Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Vermicelli Soup

William Cowper, letter to Lady Hesketh (November 27, 1787):
A poor man begg'd food at the Hall lately. The Cook gave him some Vermicelli soup. He ladled it about sometime with the spoon, and then returned it to her saying — I am a Poor man it is true, and I am very hungry, but yet I cannot eat broth with Maggots in it.
Vermicelli, a type of pasta, is also the Italian word for little worms, or maggots. Here is a recipe for vermicelli soup from Francis Collingwood and John Woollams, The Universal Cook, and City and Country Housekeeper (London: R. Noble, 1792), p. 191:
Having put four ounces of butter into a large tossing-pan, cut a knuckle of veal and a scrag of mutton into small pieces about the size of walnuts. Slice in the meat of a shank of ham, with three or four blades of mace, two or three carrots, two parsnips, two large onions, with a clove stuck in at each end. Cut in four or five heads of celery washed clean, a bunch of sweet herbs, eight or ten morels, and an anchovy. Cover the pan close, and set it over a slow fire, without any water, till the gravy is drawn out of the meat. Then pour the gravy into a pot or bason, let the meat brown in the same pan; but take care it does not burn. Then pour in four quarts of water, and let it boil gently till it is wasted to three pints. Then strain it, and put the gravy to it. Set it on the fire, add to it two ounces of vermicelli, cut the nicest part of a head of celery, put in chyan pepper and salt to your taste, and let it boil about four minutes. If it is not of a good colour, put in a little browning, lay a French roll in the soup-dish, pour in the soup upon it, and lay some of the vermicelli over it.
A children's song starts "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, / Guess I'll go eat worms..."

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