Mrs Crocombe Receives a “Taste of America” Food Parcel – The Victorian Way & Townsends Collaboration


I’ve just been handed this by the Oddman. I think it’s a parcel from Mr Townsend. I
sent him a parcel a little while ago on behalf of Lady Braybrooke and I put in it things
that I believe are typically British foods. I am excited to see what he has sent me. August, 1881, Indiana, United States of America. Dear Mrs Crocombe, it was with great excitement
and joy that we received your parcel in the Spring. Please convey our humblest thanks
to Lady Braybrooke. The interesting delicacies were so thoughtful
and much loved. Miss Ivy was especially fond of the plum cake and has added the recipe
to her collection. Autumn is quickly approaching. You can feel
it in the chill of the morning, hear it with the sound of the cicadas, and smell it with
the turning of the leaves. The coming coolness is greatly wished for,
as there are several hard jobs to be finished that the summer heat makes most difficult. Of prime importance is a log cabin that must
be finished before the snow comes. As the days turn cooler so the ovens at welcome
warmth to the house and there are special favourite recipes that come to mind. While considering the appropriate dish to
send back to Audley End House I considered a recipe that would reflect both old world
and the new. An Indian Pudding. Puddings are such a traditional
faire in England, yet the ingredients to make this Indian Pudding originate in these United
States. Namely maize, maple syrup and blueberries. I hope it does not seem impertinent to send
a maize recipe – being of common faire in the United States I hoped you might be amused
by the novelty of a maize pudding as I understand the English consider maize to be a food more
suited to animals. But we of the Americas consume it with regularity with no ill effects. Being mindful of the long transit and the
nature of a pudding, I have packaged the ingredients along with the recipe and trusting to your
capable hands to fashion a pudding in your kitchen. I have not the least doubt of your interest
that the recipe comes from one of the earliest truly American cookbooks – ‘American Cookery’
by Amelia Simmons. I look forward to hearing how the recipe is
received. Your most humble servant Jon Townsend. A quart of milk – hmm, that’s two pints, and
I must remember that’s American pints which are a little smaller than ours. 1 1/3 cups cornmeal – oh that’s the bit that’s
from maize. Now I do use that but as cornflour to thicken things. 4 eggs – hmm, we often have quite large eggs
so I might try it with three. 6 ounces of dried blueberries – hmm, now I
think they look like our bilberries, or where I come from in Devon we call them whortleberries. 3 ounces of butter – well that surely must
be the same the world over. Spice – hmm, I wonder if he mentions which
ones. Sugar – I should imagine that’s to taste.
And I’m used to judging how much sugar to put in suitable for my employers taste. Method – gently heat the milk and add the
cornmeal while stirring continuously. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Let stand until cool enough to add the eggs
and butter. Add spices to taste. I recommend a bit of ginger and cinnamon – and
don;t forget the nutmeg. Add sugar to taste. Add blueberries. Pour into a well greased bowl or mould. Bake in a middling quick oven for about an
hour. Serve warm or cold with a pudding sauce or maple syrup. Now that the pudding is cold, I can take it
out of it’s mould. Hmm – it doesn’t look quite as good as I’d
like. I think perhaps I boiled the cornmeal for too long. Next time when I make it won’t
boil it for quite so long. It certainly does’t look good enough to go up to Lord Braybrooke’s
table. But then I would never send anything up to
his table without trying it first. Mmmm! Oh it’s very good. As the upper servants always have leftovers
for supper I think I might serve this, this evening. I must remember to send a thank you letter
to Mr Townsend.

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