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Lobscouse & Spotted Dog

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Lobscouse & Spotted Dog

Post by Kade1301 on Mon 20 Oct 2014, 12:58

Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels

by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas (W. W. Norton & Company, 1997) (out of print, I got my hardcover copy via Abebooks. There's also a softcover edition.)

The subtitle says it: It's more a companion book to the novels, explaining the dishes mentioned (lobscouse, soused hog's face, sea pie, cq au vin, bidpai chhatta, miller in onion sauce etc etc.) than a practical cookbook. Most of the recipes take a lot of work and time, for many you want to be good friends with a butcher (not a meat salesman, but the person who actually kills and cuts up the animal - otherwise you'll probably not get a pig's head, beef shins or lamb/veal pancreas) and they are generally for at least 4 - and often more - people. The grilled cheese is doable, however, and I'll try the Indian Khichri very soon (the spices more or less add up to curry powder, so I'll cheat...) And if I should ever make something that demands calf foot's jelly, which on its own takes a day to prepare (but the flummery recipe does look yummy...) I'll use sheets of ready-made gelatine instead. I also think a soup cube makes a reasonable substitute for portable soup...

In any case the book is very nicely done, each dish is introduced by the appropriate quote from O'Brian's novels (he also wrote a foreword), and there's a sheet of music at the end of each chapter (Spanish Ladies, Heart of Oak, Rule Britannia etc. - most set for piano) (I had to photocopy at 140 % to get legible music from the hardcover book). There's also a number of personal remarks about their experiences which make for more interesting reading than most recipe books.

Even if you don't cook the dishes, reading through the recipes serves as a reminder that cooking used to be an all-day job (I often thought of Downton Abbey while reading). In addition to the recipes for the dishes there's a chapter on drink (explaining Aguardiente to Tokay, with recipes for punches and other mixes) and one on drugs (not tried and tested, contrary to the rest). There's also general instructions for preparing and boiling puddings or building free-standing pies.

My biggest point of criticism: Salt beef and salt pork are used, but there's no instructions for how to make them. Are they so easily available in the U.S. (that's where the book was written, therefore quantities are in cups and ounces, oven degrees in Fahrenheit, but there's a table of correspondances to metric measurements iin the end) that you can buy them witout problem or is it such a staple that you find the instructions in standard cook books? It's not a problem for me (I followed the recipe from "Feeding Nelson's Navy" - in January I'll tell you how it worked out). You'll also need either experience, imagination, or access to other resources - this is not a beginner's cookbook! Deglazing isn't explained anywhere, for exaple. There's probably some more gaps which I'll find when I try to actually cook one of the more complex dishes...

On the whole it's a nice addition to the Audrey/Maturin Novels.

Now the only thing that's missing is a CD collection of all the music mentioned in the books Wink

Kade1301
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