Curries


Arun Vajpey

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Might sound a silly question but a colleague (with no Titanic interest) remarked that in the Edwardian days upper class people (like those who travelled First Class) considered eating curry was beneath their social norm or whatever. Apparently, curries were considered too 'working class' type of food.

Is there any factual basis to this? I cannot find specific mention one way or another anywhere.
 

Dave Gittins

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Curry was good enough for Queen Victoria and her successors. I don't know if it was available on Titanic.
 
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Rob Lawes

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Commodities such as spice and tea were once so expensive that they were kept in locked caddies. The advent of better transportation links and the rapid expansion of the British Empire meant that exotic dishes, flavours and recipes become more popular. There is a Victorian farm near where I live that features growing houses fed with their own hot water heater system to enable the growing of fruits such as Bananas and Pineapples.

I would say spiced dishes regularly featured on high end menus.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks. About that Second Class menu that you posted: since they had no separate restaurant as such, it must have come from the dining room. I am guessing that individual passengers had to make a choice between eating one main course or another? I mean if some gourmand wanted chicken curry with rice as well as roast turkey with cranberry sauce, it would not be allowed, right?
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Might sound a silly question but a colleague (with no Titanic interest) remarked that in the Edwardian days upper class people (like those who travelled First Class) considered eating curry was beneath their social norm or whatever. Apparently, curries were considered too 'working class' type of food.

Is there any factual basis to this? I cannot find specific mention one way or another anywhere.
I wouldn't doubt it. This article seems to imply that it was. At one time in the US lobster and oysters were considered poor people food. Lobsters were often ground up for fertilizer. One advert had lobster at 11 cents a pound and Boston baked beans at 53 cents a pound.
NPR Choice page
 

Bob Godfrey

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Oysters were the food of the poor in the UK too - I can't dig in my backyard without unearthing piles of shells.. And back in the late 19th century there was a strike in a Tyneside shipyard because the workers' canteen had nothing much on the menu except salmon every day.
 
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Harland Duzen

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Off topic, but to go further back, in Tudor times, Vegetables were also considered food for the poor so the wealthily (like Henry VIII) only ever ate meat which wasn't the best for their health.

Same with Caviar which was originally only food for the poor in Russia as, tragically, it was one of the few things they could forage.

Back to Topic!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Curry was certainly not a 'working class type food' in the UK. Those who favoured it, like Queen Victoria and especially George V (who was on the throne when the Titanic went down), were mostly at the other end of the social scale. Charles Francatelli, Victoria's head chef, wrote a book called 'A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes'; which includes such delicacies as giblet pie and baked sheeps' heads. But it doesn't mention curry.
 
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Bob Godfrey

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Harland, back in mediaeval and Tudor times vegetables were considered to be unhealthy, unless boiled to the point where both texture and taste had long departed. But Henry and his ilk did enjoy their meat in pies. And they ate a lot of sugar, which was far too expensive for the lower classes. So if they weren't actually starving people were often healthier at the lower end of the social scale, and they certainly had better teeth! Elizabeth I's choppers were famously like two rows of crumbling tombstones.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Yes. Archeologist have noted pre sugar days against post sugar days by looking at the teeth. When they dug up and examined the victims from Pompeii the were amazed at how well their teeth were. They atrributed it to no refined sugar and the soil/ fruits-vegtables were rich in natural floride from Vesuvius. In colonial america a lot of people considered tomatoes to be poisionius and wouldn't eat them. I've read that in medival and later Britain that oranges coming from Spain/Mediterranian were so valuable that the royal court had first pick of them when entering the country. But I'm not sure about that one.
 
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May 3, 2005
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Thanks. About that Second Class menu that you posted: since they had no separate restaurant as such, it must have come from the dining room. I am guessing that individual passengers had to make a choice between eating one main course or another? I mean if some gourmand wanted chicken curry with rice as well as roast turkey with cranberry sauce, it would not be allowed, right?
I was wondering the same thing ? For example, if you were a real glutton if you could order everything on the menu or just one of each type such as the chicken curry OR the roast turkey on the main menu ? Was the menu "this OR that" or "this AND that" ?

