Sauces, Essences, and Condiments
“Elements! each other greeting,
“Gifts and Powers attend your meeting!”
“It is the duty of a good sauce,” says one of the most recondite of modern gastrologers, the Editor of the Almanach des Gourmands, “to insinuate itself all round the maxillary glands, and call into activity each ramification of the palatic organs. If it not be relishing, it is incapable of producing this effect, and if too piquant, it will deaden instead of exciting those titillations of tongue and vibrations of palate, which can only be produced by the most accomplished philosophers of the mouth on the well-trained palate of the refined gourmet.” This, we think, is a tolerably correct definition of what a well-compounded sauce ought to be.
The French, among our other insular distinctions, speak of us as a nation “with twenty religions and only one sauce,”—parsley and butter, by the way, is this national relish,—and unquestionably English cookery, like English manners, has ever been much simpler than that of our neighbours. Modern cookery too, like modern dress, is stripped of many of its original tag-rag fripperies. We have laid aside lace and embroidery, save upon occasions of high ceremonial, and, at the same time, all omnegatherum compound sauces and ragouts, with a smack of every thing. Yet the human form and the human palate have not lost by this revolution. The harmonies of flavours, the affinities and coherence of tastes, and the art of blending and of opposing relishes, were never so well understood as now; for the modern kitchen still affords, in sufficient variety, the sharp, the pungent, the sweet, the acid, the spicy, the aromatic, and the nutty flavours, of which to compound mild, savoury, or piquant sauces, though a host of ingredients are laid aside.
The elegance of a table, as opposed to mere lumbering sumptuousness, or vulgar luxury, is perhaps best discovered in the adaptation of the sauces to the meats served, and in their proper preparation and attractive appearance. Plain Sauces ought to have, as their name imports, a decided character; so ought the sweet and the savory. All Sauces should be served hot,—a matter too often neglected in the hurry of dishing and serving dinner. Sauces with which cream and eggs are mixed must be diligently stirred after these ingredients are added, to provent their curdling, and suffered to warm through, but not to boil. The same care must be taken in mixing capers and all acid pickles in sauce. Though it is willful waste to put wine, catsup, lemon-juice, aromatic spices, and other expensive ingredients, into sauces for more than the time necessary to extract the flavour, yet, on the other hand, these things must be infused or boiled long enough to be properly blended, both in substance and flavour, with the basis of the sauce. The previous concoction must also be duly attended to, whether at the mincing-board, in the mortar, or saucepan. As a general rule, brown sauces should be thinner than white. Cream should be boiled before mixing.
The basis, or, more correctly, the vehicle of most English sauces, is butter, whether melted, oiled, browned, or burnt; or gravy, clear, brown, or thickened; also water, milk, cream, and wine, or some substitute. A numerous class of sauces is composed of vegetables and green fruits, another of shell-fish, and a third of meat. There are still other sauces compounded of an admixture of all these ingredients. It will simplify arrangement to take these in regular order; though the philosophers of the kitchen, it must be owned, shake themselves tolerably free of the trammels of system.
Introducing Mrs. Barlow
Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom
Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:
The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.
Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826
About A Twelfth Night Tale
Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.
Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.