21 April 2009

A Cordiall Water

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it -- and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied -- and it is all one."

M. F. K. Fisher

As you know, I am a huge fan of M. F. K. Fisher. For many years, Fisher collected lore about various potions, charms, restoratives and cures for everything from measles to impotence. She collected these unique "recipes" into a slim volume entitled, A Cordiall Water.

In her introduction Fisher states:

“There is no doubt that much of what we know of medicine comes from very ancient times, and from the birds and animals that we have watched. Myself, I do no know enough to say how or why one certain weed will calm a fever in a sick dog or antelope, nor can I guess what tells the beasts about that weed, any more than I can recite the new fine names for its magical components on a box of costly fever pills from a modern laboratory.”

There is much hype about the healing sexual powers of certain seafood. Oysters are always though of as aphrodisiacs and eels, have their obvious phallic connotations. Crayfish are thought to bring about a certain excitement. Casanova believed that he owed his romantic prowess to the meal of hot, spiced shrimp his mother ate the night before he was born.

Receipt for la Cuisine d’Amour

Cut a skinned eel into short pieces, lard them generously with fresh truffles, and bake them in a hot oven for ten minutes, each wrapped in buttered paper. Serve on a bed of crayfish tails which have been stewed in dry white wine and well seasoned with cayenne.
I don't know about eel on bed of crayfish, but Casanova's mama's spiced shrimp sound very tasty!

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