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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   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptySun 10 Nov 2019, 11:16

Missed this yesterday ...

9 November 1867 - the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan came to its official end when Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa shogun, "put his prerogatives at the Emperor’s disposal" and then resigned 10 days later. Thus began the Meiji Restoration (明治維新 Meiji Ishin) when the 15 year-old emperor Meiji was restored as supreme ruler of Japan.  

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Tokugawa-yoshinobu    Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Meiji-emperor
(left) The last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, circa 1860 - (right) the Emperor Meiji in 1873.
 
The Tokugawa shoguns (hereditary military leaders) had ruled Japan since 1600 when Tokugawa Ieyasu seized control from the emperor.  Emperors continued to exist thereafter but had no power. When most people think of 'typical' Japanese culture – arts, cuisine, samurai, geishas – they are actually more specifically thinking of the Tokugawa period. The culture had rigid codes of conduct and was strictly isolationist from other countries and foreign influence. But in the 1850s the intrusion of Western ships, notably Commodore Perry’s arrival in 1853, made it clear that isolationism had left Japan far behind the rest of the world in many spheres but particularly in technology.  After considerable debate among the powerful there was some agreement, although it was far from universal, that the shoguns should relinquish power to the emperor, who would then open up Japan to modern influences.  

However the official end of the shogunate in November 1867 was not the end of the story. The samurai stood to lose, not just their old cultural ways, but their entire hereditary privilege which gave them power, wealth, and prestige.  Accordingly in January 1868 the Boshin ("Year of the Earth Dragon") War broke out between imperial forces and those loyal to the ex-shogun. The two armies pursued each other around the whole length of Japan in a protracted series of battles and skirmishes, with both sides availing themselves, whenever possible, of Western-made modern rifles, machine-guns, artillery and steam warships (the British generally supported the Emperor while the French mostly supported the ex-Shogun's forces, but for both foreign powers it was profit that came first). However in the end it was the Imperial forces that prevailed to gain control over the entire country.

The Meiji oligarchy that formed the government under the rule of the emperor first introduced measures to consolidate their power against the remnants of the Tokugawa period. In 1868 all Tokugawa lands were seized and placed under imperial control, thus placing them under the prerogative of the new Meiji government. In 1869 even the lands of daimyo (feudal lords) loyal to the emperor were taken away, and all the feudal domains were transformed into prefectures, whose governors were appointed by the emperor. Thus, arguably for the first time, there was a central government in Japan which exercised direct power through the entire realm. The new government then proceeded with unifying the country under a single, legitimate and powerful rule by the Imperial Court. The emperor's residence was officially transferred from Kyoto to Edo at the end of 1868 and Edo was then renamed, Tokyo.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Meiji-Joukyou
The Meiji Emperor relocating the imperial court and seat of government from Kyoto to Edo/Tokyo in 1868.

To reform the military the government instituted nationwide conscription in 1873, mandating that every male would serve in the armed forces for four years upon turning eighteen; followed by three more years in the reserves. One of the primary differences between the samurai and peasant class was the right to bear arms, but now this ancient privilege was suddenly extended to every male in the nation. Furthermore samurai were no longer allowed to walk about town bearing a sword or weapon to show their status as in former times. This led to a series of riots from disgruntled samurai but they were swiftly put down by the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army - modelled on the French army, trained in Western tactics and equipped with modern weapons - even though the core of the new army was the Tokyo police force which was largely composed of former samurai. This sent a strong message to the dissenting samurai that their time was indeed over. However, it is equally true that the majority of samurai were content despite having their status abolished. Many found employment in the government bureaucracy, which resembled an elite class in its own right. The samurai, being better educated than most of the population, became teachers, gun makers, government officials, or military officers. While the formal title of samurai was abolished, the elitist spirit that characterized the samurai class lived on.

Besides these drastic changes to the social structure of Japan, in an attempt to create a strong centralized state defining its national identity, the government established a dominant national dialect to replace local and regional dialects. This was based on language patterns of the Tokyo samurai classes and eventually become the norm in the realms of education, media, government and business.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Promulgation-of-The-New-Japanese-Constitution-1889
The promulgation of the new Japanese constitution in 1889. Note how none of the Japanese ladies wear kimonos but are all now dressed in the latest French fashions.

As part of the Meiji reformations the Emperor also lifted the ban on eating red meat and promoted Western cuisine, which was widely viewed as the cause of the Westerner’s greater physical size. The style of cuisine known as yōshoku (洋食 - "western food") was thus created, and as a result of its origins, relies on meat as a common element, unlike the traditional Japanese cuisine at the time which was based on fish, and to a lesser extent poultry. Yōshoku cuisine remains popular in modern Japan, both for simple home cooking and in the common, informal pubs/bars known as izakayas. Many yōshoku dishes are barely distinguishable from Western counterparts with little more than a slight Japanese twist, while others show much more Japanese influence. For example omurice, (オムライス "omelette-rice") does resemble an omelet, but only just. It consists of fried rice wrapped in a very thin sheet of fried beaten egg and topped with American-style tomato ketchup. By contrast Nikujaga, (肉じゃが "meat-potato") is a sort of Irish stew with beef, onions and mushrooms, but in a sweet soy sauce and then served Japanese style with rice. 

