To make a Pye of Humbles.
Take your humbles being perboiled, and choppe them verye small with a good quantitye of Mutton sewet, and halfe a handfull of hearbes folowing, time, margarom, borage, perseley, and a little rosemary, and season the same being choped, with pepper, cloves and mace, and so close your pye and bake him.
-Thomas Dawson . The good huswifes Iewell. p. 14
Perboiled is throughly boiled – it comes from a different root word then par, which is partial; sewet is suet – although why mutton and not some other….; thyme, marjoram, borage, parsley, and rosemary are the herbs; close your pie means you’ve made a bottom crust and now you’re putting on the lid.
The National Gallery of Art is home to great collections. Humble pie is essentially a sort of mince pie.
But what exactly ARE humbles? This next recipe is a little more explicit.
TO MAKE AN HUMBLE PIE
Take ye humbles of a deere, or a calves heart, or pluck, or sheeps heart; perboyle it, & when it is colde, shred it small with beefe suet, & season it with cloves, mace nutmeg, & ginger beaten small; & mingle with it currans, verges & salt; put all into ye pie & set it in the oven an houre; then take it out, cut it up & put in some claret wine, melted butter & sugar beat together. then cover it a little & serve it.
-Hess, Karen, ed. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Columbia University Press: New York. 1981. p. 93, # C64.
Humbles are a collective of the inward bits, sometimes called numbles or umbles. Pluck is also organ meat. There are several painting that have lungs and heart hanging together, so I’ve always thought of them as more pluck-ish then other combinations, but I realize that might just be my emotional read on the situation, not a documented historical one.
And as for the phrase “to eat humble pie” meaning to be apologetic coming from some sense that the peasants had be eating humbles because they were in humble circumstances….totally confusing the numble of the inward parts with humility….here’s Queen Elizabeth I retrieving some humbles for a little pie of her own. Nothing peasant or humble here.