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food history book - Boiled Meats Part 4: Fish (Volume 61)

Boiled Meats Part 4: Fish (Volume 61)

Stuart Peachey
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Historical rabbit holes, for those who are inclined.

These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.

The Food and Cookery in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England series presents a systematic survey of existing records of ingredients and equipment employed in the period. In addition to concise explanations of how such items might have been used and how they might have been significantly different from what is implied by current terminology, they include citations from various period and later records to demonstrate the geographic and class distribution of everything from kitchen implements to social gatherings.

From the introduction: "Boiled fish particularly salted and dried marine fish was a major part of the English diet especially during lent for the vast majority of the population.  Despite this the elite cookery book recipes are almost entirely for fresh fish.  Apart from the fresh/preserved and freshwater/marine fish divides there is another split in the recipes between those producing a boiled dish to be eaten hot and those where the boiled fish is then marinated in a souse usually containing salt and vinegar for up to 2 or 3 days before being served cold."

Staplebound pamphlet. 52 pages. Sketches and black-and-white photographs.

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