Category Archives: Animals

A Christmas Turkey – And A Plum Pudding

I live in Norfolk, one of the major centres in the 18th and 19th centuries for rearing geese and turkeys for the London market. Both were favourites for eating at Christmas and in the weeks before the roads to the Capital were full of flocks of geese being walked slowly to their doom, their feet protected by being dipped in tar and then sand. The arrival of the stagecoaches made transporting birds much faster and they could be slaughtered in Norfolk, then loaded onto the coaches and arrive without having walked off a good part of their condition.

The image above shows the Norwich stage arriving at the Bull Inn in London hung about with geese, but turkeys were transported in the same way. Not all were dead, as Cecil Aldin’s marvellous little sketch of an escaping bird at the top of this post illustrates. the label around his neck says, ‘Leadenhall Market’ and he’s wisely heading back to Norfolk as fast as he can!

Turkey was not just food for the well-off and middle classes as I discovered when researching for Regency Slang Revealed  The slang for all kinds of poultry was hollow, presumably because birds were cooked hollow inside. A turkey was a Bubbly Jock or a Gobbler, references to the sounds they make, or a Cobble Colter. A roast turkey garnished with a string of sausages was an Alderman, a reference to the chain of office. Not much was wasted at this level of society – the part of a chicken we call the parson’s nose was the Pope’s Nose to the Regency underworld and The Devil was a dish comprising the gizzard of the bird, scored, peppered until it was very hot to the taste and then broiled.

A New System of Domestic Cookery; formed upon principles of economy by A Lady (various editions in the early 19thc, mine is 1829) has advice for the prudent housewife on selecting your turkey:

“A Turkey Cock – If young, it has a smooth black leg with a short spur. If fresh, the eyes full and bright and the feet supple and moist. If stale the eyes will be sunk, and the feet dry. Hen-Turkey is known by the same rules; but if old, her legs will be red and rough.”

This book contains a number of recipes for turkey including a version of the Devil, mentioned above:

“An Incomparable Relish, or Devil, of Turkey 

On the rump, gizzard , and a drum-stick, put salt, pepper and Cayenne. Let them be broiled, and brought back as hot as possible; cut them in small pieces, pour over a ladle of mustard, ditto of melted butter, a spoonful of soy, ditto of lemon-juice, and some of the gravy out of the dish; mix quickly, and hand round.”

The instructions for roast turkey give the traditional accompaniments still served today. The stuffing is sausage meat with chopped shallots, breadcrumbs and a beaten egg. Sausages and bread sauce are served separately along with the gravy.

When I transcribed the receipt book of Regency housewife Mrs Jean Mills for Mock Oyster Sauce and a Cure for Corns  I found only one turkey recipe, for Turkey Pie, which involved leaving the meat seasoned with pepper, salt, nutmeg, pounded clove and mace overnight before baking it in a rich gravy.

However Mrs Mills does include the instructions for Plum Pudding, that other staple of the Christmas dinner. She often gives the name of the person who gave her a particular recipe and she attributes this one to her late first husband, Captain Ryan of the East India Company. Like all the recipes for plum cake and plum puddings that I can find in Georgian recipe books this does not include plums!

Captain Ryan’s Receipt for Plum Pudding

12 Eggs, 1 lb Suet, 1 lb Raisins, 1 lb Currants, 3 Table Spoons Grated Biscuits, 3 of Sugar, 1 Nutmeg, 1 Tea Spoon grated ginger, a little sweetmeat, 1 Glass Brandy. This pudding takes 4 hours to Boil.

If you want to try this with modern weights and measures, 1 lb = 453.5 grams.

On the same page you can see Mrs Edwards’ Plain Cake and Batter Pudding. The ‘do’ – ditto – makes me think Mrs Edwards contributed that too.

Have fun planning your Christmas dinner!

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Fishy Business – And A Moral

In my last blog I posted about a charming children’s book I had discovered and mentioned the Fish Machine – so here it is –

fish machine

It seems to be a ‘machine’ in the same way that any vehicle with a specific purpose was called a machine, even if it had no engine other than the horse – bathing machines, for example. As well as describing the purpose of the vehicle Jane and Ann Taylor, authors of Rural Scenes; or, A Peep Into the Country for Good Children (this version 1813), point up a moral about co-operation in business and make a passing reference to the importance of fresh fish for the benefit of future housewives. I have seen lorries on Japanese harboursides for just the same purpose.

“This man is driving to some great town, to sell his fish to the inhabitants. he not only serves them, but also the fishermen and himself. Indeed, they find a mutual help in each other; for it would be very difficult always to find a market on he sea-coast, and equally inconvenient to the townspeople to go there for them. If he carries fish only, he pays no turnpikes.”

The authors also use every opportunity throughout the book to encourage children to be kind to animals while, at the same time, being very up-front about the use of animals as food, including being quite positive that the human position of power over other creatures was divinely ordained, as in the text that accompanies the two fishermen hauling in their net of river fish.

fishermen

“These two men are labouring very hard to get an honest livelihood, and are, therefore, very commendable. Dominion was given to man over the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and the beasts of the field, which, with vegetables and fruit, were appointed for his food. As it is necessary to kill animals for our support, it is our duty to do it in the most humane methods we can invent, so as to give them as little pain as possible; therefore it is better to take fish with a net, than with a hook and line. I have read of a boy who was endeavouring to reach a plate off a shelf, to put some fish in which he had caught when, just in the same manner as he caught the fish, a sharp meat-hook that hung close by, did catch him in the chin.”

