating of the mixture.

To make Queen Cakes.
Take a pound of loaf sugar, beat and sift it, a pound of flour well dried, a pound of butter, eight eggs, half a pound of currants washed and picked, grate a nutmeg, the same quantity of mace and cinnamon. Work your butter to a cream, then put in your sugar, beat the whites of your eggs near half an hour, mix them with your sugar and butter. Then beat your yolks near half an hour and put them to your butter, beat them exceedingly well together. Then put in your flour, spices, and currants. When it is read for the oven, bake them in tins and dust a little sugar over them.


Wood ash, also called soda ash, pearl ash, potash, or lye (and chemically a mix of sodium and potassium bicarbonates and hydroxides) had been known about for a long time: they were used in soap-making, in dyeing, for softening tough animal skins in leather-making, in curing hams, in softening dried beans, and for preserving the colour of green leafy vegetables when cooking. They were also found to be suitable as a raising agent in bread and cake making. The use of these alkaline substances as leavening seems to have originated in America towards the end of the 18th century and probably derived from the native American practice of  using wood ash as a seasoning because of its salt content, and also as a softening and foaming agent when making corn bread.

These alkaline agents produce carbon dioxide gas when they are mixed with an acid (such as buttermilk) and someone obviously got the idea that the gas might lighten a cake mixture. Unfortunately the alkali also tended to react with any lard or butter fat in the cake mixture to make sodium/potassium stearate, thereby often imparting an unpleasant soapy taste. This usage is first recorded in 1796 by Amelia Simmons in a recipe for gingerbread in which molasses supplied the requisite acidity, but the practice was clearly already widespread and of long standing as shown by this recipe in ‘Essays and Notes on Husbandry and Rural Affairs’ by J. B. Bordley (1801):

For Handy-cake or Bread … The good people of Long Island call this pot-ash or handy-cake ...wheat flour 2 lbs; sugar 1/2 lb, have added to them a tea spoonful of salt of tartar heaped, or any other form of pot or pearl ash.

By mid nineteenth century refined sodium bicarbonate was starting to be widely used in America. Known as saleratus – meaning aerated salt - it produced the required gas when mixed with the acidic components in a cake mixture (such as the lactic acid in milk), and  it mostly didn’t react with the fats to give the disagreeable soapy taste. Here is an nice example of a recipe using saleratus, from ‘The American Housewife’ by ‘An Experienced Lady’ (1841):

Shelah, or Quick Loaf Cake.
Melt half a pound of butter - when cool, work it into a pound and a half of raised dough. Beat four eggs with three-quarters of a pound of rolled sugar, mix it with the dough, together with a wine glass of wine, or brandy, a tea-spoonful of cinnamon, and a grated nutmeg. Dissolve a tea-spoonfu1 of saleratus in a small tea-cup of milk, strain it on to the dough, work the whole well together for a quarter of an hour, then add a pound of seeded raisins, and put it into cake pans. Let them remain twenty minutes before setting them in the oven.


True baking powder came around the mid 19th century when it was realised that one could pre-add the acidic component to the soda in a form that was released when it came in contact with the recipe’s wet ingredients. These baking powders were made of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) mixed with tartaric acid crystals, with a little starch added to take up moisture and so keep the other two components dry so that they did not react prematurely. These baking powders became commercially available from about 1850 onwards. They were a significant advance as the rising power of the product was much more controllable, but a disadvantage of this mixture was that it sprang into rapid action as soon as it was wetted, so that the dough had to mixed quickly and put straight into the oven before the reaction stopped. Finally, in 1889 double-acting baking powder was invented with a slower-acting acid, sodium pyrophosphate, which hardly works at all at room temperature, but then speeds up when heated, so that bread and cakes rise well once in the oven.

There is another type of baking powder that had been used for hundred of years: salt of hart’s horn, hirschhornsalz, or more simply hartshorn, but also known as sal volatile or sal ammonia, and now more usually called simply Baker’s ammonia (chemically it is a mix principally of ammonium bicarbonate (NH4HCO3) and ammonium carbamate (NH2COONH4). This was made in the middle ages by burning or dry distillation in kilns, of keratin-containing materials such as shredded animal horns, hooves, antlers, skin, and even wood shavings or sawdust that had been left to soak in stale urine. The resulting residue was collected from the upper walls of the ovens once they’d cooled.

