The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #12: If They'd Had It -- Mushroom Ketchup.

ingredients for Mushroom Ketchup.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
The Challenge: #12 -- If They’d Had It -- November 2 - November 15 "Have you ever looked through a cookbook from another era and been surprised at the modern dishes you find? Have you ever been surprised at just how much they differ from their modern counterparts? Recreate a dish which is still around today, even if it may look a little - or a lot - different!" 

Not exactly a dish, but ketchup is a common condiment on American tables.  Tomato ketchup is what we know today, but tomatoes only entered the recipe in the mid 19th century.  Earlier ketchups were made from fruits, walnuts, mushrooms, oysters, or anchovies, and were said to have been inspired by a salty, savory, spicy condiment that some 18th century English sea captain or government official tasted in the Far East.  The first recipe for ketchup was published in E. Smith's The Compleat Housewife in 1727 in London, and again in 1767 in North America. Originally more like Asian fish sauce, "ketchup" or "catsup" recipes in Europe used European ingredients, and used the Anglicized version of the original Asian name.  The idea, however, is even older.  In Apicus' recipes from ancient Rome, there is one for "Tree Mushrooms", which calls for boiling them and serving them with liquamen – a sour fish sauce – and pepper. 

Several of my food history acquaintances online have made mushroom ketchup in the past year or so, and I've been wondering about it, too.  I've seen recipes for walnut ketchup, grape ketchup, and anchovy ketchup, but since I'm allergic to walnuts, I don't care for anchovies, I didn't have any grapes, and I love the fresh mushrooms from one of the vendors at my local farmer's market, I decided to make some mushroom ketchup.  Most 18th and 19th century recipe books include at least one recipe for one of the kinds of ketchup, and according to James Townsend & Sons' cooking videos, mushroom ketchup was so common that it may have been what people meant when they wrote about serving certain foods with "sauce." 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

image from Hubpages.
The baking marathon is complete.  There will be 27 people at dinner today.  Hope your holiday is full of fun and family and you remember all that you have to be thankful for! 
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)