« AnkstesnisTęsti »
quantity of "good cheer." The dishes were rendered as unlike their natural forms as possible, "as is done," says the author, "by the modern professors of the culinary art." He might have included the ancient ones. Ingeniosa gula est, and the traditional schoolboy will remember the aphy or anchovy which the cook of Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, produced for him from that vegetable on which the sober Cincinnatus was content to dine. More wonderful changes than these, however— transubstantiations instead of transformations-are known to sacred and profane literature. The story of the celebrated dinner of Numa Pompilius is told by Plutarch, who is troubled with a pagan skepticism about its truth. The king had invited his subjects to a plebeian meal of extreme frugality. Suddenly he lifted up his eyes, and said his familiar Goddess Egeria was present; whereupon the tables were forthwith filled with a variety of delicate food. This sudden change recalls that of St. Patrick, who, being a-hungered on a fast-day, helped himself furtively to a couple of pork-chops. Then the saint's conscience smote him, and he cast the chops from him into a pail of water, with a prayer for forgiveness. His petition was probably heard, for the pieces of pork were immediately converted, by more than mortal means, into a couple of fat pike.
A change of flavor in fish and fowl was one of the curious features in the dinner given by Nasidienus. The pontifical dinner of Lentulus, on his election to the office of flamen (the abstemiousness of the clergy made a pontifical dinner proverbial at Rome, as that of the French priests has originated the repas de chanoines), is a famous dinner of antiquity. Posterity is indebted to the Saturnalia of Macrobius for a menu of the banquet. The names of many of the animals eaten have exercised much exegetical ingenuity to very little purpose. The peloris "a sort of shell-fish" (Dict.)—still remains a mystery. The spondylus - "a sort of shell-fish (Dict.)—is yet unknown. Of the balani—“ a sort of shell-fish" (Dict.)-both white and black, we are told nothing, save that they probably derive their name from their resemblance to an acorn, by the laborious Forcellini. But, though an exact knowledge of the ingredients of numerous plats has been thus removed from us, probably for ever, by the ruthless hand of Time, thus much of certainty remains. In the first course were served sea-urchins, oysters, thrushes on asparagus, and a fatted hen. Haunches of wild venison and beccaficoes formed a part of the second course, which has been sadly mutilated. The third was made grateful by a sow's udder, a wild boar's cheek, a ragout of fish, ducks, hares, boiled teal, capons, frumenty, and Picentian bread.
Juvenal occupies a whole satire with considerations for cooking a single fish; and Martial has consecrated the chief portion of one of his books, called "Xenia," to a poetic catalogue of subjects of diet. Not the least remarkable of these is a dish made of flamingoes' tongues, reminding the reader of the pâté of tongues of singing birds, composed by Clodius Æsopus, the actor. The tongue of the flamingo was one of the ingredients of Vitellius's celebrated entrée, which he called his Shield of Minerva. Martial and Pliny were both admirers of foie gras-the latter pathetically alludes to it as the tenderest, moistest, and sweetest of livers; and the liver of a white goose fed on fat figs is mentioned by Horace as one of the delicacies of the table of Nasidienus. Many dishes, like Wordsworth's ideal woman, not too good for human nature's daily food, appear at that weird feast, but none of them equal in horror the blinded cuttle-fish in the "Rudens" of Plautus. Here is a dish that the famous cream-sauce of the Marquis de Béchamel could hardly render palatable, although that courtier of the Grand Monarque boasted that with it a man might eat his own mother-in-law and yet fail to discover her natural inherent bitterness. "I hate him worse than cold boiled veal," Macaulay said, or is reported to have said, of the modest Mr. Croker; but what is cold veal to a clammy cuttle-fish? Surely, of the two a man would prefer the Lacedæmonian black broth, which one, having tasted, observed he wondered not any more, seeing this was their life's chief nutriment, at the Spartan intrepidity in facing death. Pinenuts (pignons) are also sung by Martial as a peculiar delicacy. These are probably a sort of pistachio. To translate the Latin term, as is commonly done, by "fir-cones" would be to follow the example of the "Journal des Débats," which French "Times " once, if we may believe Archbishop Trench, spoke of pommes de pin as the conclusion of a Lord Mayor's feast, being led into the mistake by our use of pineapple for anana, and then commented in good set terms on the grossness of the English appetite.
