Meat and Vegetables: A Tale of Two Classes

I’m not a meat eater, though I indulge in the occasional fish and shellfish. Meat just rages on my stomach. But my dear husband on the other hand, is an avowed and dedicated carnivore. So, when I explored “The Queen-like Closet” by Hannah Wolley, it was full of meat overload. Meats were an essential staple of the Restoration Era diet.

Dirty vegetables were looked down on as unsanitary, unsafe, and unhealthy. Why? Because they grew in dirt. Further, this notion was perpetuated because the vegetables were readily available and cheap and therefore, indicative of the poorer classes.


Painting by Reinier de la Haye (fl. 1660–1695) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Meat, on the other hand, was a grand indicator of wealth. The more meat, the more wealthy a family. Ms. Wolley’s recipes were written at a time when the cookbook was gaining popularity amongst upper classes. The recipes reflected this elevation and status. In the 1660s, reading and writing were upper class skills, and even rarer for women. This insight provides a glimpse into the target audience of cookbooks during the Restoration.

One such recipe that reflects both the aristocratic appetite and spirit of the time was Wolley’s Boiled Sausages recipe. Below is the original.

To boil Sausages.

Take two pounds of Sausages, and boil them with a quart of Claret Wine and a bundle of sweet herbs, and whole Cloves and Mace; then put in a little Butter, when they are enough, serve them in with this Liquor and some Mustard in Sawcers.


Painting by Pieter Aertsen (circa 1508–1575) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


This recipe contains common ingredients found in The Queen-like Closet, though the ingredients were not widely available to all classes. The use of wine, sausage, butter, and spices are hallmarks for an upper class recipe. Further, it is a recipe that stands up to time. The recipe drafted nearly 350 years ago is still made with the same ingredients and methods today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Tomorrow I’ll post the recipe, as well as my husband’s personal review.

Featured Painting by By follower of Pieter Corneliusz. van Rijck (Van Ham Kunstauktionen) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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