So for today here's a recipe for nikujaga as an example of nineteenth century yōshoku, the form of Western/Japanese fusion cuisine that was deliberately introduced following the Meiji Restoration. Nikujaga itself was supposedly invented by chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 19th century on the orders of Admiral Togo, to create a Japanese version of the beef stews then commonly served on British Royal Navy warships, which of necessity in the absence of refrigeration, were based on using salt-preserved beef or tinned 'bully-beef'. Togo had been in Britain from 1871 until 1878 studying naval science, technology, strategy and tactics, and in his orders to the Japanese navy chefs for the creation of nikujaga, he wasn't simply trying to ape RN practices, but was rather trying to address the very real problem of vitamin B deficiencies in naval diets that were based on preserved foods.

Generally potatoes make up the bulk of the dish with the meat mostly serving as a source of flavor. Thinly sliced beef is the most common meat used although minced/ground beef is also popular, and because it is thinly sliced or minced nikujaga is not cooked for as long as a typical European beef stew. Shirataki are thin, transparent rice noodles. Dashi is the simmering stock of choice because it blends well with the soy.  It is made from dried bonito flakes and kelp, and is the backbone of Japanese cooking, so it should usually be obtainable, at least in powdered form, from Asian grocers. Otherwise use beef stock but it should be thin and with no added salt. One important feature of this dish is that the vegetable pieces are big, much bigger than is usual in Western stews. Nikujaga is usually served accompanied by a bowl of plain white rice.

Nikujaga.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 ounces beef sliced thin
1 onion, peeled and cut in thick slices
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
½ cup sake
2 cups dashi or thin beef broth 
2 tbsps sugar
3 tbsps soy sauce
5 oz bag shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
3 ozs green beans, ends trimmed and left whole

Instructions:
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot.
Working in batches, sauté the beef until lightly browned on both sides. Set the beef aside.
Sauté the onions until they are soft, then add the potatoes, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, and sauté for another 3 minutes.
Add the sake and bring to a rapid boil for about 1 minute.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the dashi, sugar, soy sauce, shirataki, green beans, and beef.
Simmer, partially covered until the potatoes and carrots are well cooked and the liquid has greatly reduced (about 30 mins).

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Nikujaga
Nikujaga.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 14 Nov 2019, 17:22; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 11:14

Oh, such interesting stuff you post, MM. - you always have done (not just food stuff). I still say you should publish a book featuring all your Dishes of the Day - The History Lover's Receipt Book, I'll buy a copy, even though I couldn't hope to reproduce these fascinating menus. You could come back to England and start a Badger's Kitchen!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 12:25

@Vizzer wrote:
That sounds like an obvious deduction to make. I seem to remember 'flapjack' appearing in one of Billy Stratfordson's works (sonnet or play - probably a play) but I can't recall where. Does anyone know?


I think they were scoffing flapjacks in Pericles, but I can't find it, so I'm probably wrong!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 16:54

"Come, thou shalt go home, and we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo'er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome."  - 'Pericles, Prince of Tyre', act II scene I (1607).

... and here Shakespeare is probably referring to something much closer to the 'American', flipped (or "flapped"), eggy-batter pancake, than the modern English tray-baked oaty cake, which usage seems to date only from the early 20th century. For example the 'Nottingham Evening Post', (Thursday 7 December 1933) has this recipe which still, despite containing no egg, more closely resembles an American batter pancake than the modern English baked biscuit/cake:

A recipe for flapjacks: Mix 2oz. flour and half-teaspoonful baking powder with half-gill cold water into a batter, add ½ oz. currants, and fry in hot fat on both sides. Serve hot with sifted sugar. Enough for four people.

PS 1 - Interesting that you suggest 'The History Lover's Receipt Book' as a book title. Yes 'receipt' is the correct English word - 'recipe' is French.

PS 2 - "A Badger's Kitchen"? I do hope you weren't suggesting that badger would be on the menu! Although it wouldn't be the first time ... for example this from 'The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' by Prof. R Bradley (1728):

A Gammon of a Badger roasted.
The Badger is one of the cleanest Creatures, in its Food, of any in the World, and one may suppose that the Flesh of this Creature is not unwholesome. It eats like the finest Pork, and is much sweeter than Pork. Then, just when a Badger is killed, cut off the Gammons, and strip them; then lay them in a Brine of Salt and Water, that will bear an Egg, for a Week or ten Days; then boil it for four or five Hours, and then roast it, strewing it with Flour and rasped Bread sifted. Then put it upon a Spit, as you did before with the Westphalia Ham. Serve it hot with a Garnish of Bacon fry'd in Cutlets, and some Lemon in slices.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 14 Nov 2019, 17:38; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 17:26

Oh, well done, mon vieux! I should have bothered to google it - I just leafed through an ancient copy (a copy full of dust mites  I might add - I'm now sneezing badly) and quickly gave up.

