Monday, December 30, 2019

Presents for landlords at New Years, Lent, Midsummer, Michaelmas, Christmas in the 16th century

Poets described the food that tenants gave to their landlords: capon at New Years, fish for Lent, fowl at Midsummer [June 24], goose at Michaelmas [Sept 29], and a capon at Christmas "for fear their lease fly loose" - lose their lease.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Lebkuchen - German honey cake for Christmas

19th century dough for these highly spiced honey cakes (cookies) was "rested" for months to improve the flavor and texture.1553 recipe; 1698 & c1520 images

Monday, December 16, 2019

16th century “Christmas Husbandly Fare” poem

Thomas Tusser (1524-1580) composed a poem of activities through the year, including a Christmas dinner of beef, mutton, pork, shred pies [mince], turkey, brawn pudding, souse, mustard and more...

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Cider making in Devonshire, 1850

An article in the Dec 14, 1850 Illustrated London News described the gathering of apples and the mills for producing cider.  In 1820 over 12,200 hogsheads of Devon cider were shipped, double that amount in 1828.  Farm laborers were given 3 pints a day.    

Monday, December 2, 2019

Le marchand de marrons - roasted chestnut sellers

In the fall and winter, chestnuts were roasted in a “huge iron a bushel at a time" or on "charcoal-pans" on the street.  Images of French vendors.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving at Washington Market, New York City

Opened in 1812, Washington Market remained an extremely busy complex; by the 1860s its many buildings were "battered" and by the 1960s they were demolished. Thanksgiving Eve was packed with shoppers for turkeys.

Monday, November 18, 2019

400 turkeys walking to Washington City (D.C.) market in 1826

“A drove of turkeys amounting to nearly four hundred from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania just now passed the door on their way to Washington City. They go at the rate of 8 miles per day. Saturday February 4th 1826 8 o'clock AM"

Monday, November 11, 2019

Soyer’s Army Barrack Cooking Apparatus and obit 1858

Alexis Soyer (1810-1858) was born and trained in France, became a famous chef in London, designed the Reform Club kitchen and other cooking equipment.  He helped during the Irish famine, and the military during the Crimean War (which shortened his life).

Monday, November 4, 2019

Medieval acorns for pigs - from the Hours of Duc de Berry (1400s), Queen Mary Psalter (1310) and Henry VIII (c1500)

The "Labours of the Months" for November was a depiction of pigs routing under oak trees - with the bottom limbs removed - for acorns to eat before they were butchered.  The great Très Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry (left) was done in the 15th century, The Hours of Henry VIII from c1500 and Queen Mary Psalter c1310 all show swineherds with sticks to get more acorns. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Lambswool for Halloween night - Nov. 1 "Day of the apple fruit" lamasool

Like wassail, lambswool consisted of ale, roasted apples, sugar and spice and drunk to celebrate the apple.  The Celtic "la mas ubhal, that is, the day of the apple fruit; and being pronounced lamasool" was celebrated on November 1.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Storing apples in Federal America

The father/daughter authors William Cobbett (1763-1835) and Anne Cobbett (1795-1877) each wrote about how Americans stored and transported apples.

Monday, October 14, 2019

18th century immigrant ships - provisions, hardships, indentured servant process

In October, 1750 Gottlieb Mittelberger arrived at Philadelphia (1st image 1761) after a grueling 5 month voyage which involved drinking black water full of worms and ship's biscuits "full of red worms and spiders' nests."  The harsh conditions on the overcrowded ships resulted in illness, death and for many families, being sold separately as indentured servants, possibly never to see each other again.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Roasted apples street sellers

In winter a pan or container of burning charcoal roasted apples or chestnuts on a tin plate as shown in 1820 by Rowlandson and described in Craig's Cries of London 1804.  Sixty years later "Roasted apples used to be vended in the streets... but it is a trade which has now almost entirely disappeared."

