The Accompaniments of Wine

bordeaux chateau bottled 1934The great oenophile and gastronome T. Earle Welby had sound and sensible, if occasionally harshly expressed, views on what to eat with wine. Here are some of his opinions taken from the brilliant Cellar Key (1933).

‘With the exception of Champagne, which is never better than when taken in the forenoon, and Sherry, which is highly adaptable, all wines need, for full enjoyment, to be accompanied or immediately preceded by food. It is thus an important part of connoisseurship to know the affinities and antipathies between particular wines and food.

To begin with the enemies of all wine whatsoever, almost all hors d’oeuvres are inimical. To a great extent they consist of smoked, pickled, or highly condimented articles, and are therefore bound to blur the palate. But there is nothing to be said against plain melon, caviare, or oysters. Genuine Chablis is proverbially most enjoyable with oysters; and all the fine white Burgundies…will accord excellently with oysters, as indeed with crab or lobster or fish of any kind. But unless melon or caviare or oysters be selected, it is wise to eliminate hors d’oeuvres on a serious vinous occasion, and simply have Spanish olives in brine put on the table as a preliminary, and kept there till the meal is at an end.

Egg dishes are usually not favourable to the enjoyment of wine, for eggs very often have more a less a sulphurous flavour, and though this may hardly matter when one is drinking the baser, over-sulphured white wines of Bordeaux, it is very harmful to all delicate wines. Continue reading

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Snail recipe

From Les Boissons et Liqueurs economique by Etienne Ducret (Paris, c 1890.)
This was sent in by loyal jotter and foodie RR.

A recipe for snail syrup.

First: pound together very finely:500 grammes of snails and 500 grammes of sugar ; then, pass this paste through a fine sieve.

Second: combine 500grammes of sweet almonds; 150 grammes of bitter almonds. Pound them with 500 grammes of sugar and 125 grammes of water. Dilute this paste in 825 grammes of water. Strain vigorously.

Third: add to this emulsion your mixture of sugar and snails that you dissolved in a bain marie on a low heat.

Fourth: when the sugar has melted add a certain quantity of orange flower water.

For consumption and bronchitis, 3 to 6 teaspoonfuls of this syrup is recommended per day.

Only ingredient missing------puppy dogs’ tails. Incidentally, M. Ducret (1829 – 1909), as well as being a gastronome (he also wrote a book on patisserie) seems to have been a literary hack in fin de siècle Paris. His book contains several recipes for absinthe.