What to eat in the field in August? Redcoats & Rebels approaches, and food must be prepared. This time, we are camping over. That means that pretty much everything must be ready by 1:30 on August 3, and there is nothing like a deadline to focus attention.
To start with, I turned to The Compleat Housewife: or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, published in 1739. The author presents seasonal menus, because one important thing to remember is that historical eating was seasonal and local. (This concept may sound familiar to fans of Alice Waters or Mark Bittman.)
Westphalia Ham & Chicken.
Bisque of Fish.
Haunch of Venison, roasted.
Roasted fowls a la daube.
White fricassee of Chicken.
Roasted Turkeys Larded.
Beef a la Mode.
Rock of Snow and Syllabub.
But take a closer look: beef a la mode is a kind of pot roast, so beef in a kettle with water and veg cooked over a fire ought to do. It’s what we call “officer chow,” and what the boys ate at Fort Lee. I was mostly looking for vegetables in season, or fruits, but the farmers’ market will provide that limitation.
So here’s what I think:
Pasties made Thursday night or Friday morning for supper on Friday.
Gingerbread cake for treats.
Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast Saturday morning, or else boiled eggs, bread, and fruit.
Bread, cheese, fruit and sliced ham for lunch on Saturday.
Tea, shrub, and gingerbread cake for Saturday tea.
Beef stew for supper on Saturday.
Breakfast and lunch will be the same for Sunday, and we pack up and leave on Sunday afternoon, so I won’t need to make Sunday supper in camp.
It’s reasonably authentic to the 18th century, though not to common soldiers’ rations. But the guys won’t want to eat firecake and water.