We do seem to like oaty things here in the UK. Not just porridge, but Hobnobs - advertised as "the oaty, nobbly biscuit" - are one of the nation's favourites, and Oatibix - sort of Weetabix for horses, as Dr Johnson would say - is a popular cereal.

Flapjacks are horribly fattening, but lovely and chewy.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyMon 11 Nov 2019, 17:30

Poor badger! No, I do not mean badger steaks - horrible thought! I could just see you in a little restaurant up on Exmoor - a fortune to be made with all them rich folk from Lunnon town touring about!
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyFri 22 Nov 2019, 17:59

LiR tells us (see On This Day In History thread) that November 22nd marks the day Margaret Thatcher left office.

She (Maggie Thatcher, not LiR) apparently was wont to offer this abomination to her guests. Not even I, at my most culinary deranged, would dream of serving this to my worst enemy.


Maggie's Mousse




400ml/12oz tin beef consommé. 
2 packets cream cheese.
1 level tspn curry powder. 




Pour 100ml of the consommé into a flat dish and set it in the fridge for several hours, until solid.




Liquidise the rest of the soup with the cream cheese and curry powder – pour into individual serving dishes and set for up to 12 hours.




Garnish with some chopped consommé and a black olive or whatever other delicacy takes your fancy.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptySat 23 Nov 2019, 08:26

Yes indeed, as the author of your quoted Guardian article  says:

"Having knocked it up myself, the biggest mystery I could find was: why would one concoct such a dish? It makes for a very uninspiring cream-coloured mousse, a dish with a tiny bit of spice as an end note. Soft and unchallenging, it would no doubt appeal to lovers of boarding-school food. On the plus side, it is the kind of thing Lady T could have knocked up in her nightie at 5am if she knew she had people round for dinner that evening, since it takes five minutes to make but several hours to set.

The only opportunity for flair seems to be in the decoration. Suggested in the recipe is a black olive and some set consommé – but to really hit the 70s vibe, a shell-on prawn rampant would add a bit of je ne sais quoi."

We might mock ... but then maybe from time to time we do all need a little je ne sais quoi, and perhaps even occasionally a preposterously positioned prawn or gayly gambolling gambas, if only for a laugh.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Poulet-aux-langoustines

Strictly that's a precariously-balanced langoustine rather than a preposterous prawn, but I'm sure you get what I mean.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyTue 26 Nov 2019, 16:54

26 November 1922 - Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon became the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years.

In 1914 Lord Carnarvon had gained the concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings and employed Carter to supervise the work, although the excavations were soon interrupted by the First World War. Three years later, towards the end of 1917, Carter was finally able to resume the work, however by 1922 Lord Carnarvon was becoming dissatisfied with the lack of results after several years of finding little. Accordingly he informed Carter that he had just one more season of funding to make a significant find in the Valley of the Kings.

Carter investigated a line of ancient hut foundations that he had abandoned a few seasons earlier, clearing these down to the bedrock. Here, on 4 November 1922, their young water boy accidentally stumbled on a stone that turned out to be the top of a flight of steps cut into the rock. Carter had the steps partially dug out until the top of a mud-plastered doorway was found stamped with indistinct but clearly ancient cartouches. Carter proceeded no further and sent a telegram to Carnarvon, who arrived two weeks later on 23 November.

With Carnarvon now present the excavators cleared the stairway completely, which revealed more seals lower down on the door now clearly bearing the name of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. However further examination showed that the door had already been breached and resealed on at least two occasions. The door led to a downward corridor that was completely blocked with packed limestone chippings through which a robbers' tunnel had been excavated and anciently refilled. At the end of this tunnel was a second sealed door. Carter then made a small hole in the door and used a candle to check for foul gases before looking inside. "At first I could see nothing," he wrote, "the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold." After a pause, Carnarvon asked, "Can you see anything?" Carter replied, "Yes, wonderful things."

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 King-tuts-tomb
Howard Carter (left) and Lord Carnavon at the second doorway on the threshhold of Tutankhamun's tomb.

Besides the wondrous treasures, ornaments, statues, ritual objects and of course the king's stunning solid-gold funereal mask, Tutankhamun's tomb contained a wealth of more mundane - although still richly-appointed - items, all intended to make pharaoh comfortable in the afterlife. There were three beds, the stacked components of four chariots, furniture, weapons, walking sticks (in life the young pharaoh had suffered a leg injury and probably walked with a pronounced limp), gold cups, bowls and platters, musical instruments, board-games, jars of cosmetics and clothes - including spare sets of the King's underwear.

