Last week our Deputy Catering Manager, Chris, set off to the archives in search of a few historic recipes, in the hope that our chefs in the Mill Café might be able to recreate the dishes in the future.
What he was not expecting to find were recipes which included ingredients “pounded teeth” and “powdered hearts”. Chris was left feeling a mixture of horrified and befuddled at the eccentricity of Victorian taste. After voicing his concerns to the archive team, Ally and Jane ventured in to take a look at this unusual recipe… a few seconds later and it was clear that it was Chris’ reading skills which were of concern, rather than the ingredients.
In all fairness though, we’ll let Chris off as it is difficult to read the scrawling handwriting of the past if you’re not used to it! As he put it, correcting “take some of the teeth of the rabbit & pound it in a mortar” into “take some of the flesh of the rabbit & pound it in a mortar” sounds far tastier. As does “powdered herbs” when corrected from “powdered hearts”.
I went and had a nosy myself at the recipes and Chris showed me a few of his favourites, which included instructions on how to cook spinach (very carefully if you were wondering), and “French beans the French way”. Another recipe included a sketch of the finished product.
Chris has transcribed four of the recipe’s so far; Fillets of Rabbit, a recipe for Kedgeree, and a treacle pudding, with an accompanying American butter & sugar sauce.
Chris is will be returning to the archives to finish transcribing the rest of the bundle of recipes, and hopefully if the chefs recreate the dishes they will taste as delicious to the modern palette over a hundred years after they were first popular. Who knows, you may see some of these dishes in the Mill Café and be able to have a little taste of the past yourself…