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|Ragoos R Us...or, are they?
Written by JulieW
(5/2/2007 8:41 a.m.)
A ragout, or ragoo as it was spelt in the mid to late 18th century English cookery books, is a form of spiced stew.
Here is Mrs. Glasse’s recipe for ragoo of lamb from the first edition of her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747):
What is interesting, to me at least, is that Mrs. Glasse had a very jaundiced view of French Cooking, French Cooks…and probably France in general, judging by the remarks she makes in her book.
Here is the beginning of her diatribe against the French and their extravagant way of cooking from her preface to the book:
You may leave out the Wine according to what Use you want it for: So that really one might have a genteel Entertainment for the Price the Sauce of one Dish comes to. But if Gentlemen will have French cooks, they must pay for French tricks
She then continues as follows, and concludes with her explanation of how few medicinal remedies there are included in her cookery book (many early cook books were a mixture of medicinal as well as culinary recipes):
So- why all this prejudice among the English cooks against the French? Rivalry no doubt: many French cookery books were translated into English, so there was many oportunites to compare the two different culinary styles. And probably some form of zenophobia.....we were at war throuhout mos tof JAs life, after all....? ;-)
To give you some background to this point, here is a link to a recent post I made about men cooks in our era and how rare French Cooks were (and how expensive).
And here is another post which contains an extract from Samuel and Sarah Adam’s book The Complete Servant(1825) with their rather cutting views on Men cooks and French foood.
So- what does all this tell us about Mr. Hurst, if anything?
We know that he is, forgive me for being blunt, a rather useless individual: he has little money (which is probably why he married Louisa and her very attractive dowry.
He is a man of fashion (and probably is very expensive to keep clothed in the style to which he has become accustomed) and JA finished this portrait of him with this little tiny report of the exchange between him and Elizabeth from Chapter 8 above, which proves he has expensive culinary tastes.
He probably regularly dines in town with those who employ a French man cook, and despises those who have a plain, dare I say it more patriotic, good old English taste in food( JOKE)
IMHO, this tiny exchange is included to confirm our opinion of him as being, to paraphrase my Yorkshire born Grandmother as “ neither use nor ornament”though to give him his due, he was probably more ornament than use: he probably looked very pretty in his clothes…’;-)
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