Percy Bysshe Shelley and the Temple of Ice Cream
Ice Cream For Poets
In my hub about the opposite of Baked Alaska, I looked at desserts for physicists. Well, today we're going to sample a dessert for poets. And what is more inspiring after a hard day of writing odes and traveling commune-style around the Mediterranean than a fancy tower of iced pudding?
You can call it ice cream if you prefer - iced pudding was another name for ice cream in the Victorian era - a little more genteel sounding, perhaps. And you'd want to be on your best rhetorical behavior when you were making this dessert for all the languishing Romantic poets in your social circle. This recipe is from the famous confectioner Charles Elmé Francatelli, from his epic culinary tome The Royal English and Foreign Confectioner (1862):
Iced Pudding à la Percy Bysshe Shelley
Ingredients: a custard cream composed of 12 yolks of eggs, a pint of cream, 12 oz. of sugar, and 1 oz. of vanilla sugar; 6 oz. of fruits consisting in equal parts odd dried cherries, pine apple, dried pears and green citron, all cut in very small squares, and a gill of maraschino. Mix the custard and the maraschino, and freeze the composition quite stiff; then add the fruits, freeze again, fill the mould, imbed it in rough ice and salt.
An Ice Cream Duck - or a Temple?
Hail to Thee, Blythe Ice Cream
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the most famous of the English Romantic poets - and sadly did not live long enough to enjoy his eponymous ice cream. We do know that he was a vegetarian, probably one of the first to write eloquently about the virtues of not killing and eating animals in 1813's "A VIndication of Natural Diet" and "On the Vegetable System of Diet." So he would not have liked his ice cream in the shape of a duck; hence, the temple mold above would have been ideal: artistic, imposing, but - vegetarian in nature. Although I'm assuming that he was OK with dairy products. If not, we will have to roll up in the time machine and bring Signor Francatelli some vanilla soy milk and egg replacement. Or perhaps just serve some candied fruit in a dish.
The First Top Chef
Charles Elme Francatelli (1805-1876) is considered by many people to be the first real "Celebrity Chef." You just know that he would have had his own show on the Food Network if it had existed in the 1860s - and his own magazine, too. He was born in Italy, studied cooking in France with Careme and other leading culinary lights, then came to England where he cooked for lots of wealthy and titled people and was Queen Victoria's head cook for four years in the 1840s. By the time he wrote about Shelley's ice cream, he was mostly writing cookbooks and working as a chef in various London clubs.
Poetry and Ice Cream
One Last Scoop
- Food Timeline: Ice Cream
Some ice cream history.
- Charles Elm Francatelli on Facebook
What every Celebrity Chef needs, aside from a TV show and some good recipes: A Facebook page!
- Vegetarian News - Shelley
- Miss Laura Francatelli's Titanic Account
Unrelated, but interesting: a relative (daughter?) of Francatelli's on the Titanic, who survived to tell her story.