Archive for the long eighteenth century Category

Quince Poached in Rum

Posted in long eighteenth century with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by hoveringdog


So, I poached a quince in rum with a little vanilla and all-spice. This was my first experience with quince (I’ve since incorporated them in a very expensive and tasty, but not very photogenic cobbler), and I went with something simple. The fruit themselves are interesting: far too astringent to eat raw, the uncooked fruit nonetheless gives off this tremendous aroma that can fill an enclosed space in little time at all, a scent somewhere between pineapple and pear. I’m tempted to buy another just to keep around for the aroma.

Anyway, after a bit of searching in the library, I didn’t really find much of interest on quince itself. The fruit seems to have once been more popular than it is today, now relegated to the exotic fruit section (even though the quince I bought was grown here in California). But otherwise, there wasn’t a lot I could find about the fruit’s history. So a bit about the other main ingredient here, which I had already known had a fascinating and turbulent history: rum.


Turns out English varieties of yeast didn’t do all that well in the colonies, and it wasn’t until hardier German varieties were introduced in America that the states began brewing in earnest. In the meantime, colonists still needed to get their drink on, and the demon rum, produced by fermenting the molasses imported in large quantities from the West Indies, quenched the colonists’ need to get crapulous. Apparently by 1700, the per capita consumption of rum among American colonists came out to around four gallons per year. Such was the demand for rum that British duties and taxes on molasses helped fuel the colonial unrest that eventually led to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The war wasn’t just about freedom; it was about the freedom to get shitfaced on a budget.

Now I doubt many of the colonists wasted good rum poaching fruit, but it didn’t turn out too shabby. I used maybe a half cup of rum, a splash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of all-spice to start, popped it in the oven, and added water as necessary to keep it from drying out. Toward the end, I sprinkled on some demerara sugar, let it sit under the broiler for a minute or two until the sugar began to brown and caramelize. Not too bad…


Cinnamon and Sugar Parsnips

Posted in long eighteenth century with tags , , , , on June 3, 2008 by hoveringdog

As fascinating as the image may be of portly, bewigged dudes sitting around coffee shops being witty, I confess that as an English major I never found the literature of the “long eighteenth century” particularly interesting. But it did, admittedly, produce some of the most colorful characters of British history: A contemporary and frequent correspondent with Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn was a noted bibliophile, diarist, and gardener, and became in his elder years one of the first in early modern Europe to advocate for a diet of “wholsome Vegatables.” His book Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets, both a compendium of horticultural lore and manual for vegetarian cookery, was written in part as a corrective to the current and unhealthful vogue for red meat (and, not unlikely, for the associated problem of the aforementioned portliness among the gentlemanly class).


I followed here Evelyn’s description of the preparation of parsnips, substituting a non-hydrogenated vegan-friendly margarine for butter, and dusting the finished product with a two-to-one mixture of sugar and cinnamon: “Take the large Roots, boil them, and strip the Skin: Then slit them long-ways into pretty thin Slices; Flower and fry them in fresh Butter till they look brown. The sauce is other sweet Butter melted. Some strow Sugar and Cinamon upon them. Thus you may accomodate other Roots.”