Well, we didn’t feast, it was too hot. But I helped make a feast. I didn’t document it with photos because I didn’t think my companion would appreciate it. But here’s what we did.
General Washington was set to dine with the gentry, so a repast needed to be made. The captain’s wife volunteered to provide the meal and I served as scullery maid, a role I do find comfortable. (Anyone else identify with Daisy on Downton Abby? She’s the character I feel most like.)
Bread & Cheese
We worked in the NPS staff kitchen in the carriage house behind Longfellow House: air conditioned, but the kitchen is in a former bathroom. Still, there was a sink and some counter space, so we were set.
A salmagundi is a kind of mixed salad, by which I do not mean tossed. It is perhaps most similar to a chopped, layered salad today. Colonial Williamsburg has an adaptation here, and that formed the basis of our creation.
We used one bag of pre-washed leaf lettuce, one roasted chicken (I did not have to rip it up! I got to chop eggs instead), two tins of anchovies, a medium ham, a lemon, etc. Although we had wooden bowls for prep work, we ran out of places to put the chopped ingredients, so ended up using the NPS staff containers from the dish drainer. With a glass full of egg yolk, a bulk food container of egg white, a black plastic dish of ham and a plastic water cup of anchovies arranged on the crowded sink, we achieved a workable if slightly bizarre mise en place.
What’s astonishing is how much space all that food takes up. You think it’s not enough when it’s contained, but get it on a platter and wow! That’s a shockingly large amount of food. The captain and his wife will be enjoying that salmagundi all week, I fear.
The pickles were amazing! Made from a 1747 Hannah Glasse recipe, pickled cucumber slices are pretty simple. You may, of course, wish to reduce the quantities:
“To pickle large cucumbers in ſlices. TAKE the large cucumbers before they are too ripe, ſlice them the thickneſs of crown pieces in a pewter-diſh ; to every dozen of cucumbers ſlice two large onions thin, and ſo on till you have filled your diſh, with a handful of ſalt between every row : then cover them with another pewter-diſh, and let them ſtand twenty-flour hours, then put them in a cullender, and let them drain very well ; put them in a jar, cover them over with white wine vinegar, and let them ſtand flour hours ; pour the vinegar from them into a copper ſauce-pan, and boil it with a little ſalt ; put to the cucumbers a little mace, a little whole pepper, a large race of ginger ſliced, and then pour the boiling vinegar on. Cover them cloſe, and when they are cold, tie them down. They will be fit to eat in two or three days.”
Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/glasse-of-pickling-14.php
Copyright © celtnet
Ratafia cakes are funny little things. I only had one, when they came back from the table (I did mention Daisy, right?) but I might try them. They are not ideal for camp eating–in fact, they would be downright inappropriate–mostly because they are rather fragile and travel poorly.
The rest of us–the privates and sergeant and the Young Mr, who was playing Washington’s aide de camp as a young scamp–ate bread and cheese and fruit in the shade of a tree. It was too hot to eat much.