Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In which some things are typed upon a keyboard. Which is progress.

Interestingly, Google has not forgotten that I exist, although I may have forgotten it exists?

It's all very existential, I'm sure.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of truth, harmony and justice, gently nudging along my blogging muscles*, here's a straightforward extract from Peter Ross' The Curious Cookbook which is a collection of historic recipes with editing and commentary. Because of course, my life can only be improved by knowing how to roast a swan, make cock ale, porpoise with wheat porridge, and that once upon a time a pastry case was called a "coffin".

So without further ado, here, verbatim is "Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery, to be used at Festival Times, as Twelfth-day, &c." by Robert May in "The Accomplish't Cook", 1660. Because clearly this man is a master of the art of party-planning in a way that Ms. Pippa Middleton can only dream of being.

Make the likeness of a ship in paste-board (cardboard), with flags and streamers, the guns belonging to it of kickses (odds and ends), bind them about with packthread, and cover them with close paste proportionable to (modelled in) the fashion of a cannon with carriages, lay them in places convenient as you see them in ships of war, with such holes and trains of (gun)powder that they may all take fire; place your ship firm in the great charger (serving dish); then make a salt round about it, and stick therein egg-shells fill of sweet water.

Then in another charger have the proportion (model) of a stag made of course paste (pastry), with a broad arrow in the side of him, and his body filled up with claret-wine; in another charger at the end of the stag have the proportion of a castle with battlements, portcullises, gates and drawbridges made of paste-board, the guns and kickses, and covered with course paste as the former; place it at a distance from the ship to fire at each other. 
At each side of the charger wherein is the stag, place a pie made of coarse paste, in one of which let there be some live frogs, in each other some live birds; make these pies of coarse paste filled with bran and yellowed over with saffron or the yolks of eggs, gild them over in spots ...being baked, and make a hole in the bottom of your pies, take out the bran, put in your frogs, and birds, and close up the holes with the same coarse paste... Being all placed in order upon the table, before you fire the trains of powder, order it so that some of the ladies may be persuaded to pluck the arrow out of the stag, then will the claret-wine follow, as blood that runneth out of a wound. 
This being done with admiration to the beholders, after some short pause, fire the train of the castle, that the pieces all of one side may go off, the fire the trains, of one side of the ship as in a battle; next turn the chargers and by degrees fire the trains of each other side as before. This done to sweeten the stink of powder, let the ladies take the egg-shells full of sweet waters and throw them at each other. 
All dangers being seemingly over, by this time you may suppose they will desire to see what is in the pies; where lifting first the lid off one pie, out skip some frogs, which make the ladies to skip and shriek; next after the other pie, whence come out the birds, who by a natural instinct flying in the light, will put out the candles; so that what with the flying birds and skipping frogs, the one above, the other beneath, will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company.
Now that, Ladies & Gents, is a party.