The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.51
WINTER2016

An Appreciation of Richard Bradley and , in an unconventional way, of ketchup.

1. A world beyond tomato.

Tomato ketchup does not much interest the Editor. She does not, however, count herself among the upper ranks of the self-appointed food police who consider the condiment beneath contempt. Heinz ketchup-- never another brand--is an unsurpassed product and it is cheap. Ketchup may be the indispensable smear for hamburgers, hash and scrambled eggs; it can be a ‘secret’ flavor boost to meatloaf, chili and a handful of other recipes; but otherwise the utility of ketchup as most Americans know it is limited.

Our culinary forebears in Britain and Canada as well as the United States knew better. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries domestic recipes for ketchups and commercial versions of the sauce made with an array of substances proliferated. In Pure Ketchup , Andrew Smith lists recipes based on more than fifty primary ingredients, ranging alphabetically from anchovy to whortleberry.

 

Ketchup-Pure-Ketchup-cover001.jpg  

2. But what does this new old world resemble?

At this point it may help to describe ketchup in general terms. What unites these sauces made from ingredients as disparate as red beans, oysters and rum? Alan Davidson considers ketchup “a range of salty, spicy, rather liquid condiments” but his description would exclude viscous tomato, the most ubiquitous ketchup of them all, along with a number of other thick versions made, for example from those red beans or with cucumber. (Davidson 430)

Andrew Smith allots but a page to “Ketchup Commonalities” in an entire book on the subject, Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment. It amounts to a tacit admission that instead ketchups share little in common. “Despite their diverse textures, colors and smells,” he maintains, “ketchups performed similar culinary functions: to add zest, color, and flavor to other foods; and to camouflage the taste of unsatisfactory, unfamiliar, or monotonous foods.” ( Ketchup 25)

Those functions, however, are neither unique to ketchup--chutneys, soy and ponzu, brown steak sauce, vinegar infusions and other condiments do the same thing--and do nothing to demonstrate a common attribute.

Smith goes on:

“Although diverse, early ketchup recipes employed many common ingredients, including cloves, pepper, ginger, and mace. Also featured were highly flavored seasonings, such as garlic, onions, shallots, mustard, horseradish, cayenne, and occasionally chili peppers.” ( Ketchup 25)

Other than the omission of vinegar, a major oversight on the part of Smith, his listing is fair enough if not quite universal, at least for ketchups up until sugar steals the scene after the middle of the nineteenth century, but an elephant lurks in Smith’s cupboard.

 

3. Whither Worcestershire?

It is Worcestershire, which fits his definition. The Lea & Perrins product includes chili, cloves, garlic and onions along with other flavorings like the anchovies that appear in so many of Smith’s recipes in a vinegar base. Discussion of Worcestershire, however, is absent from Pure Ketchup and the sauce does not even get an index entry.

To be fair, even though Worcestershire looks, smells and tastes like a complex ketchup, nobody calls it one, although John Ayto notes that ketchups “formed the essential ingredient of the proprietary sauces so popular with the Victorians, of which Worcestershire is virtually the only survival.” (Ayto 181)

Perhaps he had Worcestershire in mind when Smith qualifies his own description: “Later ketchup recipe writers reduced the number and quantity of spices to avoid overpowering the natural flavor of the main products,” which as we have seen were almost unlimited.

 

worcestershire-sauce.jpg

 

 

4. The English problem persists…

In the end Smith, who has devoted a book to ketchup, cannot bring himself to define his subject.

Larousse includes sugar in ketchup as a matter of course and disregards the proliferation of herbs, spice and other ingredients in the venerable recipes. Its ketchup is a “sweet and sour condiment with one flavour predominating, usually based on tomatoes but sometimes on mushrooms or walnuts.” (Larousse 589)

As is often the case when the French assess anything British, and in particular anything involving British foodways, the result is misunderstanding and inaccuracy. In this case it would appear that the author had read about, but never tasted, the ketchups in question, which anyway represent a tiny fraction of varieties. A single flavor does not predominate, even in tomato ketchup, although the sugar and vinegar do tend to drown the tomato. As for the other two, neither is remotely sweet and no single flavor dominates either concatenation of spice.

