As we looked more closely at Mr. John Farley’s excellent (and popular) late-century cookery book, we were struck by the variation in the recipes. Some of them sounded delightfully, sinfully delicious, like this perversely unhealthy celery dish:
CUT off the green tops of six or eight heads of celery, and take off the outside stalks. Wash them well, and pare the roots clean. Then have ready half a pint of white wine, the yolks of three eggs beat fine, and a little salt and mutmeg. Mix all well together with flour into a batter, and dip every head into the batter, and fry them in butter. When they be enough, lay them in your dish, and pour melted butter over them. (68)
. . . while others seem frankly revolting, like this one for “calves head pie”:
HAVING cleansed and boiled the head tender, carefully take off the flesh as whole as you can. Then take out the eyes and slice the tongue. Make a good puff paste crust, cover the dish, and lay on your meat. Throw the tongue over it, and lay the eyes, cut in two, at each corner. Season it with a very little pepper and salt, pour in half a pint of the liquor it was boiled in, lay on it a thick top crust, and bake it an hour in a quick oven. In the mean time, boil the bones of the head in two quarts of liquor, with two or three blades of mace, half a quarter of an ounce of whole pepper, a large onion, and a bundle of sweet herbs. Let it boil till it be reduced to about a pint; then strain it off, and add two spoonfuls of catchup, three of red wine, a small piece of butter rolled in flour, and half an ounce of truffles and morels. Season it to your palate, and boil it. Boil half the brains with some sage, beat them, and twelve leaves of sage chopped fine. Then stir all together, and give it a boil. Take the other part of the brains, and beat them, with some of the sage chopped fine, a little lemon-peel finely minced and half a small nutmeg grated. Beat it up with an egg, and fry it in little cakes of a fine light brown. Boil six eggs hard, of which take only the yolks; and when your pie comes out of the oven, take off the lid, lay the eggs and cakes over it, and pour in all the sauce. Send it hot to table without the lid. (219-220)
If anyone would like to try these and give us feedback, we’d love to know how they go over at your next dinner function.