Previous outlander post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/outlander-why-is-their-rhenish-wine-not-white/
In my previous Outlander post, I discussed the Rhenish Wine, it’s history, and possible reasons for it’s higher alcohol content? One reader did suggest that it could very likely have been laced with Poppy juice, which would account for it’s coloring, and for it’s pain numbing qualities. I do agree with this possibility for Colum’s private stock but I am somewhat doubtful whether he would have offered this strongest brew at the dining table to everyone… unless of course, he wanted them all quite highly numb and beyond clear thinking? I would not put this ploy past Dougal though! Tonight, I am going to touch on a rather odd and yet interesting remedy I ran across for the after affects of the Rhenish Wine?
I can’t help but imagine that owing to Claire’s fondness for alcohol in general, and her highly stressed state in those earliest days… This picture could easily represent what she, and many others might have woke up like on more than one morning after imbibing in too much of the strong spirits!
Then there would have been Mrs. Fitz slaving away down in the kitchens, brewing up some sort of concoction to revive all of those who had over indulged the night before!
Now, please keep in mind that the following remedy was never mentioned in the books and we would assume that this particular ingredient was not available to them up in the Highlands of Scotland. In fact, in some later books Claire’s daughter Bree mourned the fact that it was not available to her? Well, it may not have been available to her, but it was available and was coming into it’s own throughout Europe in finer homes as well as many middle class homes. That odd ingredient and remedy for a hangover just happened to be none other than Chocolate!
Chocolate was first consumed as a beverage during the 1650’s in the highest class of nobility. By the 1700’s it was no longer just the Royals and Nobles consuming it, it was quickly becoming readily available to the more middle class masses and acceptable as an option other than tea or coffee. Chocolate was first understood not only as a literally outlandish beverage, but as a medicinal wonder-drink.
In January 1697, John Houghton, apothecary and publisher of the weekly Collection for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, was offering his own chocolate ‘nuts’ for sale, both plain and spiced, recommending them as “a great helper of bad stomachs, and restorative”. This was certainly what Pepys used it for, attempting to soothe his very sore head after Charles II’s coronation on 23 April 1661.
The earliest dated recipe, “To dresse Chocolatte”, in the manuscript recipe book of Lady Ann Fanshawe (1625–80), held by the Wellcome Library, is clearly dated ‘Madrid 10 August 1665’. Accompanied by a contemporary sketch of a chocolate pot and molinillo [wood whisk], the recipe appears to have come into her collection when she accompanied her husband, Sir Richard, on his embassy to Madrid between 1664–6.
The Fanshawe recipe is a variant on the Hispanic adaptations of indigenous central American chocolate preparations, but the only two recipes in English printed recipe books published prior to 1700 already show how chocolate was being absorbed into English dishes, and made palatable to English tastes.
This early painting depicts a small Chocolate pot in use as well as the Tea pot.
I was happy to read of this next recipe… I do enjoy a bit of Chocolate Wine on occasion! Hannah Woolley’s 1670 recipe for “Chaculato” simply adds chocolate to claret, and thickens it with egg yolk. The anonymous author of the 1695 The True Way of Preserving and Candying, and Making Several Sorts of Sweetmeat, provides a recipe for “Chocolet-Puffs”, which adds grated chocolate to an otherwise very familiar pastrywork recipe.
As to it’s availability and use in the Highlands of Scotland during the 1700s, We can probably assume that it was not widely consumed due to the cost, and the fact that it might have been looked at as one of those outlandish and peculiar Sassenach concoctions? Jamie was well educated and well travelled, having spent a length of time in France, so he would have been quite familiar with it. Colum most likely would have looked at it as a wasteful indulgence as it would have done nothing to relieve his pains! Mrs. Fitz probably would have been skeptical and highly critical of such a frivolous and decadent waste? I am reasonably sure though that there were probably some homes and establishments in the Highlands serving and enjoying it at the time?
Chocolate was not cheap (Houghton was selling it at between 4 and 10 shillings a pound in 1697), but it was not beyond the pockets of middling householder by the mid-18th century, who consumed it not only as a beverage, but also to flavour a repertoire of sweet dishes, familiar on genteel Georgian tables and sideboards.
