Surprise Eggs ~1895

Literary References in Old Cookbooks.

Esteemed Reader,

Today’s recipe includes a history lesson, cultural references, something of a Victorian rant, and a glimpse of a colorful past. Case in point, we learn that one-third of the crime in this world is due to the direct, although inscrutable, instrumentality of the Devil. I need to use that line somehow at work. Perhaps for a project that goes sideways. Seems like as plausible an excuse as any…

Cultural References:

  • Mrs. Grundy – A prudish woman, reference to Speed the Plough, a 1798 play by Thomas Morton. Mrs. Grundy is a character who never appears on stage. Akin to saying, “What would the neighbors think?” or “What would Mrs. Grundy think?”
  • Madame de Maintenon – 10th Grade history time! The second wife of Louis the XIV. Ardent Catholic, she was the second most powerful person after the king and used her influence to persuade him to revoke the Edict of Nante with the later Edict of Fontainebleau. It drove an exodus of Protestants and increased the hostility of Protestant nations bordering France.
  • Napoleon ostensibly suffered from gastritis. He condemned Duc d’Enghien for conspiring against France – Not going to try and re-write that history here. Needless to say, Wikipedia has an extensive plotline for the event – and why hasn’t Netflix produced a docudrama of the saga yet? Wow! Just wow!
  • Ever heard of the Garrick Club Affair? Me either. It involves a literary rivalry between Thackeray and Dickens. Yates was a literary critic at the time; Dickens helped him gain prominence. All three belonged to the Garrick Club. Long story short, there was a woman involved, an actual affair, and gentlemanly hurt feelings. Another docudrama waiting to be made… So our author was a contemporary – and acquaintance – of Thackery and Yates.

What I find fascinating is that all of these historical allusions are neatly packaged in a simple recipe, flowing from the pen in an era without Wikipedia. I feel like such a luddite. Going to go make some simple scrambled eggs for breakfast…



Where does one even begin with tagging this post? Cheers!

Source: The Thorough Good Cook, 1895.
Image: Madame de Maintenon

More Fun Discoveries from Antique Cookbooks

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