Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2001

This thick book from the forties rivals the Larousse in breadth. It’s a fascinating browse.

AuthorAndre L. Simon
Length816 pages
Book Rating7

A thick book originally published in England from 1939 to 1946 (it was published in pieces), this encyclopedia, though smaller, rivals the Larousse in breadth and exceeds it in useful recipes.

Each page is filled with entries. In “sauces”, you can go from Cream Sauce for Oysters to Créole Sauce to Cucumber Sauce to Cumberland Sauce. In some places the language is a bit archaic, as when it says, under “Onions”, that “Onions are not nutritious, but they are of the utmost value on account of the salts and vitamins which they possess”. A very few recipes are presented in their original old English as in Mrs. Harvey’s Pancakes from 1694 or, in the case of “La Terrine de Fruits de Mer”, in French.

Would you like to know how to cook Csipetke? Look under ‘C’ in “Breads, Desserts, and Cereals”. Want to make “Election Cake”? Start with thirty quarts of flour, ten pounds of butter... using a recipe from 1805. Other breads include “Nusscreme Torte”, “Philpies” (a cornbread-like rice bread), Sally Lunns, Scones, and Shortbread. A wide variety of cakes, cookies, breads. I recommend the Coriander Cookies, among many.

A somewhat small fruit section still has a large number of entries: but fewer recipes because fruits are best “eaten out of hand”. You can still find some jellies and puddings in here and a little bit of candy. But if you’re looking for definitions, you’ll find them here: Japanese Persimmon, Lichee, Dewberry, Tangleberry, Whortleberry and Ugli.

Fish, Meat, and Birds are all full sections. You can bake, fry, or chowder your catch. From Jellied Eels to Savoury Herrings and Cold Lobster Souffle, and definitions for far more fish than I’ve ever heard of, you’ll find something to wet your appetite coming home from the wharf. And for meat, if you need to know what an Alderman’s Walk is, or how to prepare Armadillo or Hedgehog, or what to do with excess kittens, this is the place to be. From Cowboy Stew to Curries and what to do with Deer parts; and even, should your tastes run that way, how to make Haggis. “As a rule one does not attempt to make a haggis; one just buys a haggis and does not inquire too closely as to how it was made.” But a recipe is there nonetheless.

The ‘Birds’ section is as wide-ranging as the rest. You’ll find entries, if not recipes, for the Eskimo Curlew, the Curassow, the Lark, and the Rook. And if you’ve wanted to know what four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie actually taste like, now’s your chance!

‘Cheese’ and ‘Wine’ both have their own sections: mostly definitions, rather than recipes. (You’ll find recipes using both elsewhere in the book, quite a few under ‘Eggs’.) But if you want to know what Wallace sees in Wensleydale, you can find out here that it is made in the “vally of the Ure with the delightful old-world village of Wensleydale as a sentinel at its opening.”

This is a fascinating book to browse through, and well worth the recipes. I strongly recommend picking it up if you can find it.

A Tansy

  1. Blanch and pound 1/4 lb. of Jordan Almonds.
  2. Put them in a stew pan.
  3. Add a gill of syrup of roses, the crumbs of a French roll, some grated nutmeg, half a glass of brandy, two tblsps of tansy juice, 3 oz of fresh butter, and some slices of citron.
  4. Pour over it 1 1/2 pints of boiling cream or milk.
  5. Sweeten and, when cold, mix it.
  6. Add the juice of a lemon, and eight eggs beaten.
  7. It may be either boiled or baked.
  8. Other bitter leaves can be used in place of the tansy.

A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy

Andre L. Simon

My cost: $14.00

Recommendation: Purchase

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