Friday, May 27, 2016



Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), A Tale of a Tub, Sect. I:
Wisdom is a fox, who, after long hunting, will at last cost you the pains to dig out. It is a cheese, which, by how much the richer, has the thicker, the homelier, and the coarser coat; and whereof, to a judicious palate, the maggots are the best. It is a sack-posset, wherein the deeper you go, you will find it the sweeter. Wisdom is a hen, whose cackling we must value and consider, because it is attended with an egg; but then lastly, it is a nut, which, unless you choose with judgment, may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm.

Sack-posset recipes, from Mrs. Glasse, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, new ed., (London: A. Millar et al., 1789), pp. 177-178:

To make an excellent SACK-POSSET.

BEAT fifteen eggs, whites and yolks very well, and strain them; then put three quarters of a pound of white sugar into a pint of canary, and mix it with your eggs in a bason; set it over a chafing-dish of coals, and keep continually stirring it till it is scalding hot. In the mean time grate some nutmeg in a quart of milk and boil it; then pour it into your eggs and wine, they being scalding hot. Hold your hand very high as you pour it, and somebody stirring it all the time you are pouring in the milk; then take it off the chafing-dish, set it before the fire half an hour, and serve it up.

To make another SACK-POSSET.

Take a quart of new-milk, four Naples biscuits, crumble them, and when the milk boils throw them in. Just give it one boil, take it off, grate in it some nutmeg, and sweeten to your palate; then pour in half a pint of sack, stirring it all the time, and serve it up. You may crumble white-bread, instead of biscuit.

Or make it thus:

BOIL a quart of cream, or new-milk, with the yolks of two eggs; first take a French roll, and cut it as thin as possibly you can in little pieces; lay it in the dish you intend for the posset. When the milk boils (which you must keep stirring all the time), pour it over the bread, and stir it together; cover it close, then take a pint of canary, a quarter of a pound of sugar, and grate in some nutmeg. When it boils pour it into the milk, stirring it all the time, and serve it up.

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