Laura Mason and Catherine Brown notice that Hannah Glasse, in her 1747 recipes for the condiment, “recognizes two things about ketchup: keeping qualities and foreign connections.” (Mason & Brown 324) Some ketchups, however, including several eighteenth century recipes, do not keep for long, while there is nothing the least foreign about any of them.

Ketchup originated in England as an attempt to recreate the sauces, probably based on fermented fish or soy, that sailors and merchants encountered toward the end of the seventeenth century in the ‘East Indies.’ And, as both Smith and Larousse observe, their production has been confined for the most part to Britain at first, then to Canada and the United States.

 

Dutch-East-Indies.jpg
The site of inspiration.

The various ketchups occupy a continuum. Many, perhaps most, ketchups share some common ingredients, or at least a common ingredient, but the spectrum extends so far that versions at the frontier have nothing in common even though they remain recognizably ketchup.

The problem of categorizing ketchup is not new. As Mason and Brown note with a wry flourish, a 1748 recipe “suggests the word still needed explanation.” (Mason & Brown 324)

If its provenance, shelf life, function or the ingredients Smith relies on do not define ketchup, can anything or anyone?

 

5… or did, until 1976, but has anyone noticed the solution?

The surprising answer is yes, in the person of the redoubtable Theodora FitzGibbon, who rides to our rescue with her now venerable and unaccountably obscure Food of the Western World , which appeared in 1976. There, ketchup “is a spicy sauce or condiment, which correctly should be made from the juice of cooked fruits or vegetables such as walnut, tomato, or mushroom, with vinegar.” ( Food 229)

Mrs. FitzGibbon also displays the insight to identify two branches of the family, the thick and the thin:

“It is not unlike a chutney, except that it is puréed, and, in the case of mushroom ketchup,” along with others, she might have added, “strained so that it is entirely liquid.” ( Food 229)

It therefore is all the more surprising that subsequent authors have failed to do as well.

Four years later, Tom Stobart omits the nearly ubiquitous vinegar but otherwise picked up the thread of Mrs. FitzGibbon to explain that notwithstanding its current identification with tomato, ketchup “originally referred to a host of salty, spiced condiment liquids made from fish, shellfish, fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, etc.” (Stobart 254) Ayto, like Glasse, believes ketchup always keeps a long time but does not call it foreign. While he fails to mention spice, Ayto neither overlooks nor overstates the role of vinegar in describing ketchups as “often vinegar-based sauces flavoured with mushrooms, anchovies, onions, lemons, oysters, pickled walnuts, etc.” (Ayto 181)

 

6. Two originals.

Unlike so many things, it is possible to identify the first written recipe for ketchup. It belongs to Eliza Smith, who included a recipe for “English Katchop” in her Compleat Housewife; or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion of 1727. Or maybe not; according to twenty-first century Smith, her “recipe was similar to existing English fish sauces.” (Smith 12) That, however, is only arguably accurate and does not disqualify eighteenth-century Smith’s sauce as ketchup. It combined anchovy, horseradish, lemon peel, shallot, vinegar and white wine with lots of spice; clove, ginger, mace, nutmeg, peppercorns and, perhaps, the residue from pickling mushrooms. These ingredients are not unlike Worcestershire’s, while the inclusion of anchovy hardly qualifies ‘English Katchop’ as a fish sauce alone, because British cooks relied on the little fermented fish to flavor all manner of savory dishes as well as sauces.

 

The-Compleat-Housewife.png
Eighteenth Century Smith

Twenty-first century Smith makes too many such unwarranted assumptions. He argues, for examples, that “[t]he title of Smith’s recipe implies that there were other ‘non-English’ ketchups around at the same time” and “[o]nly one recipe known to have originated in Southeast Asia has survived.” (Smith 13)

During the early eighteenth century, calling something English still was calling it good, a marketing approach of proven value, and does not infer that other Europeans were producing ketchup, especially given the fact that no historical reference to any other western ketchup exists.