There were also large quantitites of food. More than 100 finely-woven baskets held the remains of plant-based foods such as wheat, barley, millet, dried beans, loaves of bread, figs, dates, pomegranates and grapes. There were jars that had once contained honey, and others that had held wine - each meticulously labelled with the vineyard, the region where the grapes were grown, the chief vintner, and the year of the pharaoh’s reign when the wine was made. There were also four-dozen wooden boxes which held a variety of victual mummies - embalmed joints of beef, ducks, geese and various small birds. Interestingly the embalmed meaty portions were all of the very finest: yummy beef ribs and the plumpest birds carefully jointed to remove the stringier wings and lower legs. But there were no joints of pork, goat or mutton - which were common food animals of the time - nor any fish even though the Nile was teeming with them. In other words pharaoh's eternal picnic basket was packed, not with everyday fare (which had undoubtedly always been very good for the living pharaoh), but rather with the very best, choisest, delicacies - the things he would enjoy eating for eternity.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Tuts-tomb-2
Tut's food boxes stacked under a bed: they are essentially the mummified equivalent of gourmet ready-meals.

Unfortunately no ancient Egyptian recipes have survived, however there is ample evidence of all the raw ingredients from wall paintings, decorated objects and of course the foodstuffs buried in tombs such as Tutankhamun's. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread (made almost exclusively from emmer wheat, which was more difficult to turn into flour than more mpdern varieties of wheat) and beer (from barley). These were accompanied by onions, garlic, leeks, radishes, lettuce, spinach, chickpeas, fava beans, millet, old-world gourds like cucumbers and canteloups, figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates, eggs, milk and cheese; plus to a lesser extent meat (beef, mutton, goat, pork, domestic fowls, wildfowl and game), and of course there was always abundant fish from the Nile.

So for today I can suggest two traditional Egyptian recipes which, because of their simplicity and ingredients, almost certainly both have their origins in ancient Egypt.

Ta'amia (or tameya) are rissoles made with a purée of dried and soaked fava beans (broad beans), flavoured with chopped garlic and coriander leaf, formed into round balls and then fried.

Mulukhiyah (or mulukhiyyah, molokhia, molohiya, mulukhiyya, malukhiyah, moroheiya) is a stew based on the leaves of the plant of the same name, Corchorus olitorius, (or Jew's mallow, it's also the source of jute fiber) which has been cultivated in Africa and Asia for millenia and as a vegetable it remains popular in North Africa and the Middle East. Mulukhiyah is rather bitter and when boiled the resulting liquid is a thick, highly mucilaginous broth, which is most frequently turned into a kind of soup or stew typically bearing the same name as the vegetable in the local language. Fresh mulukhiyah leaves are unlikely to be found outside of the Middle East/North Africa, but they can be obtained in dried or frozen form from suitable specialist grocers. Or one could perhaps substitute spinach or nettles, mixed with okra to give the required texture. The leaves are chopped fine and then boiled in broth with chunks of meat. Coriander and garlic are fried separately and then added to the soup at the end while they are still sizzling. The dish is nowadays usually served on white rice or with Egyptian flatbread, and is often accompanied with an assortment of pickled vegetables, known as mekhalel in Egypt.

Or, reflecting the appearance of the boxed meaty mummies that were found in Tutankhamun's tomb, one could simply do claypot-baked 'chicken-in-a-brick'.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Tut-food-boxes-1
The ceramic sacophagi of two 'meat mummies' from Tutankhamun's tomb: the first contained a beef rib-joint, the second (obviously) an oven-ready duckling.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Chicken-brick
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 22:02

MM, the last picture has some "allures" of your Bed&Breakfast...I guess?

More serious, MM, in the time I read about the mysterious deaths after the opening of the grave. But recently I read that it was probably caused by fungi and all.
But now I read that it can be still a mystery.
https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1060487/egyptian-curse-six-archaeologists-die-mysteriously-opening-sarcophagus-spt
"Most of the deaths can be explained medically, however, of the 12 people present during the opening of the sarcophagus, six died mysteriously within a few months.”
Today, archaeologists wear protective masks when entering such resting places. They are aware that bacteria active in the decomposed organic material can enter open wounds and spread infection. However, not all deaths can be accredited to this, in addition to the bizarre experiences some researchers still have following the openings.Some have detailed how they experienced very vivid dreams, claiming to be “haunted” by the mummies they apparently disturbed."


But then you read a more serious source?
https://www.livescience.com/44297-king-tut-curse.html

investigator James Randi notes that "the average duration of life for ... those who should have suffered the ancient curse was more than twenty-three years after the 'curse' was supposed to become effective. Carnarvon's daughter died in 1980, a full fifty-seven years later. Howard Carter, who not only discovered the tomb and physically opened it, but also removed the mummy of Tutankhamun from the sarcophagus, lived until 1939, sixteen years after that event."
Not only did Carter live to a fairly ripe age of 64 before succumbing to cancer, but Sgt. Richard Adamson, a member of Carter's team who guarded the burial chamber round the clock for seven years and was the European closest to Tutankhamun's remains, lived for another 60 years until his death in 1982. And he is not alone; Randi notes, "This group died at an average age of seventy-three plus years, beating the actuarial tables for persons of that period and social class by about a year. The Curse of the Pharaoh is a beneficial curse, it seems."

