August 14, 1623
‘And now to speak of the king of the country, who is a great emperor among his people. Upon the occasion of the Governor’s marriage, since I came, Massasoit was sent for to the wedding, where he came with him his wife, the queen, although he has five wives. With him came four other kings and about some six score men with their bows and arrows – where, when they came to our town, we saluted them with the shooting off of many muskets and training our men. And so all the bows and arrows was brought into the Governor’s house, and he brought the Governor three or four bucks and a turkey. And so we had very good pastime in seeing them dance, which is in such a manner, with such noise that you would wonder. And at that time when we gave Massasoit his hat, coat, band and feather, I craved a boy of him for you, but he would not part with him; but I will bring you one hereafter.
And now to say somewhat of the great cheer we had at the Governor’s marriage. We had about twelve pasty venisons, besides others, pieces of roasted venison and other such good cheer in such quantity that I could wish you some of our share. For here we have the best grapes you ever say – and the biggest, and divers sorts of plums and nuts which our business will not suffer to us to look for.’
- Letter of Emmanuel Altham to Sir Edward Altham, September, 1623 cited in James, Sidney V. Jr., ed. Three Visitors to Early Plymouth, Plimoth Plantation. 1963. pp. 29-30.
There are peasecods and then there are peasecods…….
Peasecods are, at their most basic, the little green containers that will grow up to hold pease on the pea plant. In the seventeenth century these were being used in a variety of ways – not unlike now…. – but these were dainty dishes. Most of the time most people wanted the pease, fully grown and mature and dried, to make into pottages to keep them fed. But every now and again, if there were some early summer occasion that called for something nice, like a sallet of peasecods or a boiled chicken with peascods.
But sometimes peasecods were little pastries in the shape of peasecods like this:
To Make Peascods in Lent
Take figs, Raisons, and a few Dates, and beate them very fine, and season it with Cloves, Mace, Cinamon and Ginger, and for your paste seeth faire water and oyle in a dish uppon coales, put therein saffron and salt and a little flower, fashion them then like peasecods, and when ye will serve them, frye them in Oyle in a frying panne, but let the Oyle bee verie hotte, and the fire soft for burning of them, and when yee make them for fleshe dayes, take a fillet of veale and mince it fine, and put the yolkes of two or three rawe egges to it, and season it with pepper, salt, cloves, mace, honie, suger, cinamon, ginger, small raisons, or great minced, and for your paste butter, the yolke of an egge, and season them, and fry them in butter as yee did the other in oyle.
- Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1596
Redaction for flesh days version:
Flour, butter, 1 egg and salt
Minced veal (we use chicken);
Figs, raisins,dates (we use mostly, and sometimes only, raisins)
Season with salt, pepper, cloves, mace (or nutmeg), honey, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butter and one egg yolk.
Make into finger sized pies, shaping them like peasecods (pea-pods), and fry them in yet more butter or bake them in a 375 oven until they’re golden brown.
If you bake them, brush them with another egg yolk, beaten, to give them a richer golden color.
The ones for sale at Patuxet Cafe are more turnip sized then pea-pod size. It had to do with an earlier interpretation of the recipe, with the thinking it was more of a Cornish pasty the a dainty nibble. And boy, are they popular. And tasty. When you make them at home you can make them pinky pea-pod size or full-fisted larger. Whichever you’ll enjoy best.
Tags: 17th century recipe, bake, butter, chicken, cinnamon, cloves, dates, eggs, figs, flour, ginger, green pease, honey, mace, nutmeg, Patuxet Cafe, pea-pods, peas, peasecods, pie, raisins, recipe, redaction, sugar, Thomas Dawson
Posted in Baking, Pie, Recipes. 17th century | 2 Comments
It’s been our first few days over 90 degrees here in Plymouth…
Although, I can’t complain, I’m not outside in pilgrim cloths. Don’t worry though, we take good care of our pilgrims. Sunscreen, gatorade, and hoodsie cups make for very happy, still sweaty, but happy nonetheless pilgrims. Just ask the Bradfords.
So wherever you are, and whatever you’re wearing, Happy Start of Summer!
Kids, as in goats that is. Nowadays in a world of grocery stores most people see animals as pets rather than a tool, or food source. When in 1627, in New Plimoth, each animal had it’s uses, goats for milk and meat, cattle for milk and field work ( as of 1627 there were not enough cattle to consider slaughtering them yet), dogs for hunting, cats as mousers, etc, etc.
This little guy, whom WE ARE NOT GOING TO EAT, in the 17th century would most likely be headed to the table, if not used for breeding. In New Plimoth you would let him grow up first because there would be more meat, but back in England the higher classes were likely to indulge in dishes such as a kid pie, or in a pottage. Gervase Markham has a recipe in his book The English Housewife, from 1615, describing just that:
“Pottage with whole herbs.
