Sometimes I find reading for my degree a complete chore. Sometimes it’s a joy. I discovered a wonderful piece by Walter Benjamin on food I’d like to write about when I have the time. Today, the fat Welsh librarian kept walking past looking stern at my gasps of laughter reading Edward Lear. I thought I’d post this. It brightened my day.
Extract from the Nonsense Gazette, for August, 1870.
Our readers will be interested in the following communications from our valued and learned contributor, Professor Bosh, whose labours in the fields of Culinary and Botanical science, are so well known to all the world. The first three Articles richly merit to be added to the Domestic cookery of every family; those which follow, claim the attention of all Botanists, and we are happy to be able through Dr. Bosh’s kindness to present our readers with illustrations of his discoveries. All the new flowers are found in the valley of Verrikwier, near the lake of Oddgrow, and on the summit of the hill Orfeltugg.’
THREE RECEIPTS FOR DOMESTIC COOKERY
TO MAKE AN AMBLONGUS PIE
Take 4 pounds (say 4 1/2 pounds) of fresh Amblongusses, and put them in a small pipkin. Cover them with water and boil them for 8 hours incessantly, after which add 2 pints of new milk, and proceed to boil for 4 hours more. When you have ascertained that the Amblongusses are quite soft, take them out and place them in a wide pan, taking care to shake them well previously. Grate some nutmeg over the surface, and cover them carefully with powdered gingerbread, curry-powder, and a sufficient quantity of Cayenne pepper. Remove the pan into the next room, and place it on the floor. Bring it back again, and let it simmer for three-quarters of an hour. Shake the pan violently till all the Amblongusses have become a pale purple colour. Then, having prepared a paste, insert the whole carefully, adding at the same time a small pigeon, 2 slices of beef, 4 cauliflowers, and any number of oysters. Watch patiently till the crust begins to rise, and add a pinch of salt from time to time. Serve up in a clean dish, and throw the whole out of the window as fast as possible.
TO MAKE CRUMBOBBLIOUS CUTLETS
Procure some strips of beef, and having cut them into the smallest possible slices, proceed to cut them still smaller, eight or perhaps nine times.When the whole is thus minced, brush it up hastily with a new clothes-brush, and stir round rapidly and capriciously with a salt-spoon or a soup ladel. Place the whole in a saucepan, and remove it to a sunny place, — say the roof of the house if free from sparrows or other birds, — and leave it there for about a week. At the end of that time add a little lavender, some oil of almonds, and a few herring-bones; and cover the whole with 4 gallons of clarified crumbobblious sauce, when it will be ready for use. Cut it into the shape of ordinary cutlets, and serve it up in a clean tablecloth or dinner-napkin.
TO MAKE GOSKY PATTIES
Take a pig, three or four years of age, and tie him by the off-hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 5 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and six bushels of turnips, within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more. Then, procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quinces of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen. When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the Pig violently, with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again. Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain that if at the end of that period the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties. If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the Pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.
p123-5 in The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, ed Holbrook Jackson (London: Faber, 1993)