Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The cocoa-nut cake. A report.

First, I handed out copies of Eliza Leslie's recipe.   Then, I dived into my large cooler bag (the temperature was a nasty 94 degrees outside), and produced The Cake - and explained that this was a total experiment.   Then I read them Robert Appelbaum (from his "Rhetoric and Epistemology in Early Printed Recipe Collections," Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 3:2 (2003), p. 9)'s claim that recipes are "products of shifting patterns in the organization of households, the definition of regional and ethnic identity, the practices of gender construction, the spread of literacy, the promotion of professional medicine, and a variety of other social, cultural and even political phenomena."   (OK, I was very grateful to find that quoted in the current edition of Gastronomica, in a piece by Jude Stewart called "Cooking up Color").   And then we tasted it.

It was shockingly good - not unlike a somewhat alcoholic bread pudding, without the bread.   The coconut had more or less risen to the top; the bottom part was more like a rich coconut and marsala flavored solid custard.   Is this really what C19th cakes could be like?

I don't think I'll be cooking for next week: the most food-like substance to come into our discussion of the first half of Bleak House involved sooty deposits, and thick yellow smelly grease, and the flavor of cooking chops in the air ...

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