January, 2012

Ipocras bags and handkerchiefs

January 27th, 2012 by KM Wall

When I first came across this Tisane – or tyffan as it has been transcribe, but I do think those were long ‘s-s’ and not ‘f-s’ (and it’s harder to write letters then you might think!) there was something about it that seemed …..familiar. It wasn’t until I had had re-read Good News and was looking for another recipe in the Good Housewife Handmaide that I had an A-HA moment – what if Edward Winlsow was using his handkerchief as a substitute for Ipocras bag?

Which begs the question – what is Ipocras and why does it have it’s own bag?

Ipocras – or hippocras – is a spiced wine. Whole spices like ginger and cinnamon are often boiled and steeped in wine, which is then strained before it is served.

“To make a Tyffan
Take a pint of Barley beeing picked, sprinkled with faire water, so put it in a faire stone morter, and with your pestell rub the barley, and that will make it tuske, then picke out the barley from the huskes,  and set your barley on the fyre in a gallon of faire water, so let it seeth til it come to a pottle.  Then put into your water, Succory, Endive, Cinkefoyle, Violet leaves, of each one handfull, one ounce of Anniseed, one ounce of Liquoris bruised, and thirtie great raisons, so let all this geare seeth til it come to a quart:  then take it off, let it stand and settle, and so take the clearest of it, and let it be strained, and when you have strained the clearest of it, then let it stand a good pretie while. Then put in foure whites of Egs al to beaten, shels and all, then stir it ell together, so set it on the fyre againe, let it seeth, and ever as the scum doth rise take it off, and so let it seeth a while:  then let it run through a strainer or an Ipocras bagge, and drinke of it in the morning warme.”

– (1594) Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchen. Stuart Press: p. 51.


Edward Winslow cooks!

January 26th, 2012 by KM Wall

Before I look at pottages in general, here’s more  of Edward Winslow’s account with the ailing Massasoit:

March 1623

“He  [Massasoit] requested me, that the day following . I would take my piece and kill him some fowl, and make him English pottage, such as he eaten at Plymouth, which I promised. After, his stomach coming to him, I must needs make some without fowl, before I went abroad, which somewhat troubled me, being unaccustomed and unac4-5quainted in such business, especially having nothing to make it comfortable, my consort being as ignorant as myself; but being we must do somewhat, I caused a woman to bruise some corn, and take the flour from it,   and set the grit, or broken corn, in a pipkin, for they have earthen pots of all sizes.  When the day broke, we went out, it now being March, to seek herbs, but could not find any but strawberry leaves, of which I gathered a handful, and put into the same; and because I had nothing to relish it, I went forth again, and pulled up a sassafras root, and sliced a piece thereof,  and boiled it, till it had a good relish, and then took it out again.
The broth being boiled, I strained it through my handkerchief and gave him at least a pint, which he drank, and liked it very well.”
- (1624) Good Newes, Applewood ed. p. 34-5.

So what he seems to be saying is that he boiled up some corn grits with a handful of strawberry leaves, added a little sassafras root to flavor it – and then he strained it through his handkerchief?????? This sounds like a punch line from some behind the scenes reality TV dive-diner series. Just what is he trying to do?



English chicken

January 25th, 2012 by KM Wall

Dung hill fowl

…for chickens to make him broth…

January 24th, 2012 by KM Wall

March 1623

“…. for chickens to make him broth ….’” Good Newes, Applewood ed, p. 24

This   reference to chickens in the Plymouth sources is by Edward Winslow about a visit he made to Packanokick to visit a sick Massasoit. His sends a letter by messenger back to Patuxet (a/k/a/Plymouth)  - at two o’clock in the morning no less – which requests the chickens and other physic as the surgeon might send.

But before the messenger returns, Massosit is feeling better and requests the Winslow use his piece (gun) to kill some fowl and make some English pottage.

This little reference is foodways HEAVEN.  Not only are they mentioning specific  foodstuffs, they are mentioning how they use them and when. Chicken broth is good for those who are ill. Chickens are in Plymouth. Pottage  was served to Massasoit – and he liked it.

The Plymouth sources are the alpha and omega of the foodways search. This is the foodways A-list – what are the things they say  they have. Archaeology is also the A-list, because sometimes they have things and don’t mention them, and court documents, inventories, even extant objects. This is the beginning. This is the stuff that is documented as there.

So then the $64,000 questions here are – just what the heck is ‘pottage’?  And is chicken broth in 1623 like chicken broth now?

Cookbooks will help answer these questions. They help supply the background, and that’s why they’re on my B-list.

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.