By 1737, The Whole Duty of a Woman: or, an Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex listed chocolate amongst those items absolutely necessary to take from the city to the country in the summer, just in case one’s local grocer did not sell it. Chocolate was certainly easily obtainable in the Somerset town of Wells in the 1720s, when the physician Claver Morris recorded drinking and prescribing it as part of his own dietary regime.
The equipment initially intended for the preparation of drinking chocolate also appears to have been absorbed into the kitchen drawer. In her 1747 text, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse writes of the ‘chocolate mill’ or molenillo as “the best way to whip sillibubs” and to be kept “for that purpose”: evidence that the utensil once unusual enough for Ann Fanshawe to sketch it, had become a multifunctional tool in the Georgian kitchen.
17th Century Chocolate recipe… We shall forward this on to Mrs. Fitz and suggest that she try it out!
To make Chocolate
Take your Choco Nutts and put them over the fire either
In earthern pott, or kettle or frying pan keeping them
stirring with a brass spoone till they be very hott and of black
browne, then take them and pull of[f] the shells with your fingers.
They must look of a black colour though not to[o] much burnt.
Then you must pound them in a great iron or brass mortar
and seeth [sieve] them through a fine lawne [linen] seeth [sieve], and soe pound
them againe and soe seeth it till all
getts through, then take two pound of the powder and
three quarters of a pound of good white sugar about
5d or 6d per pound being seethed [sieved] all one as the
Choco Nutts, then put a Nuttmeg and half and ounce of
Cinnamon and pound it well together and seeth it as
herein before mentioned and to each pound of Choco
Nutt the like quantity.
When you have mixt it altogether, take your mortar and putt it on the fire and
make it pretty hott and take the pestle also, then putt
the stuff in it and beat it till it comes to a smooth
past[e], then take it out and weigh it into Quarters of pounds
then Roll it round in your hands and putt it on a Quarter
of sheet of paper and take the paper into your two hands and
chafe it up and down till it comes to a short Roll.
English medical notebook, 1575-1663 (Wellcome Library MS.6812, p.137)
For a more recent and up to date Chocolate recipe, you should probably just use the Outlanderkitchen.com recipe, Hot Chocolate with La Dame Blanche! http://outlanderkitchen.com/2013/01/17/hot-chocolate-with-la-dame-blanche/ Haa… I love the suggestion and reference to Crème de Menthe! Be sure your cask of Crème de Menthe is free of any dead body!
Now, besides the verra interesting information on Chocolate, I found a few other recipes that you might enjoy? All of the information and recipes pre-date the 1740’s time period that Claire arrived to in Scotland, so while they might not have been readily available or accessible to her or Mrs. Fitz at the time, they were in use in other areas such as England and France. We can not go just by Claire’s observations because as many of us know well, unless it involved concocting something for medicinal purposes or experiments, Claire was not the one to be asking for cooking advice! Jamie probably knew more about the food choices and the kitchen than she did!
Lady Ann Fanshawe’s sugar cakes, 1651-1707 These would go well with the chocolate!
To make Sugar Cakes
Take 2 pound of Butter, one pound of fine Sugar, the yolkes of nine
Egs, a full Spoonfull of Mace beat & searsed [sifted], as much Flower as this
will well wett making them so stiffe as you may rowle it out, then
with the Cup of a glasse of what Size you please cutt them into
round Cakes & pricke them and bake them.
Or perhaps you could serve these puff pastries?
To make puff paist
“Take halfe a quortorh of The Finest Flower then mix yo Flower and water and
Four white of Eggs together, mould up yo paste but not too stiff,
Then role yo Past out into a Sheete. Then lay some Butter in litle Pecies
Till you have Filled yo sheete but doe not lay it Towards The ends to neare,
Then Dust a little Flower with yo Drudging Box then Fould it up
Twice before you put any more Then doe soe Till yo have put in
a pound keeping it a little dusted very Fine yo put it to yo Butter,
handle it a little Then cut it to yo own Fancie.
Once you have become adept at these recipes, you might want to try this next one?
How to Cook a Husband
As Mr Glass said of the hare, you must first catch him. Having done so,
the mode of cooking him, so as to make a good dish of him, is as follows.
Many good husbands are spoiled in the cooking; some women go about
it as if their husbands were bladders, and blow them up. Others keep them
constantly in hot water, while others freeze them by conjugal coldness.