King's proposed dinner to Gaspar Barthius of a salcacaby, a dish of fenugreek, a wild sheep's head and appurtenance, with a suitable electuary, a ragout of capons' stones and some dormouse sausages, probably suggested to Smollett his dinner in the manner of the ancients in "Peregrine Pickle," of which the concoction of the dishes was the cause of the dismissal of five cooks as incapable, while even of the sixth, compulsorily retained, it made the hair stand on end. The whole of this satire on Akenside is very nearly copied from the receipts of Apicius; from the boiled goose, with its sauce of lovage, coriander, mint, rue, anchovies, and oil, to the hypotrimma
of Hesychius, which Smollett describes as a mixture of vinegar, pickle, and honey boiled to proper consistence, with candied asafoetida; but it is composed in the cookery-book of Apicius of many more ingredients, as lovage, pepper, dry mint, pine-nuts, raisins, boiled-down wine, sweet cheese, and oil. So in the famous salacaccabia, which so seriously discomposed the French marquis, many dainties are omitted which had assuredly rendered that miserable man's condition far worse. Its successor, the dormouse pasty, liquored with the sirup of white poppies-a soporiferous dainty no less effective than an owlpie-is a modification of the dish of dormice in Trimalchio's banquet in Petronius, where they are represented sprinkled with honey and white poppies' roasted seed, and set as an opposite dish to hot sausages on a silver gridiron, beneath which were damsons and pomegranate-grains to represent black and live coals. In Trimalchio's banquet there are several dishes besides these sausages of which English society at the present day could partake without any feeling of disgust. But in Smollett's feast there is not probably a single dish but will excite more or less loathing. He has omitted from his ancient dinner all that might attract the appetite, as sedulously as, in the abusive sacrifices to the Lindian Hercules, the priests, according to Lactantius, omitted every word of good omen, lest the whole ceremony should be vitiated or made null and void.
Another dinner, modeled apparently on that of the ancients, presents itself to the eyes of Sir Epicure Mammon in "The Alchemist." Leaving his footboy by far the best fare, after our unlearned taste, in pheasants, calvered salmons, knots, godwits, and lampreys, he confines himself to dainties such as are, from the egg to the apples, almost as uninviting to us as those in the bill of fare of Smollett. Of these the least generally known are cockles boiled in silver shells, shrimp swimming in butter of dolphin's milk, carp-tongues, camel's heels, barbels' beards, boiled dormice, oiled mushrooms, and sow's paps.
In Martial's dinner invitation to his friends, the sow's udder usually occupies a prominent place. According to Pliny, it was in the primest condition when cut off immediately, or at the longest one day, after the sow had farrowed, before the young had derived any nourishment from it; it was of the worst quality when the animal miscarried. It was considered a delicacy when set on the table, as one author describes it, moist with the salt liquor of a tunny-fish. The dish is frequently mentioned by the poets from Plautus downward. It occurs in the second course of Trimalchio's banquet vis-à-vis with a hare fitted with wings to resemble Pega
sus, and smokes in the middle of the Doctor's table as described by Smollett. Its stuffing of minced pork, hog's brains, eggs, pepper, cloves, garlic, anise-seed, rue, ginger, oil, wine, and pickle corresponds as usual very nearly with the receipt given in Cælius Apicius.
An inconvenient quantity of a food somewhat perhaps analogous to the sow's udder has been stigmatized by the first of French satirists.