The ammonium salts so obtained had a variety of uses, including being used as a leavening agent in baking as it generates ammonia gas when heated. This usage was mostly confined to northern Europe and especially Scandinavia, and even where it was commonly used, it was usually restricted to making biscuits, cookies, crackers, wafers and puff-type pastries; all products that are thin or porous and that are eaten very dry. It was not generally used for cakes or other large baked items because the ammonia gas cannot evaporate easily and accordingly - unless left to thoroughly dry out - there is the real risk of the very pungent smell of ammonia remaining. (Sal ammonia was of course also the stuff that was passed under Victorian ladies’ noses to revive them when they swooned – it is also basically the smell of household bleach).

Although not usually considered suitable for cake-making, I did however find this cake recipe which uses ammonia to get the mixture to rise. It’s from ‘Practice of Cookery and Pastry’ by Mrs Williamson of Edinburgh (1854):

Pound Cake.
Take one pound of flour toasted, one pound of grated loaf sugar, and one pound of butter beat to a cream ; separate one dozen of eggs, the yolks from the whites, beat up the yolks with one half of the sugar, the other half with butter ; then put them together and beat well, you cannot beat it too much ; put in the fourth part of a tea-spoonful of sal volatile; have the whites beat to a snow upon two dinner plates ; they should be as thick as to carry the fork; sift in the flour amongst the yolks and sugar, with a little of the whites ; mix it lightly, do not stir it much, and when the flour is all in, add the whites, and an ounce of carraway seeds ; have your pan or hoop buttered and ready. It will take one hour and three quarters in a moderate oven.


But returning to la dame du jour, Marie-Antoinette, ... what would she have understood by cake/gateau? So to conclude this cake-fest, here then is a typically French cake recipe from the reign of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette; it is also a change from all the heavy English fruit cakes above. It is rich and sweet and still probably quite heavy as it uses no raising agent but again relies solely on the strength and stamina of the cook – or more probably the cook’s assistant - to beat the eggs long and hard enough to entrap sufficient air. It is taken from 'The professed cook; or the modern art of cookery, pastry and confectionary',  which was the English translation (first printed 1769) of François Menon’s original work 'Les Soupers de la Cour, ou l’art de travailler toutes sortes d’aliments pour servir les meilleures tables'- first printed in Paris in 1758.

Gateaux d’Amandes. Almond Cake.
Take half a Pound of Flour, half a Pound of pounded sweet Almonds, and five or six bitter with it, half a Pound of Sugar, six Eggs, and work it well all together; form it into a Cake; bake it on a sheet of Paper, well buttered; when cold, glaze it with a white Sugar-glaze: another Method for the same Sorts of Cakes; bake it in a Mould, or Baking-hoop; pound a Pound of sweet Almonds very fine, and one Dozen of bitter ditto, putting Whites of Eggs, to hinder them from turning to Oil; then put to it half a Pound of fine Sugar-powder by Degrees, two whole Eggs, Lemon-peel, finely chopped or rasped; when this is properly mixed, add eight Eggs, the Yolks and Whites first beat up separately; stir it, and mix it all properly; and pour it in the Mould, to bake about an Hour: serve in its natural Colour.

Et voilà, en souvenir de Marie-Antoinette: mangeons des gâteaux – let’s eat cake !


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 17 Oct 2018, 15:40; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Tue 16 Oct 2018, 12:30

Thanks for the fitting recipe, MM.  If Marie-Antoinette was executed in January was it a rotting corpse that was guillotined then?  I'd never heard that before.  I do seem to remember reading something about Oliver Cromwell's corpse being treated with disrespect after his death (or should this be on Caro's thread about digging up the dead)?  I must be mindful not to put people off MM's cake...I may possibly have mentioned this anecdote before but when I was working at the museum in one of my days off I called in briefly at the legal offices where I'd worked previously.  One of the lawyers asked me jokingly if I was still working on nematodes and I said I'd finished with them (my work was to transcribe entries from the handwritten registers into a database) but that I'd recently dealt with an entry about a corpse beetle donated by the well-known Dr Spilsbury.  My former colleague said "Oh Lir" (well my real name actually) - "I've just had me dinner!".
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Tue 16 Oct 2018, 12:58

