Saturday, February 02, 2008


This passage made me think of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

The Tudor garden needed to be productive; there were shops in towns and cities but in rural Derbyshire self-sufficiency was the order of the day. A herb garden was a necessity, isnce herbs were widely used in all aspects of cooking, medicine and sundry housewifely tasks. All homes of any substance also grew fruit trees, apples of a variety dating back to the Roman occupation over a millennium earlier for cooking and eating, and crab apples for jellies and jams. Cherries, pears and figs for dessert were common. A good housewife prided herself on her pantry preserves of fruit and vegetable produce, stored against the iron-hard winters when there was little fresh food to be had.

-- from page 13 of Bess of Hardwick, Empire Builder by Mary S. Lovell

I also liked this, from page 12:

The millstream provided fresh fish, and to supplement the protein there would be whatever root vegetables, pulses and brassicas grew in the garden (no potatoes then, of course) ...

No potatoes? And why not? Potatoes were just around the corner for Tudor England. Native to South America, they did not cross the Atlantic until after Christopher Columbus. When I read that I realized how hard it is for me to imagine a huge feast table with roast meats of all kinds but no potatoes of any sort. I've always held that my love of potatoes is the Irish blood coming out in me, but of course, even the Irish haven't been eating potatoes all that long in the scheme of things.


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