Sunday, January 29, 2012

Putting the rot in clarot

Royal Hunt in Athole [some of these words are opaque to me, but a stank is a pool/marsh/moat and gryce = grease is apparently pork, and a cuning is a cony]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who would not prefer Bologna sausages to a paste of cuttle-fish and squid, or Spanish olla podrida to Apicius’ mince-meat? Beans and all kind of pease, the Stoics’ dinner, our yeoman would put in the cattle-trough. Hesiod promises much from asphodel; rather than such underworld dishes, we prefer to eat parsnips and potatoes. Platina and Apicius bring in ostriches, cranes, storks, swallows in great style, but our gourmets would hardly touch them with their lips. Duck’s offal, much sought after of old, is today a pauper’s dish. And while every December brings in boar’s head, the tripes, udders and braised teats of breeding sows are thrown to the dogs.

Who would bear roasted eels, or eggs on the spit? […] If the vilest glutton laid before us cocks’ combs, parrots’ heads, mules’ hooves, not even a starving man would taste them. What is madder than appetite? Aesop hungered for a hundred small birds compacted in one dish, Epicurus was satisfied with cabbage and cheese. Bring food to soothe appetite and satisfy nature; we are fools to await what the Trojan hog produces.

[…] Pig’s brain was forbidden on the tables of the ancients, and they thought it as bad to eat that as to gnaw beans. They abstained from all heads in which the senses flourish, while yet they called any delicacy ‘Jove’s brain’; meanwhile in our day piglet’s brain with salt and sage is a rare savoury, and we do not conscientiously await Hippocrates’ date, who did not serve sucking-pig till it was old enough for sacrifice. We often read of birds’ brains chopped and dried, from the ostrich to the sparrow, laid on the Turks’ tables, but very few fishes’ brains, since after cooking they are hardly worth looking at. Rabbits’ brains we think a delicacy, though less recommended by some physicians. When French inn-keepers serve this long-legged and yellow-skinned animal, the teeth and spine will clearly show the cheat if it is a cat. The ancients took great care to keep octopus-head from their tables, while no one in our day would touch it. Whether the head and part of the liver is friendly or hostile is for the sooth-sayer not the cook to decide, for gourmets do not distinguish that in the foie-gras or fig-stuffed liver.

Sir Thomas Browne, Notes on the Cookery of the Ancients