If Smith stumbles in the body of his book, he has achieved something special in exhuming and consolidating all the recipes that appear at the end of Pure Ketchup . He has made the sound decision, like Sophia Waugh in her flawed Cooking People , and like Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald in their indispensible Northern Hospitality , to follow current practice in reproducing the historical recipes in their original form. Some of them disclose no proportions, others offer scant instruction, but all of them bear the unmistakable and welcome tang of their time.

The recipe that purports to have originated in Southeast Asia is the one made with red beans. Its creator was Richard Bradley, a captivating, prescient, misunderstood and underappreciated figure who has unjustly been labeled “An Eighteenth Century Rogue.” ( Sloan Letters 1)

Bradley was born in London, where when young he joined the city’s informal early eighteenth-century army of amateur botanists. Even though Bradley did not attend any university, he would not remain a foot soldier. At the age of 36 he became the first professor of botany at the University of Cambridge, where he hoped to establish a botanical garden. ( Sloane Letters 2, 3)

 

7. The slings and arrows of outrageous anachronism.

Smith reiterates the received wisdom, which as a general proposition is often unexamined and unreliable, that taints Bradley’s Cambridge tenure with scandal, but the scandal was more apparent than real, a product more of bigotry, rivalry and resentment than of untoward or inappropriate behavior. ( see Smith 13)

 

18th-C-Garden.jpg
Don’t forget to water the red beans.

 

He was an all too easy target. Like god, Bradley had trouble with money. His problem appears to have been the result of his times and chosen profession, but his impracticality also may have been to blame:

“Bradley was a man who lived in an age when there was no government support for scholarship and, lacking personal wealth to support his investigations, he ended up in a cycle of constant debt. A fair point… though Bradley seems to have been particularly bad at managing his affairs.” ( Sloane Letters 2; elipses in original)

Unlike god however, he did not fleece the poor with a mandatory tithe or the gullible by passing the Sunday plate, but rather followed honorable precedent to find several wealthy and accomplished patrons, one of them no less than the celebrated scientist Sir Hans Sloane, who has given his name to the London street, its square and their Rangers.

Like Hannah Woolley, Bradley practiced medicine, at least for a time. Woolley has become a darling of feminist historians, who admire her enterprising resolve in living by the pen as well as scalpel. Neither of them held any kind of a degree, in medicine or otherwise, which was not uncommon of practitioners in their time. The trade itself was not considered particularly prestigious.

Unlike Woolley, Bradley has attracted criticism for practicing medicine without a formal qualification. The criticism of course is anachronistic and invites two other observations. First, it may be the unfortunate case that in the current state of the culture wars commentators are inclined to view with greater favor, or at least less fault, the stories of women as opposed to the stories of men. Second, as Smith demonstrates (“his career at Cambridge University was riddled with scandal”), the reputation of Bradley has suffered so much that his story invites skepticism, however unfounded. (Smith 13)

Some of the antipathy to Bradley stemmed from his social stature and inability to afford a university education. The editor of The Sloane Letters Blog cites a note from the Royal Society that “his ignorance of Latin and Greek and his failure to perform his duties caused great scandal.” ( Sloane Letters 3)

This criticism was on the one hand pure snobbery, on the other uncorroborated hearsay, while Bradley’s accomplishment in becoming a Fellow of the society is all the more striking given his lack of educational qualification: “By his time, it would have been very unusual for the Royal Society of London to admit to membership anyone lacking a university education…. ” ( Bulletin 117)

Unlike his less creative contemporaries, Bradley did not rely on classical texts for his innovative work; if anything reference to them would have slowed and perhaps hindered the development of his observations and theories.

The reference to duties is a bit of a puzzle because the Royal Society itself did not impose them on Bradley or anyone else. Instead, the note reflects charges against Bradley leveled by John Martyn, his embittered rival and eventual successor at Cambridge.

 

John-Martyn-portrait.jpg
John Martyn - Scandal monger, Grub Street

 

8. Before the yellow press.

If the apocryphal Grub Street was home, in the estimation of Dr. Johnson, to nasty literary hacks, then Martyn was an enthusiastic member of the clan as well as aspiring botanist. For several years he was one of two editors, and a contributor, to The Grub-street Journal , successor to Pope’s evocatively entitled Dunciad. Like its predecessor, the purpose of the Journal was to criticize, satirize and punish its subjects, whom it condemned to the corner in conical cap as dunces all.

