Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unfolding, dressing, ambling

Posted by PicasaCourgette or zucchini, the flower as well as the fruit, has its charms, stuffed, fried, sauteed or chopped in a salad, or just to look at.

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.


Anonymous said...

A recipe as poetry - delightful!

Lucas said...

That recipe certainly sounds delicious. It is amazing how similar it is to my own idea of potato salad - except I'm not sure what "oil of Lucca" is.

Roderick Robinson said...

Given his dates, it's amazing to note the word "atoms" used

Unknown said...

It's not a bad recipe I guess. The potato element would be considered unusual today, I suppose. Lucca is in Tuscany, the home now, as presumably then, of good quality olive oil.
The same thought struck me, but at the risk of sounding professorial,I find that the use of the word atom, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, first came into general usage in English as far back as 1600. It came to us from the Greek, then the Latin and eventually the French. The original meaning in Greek was "indivisible". It was the Greek philosopher Democritus (c 460 - 370bc, whose "atomic system" suggested an infinite number of everlasting atoms, "from whose random combination springs an infinite number of successive world orders in which there is law but not design". I quote now from the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia. 'Fraid I got carried away.