If you will make pottage of the best and daintiest kind, you shall take mutton, veal, or kid, and having broke the bones, but not cut the flesh in pieces, and washed it put it into a pot with fair water; after it is ready to boil, and is thoroughly scummed, you shall put in a good handful or two of small oatmeal, and then take whole lettuce, of the best and most inward leaves, whole spinach, whole endive, whole succor, and whole leaves of cauliflower, or the inward parts of white cabbage, with two or three sliced onions; and put all into the pot and boil them well together till the meat be enough, and the herbs so soft as may be, and stir them oft well together; and then season it with salt and as much verjuice as will only turn the taste of the pottage; and so serve them up, covering the meat with the whole herbs, and adorning the dish with sippers.” pg 76
As seen above Markham also mentions veal could be used, sorry baby cattle you weren’t safe either, and neither were this guys…
I know the cuteness meter is off the charts, but once again Gervase Markham, and his The English Housewife, with another traumatizing recipe:
“To stew a lamb’s head and purtenance.
Take a lamb’s head and purtenance clean washed and picked and put into a pipkin with fair water, and let it boil well till the meat be enough: then take up the lamb’s head and purtenance, and put it into a clean dish with sippets; then put in a good lump of butter, and beat the yolks of two eggs with a little cream, and put it to the broth with sugar, cinnamon, and a spoonful or two of verjuice, and whole mace, and as many prunes as will garnish the dish, which should be put in when it is but half boiled, and so pour it upon the lamb’s head and purtenance, and adorn the sides of the dish with sugar, prunes, barberries, oranges, and lemons, and in no case forget not to season well with salt, and so serve it up.” pg 85
For those of you wondering purtenance means the innards of said animal, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.Yes I know, ew. Thankfully for all our animals its the 21st century and they will live long happy lives with us, even if the pilgrims say otherwise. So go hug your pet, whatever species, and be thankful it’s not 1627.
Moxie sure is…. kind of.
So just how are Italian Christmas cookies and English jumbles the same thing?
Partly it’s the identical ingredients.
The second clue is the shape.
But wait, the Italian cookies look more like snowballs then the little twisty shapes the English cookies are in, so how is the shape something they have in common.
The Italian cookies, here in America and now as in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, definitely favors the drop cookie method, resulting in the snowball shape. But when my Italian born aunt made them when I was young, they were made in a twist. In my family they were called ‘charmella’ which is a dialect variation of the word ‘gemelli’ which means twined or twin. My aunt took some dough, made a roll, twisted it and then tucked the ends into the loop. As time went on, she began to add a little more milk to the dough, and then drop they looser dough on a cookie sheet by the spoonful, changing the shape. And anisette or anise extract replace the ground anise seed.
But it was Peter Brears illustration of jumble shapes that cinched it for me. The one in the center is a dead ringer for the cookies I ate in my at my aunt’s kitchen table.
Sometimes the past is a foreign country; sometimes the past isn’t all that long ago or far away.
To make Iumbals.
To make the best Iumbals, take the whites of three egges and beate them well, and take of the viell; then take a little milke and a pound of fine wheat flower and sugar together finely sifted, and a few Aniseeds well rubd and dried; and then make what formes you please ; & bake them in a soft ouen vpon white Papers.
- Gervase Markham. Covntry Contentments, or The English Huswife. 1623. London: p. 114.
The illustrations are from Peter Brears. Food and Cooking in Seventeenth Century Britain: English Heritage. 1985. p. 11.
And a few more notes:
Did you notice the jumble was spelled with an ‘I’ instead of a ‘J’? They’re sometimes interchangabe….just like ‘y’ and ‘i’ as in Plymouth and Plimoth, and ‘u’ and ‘v’ in covntry and ouen…….
I’d never heard of Gooseberries until I started working at Plimoth Plantation, which horrified my co-workers, they responded like this…
and thankfully once they got over their initial shock they showed me these…
In The Herbal, by John Gerard, in 1633, he writes:
“The ripe berries, as they are sweeter, … are very seldom eaten or used as a sauce.”
So for us this means we use them before they ripen, when they do they loose their tartness and become pink in color. He also writes:
“They are used in divers sauces for meat, as those that are skillful in cookerie can better tell than myself”
In translation he can’t cook, he just eats. Thankfully we have many cookery sources from the time period and are able to find gooseberries in all sorts of recipes. My favorites are hen cooked with gooseberry sauce, as well as gooseberry tart, both delicious in their own ways. Most recently we fired up the clome oven and baked ourselves a gooseberry tart using this recipe:
“Tartes of Gooseberries.
Lay your gooseberries in your crust, and put to them cinnamon and ginger, sugar and a few small raisins put among them and cover them with a cover.”
A Booke of Cookery with the Serving of the Table; A.W.; 1591; page 28
The result was this…
and a closer look…
We will all sorely miss the gooseberries once they are gone for the season, like all good things in life, like eggnog, but just like that eggnog the gooseberries will be back. And we will all be waiting…. with recipes.
Tags: 17th century, berry, blueberry, butter, cinnamon, eggnog, flour, geese, gerard, goose, gooseberry, herbal, pie, pilgrim, plimoth, plymouth, recipe, ripe, spice, spring, sugar, summer, tart
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“When there is a great store of them[bass], we eat only their heads and salt up the bodies for winter, which exceeds ling or haberdine.”
William Wood, New Englands Prospect. 1634.Vaughn ed. p. 55
“When [bass] are so large, the head of one will give a good eater a dinner, and for daintiness of diet they excel the marybones of beef.
