As I chat on the telephone to my friend Anna at first about diary-writing, then about letter-writing, the conversation turns to the Rev Sydney Smith(1777-1845), whose exuberant wit, shines through his correspondence, as delightful to day as contemporaries found it. He was something of a gourmet and is still remembered in gastronomic circles for his recipe for salad dressing:
To make this condiment your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard boiled eggs
Two boiled potatoes, passed through a kitchen seive,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And half-suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
To add a double quanitiy of salt;
Four times the spoon with oil of Lucca crown,
And twice with vinegar procured from town;
And lastly o'er the flavoured compound toss
A magic soupcon of of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! Oh herbaceous treat!
Twould tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
'Fate cannot harm, I have dined to day.'
Sometimes, one supposes, people hurry across the Grove, on their way to work or school. But this afternoon everyone ambles. Even dogs. Only the squirrels seem in hurry to run up into the safety of overhanging branches, not certain of the intentions of dogs or people.