In the list of the subjects which the Gastrolaters sacrifice to their ventripotent God on interlarded fish and other days, Rabelais has given us almost a complete catalogue of the eatables of his time, comprising some extraordinary dishes which are comparatively rare in cookery-books either ancient or modern. Such, for instance, are the fishes which, in the English translation, are called sleeves, gracious lords, jegs, precks, botitoes, pallours, smys, and chevins; also the birds, if birds they be, named duckers, flemmings, squabbs, queests, and snytes. The dinner of these Gastrolaters has none of that discipline of cookery which amuses the reader of Molière. In the "Bourgeois Gentilhomme," for instance, Dorante speaks of a dinner which might have been given by a certain Damis, so distinguished is it by elegance and erudition. "To show you his science of good eating," says the Marquis to Dorimène, "he would have dilated on the bread baked by itself, with its sides of gold rendered more toothsome by crust all round crumpling tenderly under the tooth; on the wine, with its velvety juice armed with an acid not too commanding; on a loin of mutton garnished with parsley, or of Normandy veal, long, white, delicate, a very almond paste in the mouth; on a partridge made excellent by its wonderful aroma; and, for his masterpiece, on a soup à bouillon perlé, supported by a plump young turkey cantoned with young pigeons, and crowned with white onions married with chiccory." In this description we recognize with delight that proper appreciation of delicate food which is the chief distinctive feature of a civilized life, and so highly necessary to all domestic happiness.
In Ben Jonson's masque of "The Metamorphosed Gypsies," in which such specimens of Rommany slang abound as to render it hard to be understood without the aid of an expert, the captain of the gypsies, after examining the hand of King James, whom he compliments by calling a lucky bird, says that he should, by the lines in his palm
"Love a horse and a hound, but no part of a swine."
It is probable that the astute actor had heard of his sacred Majesty's menu for Satan: Joint, loin of pork; entrée, a poll of ling; dessert, a pipe of tobacco. This erudite potentate, in his aversion
to pig's flesh, shared a national peculiarity, according to the author of "Waverley," who, in his description of a Highland feast of MacIvor, mentions piles of beef and mutton, but nothing of pork. The chief feature worthy of record in this banquet, distinguished by a rude simplicity recalling that of the dinner of Penelope's suitors, was the central dish, a yearling lamb, named for some curious philological reason a "hog in har'st," which, roasted whole, stood on all-fours with parsley in its mouth.
The same author has given the world a description of gypsy cookery in "Guy Mannering." The big black caldron of Meg Merrilies, whom the Dominie conjectured to be a witch, contains something far superior, in an æsthetic point of view, to the ingredients of the hell-broth of the weird sisters on the blasted heath. Can the fillet of a fenny snake, or an adder's fork, be compared with a boiled fowl; the root of hemlock, whether digged in the dark or at mid-day, with a hare; or the nose of a Turk and a Tartar's lips with partridges and moor-game? Potatoes and leeks present a pleasing contrast to a tiger's chaudron and the liver of a Jew; and Dominie Sampson was doubtless pro-di-giously satisfied in drinking a warm cupful of brandy, in the place of, what he apparently expected, the cold blood of a baboon. The desperate fashion of witches' dinners, commonly to be met with, was probably set by such dishes as were assigned by classic writers to ladies of the type of Canidia and Erichtho. Pierre de Lancre, the good old magistrate of Bordeaux-who certainly may be credited with some knowledge of the ways of witches, seeing that he burned over five hundred of them alive-gives such a description of the dinneror Sabbath, as he calls it-of these unhappy night-hags, as might with the mere horror of it eclipse the laboring moon. Such entrées as can be mentioned are foaming toads, and the fat of gibbeted murderers gathered from the gallowstree; beasts which have died a natural death, or what the Scotch call braxy; and the corpses of the lately buried torn out of their graves. But the pièce de résistance was a pasty of fetid odor composed of the powdered liver of an unbaptized infant, in a coffin of black millet-crust. Salt, however, was never used-a circumstance from which Dominie Sampson, when fasting from all but sin, took heart, because it was appointed by God to season all sacrifices, and Christians are expressly required to have salt in themselves and peace with one another.