James Hillhouse, historian of the Journal , describes its methodology.

“[T]he Journal made exposure of faults, real or supposed, its chief business, and… satire and irony were the breath of life in its nostrils. Controversy became at once its daily food, and hence it got for itself not only many enemies but many readers, for it was sharp, pungent, and clever, and knew no limits in its boldness…. The editors had their own quarrels, which they conducted with great gusto…. ” (Williamson 361)

The Journal was so inflammatory, indeed libelous, that “it was natural for its backers and contributors to preserve an anonymity which those who suffered from its lash endeavoured to unveil.” (Williamson 361) Martyn was unmasked seven years after the foundation of his periodical, and at this point it appears he contributed twenty-three tirades to it. (Williamson 361, 373)

 

the-grub-ftreet-Journal.jpg
Martyn’s organ.

 

Raymond Williamson, who has chronicled the attacks Martyn launched through the Journal, is too scrupulous a scholar to engage in motivational or psychological speculation. He finds himself “at a loss to know why John Martyn accepted the position of joint editor of the Grub-street Journal. At that time he was a young man of thirty-one years of age, apparently comfortably off,” in contrast to Bradley, “whose chief interest,” not so coincidentally like Bradley’s, “had been in botany and natural history…. Whatever his reasons may have been for becoming joint editor of the Journal he approached the job with zest and was soon using it for his own ends.” (Williamson 362)

Notwithstanding the scruples of Williamson, Martyn’s reasons for taking the job spring to focus from a review of his contributions to the periodical. He was a vindictive shit with a preening sense of entitlement who reacted to slights real and imagined with all the zest Williamson ascribes to him. His presence at the Journal gave him a platform to settle scores, however ephemeral, and all his essays launched personal attacks from it.

Bradley is the target of five of them, while two other scientists in the same field took the hit from most of the others. At this point it ought to be unnecessary to observe that the attacks were scurrilous, and a few examples demonstrate the problem they historically have entailed.

Martyn had his reasons, however irrational, to hate Bradley. Even though he was only 25 at the time, and had no resume of publications to rival Bradley’s, Martyn was infuriated that Bradley got the position at Cambridge instead of him, despite the inconvenient fact that it was unpaid. Not only his lack of credentials should have disqualified Martyn, but also his lack of imagination.

In an essay mocking Bradley’s Materia Medica , a collection of essays about the study of drugs, Martyn sarcastically declares that the book “gives me a very great idea of his genius” because Bradley

“scorns, like the vulgar writers on the Materia Medica , to copy in a servile manner from other authors; but bravely deviating from the beaten road, gives us, almost in every page, something equally new and surprising…. I find so many extraordinary discoveries, that I cannot forbear taking notice to you of them.” (Williamson 365)

Martyn considers any such deviation suspect; the ‘new and surprising’ is, to him, untested and unconvincing, while the ‘extraordinary’ amounts to the ridiculous. In fact, however, Bradley did not seek to undermine existing scholarship but rather presented it in a superior way. Williamson again:

“As Martyn said, Bradley, in his Lectures on Materia Medica, did not ‘copy in a servile manner from others.’ That is where the merit of his lectures lies; though they did little to advance the study of materia medica they formed an interesting introduction to that subject at a time when books on Materia Medica were very dry and dreary.” (Williamson 366)

Materia-Medica-plant-book.png
Dry and dreary?

Much of Martyn’s sarcasm is misplaced. It relies on the dissection of isolated statements, while “[a]ll the points he picks out for criticism are relatively unimportant.”

At other times he just gets the facts wrong. Elsewhere in the critique of Materia Medica , for instance, Martyn excoriates Bradley for describing valerian as a plant found in swampy woods and ditch banks instead of chalky areas near Cambridge. Bradley, however, was right; Martyn had confused the plant at issue with an altogether different species. (Williamson 365)

Nor was hypocrisy a fault Martyn lacked. He is the sole basis for the conventional wisdom that Bradley failed to perform his duties at Cambridge. The bases of the accusation are twofold, that Bradley never bothered to lecture his students and failed to plant the botanic garden he promised.