Monday, September 30, 2019

Fire starters - fire pistons, fire syringes

Fire pistons, (or fire syringe, pneumatic syringe, instantaneous light-giving syringe) were ingenious devices created out of wood, horn, bamboo, ivory, bone or metal by the peoples of Southeast Asia. The plunger would force the air in the tube to compress and get very hot, thereby lighting the tinder in the base.  In Europe they were usually a "scientific curiosity."  The fire piston on left was from Borneo.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Fire starters - flint, steel and tinderbox ... and bamboo strick-a-light

It was hard work lighting and maintaining fires for cooking and heat.  A few coals could be saved from the previous day or coals borrowed from a neighbor's fire.  Flint and steel was tricky, especially if the "flint was dull, and the steel soft."  Then there were the more unknown methods such as the "Bamboo strike-a-light" (bamboo struck by a piece of porcelain). 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Blow pipes, Iron blowers, Fire-blowing tubes

Six 'iron blowers' were in the 1818 inventory of Virginia Gov. Preston taken in the Virginia Governor's Mansion, built in 1811. They were long thin tubes with a mouth piece, which were also called ‘fender blower,’ ‘blower,’ 'iron blow,’ ‘blow tube’ or ‘blow pipe.’  Bellows were also available to start or intensify the kitchen fire.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Selling matches on the street

Boys and women sold matches in cities for a modest fee.  They whittled pine or cedar sticks, dipped the pointed end in brimstone or bought the matches from match manufacturers from the "low parts of London."   By 1827 an author claimed "the itinerant Matchseller, will, of consequence, become obsolete."  Pictures from prints and books of "Cries" from London, New York City and Boston...

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

5 centuries of Picnics

Beautiful picnics in paintings from the 1530s to the 21st century.  A couple early ones involve "Halte de Chasse" or a break in the Hunt.

The image on the left is by the Frenchman James Tissot in 1870.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ruined Picnics

Robert Seymour (c1800-1836) drew a series of humorous sketches (including several on pic-nics) from 1834-1836.  Picnic problems included being "cow'd," a no trespassing type sign on the riverbank, and items in the picnic basket shifting and breaking.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Maryland Peaches: Baltimore Peach Cake & Ellizabeth Ellicott Lea's Peach Marmalade

The fluffy, yeast cake topped with peaches existed by 1910 when it was mentioned in a poem by a Baltimore Sun writer.  It was and is sold in Baltimore bakeries during peach season.  Recently, marmalade is spread over the cake as a glaze. Maryland cookbook author Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's 1846 marmalade recipe is easy and delicious.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Garlick flour

Wild garlic, grown among the wheat plants, caused problems in the mills by gumming up the mill stones and later, the rollers.  Although it was almost impossible to "destroy the garlick" in the fields, farmers shared their attempts such as using plaster of Paris.  One early author claimed that the Hessians during the Rev War introduced it.  As for grinding the grain with the garlic seeds - Oliver Evans wrote his method to "dress" the mill stones and several inventions were patented.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Niagara's International Hotel waiters marched and served to music in 1860

To feed the hundreds of guests, the waiters marched to the band's music: "Norma" to lay down the place settings; a march to enter; piscicato for fish, and removed the covers to "a crash of trombones, cymbals and gongs."

Monday, July 29, 2019

Ice cream bombs, plombieres, fromage moulds, iced souffles, Iced Charlotte and more in "Queen" Cookery Book of ices

Ending this Ice Cream Month with a late 19th century cookbook with wonderful descriptions of types of ice creams and molds.  Bombs, introduced by Francatelli (more HERE) were no longer round with a spun sugar flame, but longer shell shape (left).

Monday, July 22, 2019

'Gunter's Tea Shop' was Negri's 'Pot and Pineapple' founded in 1757 at Berkeley Sq., London ... ice cream recipes in 6 cookbooks

Incredibly, six confectioners who worked at the Berkeley Square shop wrote cookbooks - Nutt, Jarrin, and lesser known Jeanes, Abbott, Barnes and William Gunter (son of the owner James). 

In 1757, famed confectioner Domenico Negri opened the 'Pot and Pineapple' at 7 Berkeley Square.  By 1784 James Gunter (1731-1819) became a partner and by 1799, as sole owner renamed it 'Gunter's Tea Shop'. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Spongati, Spongada, Spumante - meringue in ice cream

The "very light form of whipped" ice cream was popular in Italy, but less known in the UK.    Francatelli, chef to Queen Victoria, included several recipes in one of his books The Modern Cook, and suggested "the rich variety" of flavors "for the second course."

