Vintage Recipes – Invalid Cookery, 1902-1930
If you look at practically any general cookbook from Victorian times up to the 1940s, you’re likely to find a section that has now entirely fallen by the wayside in modern books – special recipes for the sickroom, often called “Invalid cookery”.
This is the kind of thing:
(This is where I had embedded a video of the Fry and Laurie period sketch on broth vs soup, and which doesn’t exist anymore, and is also not in any of their sketch books. Which is a shame because it sums up invalid cookery perfectly.)
Incidentally, I seem to remember the recipes for Talbot’s Broth and Henry’s Soup actually did appear on Ceefax as mentioned in the sketch.
Now we have Heinz Tomato Soup, Lucozade, and better medicine, perhaps these gently nourishing recipes aren’t needed so much anymore. But I do like the idea of a special menu if you’re unwell. It marks the occasion, in a way. Recipes included gruel in many forms, blackcurrant tea, barley water, invalid custard, toast water and beef tea.
I’ve also got a number of recipes for the slightly alarming-sounding raw beef tea. I haven’t got a certificate in food hygiene admittedly, but this sounds like rather a potential nightmare. I mean, it’s not quite Talbot’s fried bull penis, but still.
Raw Beef Tea
1/4 lb lean beef
1/4 pint water
Few drops of lemon juice
Remove all fat and cut the beef up finely.
Put into the water with the lemon juice.
Let it stand for 6 or 8 hours, pressing beef with a spoon occasionally.
Serve in a covered spoon.
This is only given in cases where it could not be assimilated if cooked.
Here’s some more recipes for the sick. Not sure if I’d fancy tripe as the best of times, to be honest, let alone while under the weather.
From Mrs Rea’s Cookery Book, 1910:
From The Liverpool School of Cookery Book, 1902:
From The Essex Cookery Book, 1930:
If you’re interested in this, I’ve previously posted about gruel and how Horlicks is the modern equivalent here – http://skittishlibrary.co.uk/vintage-recipes-gruel/
And I’ve tested out the nursery treat of Blackcurrant tea here – http://skittishlibrary.co.uk/vintage-recipes-blackcurrant-tea/