Bradley’s published lectures on general, practical and pharmaceutical botany, however, indicate that they in fact were read “in the Physick Schools at Cambridge.” ( DNB ) The smear is all the more galling because Martyn daubed it after he had succeeded Bradley, long after Bradley’s death, when Martyn himself had failed his students. Two years after taking the chair at Cambridge,

“he ceased to lecture because he said he did not receive sufficient encouragement and laboured under a great disadvantage through want of a Botanic Garden.” (Williamson 363)

While Bradley did not succeed in establishing the garden it was not through want of effort. The university had promised funds it did not grant, but Bradley was tireless in attempting to find a donor. His tenure as professor lasted only six years before his early death, while Martyn never managed to get the garden going throughout his entire twenty-nine years in the chair. (Williamson 363)

 

9. The first ecologist and so much more.

None of this would matter but for Bradley’s brilliance. In the estimation of the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America , “he was an enterprising, open-minded naturalist who succeeded in disseminating his many and diverse thoughts on how plants and animals live and interact.” (Egerton 125)

 

Ecological-Society-of-America.jpg
His legacy.

 

A prolific writer, Bradley established the first British horticultural periodical, A General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening , and wrote the first treatise on succulent plants. Someone at least has remembered that one; the title of the leading journal on succulents today is Bradlea. With his Plague at Marseilles Considered and research into epidemics within crowded chicken coops, Bradley also stands as a pioneering epidemiologist. (Egerton 119, 125)

His most enduring legacy lay in the inadvertent creation of an entire discipline. Bradley was the first to understand the balance of nature, even if the term itself would await Linnaeus. As he explained in the General Treatise of Husbandry ,

“all Bodies have some Dependence upon one another; and that every distinct Part of Nature’s Works is necessary for the Support of the Reast; and that if any one was wanting, all the Rest must be out of Order.” ( quoted at Egerton 123)

The insight, along with his many other contributions to scholarship, “advanced natural history in a direction that ultimately would lead to ecology.” (Egerton 125)

Until Bradley, the concept of ecology had been inconceivable. He abhorred the practice of annihilating entire flocks as pests, and even managed to convince a group of farmers that “the Birds were rather Friends than Enemies.” They helped by eating the insects that destroyed the farmers’ crops. (Egerton 123)

 

10. The ecologist in the kitchen.

With no little understatement, one author has noticed that “Bradley comes across as likeable in his correspondence” ( Sloane Letters 3) and he is nowhere more likeable than in his characteristically pathbreaking cookery books. It is a good time for their appraisal, because the handful of writers who have discussed Bradley have not shown much interest in his cookbooks on the few occasions when they have mentioned them at all.

Gary Giddins has written of Louis Armstrong that while he wanted to create art, he did not want his art to be ‘homework.’ Armstrong succeeded: His music is revolutionary, accessible and nothing if not enjoyable. Bradley sought to do something similar within the idiom of the eighteenth century cookbook. He is not hortatory like Hannah Woolley or scolding like Hannah Glasse, at least in her grumpier passages.

 

Louis-Armstrong-1932.jpg
A portrait of the artist as a young man.

 

After apologizing for addressing the work of women at the outset of his Country Housewife and Lady’s Director , Bradley justifies his work by explaining to his female readers that

“my Design is rather to assist, than to direct. I may call myself rather their Amanuensis, than their Instructor: for the Receipts which I imagine will give the greatest Lustre or Ornament to the following Treatise, are such as are practiced by some of the most ingenious Ladies… and… every one who has try’d them, allow them to excel in their way.” (Bradley 19)

This was more than a bit of a fib, because many of the recipes in the Country Housewife recognizably belong to Bradley himself, who echoes a number of contemporary travelers in decrying the quality of food found on the road. Another “Reason which has induced me to publish this Piece, is,” he explains, “the Difficulties I have undergone in my travels, when I have met with good Provisions, in many Places in England, which have been murder’d in the dressing.” (Bradley 20)

The attribution of recipes to “the most ingenious Ladies” as well as the apology may be conventional if disingenuous marketing tropes employed by cookbook authors of the time--Bradley published much the same content aimed at a male audience in his Country Gentleman and Farmer’s Monthly-- but what lies within the Country Housewife is anything but conventional.

