20 June 2009

“Queen” Cookery Books – Ices

The Queen (the magazine and not Victoria) published a series of 13 small cookbooks covering a range of topics. I have No. 2 in the series, Ices. It is my goal, to eventually own the complete set but for now, Ices will have to do. The recipes were compiled by S. Beaty-Pownall, the “Housewife and Cuisine” editor of The Queen. So few magazines, today, have a position for a “Housewife and Cuisine” editor.

In the introduction, from 1902, S. Beaty-Pownall reminds the reader that,

“Not so many years ago an ice pudding was looked upon as a triumph of culinary art, that even the average good professed cook would as soon have thought of trying to make, as of trying to fly.”

A hundred years later one can fly and eat ice cream at the same time. I adore making ice cream. I own many a cookbook filled with ice cream recipes and I am always experimenting –Berry Balsamic, Honey Squash, Pimm’s Cup, Absinthe, and Red Velvet are just a few of my concoctions. In searching through Ices, I ran across a term of which I was unfamiliar, spongada. According to my little ice book a spongada is:
“…another form of ice, somewhat of the nature of a parfait, but not frozen so hard, and seldom, if ever, moulded nowadays…. The distinctive mark of this kind of ice is its frothy lightness”

The word is derived from the Italian, spumante, meaning sparkling, effervescent. I immediately began looking for references. Elizabeth David’s Harvest of the Cold Months was my first stop. David references a confection called a spongati. The first mention in English was from a pamphlet by William Fuller, the inventor of a freezing tub for ices. David describes it thusly:
“A simple chocolate water-ice, for example, could be changed into a chocolate spongati by the addition of meringue.”
I have a reprint of Mrs. A. B. Marshall’s book on ices and her “large” cookbook and nowhere is a spongada listed.

Want to be the first kid on the block to resurrect the spongada? Here’s what you need.

Coffee Spongada

Have ready a half a pint of black Mocha coffee, in which you have dissolved 4 oz. to 8 oz. of sugar (this is a matter of taste), and when cold stir it into a gill of unwhipped egg whites and a quart of stiffly whipped cream, run it through a sieve into the freezer, and proceed as directed above adding just before serving a little more sugar syrup and a glassful of cognac, and finish it off.

The “above” direction seems to refer to the actual operation of the ice cream freezer. And if you are not up on your quaint English measurements a gill is about 4 ounces or a 1/2 cup.

Alas, The Queen (the magazine, not Elizabeth II) no longer exists. In 1958 it became simply, Queen no "The" needed. Ten years later it was sold to Harper's Bazaar and rechristened Harper's & Queen and finally the Queen was abandoned. During the period when it was simply, Queen and long after the “Housewife and Cuisine” editor were gone, Clement Freud summed up the kind of woman that read Queen. He said the reader..." had long hair, was named Caroline, had left school at age 16, was not an intellectual, but she was the sort of person that one ended up in bed with."

Ah, but did she make ice cream?

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