12 December 2014

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

20th Century

At Christmas the ancestor of our modern Christmas pudding was composed of neats'-tongues, chickens, eggs, candied peel, raisins, sugar, and spices, and with this rather liquid mixture went mince pies, which also contained meat.  Fruit tarts of various kinds were very popular, and became increasingly so as the price of sugar slowly fell from 1s.6d. a pound at the beginning of the century to 5d. or 6. a pound at its end.  Leaches made of seethed cream, almonds, rosewater and ising-glass were favourite sweet dishes, and so were Imbals, which were a kind of shortcake made from fine flour mixed with pulped fruit or almonds, rolled out very thinly, baked, and sometimes iced with sugar and rosewater.  On ceremonial occasions there might be marchpane, gilded and flavoured with pistachio nuts, or sugar-plate moulded into elaborate shapes.  This was a confection of double-refined sugar, starch, gum-dragagant dissolved in rosewater, and white of egg, all made into a stiff paste and put into carved wooden moulds to set.  Such delicacies were often coloured and flavoured with flowers.

The English Housewife in the Seventeenth Century

Servants' Christmas Feast
Seventeenth Century


  1. I guess one shouldn't be squeamish about cow tongue in pudding, given the role of suet, but still...

    1. I think I would truly rather starve than eat a cow's tongue, Vicki. Of course, if it were disguised in a tomato sauce and nobody said a thing it would be lapped up in no time. It's just the thought...*shivers*!