Hints that it departs from the ordinary compilation of recipes lifted from other sources, an eighteenth century commonplace, appear as early as the formal dedication “To the Ladies of Great Britain, &c.” There Bradley advocates the use of ingredients most often ignored if not despised, items “in most places looked upon as Incumbrances; such as Mushrooms, Lupines, Brocoly, Morilles, Truffles, Skirrets (parsnips), Scorzoneru (a kind of cabbage), Salsifie, Colerape, Chardonnes, Boorencole (black salsify), and many other such like things which are excellent in their kind…. ” (Bradley 19-20; prospectbooks)

 

Tafel-89-Flowers.jpg  

 

11. The sex lives of pigeons.

Bradley goes beyond the mere recitation of ingredients to describe, like any good farm-to-table acolyte from Brooklyn, their provenance and in the case of animals their “Characteristicks.” At the outset he considers the pigeon, not the lumbering urban skyrats he considers “Runts,” but rather graceful wild birds whose “long wings” render them “quick of Flight.”

His description of their habits, as anyone who has had the privilege to observe mourning doves nest will attest, is faultless.

“They lay for the most part two eggs for one sitting, and no more; but breed often in the Year. When pigeons are once paired, it is observed they are very constant to one another, and assist each other in the Incubation or Sitting on the Eggs, as well as in bringing up and feeding the young ones; and moreover it is remarkable, that a pigeon has no Gall-Bladder.” (Bradley 21)

 Doves.jpg
Devotion.

Later Bradley cites Albertus and Aldrovandus for further discussion about the sex lives of pigeons, birds that may live for decades and reproduce throughout their lifetimes, unless one “lost its Mate.” Then the bereft creature “lived in Widowhood.” As an aside Bradley then concurs with Aristotle, Athenaeus and Pliny

“that it is peculiar to Pigeons not to hold up their Heads when they drink as other Birds and Fowls do, but to drink like cattle by sucking without intermission; it is easily observed and worth Observation.” (Bradley 25)

The enthusiasm for observation, the classical allusions (the inability to read Greek or Latin did not hinder him after all), the references to drinking like cattle, to “Widowhood” and to the absence of gall bladders typify the easy whimsy permeating Bradley’s work. He is curious about the world around him and hopes his reader is curious too, so it should not surprise anyone that his interests intersect.

Although it is a cookbook, and an extremely good one, the Country Housewife reflects Bradley’s acute observational skill and his fascination with the natural world. He was, as in many other things, ahead of his time in taking an interdisciplinary approach almost as a matter of instinct.

Bradley was equally innovative in the kitchen. The eight pages on the habits of pigeons are followed not only by conventional English and French preparations, but also by one he “met with by accident.” The pigeon itself is simply stuffed “with Butter, a little Water, some Pepper and Salt,” then treated like a pudding, mummified in pastry and boiled in a cloth. “When this is cut open,” as Bradley claims, “it will yield Sauce enough of a very agreeable Relish.” (Bradley 27) The pigeon as pudding appears nowhere else.

 

12. The first of its kind, and, perhaps, the only one of its kind.

The red bean ketchup had been an attempt at soy sauce and there can be no doubt that the recipe belongs to Bradley. Soybeans were not cultivated in Europe, but red beans had been introduced from the Americas relatively recently, so Bradley tried using them instead. In strictest terms the experiment failed. The red beans did not ferment so the thick and complicated product did not resemble the Asian product. Nor would it keep: “As it contained no salt, sugar, or other preservative, it could not have survived for any length of time.”

According to Smith, the recipe “appears to have had no influence upon subsequent cookery writers.” (Smith 13) The result of the experiment with red beans tastes so good, however, that it was bound for replication sometime and somewhere. Enter Susan Spicer, the justly celebrated owner and chef at Bayona in New Orleans. Inadvertently or not, and in his Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine John Folse for one finds an enormous English influence on Crescent City foodways, she has created a sauce of red beans that bears striking resemblance to Bradley’s eighteenth century innovation.

