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Re: [pepysdiary] Potted histories: syllabub

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  • IAN GREENWOOD
    Jacobean, eh? I m not sure Pepys would have appreciated that - it smacks of dangerous popery. Nor, I think, would he have liked gourmand . Perhaps the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 28, 2013
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      Jacobean, eh? I'm not sure Pepys would have appreciated that - it smacks of dangerous popery. Nor, I think, would he have liked 'gourmand'. Perhaps the Telegraph writer meant 'gourmet'.

      From: terry foreman <terry.foreman@...>
      To: pepysdiary-yahoogroup <pepysdiary@yahoogroups.com>; evelyndiary@...
      Sent: Friday, 28 June 2013, 21:36
      Subject: [pepysdiary] Potted histories: syllabub
       
      Here's an unusual recipe, though, be warned, it requires immediate access to a cow. Take a sweet alcoholic drink – cider, perhaps, or fortified wine - and add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. Then, place the mixture beneath your bovine assistant's udders before milking their contents straight into the bowl.
      Sound bizarre? That's the traditional way of making syllabub, one of Britain’s oldest and most delightfully-named desserts. You think you know it – but the mousse-like mixture of whipped cream and alcohol that goes under the name today is, you may have guessed, a slightly different recipe to the original.
      While the etymology of the word syllabub isn't clear, the first recorded reference to the treat dates back to 1537, when a character in the anonymous drama Thersytes declares that “You and I...muste walke to him and eate a solybubbe!”
      “Eate” is an interesting choice of verb, however, because the dish was arguably more akin to a drink than a food. It consisted of a frothy head of milk or cream floated on top of sweetened alcohol: people sipped the drink and used a spoon to scrape off the creamy foam. In later years, the affluent could buy special syllabub pots which had a spout through which the liquid part could be politely sucked. These classy dinner party pieces were the sixteenth century's fondue sets.
      So ubiquitous was the dish that it has been compared, not inappropriately, to today’s frappucino. Famous gourmand Samuel Pepys (always a useful barometer of Jacobean tastes) mentions slurping down a syllabub at several points in his diary. In fact, syllabub was well-known enough back then to be even be used metaphorically, as a synonym for something light and inconsequential: compared to Latin and Greek books, English tomes were but “whipped syllabub”, sniffed one learned gentleman in 1768.

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