Some smother them with hatred, contention and variance, and some keep
them in pickle all their lives. These women always serve them up with tongue
sauce. Now it cannot be supposed that husbands will be tender and good if
managed in that way. But they are, on the contrary, very delicious when
managed as follows: Get a large jar called the jar of carefulness, (which all
good wives have on hand), place your husband in it, and set him near the
fire of conjugal love; let the fire be pretty hot, but especially let it be clear – above
all, let the heat be constant. Cover him over with affection, kindness and
subjection. Garnish with modest, becoming familiarity, and the spice of
pleasantry; and if you had kisses and other confectionaries let them be
accompanied with a sufficient portion of secrecy, mixed with prudence and
moderation. We would advise all good wives to try this receipt and realise
how admirable a dish a husband is when properly cooked.
Ohhhh, Ummmm just in case you have failed to include enough fibre and vegetables in your more ancient diet… And, Claire will warn you firmly of the perils of neglecting these all important dietary needs… You would most likely be needing this additional recipe?
Soothing Remedy for Piles…
A Medicine ffor the piles in the ffundament being red soare akinge bleedinge especially when they goe to the stoole and that with greate paine
Take Chicken weede, mallowes, the herbe mercury, otherwise called benne[t],
of each toe or three handfulls boyle all these together in a gallon of runinge
water untill halfe be boyled away, then take a basin full thereof
and sett it in a close stoole and lett the patient sitt over it and receive the
steame thereof into his fundament, bathing the place therewithall
a Quarter of an houre or soe Long as hee can endure it then
lett him take a good handfull of the herbes and bind it to his fundament
and soe keepe it there all the day and lett him use this morninge
Ahhhh…. and one last bit of information concerning historical foods that you might not have thought were available so long ago? I found these following items quite interesting as so many time travelers pine away for some variety of these foods never realizing that yes, indeed there was already some form of it available? They were just not in the right kitchen! Or maybe some desperate time traveler did come up with these variations in their attempts to create some close version of their favorite and much missed food?
For those travelers craving some form of the Chinese takeout such as sweet and sour…
Sweet and sour rabbit is one of the more curious dishes included in Maggie Black’s The Medieval Cookbook. Found in a collection of 14th-century manuscripts called the Curye on Inglish, it includes sugar, red wine vinegar, currants, onions, ginger and cinnamon (along with plenty of “powdour of peper”) to produce a sticky sauce with more than a hint of the modern Chinese takeaway. The recipe probably dates as far back as the Norman Conquest, when the most surprising ingredient for Saxons would have been rabbit, only recently introduced to England from continental Europe.
While tomatoes and tomato sauce was not widely available to most time travelers, pasta was!
In the same manuscript we find instructions for pasta production, with fine flour used to “make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it hard and seeth it in broth”. This was known as ‘losyns’, and a typical dish involved layering the pasta with cheese sauce to make another English favourite: lasagne.
Sadly the lack of tomatoes meant there was no rich bolognese to go along with the béchamel, but it was still a much-loved dish, and was served at the end of meals to help soak up the large amount of alcohol you were expected to imbibe – much as an oily kebab might today.
In Thomas Austin’s edition of Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, you can find several other pasta recipes, including ravioli and Lesenge Fries – a sugar and saffron doughnut, similar to the modern Italian feast day treats such as frappe or castagnole. The full edition, including hundreds of medieval recipes, can be found online through the University of Michigan database.
This last item came as a bigger surprise to me? I was not aware that it was so widely used or available throughout Europe so far back in time!
Rice was grown in Europe as early as the 8th century by Spanish Moors. By the 15th century it was produced across Spain and Italy, and exported to all corners of Europe in vast quantities. The brilliant recipe resource www.medievalcookery.com shows the wide variety of ways in which rice was used, including three separate medieval references to a dish called blancmager.
Rather than the pudding you might expect, blancmager was actually a soft rice dish, combining chicken or fish with sugar and spices. Due to its bland nature, it was possibly served to invalids as a restorative.
There were also sweet rice dishes, including rice drinks and a dish called prymerose, which combined honey, almonds, primroses and rice flour to make a thick rice pudding.
So, now we know that for those time travelers craving the much desired chocolate, It was available and apparently it did much to cure hangovers… Who Knew?!
You can find all of this information and much more on the official BBC History website: http://www.historyextra.com/
You can also find out much more about historical and medieval cooking here at Medieval Cookery: http://www.medievalcookery.com/