Fwd: Potted histories: syllabub
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From: Roger Brown <broroger@...>
Date: Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 9:03 AM
Subject: Re: Potted histories: syllabub
To: terry foreman <terry.foreman@...>Syllabub has a Colonial history too, and the syllabub makers looked a lot like an old mayonnaise maker I had, probably from the 30s. Tall glass cylinder with an aluminum beater that passed through an indented lid, you slowly poured the oil into the lid and it drained into the egg, vinegar and mustard powder below as you operated the plunger. Wish I still had it.Neighbors and reenactors Mark and Angela and I have had syllabub conversations, most recently when one of his paintings was the cover art of a new magazine. Marketplace radio covered it and and had slide show which showed the publisher/editor and staff enjoying a syllabub at the launch.I did a gmail search and found the Marketplace link, but it's dead now. I'll send this along to them, thanks.On Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 4:36 PM, terry foreman <terry.foreman@...> wrote:
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.