It was her husband Louis XVI, aka citizen Capet, who was executed in January. He was put in a coffin but when Marie-Antoinette followed him to the scaffold in October, her body was unceremoniously dumped into an unmarked grave in the nearby Madeleine cemetery. Because its capacity was exhausted the cemetery closed the following year and apparently someone took care to note where Marie-Antoinette's body had been put. With the restoration of the Monarchy both hers and Louis's bodies were exhumed on 18 January 1815 ... several witnesses confirming that the 20-year-old remains were hers (one man even went so far as to state he could clearly recognise her familiar smile!). Frankly I'm not convinced they got the right bodies although Louis' remains were more certain because, as I say, he had been buried in a coffin with his head at his feet, whereas nearly all the other victims of The Terror ended up dumped in mass graves. Nevertheless it was expedient for the newly restored monarchy to honour the previous king and queen so the two bodies they'd found were declared to be Louis and Marie-Antoinette. They were duly reburied with full pomp in the necropolis of the French Kings at the Basilica of St Denis:

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Tue 16 Oct 2018, 13:30

Her husband was executed in January - of course it was thus, MM, my mistake misreading.  We "did" the French Revolution when I was at school too.  I didn't know the fine details of the reburials of Louis and Marie-Antoinette.  At my convent school we laughed rather indecorously at the place in the textbook that said that the king "was suspended from his functions".  Of course it meant that he was no longer allowed to practise his tasks as a king but we had another thought.  I suppose we shouldn't have laughed - the poor man - and his poor wife (whether one approves of a monarchy or not) died horrifically.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 20 Oct 2018, 20:33

20 October 1714 – The coronation of George I.

Queen Anne had seventeen pregnancies but only one child survived beyond infancy. When that last child, William, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1701 aged just 21, Parliament made provision to exclude all Catholics from the succession. The 1701 Act of Settlement decreed that in future all British monarchs must not be Catholic, nor married to a Catholic. Several dozen close relatives of the last Stuart King, James II, were therefore passed over as they were all Catholic, leaving Sophia, the Electress of Hanover as Anne’s heir (Sophia was a grand-daughter of James I and a niece of Charles I). Sophia would probably have made an excellent queen: she was intelligent, educated, sophisticated, tolerant and enlightened. When informed of Parliament’s decision she was enthusiastic about here future role and was keen to visit Britain and meet its people. But Ann was still on the throne and didn't want a rival queen in her realm – especially one as witty and intelligent as Sophia - so Sophia just had to wait until Ann died.

But then Sophia died suddenly on 8 June 1714, just two months before Ann died on 1 August. Accordingly Sophia’s eldest son, Georg Ludwig, became George I, the first Hanoverian King of Great Britain.

The news was rushed to the new king, but with stolid German regard for form and preparation he did not rush to his new kingdom. Once underway his progress through Germany and the Netherlands to the Hague was ponderous, with civic receptions, toasts and speeches at almost every settlement his party travelled through. George and his party finally landed at Greenwich on September 29, having been held up further by the winds blowing against them. (Luckily for George his main Stuart rival, James, the Catholic son of James II – the Jacobite Pretender - was equally tardy in asserting his rights, and was still faffing around in France when George finally arrived in London).

George was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 20 October 1714 with all the great and good of Protestant Britain in attendance. Although he spoke three languages (German, French and Latin) his English was poor; he didn’t understand the service or ceremony, and his coronation address had to be read out for him. Nevertheless the Protestant establishment was delighted, as they now felt that everything - their liberty, their property, their religion and the stability of the realm was secure. This was a King, not appointed by God, but by Parliament, and rather than ruling by decree he was going to do what Parliament wanted.



George I's coronation portrait, 1714.

But the coronation was preaching to the converted, and many of his new subjects - not least those with Jacobite sympathies - were less than happy about being ruled by a German. Under Queen Ann Britain had established a vast empire and had proven itself more than a match for all the other great powers. By contrast Hannover was a small, fairly insignificant territory, considered by most Englishmen as a rural back-water inhabited by turnip-eating yokels. George’s coronation was marred by xenophobia and serious rioting broke out in over twenty towns. In the crowds watching the coronation procession there were cries of "down with the German" and "out with the foreigners, and one man was even arrested outside Westminster Abbey for brandishing a turnip on a stick at George as he passed by in his coach. Meanwhile satirical cartoons appeared depicting George as a yokel tending his rows of turnips, or with a turnip for a head, and a popular song doing the rounds was this one:

To the Tune of, ‘A Begging we will go, &c.’

I am a turnip ho-er, as good as ever ho'd
I have hoed from my Cradle, and reap'd where I ne'er sow'd.

            And a Ho-ing we will go, &c.
           For my turnips, I must hoe.

At Brunswick and Hanover, I learn'd the Ho-ing trade
From thence i came to England, where a strange Hoe I have made.