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 22:25

Indeed, and some years ago Dr. Mark Nelson of Monash University in Australia published a study in the British Medical Journal comparing the life expectancies of those present at the breaking of the seals with other Westerners known to have been in Egypt at the time, and found no significant difference at all. Certainly Lord Carnavon died just six weeks after the opening of the tomb, but that was well attested as being entirely due to a mosquito bite on his cheek that became infected when he shaved over it (and antibiotics not being available for another couple of decades).
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyThu 28 Nov 2019, 18:35

Today - it being the last Thursday of November - is the traditional date for the annual 'Martinmass Swan Dinner' hosted by the Vintner's Guild of the City of London (although Martinmass itself, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours, is actually on November 11). On this day the guildsmen and their guests traditionally sit down to a grand dinner of roast swan - although nowadays it is more likely to be goose, which is also associated with Saint Martin: in humility and self-doubt Martin tried to hide himself amongst a flock of geese to avoid his parishoners when they wanted to appoint him their bishop. Martinmass is also the traditional date to slaughter the last of the livestock - geese included - that were now in peak condition before winter, having been fattened up in the post-harvest fields of stubble and on the last Autumnal fruits and nuts.

But regardless of whatever is actually served, tonight's banquet at the Vintner's Hall is still called the 'Swan Dinner'. Swans are deemed 'royal birds' but there is a lot of confusion over what this means and they were never exclusively reserved for the royal diet. Depending on one's rank and the relevant sumptuary laws, if one owned a lake or watercourse one could eat one's own swans. All swans that were at liberty on open waters belonged to the Crown by prerogative right, but as long as the birds had their wings 'pinioned' and their bills marked, ownership could be granted to a landowner, bearing in mind that swans are effectively wild birds and so are free to travel onto other stretches of a river. Today the queen only claims her right to those birds on certain parts of the Thames that have not been marked by others. In addition to the monarch, there are not many other Thames swan owners, indeed currently there are only two - the London livery companies of the the Vintners and of the Dyers - who maintain their ancient rights to possess swans on the river. 

For centuries swans' bills were cut, nicked and scribed, with identifying marks that indicated the identity of the 'swannery' to which they belonged. All over the country abbots, bishops and wealthy landowners raised young swans for their tables and all marked their bird's bills with unique distinguishing marks. These swan marks were granted by the Crown to the various owners in a similar process to that of being issued a Crown licence to have permission to develop a deer park on your estate. Between 1450 and 1600 there were about 630 swan marks recorded for different owners of swans on London waters alone. This is the origin of the annual swan-upping conducted on the river Thames, when swans are rounded up and any newly-hatched birds are marked. Swan-upping is still conducted annually and with great ceremony during the third week of July, although these days it is more a census of the swan population and their overall health, and the birds are now marked with just a standard leg ring.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Swan-1
Swan-upping on the Thames. The queen holds the title of 'Seigneur of the Swans', hence the 'E II R' standard carried by the skiff of the officiating 'Queen's Swan Marker' - although in that photo he's sat in another boat - I think he's the chap furthest left in peaked cap and blue blazer. I'm guessing, but those in white with the blue standard probably represent the Vintners, while those in red and with the red standard I guess are from the Dyers. But essentially it is a collaboration rather than a competition, and in the inevitable scrum - swans are big powerful birds well able to resist being caught - people often end up in the 'wrong' boat, or even in the river.

It is nowadays illegal to hunt and kill swans (except with a specific licence) although this is not because they are the exclusive preserve of Her Majesty, but rather it's a result of their being a protected species under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. This gives swans legal protection, but only in the same way that it is illegal to kill bustards, herons, storks, cranes, egrets, curlews, lapwings, dotterels, plovers, or any other such birds that were once, depending rank and sumptuary laws, legally allowed onto the dinner table. Swans and cygnets were sometimes raised for the table in the way of semi-domesticated poultry and even Mrs Beeton, writing in 1861, makes a passing reference to them sometimes being available in the poultry markets of London ... but then she also rather optimistically reckoned that you could still get British-caught sturgeon - the whole fresh fish that is, not just caviar - from Billingsgate fish market.
 
Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Swan-3
David Teniers the Younger, "Kitchen Interior" (1644) with a beautifully prepared swan ... and a rather bored, or just exhausted, swan-stuffer.

