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dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.54
FALL2017

A popular dressing for salad from the early nineteenth century, rendered in verse by Sydney Smith & cited by Jane Grigson.

Sandwich-and-salad-old-recipes004.jpg To make this condiment your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard boil’d eggs;
Two boiled potatoes, passed through the kitchen sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault
To add a double quantity of salt;
Four times the spoon with oil of Lucca crown,
And twice with vinegar procur’d from town;
And lastly o’er the flavour’d compound toss
A magic soupcon of anchovy sauce
Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!
Twould tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
Back to the world he’d turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad-bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
‘Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.’

Notes:

-The inclusion of potato and egg may appear incongruous to twenty first century eyes but creates something at once unctuous and light, a limber dressing deserving of resurrection.

-In common with a lot of the older recipes, whether poetic or prosaic, quantities are left to the cook. In her Vegetable Book, Mrs. Grigson suggests “125 g (4oz) cooked potato, a teaspoon for the seasonings, a tablespoon for the olive oil and wine vinegar, with a scant teaspoon of anchovy sauce.” She likes to nap watercress, Boston (Cos to British readers) lettuce or chicory with Smith’s sauce. (Grigson 324)

-Elizabeth David liked to claim that she was the first author in England to take olive oil out of the apothecary and into the kitchen. She was mistaken in making the claim, as she was mistaken in so much else. Smith’s ‘oil of Lucca is of course olive oil.