A month ago I wrote about a new cookery book I had found on Google Books 'The London Art of Cookery' by John Farley published in a Twelfth Edition in 1811.
On the other hand, the owner of a small ship likely had intimate acquaintance with the sustenance he and his crew would need for their journey, however long. He probably chose the supplies and if his wife could suggest methods of preparation to keep the food edible, it was all to the good.
The article begins "As pickled mushrooms are very handy for captains of ships to take with them to sea, we shall here give directions for that particular purpose." Two methods of preservation are included:
Drying the mushrooms is less labour-intensive but more time consuming. They are washed then put in a cool oven until completely dry (no time estimate is given). Then, 'put them into a clean stone jar, tie them down tight, and keep them in a dry place. They will keep a great while, and eat and look as well as truffles.'
A section entitled 'Ketchup to keep twenty years' intrigued me. The receipt begins with a gallon of strong stale beer: 'The stronger and staler the beer, the better will be the ketchup.' To the beer you add anchovies, shalots, mace, cloves, pepper, ginger and mushroom pieces. These ingredients are simmered, strained, cooled and finally bottled. "This may be carried to any part of the world; and a spoonful of it to a pound of fresh butter melted with make a fine fish sauce, or will supply the place of gravy sauce." One question occurs--how often do you obtain fresh butter at sea?
"Dripping will be very useful at sea, to fry fish or meat, and for this purpose it must be...potted." 'Good beef dripping' was spiced and sieved, let stand til cold, and covered. "The best way to keep any sort of dripping, is to turn the pot upside down, and then no rats can get at it." Oh, dear...
Fish were often steeped in milk and water, as much as twelve hours, though whiting, herrings and salmon took less time. Herrings were steeping in small beer rather than milk and water. After steeping, broiling while basting with sweet oil, was the preferred cooking method. "A clear charcoal fire is much the best, and the fish kept at a good distance, to broil gradually." Larger fish were usually simmered in milk and water. 'Some people broil both sorts after simmering, and some pick them to pieces and then toss them up in a pan with fried onions and apples. They are either way very good, and the choice depends on the weak or strong stomach of the eaters.'
I think a strong stomach was required indeed for Regency food at sea. But all of the above sounds better than the weevil-infested biscuits common in tales of the British Navy.
She's never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers' Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. Her new release, Duchess of Sin, under her Laurel McKee name, will be released by Grand Central Publishing in December. Please visit Laurel at http://ammandamccabe.com/mckee/index.htm
'Til next time,