And here is the fisherman with road and line, rather uncomfortably perched on a bridge with the moral of the tale in verse below.

rod & line

moral

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Water, Water…

Some time ago I bought a charming book for children which unfortunately is missing its title page and front matter. I tracked it down from the introductory poem and found that it is a version of  Rural Scenes; or, A Peep Into the Country for Good Children, originally published in 1805 by Harvey, Darton & Company, Gracechurch Street, London. The authors were sisters Jane and Ann Taylor. Jane was the author of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’

IMG_20190309_0001

The only one I can find on sale is a first edition bound with the companion A Peep Into London… and that was $3,250! Mine has different and fewer images, although in exactly the same style, and was published in 1813. I think I paid £10 for it – but I have to admit, mine is rather more battered.

With the rain lashing down outside I thought the text accompanying a scene of a woman dipping water from a stream was rather apt. The book groups similar subjects together and this is from a set all to do with water.

water

38: Dipping Water.

Morning and night, with cleanly pails,

Comes Mary to the spring,

And to her cottage never fails

The Cooling draught to bring.

With some she scours the dressers smart,

or mops the kitchen bricks; And in the kettle sings a part,

Above the crackling sticks.

The text following it reads, ‘Without water, man, woman, and child; birds, beasts, and fishes; trees, plants, and flowers, must all die! Do not let us be so angry, then, with a shower of rain, even if it should spoil our walk; for what should we do without it? We often overlook the comforts we possess, nor are we sensible of their great value, until we are deprived of them. For want of water and fresh air, many English people died in a dungeon, at Calcutta, in the East Indies. And how much to be valued is fresh water on shipboard; as all water in the sea is salt, and not fit for men to drink, except as a medicine, in some disorders, for people on shore.’

In a very few lines it packs in a lecture on housekeeping – clean pails required, daily scrubbing of the kitchen – a passing reference to history with the Black Hole of Calcutta, moralising on being aware of the blessings we possess and a mention of saline draughts in medicine!

The image above is a lecture on the value of the cows which John is taking to drink. Betty will make cheese, butter and cream and sells the butter milk ‘to the poor people’. But when the cows are killed they provide food, leather, fat for candles, hoofs for glue, horns to make lanterns and combs, bones for carving like ivory, ‘the blood makes a beautiful blue colour’ and ‘even the bowels are not thrown away.’ Luckily we aren’t informed what happens to those. No sentimentality about farm animals here!

As for the bottom image, that provides us with a neat little moral lesson:

tap

Jane Taylor, shown below, lived 1783 – 1824. She was born in London, lived for much of her childhood in Lavenham and died and is buried at Ongar in Essex. Jane Taylor

I may well return to this delightful book in the future – I’m eager to share the ingenious ‘Fish Machine’.

 

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Filed under Agriculture, Animals, Books, Domestic life, Education, Weather, working life

Walking the Dog in Georgian London

groomingIt was this delightful French print of a dog groomer that started me wondering about Georgian Londoners and their pet dogs and looking through my print collection to see what I could find. The Tondeur des Chiens – or dog shearer – is from a set of about sixty prints by Adrien Joly (1772-1839) entitled Arts, Métiers et Cris de Paris par Joly d’après nature. They were published in c.1813.  The groomer has his little box of tools with an attached advertising sign and wears clogs. Wisely he had tied up the muzzle of the shaggy hound who looks seriously displeased with the process.

I decided not to look for working dogs – hounds, ratting terriers and so forth, but for animals that seemed to be pets.  This lady, wearing Winter Carriage Dress (La Belle Assemblee 1818) is accompanied on a ratherspaniel2 muddy foreshore by what I think is a miniature spaniel (or is it?).

The two ladies below on the right are from the Ladies’ Monthly Museum for 1801 and their dog1803 appears to be a poodle wearing some sort of band on its front leg. Ornament or identification, I wonder?

Street scenes I can find with dogs in do not show them on leads and in some cases they are running about looking quite out of control.

The scene below is a detail of a print of Horse Guards Parade. The gentleman on the right has his dog – some sort of collie, possibly, under control, but in the centre a greyhound is chasing a smaller dog with a curly tail – right under the hooves of the advancing troopers.  there also seem to be several dogs between the marching troops on the extreme left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Guards

duel  I have several of D T Egerton’s wonderful ‘Bores’ series of prints, published by Thomas McLean in 1824. in all of them the hero is subjected to some ‘boring’ occurrence – in this case, being shot in a duel!  I am not certain whether the brown and white spaniel is with the nervous gentleman on the left or the cool one on the right.

The detail below right is from the same series and shows the elegant officer being ‘bored’ by some unfashionable young man who is claiming acquaintance. The scene is outside the Clarendon Hotel in Bond Street and the officer is followed by his elegantly-clipped poodle.

hotel

 

 

And finally my favourite of the ‘Bores’ – how boring it is when the landlady discovers that you are not married to your pretty companion and throws you out on the pavement with all your possessions – including her parrot in a cage, pot plants and two little dogs. One looks like a miniature greyhound, the other is rather pug-like.

eviction

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Filed under Animals, Gentlemen, Horse Guard's Parade, Love and Marriage