Female members of wealthy families recorded favourite dishes and advice in ancient books, say curators
Curry was a “novelty for the elite” in Scotland during the late 18th century, according to historians who found an advert by a grocer advertising a parcel of then-exotic real powder from India in a real package, selling in the Edinburgh Evening Courier.
Writing in 1798, trader John Caird told that public that he had “just received a parcel of real India curry powder in the original package,” available for 2/6d a canister long before curry became a favourite across Britain.
“This was a considerable sum in the late 18th century and was way beyond the means of ordinary workers,” points out curator Olive Geddes, who has lined up an exhibition at the National Library of Scotland including Scotland’s first recipe book.
“The written records we have are mostly for the wealthy. But the exhibition also looks at the role of the cook from the ordinary housewife and domestic servant to the professional chef.
“We hope that people can learn more about food in Scotland and about how tastes have changed and developed.”
Female members of wealthy families cooked up most of the books, using them to record favourite dishes and new culinary tips rather than recount everyday meals.
The earliest cookbook is John Reid’s The Scots Gard’ner, published in 1683 as a book for food growers and meal preparation.
“The social and economic significance of food will also feature,” says Geddes, who has designed the displays into a series of kitchen counters, with memorable quotes, tea, ale, wine and whisky.
“Food has become cheaper and much more plentiful in the developed world over the past few decades. This has led to concern that we are losing sight of where our food comes from.”
Eight old Scottish measures and traditionsA chopin – two pints
A mutchkin – just under a pint
A peck – two gallons
A forpet or lippie – half a gallon
Powsowdie – a sheep heid’s broth
Crappit heids – haddock heads and livers
Cruddy butter – a type of cheese
Haggis – originally created to use up the less appealing parts of an animal and ensure nothing was wasted
- Lifting the Lid: 400 years of Food and Drink in Scotland is at the National Library of Scotland until November 12 2015.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
More from Culture24's History and Heritage section:
Olive oil and dog paw prints: Archaeologists say villa discovery reveals Wales's Roman trading links
Ancient gold shows prehistoric trading route existed between Cornwall and Ireland, say experts
National Biscuit Day: See a biscuit found in Captain Scott's tent after his doomed Antarctic Expedition