Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"If you wanted bacon you had to make it yourself—and what a lengthy, laborious job it was!"

1) Answering William Savage's Cleanliness and Class · 2) "If you wanted bacon you had to make it yourself—and what a lengthy, laborious job it was!" · 3) Fridge Logic · 4) Speaking of Drinking Problem for Georgians? That is Anachronistic. · 5) A Distinction and a Gratitude to William Savage

Here is another piece by William Savage.

Making Georgian Bacon
Posted on November 2, 2016

Nearly every family who could afford it kept a pig or two. When the pig was slaughtered, some of the meat would be shared with neighbours and friends, who would repay the compliment when their own pig met its appointed end. Even so, there would be far too much left to eat before it became rancid. The solution was to preserve it by turning it into ham or bacon.

Almost no one does this today. Bacon is too easily available at any butcher’s shop or supermarket. Back in Georgian times, of course, if you wanted bacon you had to make it yourself—and what a lengthy, laborious job it was!


After all that work by the servants, one wonders how much of the resulting bacon they would ever have tasted themselves. Rather little, I imagine.


This recipe comes from Katherine Windham’s Boke of Cookery and Housekeeping, compiled in the early years of the eighteenth century, and transcribed by my friends Bonnie Lovelock and Roger Sykes.

You are talking of people living either as landlords or their servants. I presume, at least.

First of all, bacon was a rather cheap food, I think some of it would go to servants.

Second, you seem totally to neglect towns.

If you lived as a cobbler in a town, did you produce your bacon yourself?

Pretty certainly not.

The fact that doing bacon yourself was very much done comes in with people having some kind of country connexion.

Does this mean a cobbler in town never ate bacon?

Pretty certainly not that either.

Pretty certainly, some innkeeper was following that recipe who had pigs, and who sold bacon to those who hadn't.

You see, having recipes for bacon in cookbooks doesn't mean no one ever bought bacon readymade.

In a Swedish cookbook I once possessed, there was an extensive instruction about how to brew beer, generalities and diverse variaties, ranging from small beer to probably rather strong things.

Does that mean every Swede in 19th C. (when the cookbook and householdbook was from) brewed his own beer?

Or could there have existed a kind of service for townsfolk who couldn't brew beer, namely ... once again : inns?

I think that would be the solution to buying bacon in 18th C. England too, if you were no pig keeper.

That said, making bacon yourself is as of recently a neglected art, and some farmers in US who are also preppers (even if prepping might be less anxious these days, now that Obama seems to be going) would certainly appreciate not just this recipe, but all of that householdbook by Katherine Windham. Put it on internet for free and do prepping mankind a service. So much of what preppers seem to want to learn is only available (or so it seems) if a some businessman is selling them a course. You have an income from your novels.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Dedicace of Our Saviour's Basilica

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