Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Things I learned while looking up other things . . .

Just a hodge-podge of things I've learned (and will probably forget) while I was researching other things . . .

These fun facts came from my research on 18th century American cooking:

In Colonial American, battalia pie was a pie made of various tidbits such as cockscombs (and they didn't mean the plant), sweetbreads, livers and gizzards. The early American housewife didn't waste anything.

Surprisingly, two hundred years ago, a man who made and repaired shoes was known as a cat whipper. (This wasn't part of my cooking research - I just thought it was interesting.) Another term for the shoemaker was "cordwainer."

An ell rule was a measuring device generally used to measure cloth, and was approximately 45 inches long. (Same for this one - not really a cooking term, but happened to come up while I was looking something else up!)

The term "faggot" was used to describe a bunch, or a bundle, as in a "faggot of herbs."

A small glazed earthen pot was sometimes referred to as a gallipot.

The old English measure known as the gill is one-fourth pint in US measure.

Isinglass was actually used long ago in making jellies, and was a very pure form of gelatin made from the air bladders of sturgeons or other fish.

A sippet was a small piece of toast or dried bread, often cut into triangles, and was usually served in soup or broth, though sometimes served with a meat dish and used to dip in the gravy.

A tammy was a cloth made from wool, or a wool and cotton combination, and used as a strainer or sieve.

Tench, thornback, scate, roach, plaice, gudgeons, and charr were all types of fish eaten by the Colonists.

To bray an item meant to beat it into a smaller dimension, to bruise, pound or crush into a powder, usually in a mortar - as in "Bray the hard part in a mortar."

The Colonists used boiling as their most common way of cooking, but also used other methods - not as often - such as roasting, baking and frying.

Shoes were not mated as right and left; instead, they looked exactly alike and had to be switched daily to keep the wear even.

"Chandlers" were candlemakers, some of whom traveled and carried their own big candle molds which could make six dozen candles at a time.

Cookbooks weren't printed in America until the mid-1700s. Most of the American population was rural, and most couldn't read or write. There was little need for cookbooks and few were printed. Those which existed during the earliest Colonial days were often handed down in families and originated in England.

Recipes were called "receipts", and some titles of 19th century cookbooks actually include the word "receipts".

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