Cooking is a cultural act as well as being a necessity and a source of pleasure for humanity. All the foods we eat reflect our culture and our past. Throughout history, meals have occupied a large place in both visual and written media. Cookbooks were among the best-selling books that offered colorful worlds to their readers. In those books there were recipes that we had never heard of, as well as dishes that did not seem strange to us today. We gathered five dishes that were collected from cookbooks and described as the best dishes ever. Happy reading!
1. Rat cake
It may seem a little strange that rat pie is among the best dishes in history. Rat pie was a staple food in Victorian England. Traditionally a local delicacy in the north of England, this dish was very common both in the palace and among the people. According to a recipe in the Sheffield Independent newspaper of 22 April 1879, the rat pie was prepared in the same way as the rabbit pie. In this recipe; it was recommended to remove the rat’s tail and skins before washing it and dividing it into four parts. The crux of the recipe was here. It was also recommended to cook the meat in a little lard before coating it with gelatin. On the other hand, it was claimed that rats had to be fried in hot oil in order to get rid of all the hair.
In RD Blackmore’s three-volume novel “Mary Anerley – A Yorkshire Tale” published in 1880, the public is described as frequently consuming the rat pie. According to people living in the Victorian era, rats were among the most nutritious foods. Especially for sailors, rat pie was one of the indispensable dishes. When it comes to rat cake; comes a food consumed by the helpless, poor and lower class. However, this dish was also frequently consumed among wealthy Britons. French cuisine was as integral a part of British culinary culture in the Victorian era as it is today. In one of the leading Parisian restaurants of the time, rats were among the most luxurious dishes on the menu, cooked in the ashes of a roasted dog’s leg and then served in a mushroom pie. If the French ate rat pie, would the British be left behind? They didn’t stay.
Cockentrice was a combination turkey and pork dish that made nobles drool during Tudor times. One day, an extravagant dinner was arranged in the palace to impress the King of France. Many dishes on the table were designed to surprise the King of France. In some of these, the “engagement” technique was used. Embedding is a concept that refers to the cooking of an animal by stuffing it into another animal. There were countless dishes cooked by the engastra method. The most famous, however, was Cockentrice.
Conckentrice needed a pig and a turkey. The two animals were first cut in half and then the broken pieces were sewn together. The face and abdomen of the pig were generally used. In other words, the pig’s head was attached to the rear end of the turkey. In a recipe from 1425, the preparation of Conckentrice, one of the best dishes in history, is described as follows: “Take a turkey, boil it, drain the water and then cut it in half at the waist. Take a pig, boil it and cut it in half at the waist. Take your needle and thread and sew the front of the turkey to the back of the pig. And sew the front of the pig to the back of the turkey. Then stuff it like a pig. Put a skewer in it and fry. When cooked, garnish the outside with the egg yolk, ginger, saffron and parsley juice. Serve as royal meat.”
3. Juicy peacock
In the Middle Ages, economically prosperous people ate two or three meals a day. Breakfast was mainly boiled meat and toast. The other food would be fowl, cake, fish or roast meat. Aristocrats ate three meals a day. For medieval aristocrats, food was closely linked to ostentation. Peacocks, in particular, were a sign of wealth. Undoubtedly, these birds were present on the tables of all wealthy families living in the Middle Ages. A recipe book written in the mid-15th century describes how to prepare a peacock. After plucking the bird’s feathers, the meat was roasted without breaking into pieces, and then the bird’s feathers were put back on the roasted animal. This would make the peacock look alive. Thus, the aristocrats had the opportunity to show their wealth to their guests with the giant peacock in the middle of the table.
4. Beef brain with egg and offal
The culinary culture of the Roman Empire consisted of practical and delicious meals. But some Romans also liked strong flavors. In a cookbook known as Apicius, it seems that the Romans made some pretty peculiar dishes. Boiled flamingo, testicles and jellyfish… The cookbook called Apicius consists of 10 separate chapters. Chapter 4 of the book provides a recipe for a brain lunch with eggs and offal. According to the recipe, the fibrous parts of the brain must be removed. Later, it is claimed that the brain and the egg were fried in the same place. The chicken offal, which is the last ingredient, is recommended to be finely chopped before frying. Finally, all the ingredients are gathered and served. It’s time to eat! As the Roman poet Lucretius, who lived in the first century BC, said: “Ut quod aliis cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum”. “For some it is food, for others bitter is poison.”
5. Almond hedgehog
English cookbook author Hannah Glasse’s best-selling 1747 book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy features a different dish: hedgehog with almonds. First, a slippery marzipan was made with 12 eggs, cream, sugar, almonds and butter. Then the hedgehog was peeled and boiled. Once the hedgehog was cooked, it was placed on top of the marzipan and served. Certainly, people in modern times would not eat this dish. However, in the world of the 18th century, the hedgehog with almonds was one of the indispensables of the invitation tables.
If this content interests you; You can also check out our list of 35 interesting facts about drinks and foods that you will be surprised to hear!