Prunes are very sexy. William Shakespeare says so. More then once, so it must be true.
“THE USE OF PLUMS”
“The great Damaske or Damson Plummes are dryed in France in great quantities, and are brought to us here [London] in Hogs-heads, and other great vessels, and are those Prunes that are usually sold at the Grocers, under the name of Damaske Prunes: the blacke Bulleis are also these (being dryed in the same manner) that they call French Prunes, and by their tartnesse are thought to binde, as the other, being sweet, to loosen the body.”
John Parkinson, Paridisum in Sole, 1629, p.573.
”There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”says Falstaff in Henry IV, First Part, act 3, sc 3, l 12-3. Is he talking about fruit, the fruit that is (reputed) to be often served in brothels and there associated with ill-repute? Or is stewed another way to say inebriated? Or is the analogy merely to a lumped thing?
A Pruen Tart
Take of the fairest damaske pruens you can get, and put them in a cleane pipkin with faire water, suger, vnbruised cinamon, and a branch or two of Rosemarie; and if you have bread to bake, stew them in the ouen with your bread; if otherwise, stew them on the fire: when they are stewed, then bruise them all to mash in their sirrop, and straine them into a cleane dish; then boyle it ouer againe with suger, sinamon, and rosewater till it bee as thicke as Marmalad; then set it to coole, then make a reasonable tuffe paste with fine flower, water, and a little butter, and rowle it out very thin; then having patterns of paper cut in diuers proportions, as Beasts, Birds, Armes, Knots, Flowers, and such like; lay the patterns on the paste, and so cut them accordingly; then with your fingers pinch vp the edges of the paste, and set the worke in good proportion: then prick it well all ouer for rising, and set it on a cleane sheete of large paper, and so set it into the Oven, and bake it hard: then draw it, and set it by to coole: …..then against the time of services comes, take off the cofection of pruens before rehearsed, and with your knife, or a spoone fill the coffin according to the thickness of the verge: then strow it ouer all with caraway comfets, and pricke long comfets vpright in it, and so taking the paper from the bottome, serve it on a plate in a dish or charger, according to the bignesse of the tarte, and at the seconde course, and this carrieth the colour blacke. .
- 1623. Gervase Markham. Covntry Contentments or The English Huswife. p. 108