In modern times, we generally refer to Queen Victoria’s reign as the Victorian era in England. This era stretched from 1837 to 1901. According to the great scheme of human history, it was not so long ago. According to the grand scheme of culinary history, it could just as easily have happened on another planet a million years ago. While a number of dishes still seemed perfectly normal today, there are a handful of foods the Victorians ate that would not find a welcome home on many menus these days.
10. Broxy meat
Meat has long been a staple for people around the world. The Victorians enjoyed all types of meat, fish and poultry. From beef to pork to lamb and more, they definitely had their carnivorous side. But like today, meat was not always the cheapest product. Sometimes, if you wanted a delicious steak, you had to choose a slightly lower quality. That was where broxy meat came in.
If you couldn’t afford the good cuts of meat and the average person most likely couldn’t, your local butcher may have got Broxy meat at a discount. Usually, though not necessarily, sheep were broxy meat the flesh of an animal that died from an illness. In essence, you made a gamble by even eating it. While not every disease can easily pass from animal to human, sheep can be infected with everything from tetanus to ringworm to various parasites and bacteria that either kill you or make you wish you were dead .
9. Brown Windsor soup
Brown Windsor soup sounds very neat and British, even if you have no idea what’s inside. And this is really a traditional British favorite. You can still find it today, although the recipe has definitely evolved to be refined in the modern world. Nowadays it is made with root vegetables and even a little Madeira wine. It used to be a little less chic.
The traditional recipe for Brown Windsor The soup consisted of brown sauce, a little malt vinegar, a few peppercorns and a little dried fruit such as figs or dates. That’s it. You can also add Madeira wine to this concoction so that you at least get an idea of what essentially consists of sauce and fruits disguised as soup.
8. Shank Rabbi
You can find hot dog carts everywhere in big cities today, but go back to Victorian times and you would find trotter sellers everywhere. Sheep rabbit were the street food of choice for the Victorian crowd and proved very popular even though they didn’t have much to offer.
As the name suggests, a sheep trotter is just a sheep’s foot. They were usually cooked and then you could just gnaw on the greasy, gruesome appendage until you cleaned it to the bone. There wasn’t much meat on one of them, and there was also the potential that it wasn’t very clean either. But they were cheap and easy to get, and because of this, hundreds of them could be found in major cities at that time. While people in the western hemisphere have more or less given up on the dish, it is still very popular in some Eastern cultures called Paya.
Were bloaters Incense herringand they were extremely popular. While smoked herring is not that unusual and is still popular today, there was a difference between normal smoke herring, something like a dump truck and a bloater. The clue is in the name and how it is prepared.
Bloaters have been prepared entirely and as they are. Everything was still in the fish, it was in no way gutted or cleaned. They got the name Bloater because the fish would bloat when smoking because its guts were still there and they were just beginning to expand. This is traditionally one of the main reasons why we gut an animal before preparation, as the gases and liquids in its stomachs and organs can be both volatile and messy. The last thing most of us want when eating a fish is to see the contents of its digestive tract.
These fish were popular in the Yarmouth area of Norfolk and were traditionally made from some of the later catches of the season. The early fish were often too small to be cooked normally so that they could be inserted. The thicker fish that had accumulated later in the season were smoked and sold as bloaters, and it was generally considered safe to eat them whole. They were so popular that people often bought boxes of them and sent them to friends and relatives as gifts.
6. Duck pressed
The name of pressed duck doesn’t sound too terrible at first, but when it comes to preparing this dish, it’s quite pathological. The dish was so popular that a chef actually invented a duck press to do better. It became a typical dish at Le Tour d’argent in France. We seem to have eaten over 1 million people on this creepy main course.
Before the duck was pressed, it had to be killed. The preferred method of slaughter was strangulation so you don’t lose any of the blood. They let the carcass sit for a day so that everything can calm down and then gut the bird, leaving the liver and heart intact. At this point, the duck should be thrown into an oven at the highest level for about 20 minutes to break the liver and heart.