To remove the taste of the witches' banquet, the reader may return to that of Prince John, at Ashby Castle, in "Ivanhoe." Delicacies from foreign parts and islands far away abounded at this feast. There were the rarest wines, foreign
and domestic; and simnel-bread, made of the finest wheat-flour, and, being twice cooked, exceedingly light; and wastel-bread, from which comes the French gâteau, a delicate kind of cake with which Madame Eglantine, the prioress, fed the small dogs she loved so dearly, and the richest of pastry. But above all there was a Karum pie, a Sibylline name to which unfortunately no note of elucidation or etymology is appended, made of beccaficoes and nightingales, which Athelstane, Thane of Coningsburgh, swallowed, to the laughter of the company, under the impression that they were larks and pigeons. Whether the worthy thane took Martial's advice and added pepper to the waxen beccaficoes or not, he could well afford to be laughed at, for he left nothing for his neighbors of these succulent dainties, on which Byron confesses, in "Beppo," he liked to feed.
The dinners of all times have had competent historians. As Sir Walter Scott has furnished a sample of a feast in the days of King Henry II., so has Swift given a representation, sufficiently accurate, probably, of one in the days of Queen Anne. In that author's complete collection of polite and ingenious conversations, we have a sort of photograph of the breakfasts and dinners "partaken of," to use a term suited to the occasion, by the bon-ton of society at the commencement of the eighteenth century. The former meal was simple enough, consisting only of tea, bread-and-butter and biscuit, though one of the party took a share of beefsteak, with two mugs of ale and a tankard of March beer as soon as he got out of bed; but the latter is remarkable for its picturesque profusion. Oysters, sirloin of beef, shoulder of veal, tongue, pigeon, black-pudding, cucumber, soup, chicken, fritters, venison pasty, hare, almond-pudding, ham, jelly, goose, rabbit, preserved oranges, partridge, cheese, and sturgeon, are all mentioned as ingredients of the feast, and appear to have been eaten in the order in which they are set down. The drink consisted of claret, cider, small beer, October ale, Burgundy, and tea. The consequences of this feast upon the guests are not mentioned by the Dean of St. Patrick's. Authors are not invariably so reticent. Gray, for instance, after relating the particulars of a dinner at which Dr. Chapman, the Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge, distinguished himself, closes his account in the following sympathetic fashion: "He has gone to his grave with five fine mackerel (large and full of roe) in his belly."
"Tous ces braves gens," says Taine, speaking of Fielding's principal characters, “se battent bien, marchent bien, mangent bien, boivent mieux encore." Roast-beef descends into their powerful stomachs as by a law of nature into its
proper place. That they were not averse to liquor may be gathered from the example of one out of many, Squire Western, who, in nine cases out of ten of his appearance, makes his entrance or his exit drunk. The reader may, indeed, well expect to meet with some guzzling in a work which the writer likened to a public ordinary, speaking of its contents as a bill of fare. The difficulty of finding traits of nature he compares to that of meeting with a Bayonne ham or Bologna sausage in the shops of the metropolis; and, while warning his reader that his entertainment depends less on the meat cooked than the author's cookery, offers to conduct him, after the approved fashion of cooks, from plain dishes of the country to the quintessence of sauces and spices, the affectations of the town. Squire Western would probably not so often have rendered his articulation indistinct had he not been so politely desirous to drink the health of his
friends on all occasions.
The ill effects of this custom once caused a sanguine correspondent of the "World," who was unwilling to waste on the security of health the succor of disease, to suggest that, in future, healths should be eaten, instead of, or at least as well as, drunk. There is, indeed, no reason to expect that our unselfish wishes for the salutary welfare of our friends would be less likely to be accomplished by our eating to them than by our drinking. No potent mystic spell to which we may trust for the fruition of our vows exists in Madeira more than in mutton, in beer more than in beef, in punch more than in pork. Less dangerous by far would it be for our own heads, and equally efficacious in fulfilling our desires for the health of others, if we ate the Queen and the royal family in a saddle of mutton, toasted the Bishop and clergy in turtle, and testified our hopes of the future felicity of the bridesmaids at a wedding-breakfast by a mouthful of chicken à la Marengo, or a game-pie.