A whole roast swan was obviously a big showy dish, especially as it was often prepared 'en-hackled', that is with the head, neck, skin and feathers carefully removed before cooking and then put back over the finished roast so that it resembled the living bird (as well as potentially giving everyone food poisoning). Swans however, at least when compared to ducks and geese, tend to have very little subcutaneous fat, and so the cooked meat of a mature swan is rather dry, tough and stringy. The flesh of younger birds is apparently more palatable, but these smaller cygnets have grey plummage and so are nowhere near as showy for a centerpiece dish (and anyway by Martinmass they will all have matured and toughened up). Accordingly it was more often the practice to cook swan meat in the form of a well-larded and sauced pie, suitably decorated with a second whole bird (or even a just a fake, wood-and-wire one) on top, onto which the skin and feathers could be decoratively draped.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Swan2
This is a mock-up of such a grand swan pie prepared for an exhibit at the Museum of London to represent a typical medieval or Tudor guild dinner. It's certainly a bit more upmarket than the pies currently sold by Greggs.

And here's a recipe for a swan pye from John Thacker's, 'The Art of Cookery' (1758)

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Swan-pie-Thacker

But even if you don't fancy swan or goose, tonight's banquet is hosted by the Vintner's company, and so you can rest assured that the wines will be very, very good.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyTue 03 Dec 2019, 08:54

2 December 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French, with the Pope, the Archbishop of Paris, and indeed everyone else just relegated to being passive observers. This was very much a one-man show.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 The-Coronation-of-Napoleon-1805-1807
'The Coronation of Napoleon' by Jacques-Louis David (1804).

And so for today it's going to be those little puff-pastry-and-custard-cakes, usually known in France as milles-feuilles, ('thousand-leaves'), or in Britain as the custard or vanilla slice. Traditionally a mille-feuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) - which is itself comprised of many, often several dozens, of wafer-thin layers - alternating with two layers of pastry cream (crème pâtissière). The top pastry layer is often dusted with confectioner's sugar and sometimes cocoa, pastry crumbs, or pulverized seeds (such as roasted almonds). Alternatively, the top might be glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white (icing) and brown (chocolate) stripes and then combed to get a marbled effect:

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 Mille-feuille

... stay with me and the relevance to Napoleon Bonaparte will eventually become apparent, honest.

References to the ancestors of 'puff pastry' or 'pâte feuilletée' - that is a pastry made by building up thin dough layers, each one oiled or buttered to prevent them from sticking together - go back to antiquity. Even grumpy old Cato the Elder gives a recipe for 'placenta' - a multi-layered cheesecake - although his recipe only has five or so layers of rather biscuity, oil-based pastry (tractum) and so it's a long way from a deliciously-light, mille-feuille, 'thousand leaf', pastry. The classic Roman technique was however steadily improved upon, probably with Greek and perhaps Egyptian and Persian influences, to eventually evolve into in the light, layered, pastry sweetmeats, that were a regular feature throughout the Muslim and Byzantine world -  for example in such delicacies such as baklava, spanakopita, or prasópita. The technique inevitably found its way to Muslim Spain, Renaissance Italy and thence to France.

The method of layering oiled pastry sheets is first mentioned in one of the very earliest printed European cookbooks, the 'Libre del Coch' - or 'the cook's book', which, written in Catalan, was first published in 1520 in Barcelona. The author was given only as 'Maestre Robert', who identified himself as having been the cook to 'Ferrando, King of Naples'. The book was extremely successful: in the 16th century it was republished four more times in Catalan, and ten times in Spanish. The first Spanish edition, in 1525, entitled 'Libro de Cozina', called the author Ruperto de Nola, and he has been referred to by that name ever since. However the author's identity and nationality are still matters of speculation. He may well have been Catalan, since he wrote in that language, but if 'de Nola' was truly his surname then he may have been an Italian from the city of Nola in the province of Naples. The king 'Ferrando' that he claimed to have served was probably Ferrante I, King of Naples from 1458-1494, which is completely plausible as the Kings of Aragon had ancient claim over the Kingdom of Naples. In relation to the history of puff pastry, the Libro del Coch therefore forms an interesting bridge between Islamic, Andalusian, Aragonese and Neopolitan culinary influences.

The first French mention of a true puff pastry recipe (resulting from the repeated folding and refolding of the buttered pastry layers) appears in François Pierre de La Varenne's cookbook, 'Le pastissier François' (1653), in which La Varenne gives general instructions for pastry making, as well as then giving recipes for two layered tortes/cakes: Tourte of Franchipanne (p. 200) and Tourte of Massepin (p. 201) - ie both are based on using a creamed marzipan/almond paste. But the first mention in French of a "mille-feuille", at least by that specific name, appears somewhat later in 1749, in a cookbook by 'Menon' (Menon is the pseudonym of a successful 18th-century French cookbook author whose true identity is still unknown). From Menon's 'La science du maître d'hôtel cuisinier, avec des observations sur la connaissance & propriétés des alimens' (1749), p.367 (in translation):

"To make a mille-feuille cake, you take puff pastry, make out of it five cakes of equal size, & of the thickness of two coins, in the last one you shall make a hole in the middle in the shape of a Knight's cross, regarding the size you will base yourself on the dish that you will use for service, bake them in the oven. When they are baked & cooled, stack them one on the other, the one with the hole on top, & jams between every cake, [sentence unclear, maybe referring to covering all sides with jam] & ice them everywhere with white icing so that they appear to be a single piece; you can embellish it with some red currant jelly, candied lemon skins & pistachio, you serve them on a plate."