I've pillag'd town and country round and no man durst say no,
I've lop'd off heads, like Turnip-tops, made England cry, High! Ho!

A turnip once, we read was, a present for a prince
And all the German princes have, ho'd turnips ever since.

Let trumpets cheer soldier, and fiddles charm the beau
But sure 'tis much more princely, to cry Turnips, Turnips, Ho!

If Britons will be Britons still, and horny heads affront,
I'll carry home both head and horns, and hoe where I was wont.

To Hannover, I'll go, I'll go, and there I'll mery be;
With a good in my right hand, and Munster on my knee.

Come on, my Turks and Germans, pack up pack up and go
Let James take his Sceptre, So I can have my Hoe.


Turnips have been cultivated and eaten from ancient times, when they were as often grown as much for the green leaves as for the roots. By the end of the 17th century turnips had largely gone out of fashion; true Englishmen generally preferred carrots, particularly the new orange ones introduced from the Netherlands in the mid 17th century, and parsnips, now developed into a sweeter plumper vegetable than its scrawny medieval ancestor, the skirret. But the humble turnip was rather looked down as being food for the poor, or, like oats for livestock and Scotsmen. Turnips had a better reputation on the continent, especially in Germany and Scandinavia where in the late 17th century crop improvements had created fatter, sweeter turnips, as well as the turnip/cabbage cross the Swedish-turnip, swede or rutabaga.

In Britain turnips are of course eternally linked with Charles 'Turnip' Townshend. Charles Townshend, second Viscount, was born in Norfolk England in 1665. He was a Whig politician and under George I served as Secretary of State for a number of years between 1714 and 1730 until he fell out with his brother-in-law Robert Walpole, King George’s Prime Minister, over foreign policy issues, and was forced to resign. Politics’ loss was agriculture’s gain however, and he devoted the rest of his life to improving farming methods at his family home of Raynham.


Charles Townshend as Secretary of State, 1715.

He gained his nickname of 'Turnip' Townshend because of his interest in and enthusiasm for the vegetable, but his interest in turnips wasn’t primarily as human food. He was an enthusiastic promoter of the relatively new idea of crop rotation in which four crops (wheat, turnips, barley and clover) were rotated annually. The advantages were huge. There was no need to have land ‘wasted’ lying fallow every few years, the nitrogen-fixing ability of the clover enriched the land, as did the increased manuring by the animals grazing the fodder crops. The real advantage of turnips however was that they stored well and enabled animals to be over-wintered rather than all but breeding stock being slaughtered at the onset of winter.

The result  was one of the most notable changes in diet during the 18th century was that people were no longer so dependent on salted or smoked meat, although ham, bacon and salt pork were still preserved in large quantities. Fresh meat was now readily available all year round. There was also an increasing emphasis of selectively breeding animals for meat, and the average yield per carcase, whether of oxen, sheep, or pigs, roughly doubled during the century.

Consequently moneyed Englishmen gained a reputation for devouring enormous quantities of meat, and the higher up the social scale, the larger the amount of meat eaten. What the French visitor, Henri Misson, declared after travelling England in the 1690s held true for the whole of the eighteenth century: "I always heard that they were great flesh-eaters and I found it true. I have known people in England that never eat any bread, and universally they eat very little; they nibble a few crumbs, while they chew meat by whole mouthfuls."

Beef was an Englishman’s favourite meat in the 18th century, as immortalised in Fielding’s song, 'The Roast Beef of England', and in Hogarth’s and Rowlandson’s prints.


'A good meal', by Thomas Rowlandson, (roast beef and plum pudding, washed down with claret, maderia and port).

But today we are commemorating the coronation of George I, 'The Turnip King', and so we need a suitable turnip dish. In Georgian England, given the overwhelming popularity of roast meat, turnips, if they appear on the dinner menu at all, were mostly just as an minor accompaniment to the meat. Even cookbooks directed at ordinary wives of shop-keepers and farmers, only very rarely include recipes for the humble turnip, and if they do so, they are usually simply mashed or at most braised in butter.

However I did find these slightly more interesting recipes in John Nott’s ‘The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary; Or, the Accomplish’d Housewife’s Companion’, first published in London in 1723. (Nott had served as chief cook for a string of aristocrats, named on the title page of his book as the Dukes of Somerset, Ormond, and Bolton, and the Lords Lansdow and Ashburnham).

Under 'Turnip' his dictionary lists just these five recipes: three for turnip beverages; a recipe for pickled turnip tops; and one for turnip soup.