Monday, July 8, 2019

Fuller's Freezing Machine, Manual with recipes & ice cream made with flowers

William Fuller of London invented his "Neopolitan Freezing Machine" (an early mechanized ice cream maker, replacing the sorbetiere) and wrote A Manual: containing original recipes for preparing ices, in 1851 before his patent.  Some interesting ice cream recipes included Spumoni, Spongati, Flowers, Candied eggs and many flavors. By 1847 he was the "ice pail maker" to Queen Victoria and other royals.

Monday, July 1, 2019

4th of July 1819 in Philadelphia

"Independence Day celebration in Centre Square" Philadelphia, 1819 by John Lewis Krimmel [Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia].

Monday, June 24, 2019

Watermelon street sellers in Philadelphia

The 1850 City Cries book of Philadelphia contained this image and description below.  By this time great amounts were raised in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey and watermelons sold for 1/4 less than 20 years before.  The new type, called Spanish Watermelon was the most popular.

Monday, June 10, 2019

"When they fall ill -- of course they must"

This 1861 sketch "dining under difficulties" depicted the large hoop skirt dilemma; but food "dripping with grease," bread made with "strong alkalies" and twenty dishes at breakfast lead to taking "loads of all the medicines."

Monday, June 3, 2019

19th century Strawberry Parties

During strawberry season the demand "is enormous" and in an 1857 article they sold for 12 or 15 cents a quart so "even the moderately rich buy berries daily." Maryland Strawberry Parties 1831-2 and Jane Austen

Monday, May 27, 2019

Military campaign chairs and tables

Years ago I wrote a post on Army tables and chairs with creative ways to close and transport on mules or wagons during the Rev War and Civil War ... 39 examples HERE

Monday, May 20, 2019

1607 Italian book with mills powered by water and animals

For those of us who like mechanical devices - check out Vittorio Zonca’s (1568-1603)  Novo Teatro Di Machine Et Edificii.   Padoua: 1607.  Click to enlarge.  

Monday, May 13, 2019

Macaroni sellers in Naples, Italy - 18th and 19th centuries

Visitors to Naples noted the "great coppers filled with macaroni ready prepared, sprinkled over with cheese" and customers "taking it securely between the finger and thumb, they raise it very high, and let it fall into the mouth." The Naples area produced the best pasta - either "by their skilful method of compounding and kneading the flour, or from some peculiar excellence in the water and climate."

Monday, May 6, 2019

Dolly Varden Cake - Doll Cake

This cake was named for a Dickens character in an 1839 novel and the ensuing 1870s dress style.  The earliest recipe, in 1877, had four layers - chocolate, white (egg whites), rose (cochineal), and yellow (egg yolks) - with frosting.  The new cake had appeared in several state fair lists in 1876.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Advice from the creator of Kentucky Derby Benedictine sandwiches - Jennie C. Benedict

Virginia "Jennie" Carter Benedict (1860-1928) created Benedictines - the green cucumber sandwich common at Kentucky Derby parties.  In the late 1890s she was forced to earn a living and rapidly developed her cooking business.  She wrote two cookbooks, both contained advice for women wanting to enter the cooking profession.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Mary Randolph's refrigerator described by Harriott Pinckney Horry in 1815

On the trip north from her South Carolina plantation the 67 year old made a point to stay at "Mrs. Randolph's" - a renowned boarding house.  It was full, but Mr. Otis (from Boston) gave up his room and Horry was able to write in her journal about the refrigerator and a table fan.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hot-cross Buns - 100,000 sold on one day in London

Once sold on the streets on Good Friday, the buns, marked with a cross on top, are now remembered as a nursery rhyme "One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross buns!" In 1851 "500 persons" sold the buns on the street that one day. Another author, in 1825, lamented that "some thirty or forty years ago pastrycooks and bakers vied with each other for excellence in making hot-cross-buns; the demand has decreased, and so has the quality of the buns."

