Seasonings/spices

WashYourHands

Well-known member
British food has traditionally avoided everything except salt, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Most pies (mashed spud topped) have these, the types your Nan might've made as an example. Pepper was a luxury.

Then Britain raped and pillaged the world and discovered smoked paprika can go with virtually everything. It's a peculiar learning, food was far more bland when i was a kid, we just didn't know it so you put salt on everything.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Although spice has been around here for a little longer than people assume. See Mrs Beeton for evidence.
 

Leo

Well-known member
Jury's still out on bay leaf. Tossed into so many simmering recipes but what does it actually add? I remain skeptical.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
If you have the luxury, try and grow a bay tree. They can be trimmed and pruned right down to a chest height shrub and you get to use the trimmings. Hardy cunts too.

Smell my leaves 🖖
 

Leo

Well-known member
LOL...I live in a fifth-floor walkup, not much agriculture going on around these parts. :)
 

Mellsman

Well-known member
British food has traditionally avoided everything except salt, parsley, rosemary and thyme.

Surely not so. Posh medieval grub used lots of spices.

I give you Vyand Royall (aka Meat Royale)

Take wyne greke, oþer rynysshe wyne and hony clarified þerwith. take flour of rys powdour of Gyngur oþ of peper & canel. oþer flour of canel. powdour of clowes, safroun. sugur cypre. mylberyes, oþer saundres. & medle alle þise togider. boile it and salt it. and loke þat it be stondyng.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Surely not so. Posh medieval grub used lots of spices.
Indeed.

There's an English cookbook from, I dunno, probably about the time of Elizabeth I? The sort of time when European merchants were getting seriously interested in India and SE Asia, but before the depredations of the Dutch and later British EIC's. Anyway, it's for a recipe called something like An Verily Authenticke Currie of Hindoostan, and it's basically a standard European meat/veg stew with a fuckton of pepper dumped into it.

But yeah, exoticke spysses as a status symbol, as much as a flavouring, definitely go way back into the middle ages. And no doubt to the Greco-Roman civilization before that.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
Surely not so. Posh medieval grub used lots of spices.

I give you Vyand Royall (aka Meat Royale)

Take wyne greke, oþer rynysshe wyne and hony clarified þerwith. take flour of rys powdour of Gyngur oþ of peper & canel. oþer flour of canel. powdour of clowes, safroun. sugur cypre. mylberyes, oþer saundres. & medle alle þise togider. boile it and salt it. and loke þat it be stondyng.

It’s posh though innit. School dinners in Britain circa 1976-1988, one reason chippies retained so much of my pocket money.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
But yeah, exoticke spysses as a status symbol, as much as a flavouring, definitely go way back into the middle ages. And no doubt to the Greco-Roman civilization before that.
AIUI the medieval thing where meats were flavoured with loads of fruit, nuts and spices is a lot like the Victorian enthusiasm for curry, except that in this case it was returning pilgrims and crusaders who'd got hooked on sticking apricots and almonds and cinnamon in stuff while they were in the Middle East. It's kind of interesting that this basically died out, IIRC by the Early Modern period, except in festive food eg at Christmas, where you still get orange peel and cloves and cinnamon and raisins in everything.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Historically it was a running joke on the continent that the English had sixty religious sects but only one sauce: melted butter. Which I think was a middle-class reaction to the perceived decadence and indulgence of the nobility's enthusiasm for French cuisine. "No thank you very much, we are English, we like simple and honest English food, and melted butter is quite enough for us."
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
FWIW, pretty much all of my information on this topic comes from Taste by Kate Colquhoun, which is worth a read if you want a load more fascinating titbits like this with a bit of lightweight social history on the side.
 
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