In its modern form the millefeuille was certainly influenced by improvements made by the famous Marie-Antoine Carême ('Le Roi des Chefs et le Chef des Rois -the King of Chefs, and the Chef of Kings'). Careme was the principal chef for the prominent French politician and diplomat, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, and so in his time he certainly prepared dinners for Napoleon. Napoleon was famously indifferent to food but he understood the importance of social relations in the world of diplomacy. In 1804 Napoleon gave money to Talleyrand to purchase Château de Valençay, a large estate outside Paris, with the château being intended to act as a kind of diplomatic gathering place, and when Talleyrand moved there, he took Carême with him. With the fall of of Napoleon in 1815, Carême went to London for a time and served as chef de cuisine to the Prince Regent, later George IV but they didn't enjoy an equitable relationship. Returning to the continent, Careme accepted the invitation of Tsar Alexander I to come to St. Petersburg, but stayed so briefly that he prepared not even a single meal for the Tsar. Upon returning to Paris again, he became chef to the international banker, James Mayer Rothschild.

Here's one of Careme's recipes for a 'gateaux de milles-feuilles', taken from an 1865 reprint of the original 1816 edition of his book, 'Le Patissier National':

Faites 1kg500 de farine en feuilletage de gâteau de roi , donnez 6 tours . Divisez le feuilletage en 16 parties , moulez et abaissez en rond de 18 centimètres , laissez reposer 2 heures . Mouillez le dessus de abaisses avec du blanc d’œuf et semez du sucre en poudre dessus . Piquez , pour éviter que les abaisses ne bouffent au four et faite cuire de couleur blonde ( four à 180 degrés ) . Lorsque toutes les abaisses sont cuites , laissez refroidir . Étalez de la marmelade d'abricots sur 8 abaisse et de la gelée de groseille sur les 8 autres . Placez les abaisses l'une sur l'autre en intercalant groseilles et abricots .
Lorsqu'elles sont placées , parez et masquez le tour avec de la marmelade de pomme très réduite , pour que la gâteau soit bien lisse.


Now, such light, layered cakes were generally described as being in the neapolitan-style (napolitain, in French) and small pastries like that were often called neapolitans/napolitains. Sometime around 1805 such patisseries started to be called napoleons, almost certainly as a topical corruption of napolitain (the word play works slightly better in French than English). I believe this was a deliberate attempt to capitolise on Napoleon's name for commercial purposes, although the association certainly did not damage the reputation and legacy of Napoleon himself.

Furthermore I suspect that the idea may well have come from two specific people: Dunand, the personal chef to Napoleon, and Grimod de la Reynière, the epicure, foody journalist, and restaurant critic.

Dunand, or Dunant (and his first name isn't known either) had been the chef to the Prince of Condé (that is Louis Joseph de Bourbon) for some years, until the Prince fled to Britain during the revolution. Abandoned by his patron, Dunand however struck lucky when he managed to get himself appointed as Napoleon's personal chef. In that rôle he accompanied Napoleon on the invasion of Russia and stuck with him for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars. Dunand  however was certainly not beyond a bit of self-publiciy and manipulating facts to agrandize he own rôle in Napoleon's rise, and subsequent fall. (see Dish-of-the-Day, page 7 for 14 June 1800 and the story behing the origin of chicken Marengo).

Dunand was professionally associated with Careme but he was also very friendly with the epicure and influential food journalist, Grimod de la Reynière, who we have also encountered here before (see Dish-of-the-Day, page 7 for 14 July 1790 and for 28 July 1794. In his annual restaurant review 'Almanach des gourmands' (it was somehat like the modern Michelin guide) for the year 1810, he specifically mentions mille-feuille as being sold in the best Parisian patisseries. He calls them 'mille-feuille', not napoleons, but he clearly indicates that these are no longer entire mille-feuille cakes, but are now being sold as small, individual, almost bite-sized, pastries. Either way for a period it seems the name, naploitains, for individual miile-feuille pastries, became corrupted to naploeons. In France the older name, mille-feuille, re-asserted itself after the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, but it is still commonly used in north America, in Russia, parts of Scandinavia and indeed even still sometimes in France where a napoleon always has an almond cream filling, whilst a mille-feuille might well be filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or even jam.

