One of the books I’m currently reading is The Long Song, a novel about slavery set in 19th century Jamaica, by Andrea Levy. The narrator is July, now an old woman born as a slave, writing her memoirs.
This morning I read about the preparations for the Yuletide dinner of 1831. There were to be twelve people at the plantation owner’s table. Caroline, the owner’s sister is giving Hannah, the cook, her orders for the food to be provided.
There was to be both turtle and vegetable soups, mutton, pigeon pies and guinea fowl, a boiled ham and a turkey or two, turtle served in the shell (but she would prefer beef), four stewed ducks, cheese, as many hogsheads as they could get and roasted pig.
There was also to be:
… malt liquor, wine, porter, cider, brandy and rum, watermelon, mango, pawpaw, naseberry, soursop, grandilla fruit. ‘And make sure the preserve has come from England. Strawberry or damson. Do not serve guava, ginger or that ghastly sorrel jelly. I’m so tired of Jamaican jams.’
Hannah had stopped listening, for the need to shout ‘And me to fix-up all this? You a gut-fatty, cha!’ at her misssus was becoming overpowering in her. (pages 74 – 75)
And in case they were still hungry after this obscene amount of food, Hannah was told to make plum pudding. Hannah remembered how to make it –
A little fruit, a little molasses, some cornmeal, eggs, plenty rum. Mash it up a bit. Put this mess in that silly round mould the missus did give her the first Christmas she arrived, and boil it until the water does run dry. And when the thing is hard then it is done. (pages 75 – 76)
So far I think this book is beautifully written, vivid, lively and enthralling.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.