“I request you will prepare
To your own taste the bill of fare;
At present, if to judge I’m able,
The finest works are of the table.
I should prefer the cook just now
To Rubens or to Gerard Dow.”
CAXTON PRESS OF C. SHERMAN, SON & CO.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864,
BY MARIA J. MOSS,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“What’s under this cover?
For cookery’s a secret.”—Moore.
When I wrote the following pages, some years back at Oak Lodge, as a pastime, I did not think it would be of service to my fellow-creatures, for our suffering soldiers, the sick, wounded, and needy, who have so nobly fought our country’s cause, to maintain the flag of our great Republic, and to prove among Nations that a Free Republic is not a myth. With these few words I dedicate this book to the Sanitary Fair to be held in Philadelphia, June, 1864.
Through tomes of fable and of dream
I sought an eligible theme;
But none I found, or found them shared
Already by some happier bard,
Till settling on the current year
I found the far-sought treasure near.
A theme for poetry, you see—
A theme t’ ennoble even me,
In memorable forty-three.
Oh, Dick! you may talk of your writing and reading,
Your logic and Greek, but there is nothing like feeding.
Upon singing and cookery, Bobby, of course,
Standing up for the latter Fine Art in full force.
Are these the choice dishes the Doctor has sent us?
Heaven sends us good meats, but the Devil sends cooks.
That my life, like the German, may be
“Du lit a la table, de la table au lit.”—Moore.
TO THE READER.
Though cooks are often men of pregnant wit,
Through niceness of their subject few have writ.
’Tis a sage question, if the art of cooks
Is lodg’d by nature or attain’d by books?
That man will never frame a noble treat,
Whose whole dependence lies in some receipt.
Then by pure nature everything is spoil’d,—
She knows no more than stew’d, bak’d, roast, and boil’d.
When art and nature join, the effect will be,
Some nice ragout, or charming fricasee.
What earth and waters breed, or air inspires,
Man for his palate fits by torturing fires.
But, though my edge be not too nicely set,
Yet I another’s appetite may whet;
May teach him when to buy, when season’s pass’d,
What’s stale, what choice, what plentiful, what waste,
And lead him through the various maze of taste.
The fundamental principle of all
Is what ingenious cooks the relish call;
For when the market sends in loads of food,
They all are tasteless till that makes them good.
Besides, ’tis no ignoble piece of care,
To know for whom it is you would prepare.
You’d please a friend, or reconcile a brother,
A testy father, or a haughty mother;
Would mollify a judge, would cram a squire,
Or else some smiles from court you would desire;
Or would, perhaps, some hasty supper give,
To show the splendid state in which you live.
Pursuant to that interest you propose,
Must all your wines and all your meat be chose.
Tables should be like pictures to the sight,
Some dishes cast in shade, some spread in light;
Some at a distance brighten, some near hand,
Where ease may all their delicace command;
Some should be moved when broken, others last
Through the whole treat, incentive to the taste.
Locket, by many labors feeble grown,
Up from the kitchen call’d his eldest son;
Though wise thyself (says he), though taught by me,
Yet fix this sentence in thy memory:
There are some certain things that don’t excel,
And yet we say are tolerably well.
There’s many worthy men a lawyer prize,
Whom they distinguish as of middle size,
For pleading well at bar or turning books;
But this is not, my son, the fate of cooks,
From whose mysterious art true pleasure springs,
To stall of garters, and to throne of kings.
A simple scene, a disobliging song,
Which no way to the main design belong,
Or were they absent never would be miss’d,
Have made a well-wrought comedy be hiss’d;
So in a feast, no intermediate fault
Will be allow’d; but if not best, ’tis nought.
If you, perhaps, would try some dish unknown,
Which more peculiarly you’d make your own,
Like ancient sailors, still regard the coast,—
By venturing out too far you may be lost.
By roasting that which your forefathers boil’d,
And broiling what they roasted, much is spoil’d.
That cook to American palates is complete,
Whose savory hand gives turn to common meat.
Far from your parlor have your kitchen placed,
Dainties may in their working be disgraced.
In private draw your poultry, clean your tripe,
And from your eels their slimy substance wipe.
Let cruel offices be done by night,
For they who like the thing abhor the sight.
’Tis by his cleanliness a cook must please;
A kitchen will admit of no disease.
Were Horace, that great master, now alive,
A feast with wit and judgment he’d contrive,
As thus: Supposing that you would rehearse
A labor’d work, and every dish a verse,
He’d say, “Mend this and t’other line and this.”
If after trial it were still amiss,
He’d bid you give it a new turn of face,
Or set some dish more curious in its place.
If you persist, he would not strive to move
A passion so delightful as self-love.
Cooks garnish out some tables, some they fill,
Or in a prudent mixture show their skill.
Clog not your constant meals; for dishes few
Increase the appetite when choice and new.
E’en they who will extravagance profess,
Have still an inward hatred for excess.
Meat forced too much, untouch’d at table lies;
Few care for carving trifles in disguise,
Or that fantastic dish some call surprise.
When pleasures to the eye and palate meet,
That cook has render’d his great work complete;
His glory far, like sirloin knighthood