WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Twist

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Twist

This week’s word is exactly what it sounds like – a combination of two other drinks. Much to my disappointment, I could not find a specific recipe for this specific drink. I admit to hoping for a discovery of coffee + tea + some random addition like reduction of parsnip or “stir with the branch of an elderberry.”

Alas.

So I’m left to an examination of the individual parts of the whole. And we’re on our own to mixing the following recipes.

Do let me know if you add parsnips.

Twist

A mixture of half tea and half coffee.

Tea

According to the Jane Austen Centre, by the time you take that first sip of tea, you should know it’s going to be perfect because you’ve planned it be so every step of the way. The instructions are extremely specific:

  1. Start with a preheated pot. This prevents the tea cooling too quickly. To warm, pour boiling water into the pot.
  2. Use freshly drawn, not reboiled water, for the tea. Bring this freshly drawn water to a rolling boil for approximately ten seconds. Remove kettle from heat. Don’t boil the water for too long as this will boil away the flavour-releasing oxygen.
  3. Pour out the water used to preheat the pot and add the freshly drawn, freshly boiled water. [emphasis mine]
  4. Wait until the water is just off the boil before pouring it onto the tea. This brings out the rich aroma and avoids scorching the tea.
  5. Start with three-fourths of a level teaspoon of loose tea for every six ounces of water.
  6. Steep for 3-5 minutes, according to taste. If possible, cover the teapot with a towel or tea cosy while steeping to retain heat.
  7. Place a strainer over each teacup before pouring tea. If you would like to add milk (milk, not cream) pour it in the cup before adding the hot tea as this will allow the milk to better blend with the tea without curdling.
  8. Sweeten as preferred or serve with a slice of lemon.

Still Life Tea Set by Jean-Étienne Liotard, circa 1781-1783, Getty Museum.

Coffee

Coffee has a colorful history and has aroused passions in its consumers since it first passed lips and delighted palates. The first coffee beans reached Venice in 1615; the first coffee house opened there nearly 70 years later in 1683. A European obsession was born. When coffee and its houses began booming in London about thirty years later, they attracted intellectuals, artists, politicians, bankers, and merchants. They were known as “Penny Universities:” for a penny, you could pick up coffee as well as useful information on a variety of topics.

I have a fever…and the prescription is more coffee…

Telling Fortune in Coffee Grounds, 1790, Lewis Walpole Library.

Remember when Elizabeth was assigned coffee pot duty at Longbourn when the gentlemen returned (and Jane was in danger of making Bingley fall more in love with her than ever?), and Elizabeth longed to speak to Mr. Darcy and thank him for his service to her sister?

Darcy had walked away to another part of the room. She followed him with her eyes, envied everyone to whom he spoke, had scarcely patience enough to help anybody to coffee; and then was enraged against herself for being so silly!
~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

She needed to be serving some of this bewitching brew:

Regency era coffee recipe courtesy Jane Austen Centre.

And just when I thought all was lost, and that potions and syrups thrown into coffee were a modern-day invention, archaeological scholars at the University of Cambridge made a historical coffeehouse find: Calf’s foot jelly and a tankard of ale.

Researchers have published details of the largest collection of artefacts from an early English coffeehouse ever discovered. Described as an 18th century equivalent of Starbucks, the finds nonetheless suggest that it may have been less like a café, and more like an inn.

Customers today may settle for a flat white and a cinnamon swirl, but at coffee shops 250 years ago, many also expected ale, wine, and possibly a spot of calf’s foot jelly, a new study has shown. (Read the rest of the article here)

So the next time you’re shouting out your order at the coffee counter, make sure to enunciate clearly between ‘half caff’ and ‘half calf,’ or you may get something completely different.

Some of the 500 objects, many in a very good state of preservation, including drinking vessels for tea, coffee and chocolate, serving dishes, and 38 teapots from the Cambridge Archaeological Unit find.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • For recipes at the Jane Austen Centre, head here for Tea and here for Coffee.
  • There is a great post over at Spitalfields Life featuring The Map Of The Coffee Houses. Definitely take some time to go over and check it out. In fact, Adam Dant has compiled an entire book of Maps of London and Beyond for your wish list. I know. I have a book addiction. But at least it’s an addiction for excellent books. Check out this map!

The Character of a Coffee House, map compiled by Adam Dant from Maps of London and Beyond by Adam Dant.

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

We know many things about aristocratic foods and meals during the Regency era, likely from all the Jane Austen books and adaptions we consume, but let’s have a brief review just the same.

Huge meals were the order of the day, and eating carried on what we would consider late into the night. Breakfast was served nearer what is now commonly called lunchtime (when you’re at a ball til the break of dawn, you don’t want breakfast til the break of noon, I suspect.). With such a late ending of one’s fast, there was no further food until dinner, which fell around 6:00pm in the country and as late as 10:00pm in Town. Yes, afternoon tea (not high tea, ever!) became a novelty after its introduction by the Duchess of Bedford, but she was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, so it is not a Regency era construct. It was also not the mini-feast it has turned into today. Think tea with biscuits, not tea with a three-course lunch. Dinner was a formal affair and could last several hours, what with pre-dinner socializing (i.e., drinking and inspecting each other’s wardrobes) and the passing of course after course at the table. Supper, when taken, fell however many hours after dinner the hostess deemed necessary and appropriate, often midnight or later.

Foods served ranged from traditional English fare (what excellent boiled potatoes!) to the continental or worldly dishes of one’s premier chef (Italian if you please, or French if you must, but only after the exile of the Corsican); butter, cream, eggs, and spices were the order of the day, to reflect one’s wealth. Possession of domestic and exotic fruits in a personal orangery was the veritable icing on the dining cake. As the period progressed, the idea of a more organized, mid-day snacking began to take shape – we’ve all read of ladies taking “nuncheon” or “noon shine” nibbles such as bread, cheese, biscuits, and tea –  but it was not a formally-recognized practice until later in the 19th Century. Picnics or riding excursions needing treats, however, could also occur on a whim during the day, taking place anywhere and anytime.

A Brighton Breakfast or Morning Comforts, 1802. Print made by Charles Williams and published by S.W. Flores, British Museum. Mrs Fitzherbert, on the right, says, “Won’t you take another Comforter? we must make haste I expect Noodle [the Prince] here presently.” Her companion replies, “I think your Comforters are bigger than my Johns.” Saucy Gillray.

Regency aristocrats enjoyed more variety in food and drink than ever before, and with this greater choice came more creative ways to cook and bake the victuals. Food preservation techniques were on the rise during this industrious period, as was the phasing out of open-fire cooking in favor of huge (but still labor-intensive) stoves. Bless the poor servants who had to not only make these meals, but sneak their own in at some point during their long and arduous day.

Belly Timber

Food of all sorts.

So what did all this largesse look like? The folks at The Supersizers Go… are so glad you asked. In the final episode of this excellent and entertaining show, The Supersizers Go…Regency, and the world is much better for it. It is well worth your time.

 

  • Find a treasure trove of information and pictures of Georgian and Regency fare at the History Cookbook.
  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • The Jane Austen Centre has a fine list of Regency Recipes for you to try at home.
  • If you’re much too busy and too refined to be entertained by the likes of Sue Perkins washing her face with a combination of brandy, milk, and lemon juice, whilst a scrambled egg white cleans her hair, well … I feel sorry for you. But you can read a thorough recap of the show at Just Hungry. They breakdown the entire episode, relaying every dish served and every ingredient abused for beauty purposes. Bon appétit!