From ‘The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary …’, by John Nott (1723):

84. To make Turnip-drink.
POUND your Turnips, and preʃs them through a Hair-bag; then let it ʃtand a Day or two in an open Tun, or only covered with a Cloth or Boards to keep it from Duʃt, or in a Hogʃhead of other Veʃʃel, not quite full, with an open Bung, till the more groʃs Parts ʃubʃide; then draw it off, and put it into the Veʃʃels you deʃign to keep it in longer, leaving them about an eighth Part empty. Let the Veʃʃels ftand in a Cellar, with the Bung open, or covered only with a looʃe Cover, that there may be a free evaporation of the volatile Particles of the Liquor. If you make this Drink in very cold Weather, it will requiʃite to heat the Liquor in a Copper, ʃomething more than blood-warm, to make it ferment; or you may put the Yeaʃt to it for the ʃame Purpoʃe.

85. To make Turnip Brandy.
TAKE Turnip-drink, or Liquor, that is grown eager or fowr, and diʃtil it after the common Method in a Copper-body and Worm.

86. To make Turnip-drink, or Wine-royal.
INTO a Hogʃhead of good Turnip-drink or Wine, that has been well fermented, and has done working, put in the Spirits or Brandy, diʃtill'd from another Hogʃhead of eager of fowr Turnip-wine, and add about four or five Gallons of Sweets [sugar?] to a Hogʃshead of Turnip-wine. You muʃt firʃt mix your Sweets with your Turnip-brandy, and then add to them an equal Quantity of your Turnip-wine; then put them into the Hogʃhead, and ʃtir them well together with a ʃtrong Stick at the Bung-hole; then ʃtop up the Bung, and roll the Hogʃhead backwards and forwards ten or twelve Times. Let it ʃtand for two or three Months; and then bottle it off. It will be a very good Wine.

87. To pickle Turnip-tops.
TAKE young Turnip-tops, cut off the withered Leaves or Branches, make Water boil; then put in your Herbs, and boil them pretty tender; then drain them well, let them be cold; then put them into a Pickle of White-wine-vinegar and Salt.

88. To make Turnip Soop
.[sic]
PARE  your Turnips, cut them into Dice, fry them brown in Hog's Lard, or clarified Butter; put to them a Quart or two of Gravy, and the Cruʃf of a French Roll or two, boil’d and ʃtrain’d; drain your Turnips from the Fat they were fry’d in; put them together, and boil them till they become tender: You may lay a roaʃted Duck in the middle of your Soop. Make a Rim for your Soop-diʃh; garniʃh with small dic’d Turnips, boil’d in white Broth, and a Piece of fry’d Turnip, cut in the Form of a Cock's-comb, between every Piece. Let your Bread be ʃoaked in good Fat and Gravy, and ʃerve it up.

..... That last soup one is interesting. Seeing as a frequent complaint of the busy modern cook is that they haven’t the time to even stuff a mushroom, I guess most people these days will forgo the decorative step of cutting pieces of turnip into the shapes of cock’s combs, however pretty they may be. Also note the casual suggestion, half-way through, of adding a whole roast duck to the soup … at which point it would probably be sensible to change the name and offer it to your guests as Canard aux Navets.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 20 Oct 2018, 22:10; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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Green George
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 20 Oct 2018, 21:20

I think the "mass slaughter for winter" is an overblown story. Consider - sheep (other than Dorset Down and Dorset Horn) breed only once a year, as do cattle and horses. Then consider how long a ewe will remain productive, and how long you must rear a heifer (still more an ox) before it becomes productive. Pigs and fowl of various kinds are probably the only ones where more than half the recruitment rate is available for slaughter for the flock or herd to remain viable.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 20 Oct 2018, 22:04

Maybe, but without winter fodder you cannot keep that many animals alive. As you say a heifer or ox takes more than one year to rear, so you can't slaughter it but have to keep it fed over winter on stored hay as there is little grazing available (and weren't the oxen, being vital for pulling the plough, usually communally-owned and so maintained over winter by the whole village). But you couldn't afford to over winter very many animals. I would imagine the best most small rural families could aspire to would be only a single milk cow and no meat animals other than that year's calves and maybe two or three pigs fattened up from the spring-born litter; keeping just one sow over winter to breed in spring and the milk cow for as long as she's productive. The "mass slaughter" might indeed be overblown but then there were just a lot fewer animals available over all, no?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Sat 20 Oct 2018, 22:57