Thomas Morton, New English Canaan. 1637.Dempsey ed. p. 84.
The reason there are so many roly-poly fish heads in New England is because salt fish are just the bodies. After you catch it, and scale it and garbage it, you cut the head off. Not all bits of the fish salt up well. That leaves you lots of heads to eat right away. And there’s plenty of good eating in the head of a fish. The cheeks and the jowls are well esteemed, and then and still in fishing communities.
And a little note on our two authors – Thomas Morton mentions a certain Wooden Prospect several time with not a little disdain in his New Englands Canaan…whatever could he be referring to?
To Fry a Codshead
First cleve it in pieces and washe it cleane and fry it in Butter or Oyle. Then cut onions in rundels and so fry them, that doon put them in a vessel, and put to them red wine or vingre, salt, ginger, sinamon, cloves & mace, and boile all these well together, and then serve it upon your cods head.”
A.W. A Booke of Cookrye . 1591.London. p. 12.
To Fry a Fish head
Remove the gills and rinse off your fish heads, which can be cod, bass, halibut, or salmon. Seventeenth century New England cod and bass were running between 20 and 50 pounds, which is somewhat larger that what’s generally caught now. Emmanuel Altham in 1623 caught a cod of 100 pounds. Seriously larger then what’s caught now.
This recipe has you cut the head into pieces and fry that in butter or oil. Pretty simple, but if you rather not have have the fish give you the fish eye at the table, you can boil it, and then fry the meat you’ve picked off to make a fricassee.
To make the sauce: Mix together red wine or red wine vinegar (I’d add a little water to the vinegar) with spices and oil them together. This gives the spices to mix and meld. The smell is fantastic, and would remind our English housewife of hypocryse, a spiced wine beverage. When the sauce has somewhat mellowed, and the sharp edges have boiled off the wine and the spice, pour it over the fish. Sops of bread to catch up all the sauce would not be the least bit amiss.
Eat them up, YUM.
Tags: 17th century recipe, bass, butter, cinnamon, cleve, cod, Emmanuel Altham, fish, fish heads, ginger, hypocryse, oil, recipe, rundels, salt, sauce, sop, Thomas Morton, vinegar, William Wood, wine, Wooden Prospect
Posted in Fish and Fishing, Uncategorized | No Comments
Have you ever gone into an Italian bakery for those delicious icing and sprinkle covered cookies; also known as italian anisette cookies? I sure have, but I bet you didn’t know that the recipe for these famous treats is in multiple English cookbooks written throughout the 17th century.
Gervase Markham, Robert May, and the unknown author of Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery all have versions of this recipe. If you’re up for a challenge and maybe a few taste testings, you can translate these authors recipes into sometimes familiar dishes. It’s ok don’t panic I have already translated this recipe from Robert May’s, The Accomplisht Cook, into a modern one:
To Make Jambals
Take a pint of fine wheat flour, the yolks of three or four new
laid eggs, three or four spoonfuls of sweet cream, a few anniseeds,
and some cold butter, make it into paste, and roul it into long
rouls, as big as a little arrow, make them into divers knots, then boil
them in fair water like simnels; bake them, and being baked,
box them and keep them in a stove. Thus you may use them, and
keep them all the year.
So they may not have icing and sprinkles quite yet, but they’re getting there! Now here’s my version for you to make your own authentic English jumbles.
3 cups flour (white or wheat)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 teaspoons ground or whole aniseed
Blend all ingredients except for the aniseed into a paste. The mixture should be slightly sticky, but if too moist add a bit more flour, or if too dry add another egg, or a splash of milk.Grind up the whole aniseed with a mortar and pestle if you have it or just add your ground aniseed directly to the paste. Mix the paste throughly so aniseed is evenly distributed.
Wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit over night in the refrigerator for best results.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Now flour or oil your hands so the dough will not stick, and take small pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of a walnut.
Now roll them into log forms until they are slightly thicker than a pencil. Knot the forms as you wish.
Bake them at 350F for 12-17 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly browned. This recipe makes about 7 dozen depending on the size of your cookies.
Sorry we’ve been away for a while, things have been very busy in the foodways kitchen as of late, but I guess now that Downton Abbey and Mad Men are on sabbatical, I have some extra time.
I miss them so much already……
It seems that everyone who comes to Plimoth Plantation is very concerned about what the pilgrims actually ate, and once they hear things like corn, pork ribs, turkey, hen, pies, puddings etc. etc. they seem to be relieved….. That is unless you use the word flesh to refer to animal meat, as you do as a role player, then some poor souls think you eat people, and very hurriedly scurry out of the village, (the pilgrims did not eat people that happened in Jamestown).
Now that it’s summer they main flesh of the pilgrims would have been fish, and this year we have received numerous donations to the colonial foodways department of………
These things are the greatest, kids love them, they are a great second role-player in your house. Everyone is baffled by them, even though lots of people still eat them today, our chicken finger and french fry crowd are usually horrified. Which means they will so remember this moment and all you teach them in it, which is what and why we’re here.
And now I leave you with a little song….