His ketchup combines clove, garlic, mace, nutmeg, pepper and orange juice with his beans: Spicer adds bay, blended chili powder, chipotle and charred poblano, cilantro, garlic, onion, tomato sauce and lime juice to hers, but despite the disparate formulae, the flavors of the two sauces share a remarkable similarity. Spicer serves her sauce with cornmeal crusted catfish and it is good with medallions of chicken, pork, turkey or veal; Bradley’s fresh ketchup can do equal duty.

He also created the first known recipe in print for mushroom ketchup, in 1728. Unlike the experiment with red beans, this thin, dark and piquant ketchup did resemble soy sauce. (Smith 14) And while it is hard to find in the United States, mushroom ketchup remains readily available in the United Kingdom, along with the tomato variety the only commercial ketchup that survives from the hundreds produced as late as the end of the nineteenth century.

 

Turnbulls-Mushroom-Ketchup.png
Another legacy.

 

Unlike modern mushroom ketchup, Bradley’s does not contain salt, so its flavor is considerably more delicate. The recipe simmers mushrooms to release their liquid, pressing them against the side of the skillet “till there is as much Liquor come out of them as can be expected,” before adding cloves, mace and Port. The ketchup is reduced by a quarter of its volume, sieved and bottled; it will keep for over a year notwithstanding the absence of salt due to the sugar and alcohol in the fortified wine. (Bradley 108)

Many of Bradley’s recipes appear as innovative as his ketchups, including a travellers’ sauce of flexible components that presages Worcestershire by a century. When Bradley does reproduce a recipe he received from someone else he departs from contemporary practice to give the donor credit, and he is ever solicitous of his readers’ preferences: “If you would please all People, by the several Receipts you publish, you ought to have the particular Dish that is the Favourite of every County.”

One of these donated recipes, from Worcestershire and Shropshire, looks positively modern as well as unique in pairing liver and bacon on the one hand in a dish with onion and assorted greens brightened with the juice of a lemon. (Bradley 207)

There is a great deal more to like, passages lyrical and practical, in the Country Housewife and in all of Bradley’s work. He deserves a better reputation and his biographer awaits.

Recipes for ketchups and other good things appear in the practical.

 

Sources:

Anon., “An Eighteenth-Century Rogue,” The Sloane Letters Blog , www.sloaneletters.com/tag/richard-bradley/ (accessed 21 July 2015)

John Ayto, The Diner’s Dictionary (Oxford 1993)

Richard Bradley, The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director In the Management of a House, and the Delights and Profits of a Farm (orig. publ. London 1732; 2006 BiblioBazaar reprint; not a good edition)

Alan Davidson (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford 1999)

Frank Egerton, “A History of the Ecological Sciences, Part 20: Richard Bradley, Entrepreneurial naturalist,” Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (April 2006) 117-27

Theodora FitzGibbon, The Food of the Western World (London 1976)

John Folse, The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine (Gonzales, LA 2004)

Jennifer Harvey Lang (ed.), Larousse Gastronomique (New York 1984)

Tom Jaine & Alan Davidson, A Glossary of Cookery and Other Terms , www.prospectbooks.co.uk/a-glossary-of-cookery-and-other-terms/b/&/s/ (accessed 31 August 2015)

Dan Jurafsky, “The Cosmopolitan Condiment: An exploration of ketchup’s Chinese origins,” www.slate.com (accessed 21 July 2015)

Laura Mason & Catherine Brown, Traditional Foods of Britain: An Inventory (Totnes, Devon 1999)

Sue Shepherd, Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World (New York 2000)

Andrew Smith, Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment (Washington, DC, 2001)

Andrew Smith (ed.), The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink (Oxford 2007)

Susan Spicer, Crescent City Cuisine: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans (New York 2007)

Tom Stobart (Millie Owen, ed.), The Cook’s Encyclopedia: Ingredients and Processes (New York 1981) Note: The first, British, edition appeared in 1980.

Raymond Williamson, “John Martyn and the Grub-Street Journal, with Particular Reference to his Attacks on Richard Bentley, Richard Bradley and William Cheselden,” Medical History vol. 5, no. 4 (October 1961)