39 Dishes from the First Christmas Menu, Published in 1660

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

If the thought of planning Christmas dinner makes you nervous, be glad you weren’t born in the Renaissance. The earliest known published Christmas menu included pork, beef, goose, lark, pheasant, venison, oysters, swan, woodcock, and "a kid with a pudding in his belly," to name just a few dishes.

This is according to The Accomplisht Cook, written by Robert May in 1660. May was an English chef who trained in France and cooked for nobility throughout his life. In a section titled "A bill of fare for Christmas Day and how to set the meat in order," May suggests 39 dishes split over two courses, plus oysters, oranges, lemons, and jellies for dessert. The menu is surprising not only because of its size, but because it contains so many proteins—there are 11 different types of birds alone—and not much else. Well, unless you count pastry. There’s lots of pastry, too.

A BILL OF FARE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY AND HOW TO SET THE MEAT IN ORDER:

Oysters
1. A collar of brawn [pork that is rolled, tied, and boiled in wine and seasonings].
2. Stewed Broth of Mutton marrow bones.
3. A grand Sallet [salad].
4. A pottage [thick stew] of caponets [young castrated roosters].
5. A breast of veal in stoffado [stuffed veal].
6. A boil’d partridge.
7. A chine [a cut of meat containing backbone] of beef, or sirloin roast. Here’s May’s recipe:

To roast a Chine, Rib, Loin, Brisket, or Fillet of Beef
Draw them with parsley, rosemary, tyme, sweet marjoram, sage, winter savory, or lemon, or plain without any of them, fresh or salt, as you please; broach it, or spit it, roast it and baste it with butter; a good chine of beef will ask six hours roasting.

For the sauce take strait tops of rosemary, sage-leaves, picked parsley, tyme, and sweet marjoram; and strew them in wine vinegar, and the beef gravy; or otherways with gravy and juice of oranges and lemons. Sometimes for change in saucers of vinegar and pepper.

8. Minced pies.
9. A Jegote [sausage] of mutton with anchove sauce.
10. A made dish of sweet-bread (Here’s a recipe from A New Booke of Cookerie by John Murrell, published in 1615: Boyle, or roast your Sweet-bread, and put into it a fewe Parboyld Currens, a minst Date, the yolkes of two new laid Egs, a piece of a Manchet grated fine. Season it with a little Pepper, Salt, Nutmeg, and Sugar, wring in the iuyce of an Orenge, or Lemon, and put it betweene two sheetes of puft-paste, or any other good Paste: and eyther bake it, or frye it, whether you please.)
11. A swan roast.
12. A pasty of venison.
13. A kid with a pudding in his belly.
14. A steak pie.
15. A hanch of venison roasted.
16. A turkey roast and stuck with cloves.
17. A made dish of chickens in puff paste.
18. Two bran geese roasted, one larded [larding is inserting or weaving strips of fat in the meat, sometimes with a needle].
19. Two large capons, one larded.
20. A Custard.

THE SECOND COURSE FOR THE SAME MESS.

Oranges and Lemons
1. A young lamb or kid.
2. Two couple of rabbits, two larded.
3. A pig souc’t [sauced] with tongues.
4. Three ducks, one larded.
5. Three pheasants, 1 larded.
6. A Swan Pye [the showpiece: a pie with the dead swan’s head, neck, and wings sticking up from it].
7. Three brace of partridge, three larded.
8. Made dish in puff paste.
9. Bolonia sausages, and anchoves, mushrooms, and Cavieate, and pickled oysters in a dish.
10. Six teels, three larded.
11. A Gammon of Westphalia Bacon.
12. Ten plovers, five larded.
13. A quince pye, or warden pie [pears or quinces peeled and poached in syrup, then baked whole in a pie].
14. Six woodcocks, 3 larded.
15. A standing Tart in puff-paste, preserved fruits, Pippins, &c.
16. A dish of Larks.
17. Six dried neats [calf] tongues
18. Sturgeon.
19. Powdered [salted] Geese.
Jellies.

And you know, nothing says Christmas like powdered geese and jellies.

This piece originally ran in 2013.

You've Been Using Your Can Opener Wrong

iStock
iStock

Opening a can with grace isn't easy. Even if your can opener is sharp enough to get the job done, you often end up with a detached lid floating in your food, forcing you to fish it out and risk getting a nasty cut. Fortunately, it is possible to remove and dispose of your jagged can lid seamlessly, and you don't need to buy a new kitchen gadget to do so: You just need to rethink the way you use the can opener you already have at home.

A tweet that was shared on August 10 demonstrated how simply adjusting the position of your can opener can improve your life in the kitchen. Instead of hinging the can opener on the lip of the can so that the crank faces out to the side, have it face up toward the ceiling. Turn the knob like you normally would, and then once you've completed a full rotation, lift the opener away from the can. Thanks to that extra strip of metal the lid should still be attached to the can opener. Now you can move it over to the trash bin without getting your hands dirty.

The original Tweet has since been deleted, but YouTuber Calvin Zolinas recreated the hack in the video below. After seeing how it's done you can dig a can out of your pantry and try out the trick for yourself at home.

Plenty of common kitchen problems—like fast-wilting greens and slow-ripening avocados—can be solved with some simple hacks. Check out this list for more culinary tips.

The Mystery of the Stinky Dairy Queen in Calgary Has Just Been Solved

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iStock

Walking into an ice cream parlor is supposed to be one of the most pleasant sensory experiences you can have, with the assortment of frozen treats giving off a very enticing aroma. This is particularly true of the Dairy Queen franchise, which offers signature items like Blizzards at hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Unfortunately, one location in Calgary has been having trouble satisfying patrons who walk in expecting the scent of vanilla. This Dairy Queen has smelled like the explosive flatulence of someone who has just eaten rotten eggs. And someone finally found out why.

Sujad Bandali told CBC News that the mystery odor had been plaguing his location since it opened in January 2015. At first he was so concerned it might be something dangerous—like a gas leak—that he called utility workers and area firefighters to check for a burst utility supply pipe. He also had the building examined for carbon monoxide, which is normally odorless but may be accompanied by a foul smell as a result of incomplete combustion [PDF]. He made sure there wasn’t a sewage problem.

Nothing was found. His place just stunk.

Curiously, not everyone could detect it. Bandali said half his staff wasn’t bothered by it, while some customers exited as soon as they caught a whiff. Bandali posted a warning on his front door alerting people to the smell awaiting them upon entering. Predictably, this was bad for business.

A desperate Bandali offered a free Blizzard once a week for a year to anyone who could tell him where the smell was coming from, a move that was widely publicized. Help finally arrived Wednesday when the local gas company, ATCO, arrived for yet another inspection. (Presumably, they came at Bandali's request, not solely because of the Blizzard offer.) This time, a worker performed a “dead check,” turning off all the gas appliances in the building and then looking to see if the gas meter was still running. If it was, that would indicate a gas leak. It was running. A small leak was coming from the ceiling. With the repair made, the store finally smells of the welcoming aroma given off by their Peanut Buster Parfait inventory.

Bandali told CBC News that he was relieved that the source of the franchise’s fumes was finally located. This discovery, he said, proved that “I was not losing my mind.”

[h/t Munchies]

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