When the ALHFAM New England Regional organization called for Foodways Programs for the Old Sturbridge Village conference in March 2013, I sent in a proposal. I knew I wanted to do something different, and different it would be. The title was called “They Ate That!” Pigeon Pear, Boiled Cods, Head and yummy minced Pie of Tongue,” a look at foods we don’t see on the menu today. This would be a workshop that explored some unexpected and shunned foods by today’s standards. My proposal was accepted and during the next few weeks I will post the results of our hearth cooking adventure at the ALHFAM regional conference. My first task was to find the best receipts for the three dishes. Edward Kidder was the inspiration for the Pigeon Pear. His receipt was novel and one of the few I have come across that uses a bladder. Edward Kidder was born in 1667 in Canterbury, England, and became a master pastry chef. He moved to London where the men of great power lived and worked. These lawyers and aldermen entertained in lavish style, and became his patrons. Kidder did more that sweets, he made robust food for large scale banquets and intimate dinner parties. In 1740, he wrote his receipts down in a beautifully illustrated book with elegant copper engravings of colored still-life with food, drinks and urns of flowers. Our team for the Pigeon Pear receipt was Faith, Beth and Susan. After reading the receipt through, they each took a task and started out. Gizzards were boiled, bread was toasted, spinach was blanched, gravy made and forced meat and a stuffing put together. With everything ready, Beth wraps the bird in bacon and stuffs the bladder with the forced meat stuffed, Cornish hen.
Beth puts the filled bladder into a simmering pot of water. After an hour it was taken out. Our proud cooks really enjoyed the experience.
After the bladder cooled off, I cut the ties and the bladder in an attempt to save it for use on a crock. Unfortunately, it had too much food stuff stuck to it so I abandoned that idea. Then it was time to turn over to the chefs the cutting and serving of the Cornish Pear. Due to time restraints, we did not get to finish the hen. It still needed to be browned by the fire to crisp the bacon. I have posted a picture of one that I did previously. However, the cooks produced a delicious, tender and moist chicken. We ended sharing our feast with other workshop participants. A job well done and enjoyed, thanks to three remarkable ladies who came to cook. Happy cooking! Sandie