That’s where pressed duck gets morbid and weird. The freshly cooked duck was brought to the guests at the table and together with the press. The legs and breast meat were carefully removed, and then the carcass was placed in the press and crushed. The blood and marrow would drain through a spout and collect in a bowl. A little liver and broth would be added to the duck juice and you would treat yourself to a sauce. The duck was then served with the sauce poured over it.
5. Slink meat
If you have an affinity for leather, you may have heard of slink leather. It is leather from the skin of unborn calves. It’s about as gruesome as it sounds, and it’s not the only use of slink out there.
Along with broxy meat, Sneak meat was another thing you could find in a butcher shop when you had a limited budget and couldn’t afford the decent cuts. If a cow was slaughtered for meat and found to be pregnant at that time, that unborn calf could be slaughtered and sold as meat. They would also sell the meat from miscarriages or premature babies. Selling this type of meat is no longer legal, but for the Victorians it was an inexpensive alternative to regular cuts.
4. Jellied eels
Eel in aspic is not a nickname or a dish that is difficult to find out in any way. It is exactly what it claims to be. As a traditional cockney dish, it was made by chopping eels and boiling them with some spices in water and vinegar. When you let the dish cool, it solidifies into a fish jelly puck.
They used to be popular as street food, sold outside pubs, and eaten cold. As the variety of food sold on the streets increased, the gelled eel went out of fashion. This was also because it became more difficult to find eels in the Victorian era. It was said that at one point, eel was so common in the Thames that you could just throw a net in and pull out as many as you could handle. During the Victorian period, the Thames was so polluted that the population was almost gone. Most of the eels gelled for Victorian guests were actually imported from places like Holland.
That said, it is actually becoming popular again, but the eels still need to be imported.
3. Mock Turtle Soup and Brain Balls
The idea of turtle soup may not be appealing to everyone if we don’t eat for any reason other than the turtle in general. Would a wrong turtle soup be better or worse? It depends on what you think of how the Victorian tortoises were made.
The Victorian cooks were never wasteful and used everything they could find to prepare food. In the case of mock turtle soup you only needed a cow head. According to a published recipe, you had to scald your head until all your hair was gone. Then cook until the horns soften. At this point, you can cut it into slices the size of your finger.
The rest of the recipe is fairly normal, and includes some broth, lots of spices, a little Madeira wine, and then chopped brains. The brains were spherical, and they had fake turtle soup and brain balls, all made from a cow’s head.
2. Foie gras ice cream
A few years ago, the artisan ice cream really took off and there were many online stories about small shops across the country that would bring out really bizarre flavors. It started out simple enough with things like bacon ice cream and was then expanded to lavender and saffron and Sriracha hot sauce. You will even see cooking shows on the Food Network where a chef tries to make a bizarre ice cream to see if it works.
Many thanks to the Victorians for being the first to think that everything can be ice if you make enough effort. Foie gras ice cream was a confusing dish to be served in a duck shape. You would take pre-made ice cream and mix in some cayenne pepper, then line up the duck shape with it. A layer of aspic jelly was added and then the entire mixture was allowed to freeze before the rest was packed with liver pate. It was not clear whether this was a dessert or an appetizer.
1. Waffles with arsenic complexion
These days we understand the dangers of arsenic. In fact, the only time you hear more of it is when it is used as a poison. However, people have used arsenic as a health and beauty aid for centuries. It has often been used in skin care to improve the complexion. During the Victorian era, they brought this to a new level Arsenic wafer.
As a way to make your complexion smooth and clear, get rid of moles and pimples, you can buy a box of arsenic waffles and just eat away the poison if you feel like improving your look. In addition to the benefits to your complexion, they have been advertised as a cure for dyspepsia, habitual constipation, malaria, dull eyes, and even a bad mood. If you’re curious about 1/8 of a teaspoon of arsenic can kill a healthy adult.
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