I think it varied according to the area, and access to a number of resources that are often overlooked. Given access to woodland (in addition to the "pannage" which is another over-egged topic imo. Only one year in about 5 is a "mast year" when that makes much difference. This year is such a year, particularly for sweet chestnuts) especially for some of the more primitive sheep, and even more so for goats, which are really browsers rather than grazers, but look at ancient park lands. Takes about 5 seconds to work out if they were sheep or cattle grazed from the browse line, and "wood hay" - twigs fed principally to sheep for them to eat the bark can be a critical resource for the "hungry gap". It's not so much the winter per se, it's the early part of spring when preserved foods run out, meadows are closed to allow the grass to row for haymaking, and there's no much grass anyway, that constitute that gap - you can with advantage take one "early bite" off winter cereals and probably actually increase the final yield because the plants "tiller".
However, yes, there would have been far fewer animals, even more markedly before the arrival of the potato.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Yesterday at 11:01

I wholeheartedly agree that it probably very much depended on a number of factors: the geography, climate, local practices, the particular mix of grain and animals, the proximity of markets, etc.  Although if you were going to slaughter animals to preserve them by smoking or salting, it does make sense to do so when they are fattest and in their best condition; so in early Autumn after having fed all summer of fresh grass and having been given a final boost by grazing in the stubble after the grain harvest, or on whatever pannage the woods yielded.

Although he was writing in the early 19th century, so somewhat more recently than we were originally talking about, I am reminded of one of the main points in William Cobbett's 'Rural Rides', which was that proximity to mixed woodlands had a marked affect on the lives of the rural poor. In Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, people living in the great lowland corn-growing areas (where the principal products were wheat and cattle), generally fared a lot worse than those in the same counties but on apparently more marginal land on the hills, where the practice was of necessity more mixed (wheat and barley, sheep, cattle, and more pigs and geese) and crucially with access to woodland, not just for pannage, but other wild food resouces, construction timber, and firewood etc. Some of the difference was due to socio-political factors - the lowlands tended to be worked as large farms and estates, while hills were worked by individual families - and the hills and woods also supported industries other than farming (forestry, quarrying, mining), but also, at least in Cobbett's view, the availablity of more diverse resources better allowed people to weather the occasional lean years or the failure of a particular crop.

The practice on the South Downs was different again. The chalk Downs - largely uninhabited, dry, treeless and with very thin soils - were completely unsuitable for growing grains, but did support huge flocks of sheep in summer, almost exclusively raised for their wool. Sheep were grazed on the Downs throughout spring and summer but had to be brought down to the lowland river valleys in autumn, principally because the hilltops were too harsh in winter and also so they would manure the restricted riverside lands which were used, in rotation, for grain and hay. The sheep were not slaughtered en-mass for meat but were mostly kept enclosed over winter on these sheltered lowland fields, to then go back up onto the hills in spring to have their lambs.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Yesterday at 13:22

I always felt sorry for Queen Anne losing all those children.

About the number of animals, it makes sense that there would be a smaller number before the agrarian revolution than after it because the human population was also of a lesser number.  (Says she stating the obvious do I hear you collectively sigh?).

On a bit of a tangent, I remember coming across a legal case (more recently than medieval times or the times of the agrarian revolution) where a farmer was bringing a suit because he had bought some heifers for his milk herd and they turned out to be freemartins and he felt that he had been "done".  (You probably know this but for some reason if a heifer calf is a twin with a male calf it is sterile and the term for such female cattle is freemartin).  I don't know if the farmer ever received any compensation but I wondered if freemartins were ever used to pull ploughs or did farmers just get rid of them.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Yesterday at 13:29

I know there is a month or so to go till the American Thanksgiving Day but MM's list of turnip recipes made me think of pumpkin pie (though I'm aware MM didn't mention pie).  I don't mind turnip in moderation but wouldn't list it as my favourite vegetable.  As for the habit historically of just eating the green leaves, I can understand that.  I hate beetroot (the root anyway) and can only eat the leaves if I have to eat said plant.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Yesterday at 16:22

Freemartins were (perhaps still are) used by AI centres. They were normally more robust than cows and could take the weight of larger bulls. The idea of using them as draught animals does sound attractive. Incidentally, saw a group of large mules (17hh and over) at the Autumn Show at Malvern a few weeks ago.

re turnips :
"While shepherds watched their turnip tops
All boiling in the pot
The angel of the lord came down
and scoffed the blooming lot"
was common in my youth.
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