Some few dinners are mentioned by Dickens; but many more drinks, generally with the particulars appended of their composition. There is, for example, the can of flip, for which Solomon Daisy laid down his sixpence, in "Barnaby Rudge." There are the Oxford nightcaps, quite celebrated for their strength and goodness, without which, according to Mrs. Nickleby, the young men at college never went to bed. And there is that sherry-cobbler, described in all its details, with which Mark Tapley made a new man in every particular worth mentioning of Martin Chuzzlewit. But for punch in all its varieties Dickens had evidently a predilection. He probably thought with a celebrated physician that in cases where wine and malt liquor are found too oppressive, the beverage of punch, in which the
spirit, saccharine matter, and acids are thoroughly amalgamated, might prove a salutary substitute. In "Our Mutual Friend" the wind passing over the roof of the R. Wilfer family rushes off charged with a delicious whiff of rum; and in the same novel Mr. Wegg, one evening paying a visit to Mr. Venus's museum, finds its proprietor carousing on cobbler's punch, the composition of which so much depended upon individual gifts, and there being a feeling thrown into it, though the groundwork of the drink was gin in a Dutch bottle. Mr. Wegg is indignant at the idea of the possibility of his refusal to partake of this compound. Lemon is mentioned as one of its ingredients. While David Copperfield lived principally on Dora and coffee, his friend, Mr. Micawber, preferred punch, which, like time and tide, waits for no man. So on the occasion of David's memorable dinner-party, the melancholy of the Crushed One was awhile diverted by his being led to the lemons. A thing out of mind was then that ribald turncock, who had cut off his supply of water, amid the fragrance of lemon-peel and sugar, and burning rum.
After Bob Sawyer's dinner-party a reeking jorum of rum-punch is brewed in the largest mortar in his shop, and the various materials amalgamated with a pestle in a very apothecarylike manner. Mr. Pickwick himself, though a discreet man, is so fond of milk-punch that he drinks out of Bob Sawyer's case-bottle, taking it through the coach-window three times before allowing Ben Allen a drop of it. And after the famous sporting party, in which Mr. Winkle for ever distinguished himself, many more than three glasses of cold punch out of a stone bottle brought Mr. Pickwick into the wheelbarrow, and from the wheelbarrow into the pound. It is somewhat curious that the "Household Edition" of Dickens's works has for its first two illustrations of the Pickwick Club, the scene last mentioned, in which the hero is awaking from intoxication in the wheelbarrow, and that in which, still under the influence of perhaps too much punch, he is discovered by the ladies of Mr. Wardle's family.
Among the less famous writers of the last twenty years, Mortimer Collins is certainly the most conscientious in giving, on every possible occasion, a list of the articles which the characters in his novels consume. In "Miranda, a Midsummer" (it is the author's own limitation) "Madness," that saturnine man of letters, affecting the gourmand enjoué, introduces a very mysterious person, who is called the Troglodyte of the Island of Hawks, providing victuals for his guests, which are indeed worthy of precise and singular description. Stewed kid with oranges; certain wonderful purple fish which can only be caught, if the Troglodyte was not mistaken, or
intentionally imposing on his company, in lakes formed out of the craters of extinct volcanoes; goats'-milk cheese, bananas in cream, and a brewage, still more wonderful than the purple fish, without a name, made of grapes, oranges, lemons, citrons, bananas, and cinnamon-these dainties are far indeed from every-day fare. But the Troglodyte not always confused his visitors with such an unaccustomed carte. A few pages beyond the last banquet, the dweller in the cave treats a lawyer to oysters with Chablis, clear turtle with old Madeira, a haunch of Exmoor mutton with Heidseck, and a grouse with Lafite. Other bills of fare, more or less complicated or unusual, are scattered through this novel, out of which Mr. Collins was probably no more able to keep them, than Mr. Dick to exclude from his memorials the ever-unwelcome intervention of King Charles. But the particular work, in which beverages