Friends, I am in the throes--the throes, I tell you--of a serious Patrick O'Brian infatuation. The last month or so I have been doing nothing but reading, sleeping, thinking and dreaming Aubrey/Maturin. And now, thanks to the book "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog" I will soon be eating and drinking it as well. I am so obsessed with these books I've even picked up steward Killick's habit of inserting the word "which" at the beginning of sentences. One of my favourite things about these books are the loving descriptions of the food. But there are no receipts, a glaring omission that "Lobscouse" rectifies.
I checked the book out from the library today just to get a flavor of it (flavor, you twig? har!)--far easier to follow than my Wmsbrg Cookery, with its oven settings and measurements in modern cups and tablespoons--but with a lot of the original nineteenth century sources cited. Wistful thinking about cooking on a spit over an open hearth became wistful no more when I looked up and saw our brick fireplace--with a lovely large hearth just begging to be roasted upon. And I can think of no better delicacy to bring home to this year's Christmas feast than a Christmas pudding...although if I was to do it absolutely correctly, I should start it now and let it hang unmolested in the corner for the next three months. And then light it on fire. Wheee.
I don't know why all of a sudden I'm so obsessed with historical cooking (why I'm obsessed with Aubrey/Maturin is perfectly obvious) except I think it's something to do with the hearty, historical way receipts are put together. Lard, flour, eggs, suet, all combining to create something glorious. The tastes aren't as rich or as subtle, but they're easier to appreciate. You put rosewater in custard and by God, it tastes as rosy as a spring morning. I'm looking forward to mastering pudding...not only because as an Anglophile it's a duty, but because apparently it's Patrick O'Brian's favourite dessert.