I blogged yesterday over at The Spiced Tea Party about dealing with the heat. I live near Washington DC where every year, when the temperatures spike into the upper, and very humid, 90s we assure each other, and unlucky visitors, that it never normally does this here. Right.
So I thought I’d talk today about the joys of Regency summer living. Ice cream certainly wasn’t invented in the Regency, but it was very popular among those who could afford it–visit historicfood.com to check out recipes for this gorgeous collection of ice creams and water ices: in the back, royal cream ice, chocolate cream ice, burnt filbert cream ice and parmesan cream ice; in front, bergamot water ice and punch water ice. I’m guessing that the parmesan cream ice (and some of the others, too) must have been served as a savory accompaniment, to be expected when each remove would include items that nowadays we’d consider being strictly dessert.
Big question–were ice cream cones used in the Regency? According to this illustration from 1807, and article at historicfood.com, they were.
The great houses made sure they would have plenty of ice by constructing an ice house–this is the interior of a brick-built Georgian ice house at Parlington Hall, Yorkshire, which measures a mighty 16 ft. in diameter and around 20 ft. deep.
Ice would be cut from local lakes or imported from countries such as Norway, and insulated with straw. The actual igloo-like design of the ice house, and its position in a shady spot on the grounds would aid in keeping the ice cool.
As for cool drinks, spruce beer was always a favorite. Made from spruce buds, its flavor could cover a whole range from citrus to pine–or possibly not. exoticsoda.com bravely tested a modern brand and came to this conclusion:
If ever offered a bottle, save yourself the trouble and drink some paint thinner. It will taste the same, but you can wash your brushes with the remaining thinner you don’t drink. Spruce Beer would probably melt the bristles off. But it’s not all bad …there is a sweet buffer that does keep you from projectile vomiting.
Lemon barley water was a favorite, too, first manufactured by Robinson and Belville in 1823 in powder form, to be mixed with water to cure kidney complaints and fevers. It also aids in lactation, should you have the need, and Robinson’s lemon barley water is still the official drink of Wimbledon for players (although presumably not for that reason). Here’s a modern recipe from cuisine.com.
As for lemonade itself, here is a recipe from the seventeenth century from coquinaria.nl, and Mrs. Beetons’, from the 1830s, at thefoody.com.
I also looked around for some ginger beer recipes–ginger was readily available as it was a subsidiary crop in the sugar-producing islands and found this one at allrecipes.com which claims to date back to the Tudor era.
What are your favorite summer drinks or ice cream flavors? Have you ever made any yourself? Do you have any favorite historic food sites?