Tuesday, July 7, 2009

America and England: and may they never have any division but the Atlantic between them. - Dickens

In a slightly belated tribute to our American cousins and their Independence Day celebrations, I thought we could look at what Mrs Beeton has to say about Americans and their cookery.


Now that we receive American provisions in such good condition, it is as well we should know something about American cookery. We give, therefore, some recipes for the cooking of those provisions with which we are already familiar, together with some for purely American dishes that as yet we have not had an opportunity of trying here, feeling sure that ere long means will be found to bring the required ingredients within our reach.

Amongst the plentiful supply of fresh provisions in America, fish takes a prominent place, and forms a larger diet than here. The immense extent of the American coasts, Atlantic and Pacific, supplemented by the large lakes and rivers, yield an ample supply of not only those fish familiar to us, but many others as yet unknown, amongst which are those named for their colour, such as the blue and white fish, and the celebrated clam, while oysters are extremely plentiful and far too cheap to be considered a luxury. Game (although not preserved as here), poultry vegetables and fruit are all found in abundance in America.

One lesson we might learn from the Americans, and that is to make a greater variety in our bread and breakfast and tea-cakes. There is a terrible sameness in this branch of bakery in England, and we seldom rise above white or brown bread, tea-cakes, muffins or hot rolls; while at American breakfast-tables breads of various flours (often blended), dainty biscuits, crackers, and many other nice substitutes for these will be found to vary the monotony of these necessary adjuncts of the meals.

American drinks, candies, and ice creams we scarcely need speak of here, for they have come to us and been appreciated by most English people.
We ought to be grateful to Americans for having introduced us to the fluid beef, and other preparations of meat that form such good substitutes for alcoholic drinks in the cold weather, putting strength as well as life into our bodies when at all overcome by cold or fatigue. The iced drinks for summer we think are less valuable , for, though very refreshing for the time, they have, when partaken of very freely, an injurious effect.

So there you have it, Yay for American fish, breads and hot meat drinks - boo for cocktails.

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