Even though the combination of eggs and sugar along with butter and flour forms the cornerstone of baking, the idea of poaching eggs in sweet wine, or adding sugar to your scrambled eggs, might seem heretical to many. But this is exactly how egg dishes were often prepared in the upper-class households of early modern England. In a time when sugar was still a luxury commodity, enmeshed in colonial trade networks, and purchased at the cost of countless human lives, its inclusion in practically every dish became a marker of wealth and status among elite households across Europe. The two recipes presented here will strike many modern readers as unusual.
Posts Tagged: recipes
While the global population of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) is stable, their numbers have been rapidly declining in the UK for decades, especially in rural areas. This has led to a huge upswell of conservation efforts as people try to protect the UK’s only spiny mammal, and one of these efforts is centered in Shakespeare’s… Continue Reading »
Shakespeare’s plays are full of references to food and cookery, but they’re not always very appetizing. In Hamlet, the ghost of elder Hamlet describes the effect of the poison that Claudius pours into his ears, how it winds its way through the veins of his body and suddenly “doth posset / And curd, like eager… Continue Reading »
A plate of beautifully baked cookies is a wonderful thing. It is a welcoming gesture for guests, it signifies a holiday or a special meal, and it is a demonstration of a baker’s skill at making something pleasing to the eye and the palate. In Shakespeare’s England, bakers in elite households prepared sugar sculptures, confectionary,… Continue Reading »
Today, turkey and stuffing are central fare on the holiday table. But turkeys weren’t even known in England until the 1520s, when they were introduced by explorers returning from the Americas. Turkey was immediately popular in England; within a hundred years, turkeys had become a common Christmas food. The story with stuffing is less clear…. Continue Reading »
Food is intimately connected to climate and season. It was for Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and it is for us today. Beautiful, local produce is once again available in the northeast now that spring is turning into early summer. In Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost, Berowne insists that all things have their season: “At Christmas I… Continue Reading »
Food historian and The Great British Baking Show winner Mary-Anne Boermans writes about piecing together 17th-century manuscript recipes for Taffety Tarts.
See a 17th-century recipe for seed cake inspired by the farmer poet Thomas Tusser. Ingredients include rosewater, caraway seeds, and sherry.
Hannah Woolley’s 17-century recipe for marmalade captures the flavors of exotic citrus with the preservative power of sugar, which had only recently been made widely available to upper- and middle-class British people.
Learn more about black-eyed peas’ place in the early modern world and enjoy this akara recipe inspired by Hercules, a chef enslaved by George Washington.