Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jack Aubrey Saves the Day, Again

More than a year ago, I wrote about the mysteries of 1815 food in this post. I was, however, an idiot, and I stand corrected, for there is actually a wonderful book from 1997 with descriptions, recipes and a dash of brio much beyond anything I can ever hope to achieve. And it was written by people who are practically my neighbors: a mother-and-daughter team out on Long Island.

What is this wonderful book, you might ask? It is Lobscouse and Spotted Dog (Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels). It answers many of the questions I have long had -- what is Soused Hog's Face exactly? (Exactly what you feared. And I now know how to make it, not that I ever will.) What is toasted cheese? And some I never thought to ask, such as how one might cook a rat, and what the result would taste like (surprisingly delicious, the authors contend).

These are the foods that Jack and Stephen ate. We do not recommend them to the unimaginative or faint of heart: some of them call for exotic, revolting, or fearfully expensive ingredients; many take upwards of a week to make; most of them cheerfully violate all the nutritional tenets of the health-conscious '90s. They are all, however, practical and authentic recipes, tested to our satisfaction (and to the detriment of our waistlines) in our own kitchens.

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