Compare the following three recipes, firstly from Larousse Gastronomique, (New York, 1961)

Napolitains
Ingredients. For a large napolitain: 2 1/4 cups (365 grams) blanched sweet almonds; 1 tablepsoon (12 1/2 grams) blanched bitter almonds; 1 14 cups (175 grams) fine sugar; 1/2 pound (250 grams) butter; 4 cups (500 grams) sieved cake flour; 1 3/4 cups (30 grams) sugar flavoured with lemon (or any other flavouring); a pinch of salt.

Method. Pound the almonds in a mortar with a little white of egg to bind them. When the almonds are pounded to a fine paste, add the fine sugar, the flavoured sugar, the butter and flour. Pounding constantly, add as many whole eggs as are required to make a very smooth and rather stiff paste. Take this paste out of the mortar and leave to stand for a while in a cool place. Roll out the paste. Cut it into square, round or hexagonal pieces. With a pastry cutter 2 inches in diameter, cut out the middle of each piece, except for two which will serve for the top and bottom layer of cake. Bake these layers of pastry in a hot oven. When the layers are quite cold spread each one with a different fruit puree or jelly. Put the layers one on top of the other, using an uncut layer to form the base, with alternate layers of jam or jelly. Cover with the other uncut layer. When the cake is built up, coat with golden apricot jam and pipe with royal icing.


Secondly from 'The Dinner Year-Book, by Marion Harland (New York, 1878);

"Neapolitainoes or Napoleons
Make enough puff-paste for a pie; roll out into a sheet half an inch thick, and cut into strips three inches long and half as wide. Bake in a quick oven. When cold, spread half fo them with sweet jam or jelly, and stick the others over them in pairs--the jelly being, of course, in the middle. Ice with a frosting made of the whites of two eggs, whipped stiff with a half a pound of sugar. Make these on Saturday. Pass with them strong, hot coffee, with a great spoonful of whipped cream on the surface of each cupful."


And lastly this from Urbain Dubois 'Grand livre de pâtisserie et des confiseur " (Paris 1867);

Millefeuille à la Françasie
Cuisez 12 abaisse en feuilletage à 8 tours , en opérant comme il est dit dans l'article qui précède ; faites-les refroidir en trois piles ,sans mettre de poids dessus .
Masquez ensuite la moitié de ces abaisse , d'un coté seulement , avec une couche de gelée de framboise , et l'autre moitié avec une bonne frangipane . Montez alors le gâteau , en posant bien régulièrement les abaisses l'une sur l'autre , en alternant la framboise et la frangipane . Parez droit les contours, masquez-les avec de la marmelade d'abricots ferme ; masquez également le dessus . Laissez sécher la marmelade , 2 heure ; masquez-la ensuite avec une autre couche légère , au rhum .
Décorer le gâteau tout autour , avec des détails en feuilletage à blanc , avec de l'angélique et avec des amandes émondées ; sur le haut du gâteau , formez une rosace avec de la gelée blanche et rose coupée à l'emporte pièce . Ce gâteau doit être mangé à bref délai quand il est fini .



Coincidently on the 46th anniversary of Napoleon's coronation, on 2 December 1851, Napoleon's nephew, the French President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, having failed to get himself constitutionally re-elected, launched a coup d'etat to remain in office. He then, exactly a year later on 2 December 1852, declared himself Emperor of the French, as Napoleon III - using exactly the same form of address as Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I, did in 1804.

So in conclusion here is a picture of another dish taken from Dubois' book, which this time uses milles-feuilles, augmented by biscuit layers, to construct a towering rather preposterous cake, balanced on an ornate stand. The cake itself actually comprises only about a third of the height of the entire presentation ..... but that is typical of the flamboyant Second French Empire period under Napoleon III, n'est ce pas?

Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 G-TEAU-DE-MILLEFEUILLE-SUR-UN-GRAND-SOCLE-URBAIN-DUBOIS-1873


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 6 EmptyWed 04 Dec 2019, 19:37

Only for completeness, but while looking for something else I've just come across a recipe for a completely different type of cake/bun also called a "Napoleon", in Frederick Vine's 'Saleable shop goods for counter-tray and window', (published in London, 1907). This was a practical manual for professional bakers and confectioners - unfortunately it's been scanned with OCR and so not all the quantities are clear, but it's obviously not a fluffy, light pastry-and-cream sandwich, but more like a sweet, brioche-style, currant bun:

No. 40.- Napoleons.
1 lb. butter. 1 lb. sugar. 2 lbs. flour. 1 1/2 lbs. currants. ? lb. peel. ? oz. volatile. 10 eggs. Milk.
Mode - Cream up the butter and sugar, adding the eggs in the usual way. Break the volatile down in a mortar with a little milk, and beat it well into the mixture; then mix in the flour and fruit, using sufficient milk to form a nice workable cake batter. Grease some Napoleon tins (see illustration. Fig. 23) and fill them with a palette knife, dredge a little sugar over and bake in a warm oven. This will make sixty cakes. Of course, should any mixture prove too large for your trade, it can be proportionately reduced. Sell at 1d. each.
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