Sunday 24 October 2010

From the archives: pudding, a poem

Now the autumn weather has settled in, here's a nice seasonal pudding in a novel form!

We may have celebrity chefs, but where are the rhyming recipes? My old favourite Enquire Within Upon Everything has a recipe-in-a-verse for Mother Eve's Pudding (complete with the odd riddle). Variations of this poem seem to have been popular throughout the nineteenth century: there are American versions too, with appropriate changes such as losing the references to shillings and maids. Today, not only novelty recipes but also puddings that you boil for three hours have rather gone out of fashion...

Mother Eve's Pudding

If you want a good pudding, to teach you I'm willing;
Take two pennyworth of eggs, when twelve for a shilling;
And of the same fruit that Eve had once chosen,
Well pared and well chopped, at least half-a-dozen;
Six ounces of bread (let your maid eat the crust),
The crumbs must be grated as small as the dust;
Six ounces of currants from the stones you must sort,
Lest they break out your teeth, and spoil all your sport;
Six ounces of sugar won't make it too sweet;
Some salt and some nutmeg will make it complete;
Three hours let it boil, without hurry or flutter,
And then serve it up, without sugar or butter.

(Or in othe words, combine 2 eggs, 6 peeled, chopped apples, 6oz fine fresh breadcrumbs, 6oz currants, 60z sugar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Boil [tied in a cloth] for three hours.)

Modern Eve's pudding recipes not only fail to rhyme; they also make a rather less frugal dessert in which apples are topped with a sponge mixture.

Image by, shared under a Creative Commons license.


Minnie said...

Fascinating post, Caroline. Wonder how old the recipe really is. But am still trying to get my head around the 'boil for 3 hours' bit, which seems excessive for non-suet mixture (although would be the first to admit to culinary deficiencies!).
The contemporary version of Eve's Pudding is delicious, mind ...

CarolineLD said...

It does seem extraordinary; you inspired me to research a little further, and this site has several recipes for puddings with breadcrumbs and no suet. They have similarly long boiling times. I'm not tempted to try making it though!

Minnie said...

Ah, thanks for that: fascinating. I'm not tempted, either! That title is a dead giveaway: pragmatism ('well') over flair + care (eg pick a regional cuisine, any regional cuisine, of France ...).
Recall reading one or two very good histories of cookery in the British isles - one by, I think, Philippa Pullar - must go and explore further.