Monday, April 8, 2019

Piping icing through paper cornets or ox guts

In an early (1842) detailed description to pipe icing onto cakes, paper was rolled into a cone, and the end was cut.  In addition to "stout foolscap paper" the author also used small bags made of "gut of the ox" with tin tips.  Urbain Dubois noted in his Artistic Cookery, 1870, that "icing-sugar, squeezed through a cornet" was an "innovation of rather recent date" and kept secret, which he learned in the 1840s in Rome.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Large scale pasta production in 1767

A Frenchman, Paul-Jacques Malouin (1701-1778) wrote a detailed (over 300 pages) book Description et détails des arts du meunier: du vermicelier et du boulenger - about the pasta maker and baker - with marvelous images.  The hard manual labor was eased somewhat by rotating a pole connected by rope to the pasta press bar and by jumping up and down on a pole to knead the dough (similar to 1638 biscuit break).

Monday, March 18, 2019

1911 Macaroni machine

Huge macaroni machine in 1911 as compared with Jefferson's smaller version a hundred years before (below, more HERE ); from Artemas Ward's The Grocer's Encyclopedia. NY: 1911

Monday, March 11, 2019

Thomas Jefferson's Maccaroni machine

While in France, Jefferson ordered William Short (who was for a time his personal secretary) to buy a macaroni (Jefferson spelled it maccaroni) machine from Naples which eventually was shipped to America.  Their correspondence and Jefferson's drawings are below.  Click to enlarge

Friday, March 1, 2019

2 prong forks

When the wider silver folks came out some continued to eat with two prong steel forks or knife. An American defended "that Americans have as good a right to their own fashions" and to eat off a knife in 1837.  Even 15 years later a British visitor remarked on the habits of Baltimore women still using two prong forks.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Pepper pot street sellers in 1811, 1850 Philadelphia; 18th & 19th century recipes

The peppery soup of tripe (stomach lining), meats and vegetables was very popular in Philadelphia.  So popular, that later recipes were labeled "Philadelphia Pepper Pot" in cookbooks not published in Phila.  British recipes for the dish "sort of clear-larder" of seasonal or leftover veggies; meats and even seafood (but no tripe), then highly seasoned with pepper. The Dutch (pepper trade) and Virginia Housewife connection?

Monday, February 11, 2019

"America Eats Project" of the 1930's Great Depression

"What America Ate, Preserving America’s Culinary History from the Great Depression" - is an interactive website and digitized archive of cookbooks, letters, recipes written during the Depression. MSU (Michigan State University) and National Endowment for the Humanities gathered the scattered materials made for the government's “America Eats Project” during the Depression of the 1930s


Monday, February 4, 2019

Medieval Gyngerbrede

Honey - a lot of honey - is boiled, foam removed, spices and dried bread crumbs incorporated, then pressed or rolled flat. Cut into hard (firm) slices. It's not cake-like.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Francatelli's special dinner using Liebig's Extract of Meat 1869

Once the chef for Queen Victoria (from 1840 to 1842), the Reform Club, the Prince of Wales and others, Charles Elme Francatelli (1805-1876) became the manager of the St. James's hotel when it opened in 1863. Among his many banquets was one to introduce Liebig's extract as a substitute for beef stock.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Smoke jacks

So how did they work?  Leonardo da Vinci sketched one in the 1480s; the one on left is from the 1600s. The smoke jack was attached in the throat of a chimney so the rising smoke and hot air would move the fan on a shaft (like blowing a windmill spinner toy), causing the gear and plate to rotate, thus moving the wheel attached by chains to the wheel on each spit.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Federal-era kitchen apparatus in Gadsby's Indian Queen Hotel, Baltimore

By 1815, the Indian Queen Hotel in Baltimore had state-of-the-art kitchen equipment: a "patent oven" (metal wall oven), "steam for boiling" (steam kitchens), "stoves set in brick" (stew stoves), smoke jacks to turn meat on spits and a coffee roaster.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Food history symposiums, conferences 2019

Along with the symposiums, there is an opportunity to apply for a paid summer fellowship at the cookbook collection of Michigan State University, and an exhibit at the Folger in DC.