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Last week I told you about the evolution of pleasurable eating.
It’s a surprise to many just how well presented were the tables of the affluent. The amounts consumed at these sittings rivalled only our modern-day all-you-can-eat deals for a set price where those bereft of any sense of shame.
However, at the end of the seventeenth century the main meal, being dinner, was moved from its established noontime to the evening hours. 
The growing use of tea, coffee and chocolate gave the upper classes a new form of social entertainment. 
Snobs and social climbers sipped the new hot drinks and indulged in malicious gossip about their friends.
Coffee quickly became the perfect morning drink for layabouts who learned the habit of kick-starting themselves around 10 am with a savage caffeine belt and another cigarette. The poor working man started his day by 6 am with a tankard of ale and some bread if he was lucky, and an egg or two if he was luckier still.
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This was an era when taverns came to vogue. A tavern dinner with ale, sherry and cider could include a first course of anchovies, gherkins, neat's (calve's) tongue and scallops or another fish.The main dishes might have been various pies, a mutton roast or chops, pigeons and ham with fruit pies or pudding for dessert. Quite a spread for a comfortable young swain, me thinks.
During the eighteenth century the increase of French food on English menus sent the same shock waves as did tea when it bumped ale as the staple beverage.
Count Rumford invented the cook stove which made the heavy chores of cooking light enough that women became interested. 
rumford fireplaces
The Rumford fireplace is a tall, shallow fireplace designed by Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, an Anglo-American physicist best known for his investigations of heat. Its shallow, angled sides are designed to reflect heat into the room, and its streamlined throat minimises turbulence, thereby carrying away smoke with little loss of heated room air.
One of them was a best-seller for nearly one hundred years. Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book and Household Guide, 1861.

Mrs. Beeton, whose full name was Isabella Mary Beeton, was a Victorian-era British writer best known for her work "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management." Born on March 14, 1836, in London, she was the eldest of 21 siblings. Her book, first published in 1861, became immensely popular and has since remained an iconic guide to household management and domestic cookery.

"Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management" was groundbreaking in its scope, covering various aspects of running a household efficiently, including cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and entertaining guests. It provided practical advice on a wide range of topics relevant to middle-class Victorian households, from recipes and menu planning to household budgeting and etiquette.

One of the key features of the book was its extensive collection of recipes, which covered everything from basic everyday meals to elaborate dishes suitable for entertaining guests. Mrs. Beeton's recipes were meticulously detailed, with clear instructions and helpful tips for inexperienced cooks.

Aside from her contributions to household management literature, Mrs. Beeton also wrote articles and columns for various magazines and newspapers. She was a prominent figure in Victorian society and contributed to the popularization of domestic science and culinary education for women.

Tragically, Mrs. Beeton's life was cut short when she died at the young age of 28, just a few years after the publication of her famous book. However, her legacy endured, and "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management" remains a classic reference work that continues to be reprinted and consulted by readers interested in culinary history and Victorian domestic life. { I have a copy of Mrs Beeton's Book - 1874. Monty. }

The Napoleonic wars in the nineteenth century made chicken and fresh meat a luxury for the English commoner. Even so, perhaps the greatest culinary achievement of that period was the English breakfast.
Hearty  servings of porridge, bacon and eggs,  lamb chops, kippers, toast and marmalade and cheese have remained standard fare to this day. It sure beats those poofy continental breakfasts of a coffee and a piece of over ripe fruit.
 english breakfast pan fried eggs sausages shutterstock 558715117 
The latter part of the twentieth century witnessed a mixing of many ethnic foods through vast immigration practices. To Australians, squid, once only used as bait became haute cuisine as calamari.
So-called wog food flourished into pricey restaurant specialties as Aussies learned there was more to gastronomy than meat pies, sausages and steak and eggs.
Today, what was an insipid pommy instilled cuisine has blossomed into a remarkably delicious variety of lip-smacking fare.
Our abundance and variety of fresh produce, seafoods and meats are unrivalled. People now take more interest in cooking and that combined with so many ethnic traditions the Australian cuisine has and still is evolving into a gastronomic trademark which is applauded by international gourmets and food writers of note.
It may seem ironic that a tradition of over-cooked, grey roast beef has passed and Australian chefs are now the flavour of the month in the best of North American and European temples of gastronomy.
Try this simple to prepare Thai curried rice. While it’s not truly authentic only the experts will know.
Thai Curried Rice 
serves 4-6
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbs. fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1 tbs curry powder
a pinch chili flakes
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup peeled and diced broccoli stalks
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
In a medium pot simmer coconut milk and onion 10 mins.  Add fish sauce,  chili and curry, stir. Add rice and broccoli, stir well, cover and cook on low heat 5 mins. Garnish with peanuts. 
[ In celebration of St Patricks Day, I have included a recipe for Irish Colcannon, (creamy mashed potatoes with cabbage and sometimes topped off with bacon ) can make a tasty and comforting dish. Monty ] 
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Traditional Irish colcannon recipe


        • 4 lbs (1.8kg) potatoes, or about 7-8 large potatoes (‘old’ potatoes or russet potatoes are best, waxy potatoes won’t do)
        • 1 head of green cabbage
        • 1 cup ( 7 fl oz, 240 ml) milk (or cream)
        • 4oz, 120g butter, divided into three parts
        • 4-5 scallions (green onions), chopped*
        • Salt and pepper
        • Fresh Parsley or chives 
      • Peel and put them in a pot to boil.

        While the potatoes are cooking, remove the core from the cabbage, slice the leaves thinly, and put into a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water from the kettle and keep at a slow rolling boil until the cabbage is just wilted and has turned a darker green. This can take anything from 3-5 minutes, depending on the cabbage. Test it and don’t let it overcook - if anything it should be slightly undercooked.

        When the cabbage is cooked, drain it well, squeeze to get any excess moisture out, then return to the saucepan. Add one-third of the butter and cover. Leave it covered and in a warm place, but not on a burner, with the butter melting gently into it while you continue.

        When the potatoes are soft, drain the water and return the potatoes to the saucepan. With the drained potatoes in, set the burner to low, leaving the lid off so that any excess moisture can evaporate. When they are perfectly dry, add the milk to the saucepan, along with a third of the butter and the chopped scallions (if you are using them). Allow the milk to warm but not boil – it is about right when the butter has fully melted and the pot is starting to steam.

      • With a potato masher or a fork, mash the potatoes thoroughly into the butter/milk mixture. Do NOT pass through a ricer or, worse, beat in a mixer as it will make the potatoes gluey and disgusting.

        Mix the cabbage thoroughly through the mashed potato.

        Before serving, season with a little salt and sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives. Most importantly, make a well in the center of the mound of potato and put the last third of the butter in there to melt.

*Not everyone adds scallions to colcannon, but they do add something, in my opinion. 

Catch up here

Part One


Part Two

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