appear like the stars which stud the milky way, is the "Princess Clarice." It is not easy to calculate how often that young lady, though described as a rational being, occupies herself with drinking, lazily or otherwise, as the case may be, something effervescent, what time her father is feasting on Montrachet, that "good river-side wine," and sardines. The quantity of drink they both consume would confound a Dane; the variety astonish a wine-merchant. Mention is made in the first half of the first volume alone of gin cocktails and old rye, of pick-me-ups and Maraschino, a glass of which is given to Clarice by her judicious father, to prepare her mind for the news of a burglary in his house; of Roederer, and claret-cup with borage and wooderooffe, of ale and port. Nor must it be supposed that the eating does not proceed pari passu with the drinking in this novel. Four courses of the dinner at Great Middleton, eaten by the surgeon and Sir Clare, are described at length by the novelist, who would have described the rest in the same manner, were it not for his fear of the mighty bill of fare horrifying the critics, who, according to Mr. Mortimer Collins, are dyspeptic to a man. Yet in spite of all the gaudy glitter and crowd of meats at Great Middleton, as an exquisite piece of Limoges porcelain compared to the contents of a crockery-shop in the New Cut in Lambeth, is Tennyson's picture of the picnic in "Audley Court," with its dusky loaf that smelt of home, its pasty of quail and pigeon, lark and leveret, and its prime flask of ancestral cider, compared to the Salian feast of the surgeon and Sir Clare.
A gigantic dinner, almost worthy of the mouth of Gargantua, is the dinner that Charles Lever has not disdained to introduce into "Charles O'Malley"-a dinner which the hero of that tale often remembered in his mountain
bivouacs, with their hard fare of "pickled corktree and pyroligneous aqua-fortis." The repast consisted of a turbot as big as the Waterloo shield, a sirloin which seemed cut from the sides of a rhinoceros, a sauce-boat that contained an oyster-bed, a turkey which would have formed the main army of a French dinner, flanked by a picket of ham, a detached squadron of chickens ambushed in greens, and potatoes piled like shot in an ordnance-yard. The standard-bearers of this host were massive decanters of port and sherry, and a large square half-gallon vessel of whisky.
This Brobdingnagian banquet may be compared with two Lilliputian entertainments, of which an account has been preserved by Sir Walter Scott. The first, a very temperate feast, occurs in "Redgauntlet.” Among the visitors who on one eventful morning came to Joe Crackenthorp's public-house, on the banks of the Solway, the reader may remember the Quaker, Joshua Geddes. He orders, we are told, a pint of ale, bread, butter, and some Dutch cheese. Not content with such meager fare was that unfortunate victim of Themis, Peter Peebles, who on the same occasion, after asking in vain for a "plack pie," or a "souter's clod," whatever those delicacies may be, obtains by various solicitations a mutton pasty, a quart of barley broo, something over a dram of brandy, and of sherry a gill.
Scott's second dinner, in which all good things are but creatures of the imagination, offers a sad contrast to such abundance as astonished Sancho at Camacho's wedding feast, and which pleasantly distinguishes the Epulæ lautiores of Bradwardine. In the "Bride of Lammermoor," that faithful but somewhat tedious old butler, Caleb Balderstone, the ingenious serving-man who contrives to make the satisfaction of his own silly vanity pass for a dutiful regard to his master's honor-a vanity which he never hesitates to support by any number of lies-offers on a day the Lord of Ravenswood and his hungry guest the following fare: Bannocks, the hinder end of a mutton-ham, three times served already, and the heel of a ewe-milk “kebbuck,” all which, being translated, means flat cakes, the pickings of what was once a leg of mutton, and the rind of a cheese. As for wine, “there never was lack of wine at Wolf's Crag," says honest Caleb-" only two days since as much was drunk as would have floated a pinnace"; and as for ale, the awful thunder last week had a little turned it, so at last the revelers are forced to drink water; but such water as Balderstone undertakes to affirm can not be met with anywhere in the wide world except in the Tower well.