Tag Archives: England

The English Housewife — Sallets for the Summer

“Containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman… A Work generally approved, and now the Ninth time much Augmented, Purged, and made most profitable and necessary for all men, and the general good of this NATION.

By G. Markham.”

This guide to being a housewife was originally published in 1615, in England, and it is a translation obviously of a 9th edition of the book.

Here are some interesting food sections of the book. The original book had all sort of information one should know at the time such as dying, animal husbandry and physick (and more).

These are not my translations, however, I found them from another source over here. I would highly recommend checking out the persons translations as they are very good and this text in general is a great source for historical cooking.

“Of Cookery and the part thereof
It resteth now that I proceed unto Cookery it self, which is the dressing and ordering of meat, in good and wholesome manner; to which when our House-wife shall address her self, she shall well understand that these qualities must ever accompany it; First, she must be cleanly both in body and garments, she must have a quick eye, a curious nose, a perfect taste, and ready ear; (she must not be butter-fingred, sweet toothed, nor faint-hearted) for the first will let every thing fall, the seconde will consume what it should encrease; and the last will lose time with too much niceness.

Now for the substance of the Art it self, I will divide it into five parts; The first; Sallets and Fricases; the second, boyled Meats and Broths, the third, Roast meats and Carbonadoes; the fourth, bak’t meats and Pyes, and the fifth, banquetting and made dishes, with other conceits and secrets.”

Since it’s July 4th here in the US and the weather is turning to higher temperatures, perhaps some Sallets are in order?

“Of Sallets, simple and plain: First then to speak of Sallets, there be some simple, some compounded, some only to furnish out the Table, and some both for use and adornation: your simple Sallets are Chibols pilled, washt clean, and half of the green tops cut clean away, and so served on a fruit dish, or Chives, Scallions, Rhaddish roots, boyled Carrets, Skirrets and Turnips, with such like served up simply: Also, all young Lettuce, Cabbage-Lettuce, Purslane, and divers other herbs which may be served simply without any thing but a little Vinegar, Sallet Oyl and Sugar; Onions boyled; and stript from their rind, and served up with Vinegar, Oyl and Pepper, is a good simple Sallet; so is Camphire, Bean-cods, Sparagus, and Cucumbers, served in likewise with Oyl, Venegar and Pepper, with a world of others, too tedious to nominate.

Of compound Sallet: Your compound Sallets, are first the young buds and Knots of all manner of wholesome Herbs at their first springing; as red Sage, Mint, Lettuce, Violets, Marigold, Spinage, and many other mixed together and then served up to the Table with Vinegar, Sallet-Oyl, and Sugar.

Another compound Sallet: To compound an Excellent Sallet, and which indeed is usual at great Feasts, and upon Princes Tables: Take a good quantity of blancht Almonds, and with your shredding knife cut them grosly; then take as many Raisons of the Sun clean washt, and the stones pickt out, as many Figs shred like the Almonds, as many Capers, twice so may Olives, and as many Currants as all the rest, clean washt, a good handful of the small tender leaves of red Sage and Spinage: mix all these well together with a good store of Sugar, and lay them in the bottom of a great dish; then put unto them Vinegar and Oyl, and scrape more sugar over all: then take Oranges and Lemons, and paring away the outward pills, cut them into thin slices, then with those slices cover the Sallet all over; which done, take the find thing leave of the red Cole-flower, and with them cover the Oranges and Lemmons all over; then over those Red leaves lay another course of old Olives, and the slices of well pickled Cucumers, together with the very inward heart of Cabbage-Lettuce cut into slices, then adorn the sides of the dish, and the top of the Sallet, with more slices of Lemmons and Oranges, and so serve it up.”

Handwashing, Serving and Gifting in 14th Century

In about 1390, The Forme of Cury was compiled by Samuel Pegge (18th Century Vicar and Antiquarian). The actual book was written by the Master-Cooks of King RICHARD II, then much later, presented to Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth, queen of king Henry VII. was crowned A. 1487.

As with many historic cookbooks, the forward has a great amount of historic data about their current life (what they ate), social commentary, as well as some ideas as what happened before them. I will be posting some of the more interesting comments they make over the next few months in the blog.

Here is something about meat, how it is usually served, and why handwashing is done. There is also some other interesting points, however made by as far as I can tell, Samuel Pegge in the 18th Century:

“My next observation is, that the messes both in the roll and the
Editor’s MS, are chiefly soups, potages, ragouts, hashes, and the
like hotche-potches; entire joints of meat being never served, and animals, whether fish or fowl, seldom brought to table whole, but hacked and hewed, and cut in pieces or gobbets [77]; the mortar also was in great request, some messes being actually denominated from it, as mortrews, or morterelys as in the Editor’s MS. Now in this state of things, the general mode of eating must either have been with the spoon or the fingers; and this perhaps may have been the reason that spoons became an usual present from gossips to their god-children at christenings [78]; and that the bason and ewer, for washing before and after dinner, was introduced, whence the ewerer was a great officer [79], and the ewery is retained at Court to this day [80]; we meet with damaske water after dinner [81], I presume, perfumed; and the words ewer plainly come from the Saxon or French eau water.