How about the dessert course. ?
'''Let's start off with some Plum Pudding , followed with some wine jelly and a cocoanut sandwich and top it with some good ole' American ice cream - Would sir like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry or a bit of each ?
And after that I'll have some of the assorted nuts and fresh fruit to go with the cheese, biscuits and coffee .''
 
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May 3, 2005
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Harland, back in mediaeval and Tudor times vegetables were considered to be unhealthy, unless boiled to the point where both texture and taste had long departed. But Henry and his ilk did enjoy their meat in pies. And they ate a lot of sugar, which was far too expensive for the lower classes. So if they weren't actually starving people were often healthier at the lower end of the social scale, and they certainly had better teeth! Elizabeth I's choppers were famously like two rows of crumbling tombstones.
I am from Dallas, Texas , USA and my Grand Parents, Uncles and others were of the "Southern Cooking School " believed that you had to boil vegetables such as beans , peas and especially potatoes for hours until they were fit to eat.
 
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May 3, 2005
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Harland, back in mediaeval and Tudor times vegetables were considered to be unhealthy, unless boiled to the point where both texture and taste had long departed. But Henry and his ilk did enjoy their meat in pies. And they ate a lot of sugar, which was far too expensive for the lower classes. So if they weren't actually starving people were often healthier at the lower end of the social scale, and they certainly had better teeth! Elizabeth I's choppers were famously like two rows of crumbling tombstones.
If you are referring to Henry VIII , I don't believe he was exactly on a '' low calorie diet '' from what I have seen or read about him ?
 

Arun Vajpey

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I am from Dallas, Texas , USA and my Grand Parents, Uncles and others were of the "Southern Cooking School " believed that you had to boil vegetables such as beans , peas and especially potatoes for hours until they were fit to eat.
Ugh! By then the vegetables would probably be easier to drink!
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I am from Dallas, Texas , USA and my Grand Parents, Uncles and others were of the "Southern Cooking School " believed that you had to boil vegetables such as beans , peas and especially potatoes for hours until they were fit to eat.
Well my experience with southern cooking is quite different than your relatives. While some foods like grits, collard and turnip greens were boiled they weren't over done. Most of the southern food I ate when I lived there was fried food. Pork chops, fried green tomatoes, fried potatoes, catfish, hush puppies...ect. Damn now I'm hungry. But back to english style cooking. Yeah that has been a complaint of many..over cooked and boiled to death. But I'm not really qualified to judge because on my trips to England and Ireland I pretty much lived on fish & chips.
 

Jay Roches

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Most of the First Class dishes came straight from Auguste Escoffier’s “A Guide to Modern Cookery” (1907). The à la carte restaurant, despite the Italian-born Signor Gatti, was no different, if the surviving menus from Olympic are anything to go by. Escoffier’s book, published in French in 1903 as “Le Guide Culinaire”, was an attempt to simplify and codify French cuisine.

The book calls for curry as an ingredient in several dozen dishes, though only three dishes include it in their names. Curry is also on the list of “hot seasonings” that kitchens should have.

There’s a recipe for sautéed chicken “à l’Indienne”, served with rice, on page 503. It’s really a French dish, with velouté sauce, that has an ingredient reminiscent of Indian cuisine.
 
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Julian Atkins

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My Grandad served in India then Burma in WW2. He obviously got a taste for 'curry', and Nan would do an 'English curry' using up the leftovers from the Sunday Roast on the Monday, using 'curry' powder, and my Dad obviously got a taste for it too, as my Mum did the same.

Vesta Curry when I was a student was a once a week staple. I have much later become quite an avid fan of 'curry' particularly sort of home made, and trying to replicate Indian recipes.

Kedgeree has always been a favourite in my family. It is apparently always an option for breakfast at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle! My Mum always added kidneys. I still regularly make it, but without the kidneys.

The impression I got was that 'curry' was in the UK not very common in the UK till the 1950s and 1960s except in those families like mine where someone returned to the UK after experience of India. This sort of experience was 'classless' in the sense that it applied to all ranks who served in India, plus the civil service as opposed to my own case in the military.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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