by Nancy Siegel, Professor of Art History and Culinary History, Towson University
With the holidays comes parties, friends and family, and perhaps a bit of excess with regard to food and drink. As we usher in the New Year, many of us resolve to lose that extra weight or regain physical strength. Lest you think you are destined to wallow in languid exhaustion, a remedy is at hand. “A Great Restorative” from Maria Rundell, a British cookbook author who received great popularity in the United States during the nineteenth century, offers her readers a recipe for bone broth.
While bone broth has experienced a resurgence of late as a chic tonic for the sick and weary, its history is ancient but gained in popularity in the States by the 18th century as a curative measure for a host of ailments. Traditionally a savory beverage, variations on the theme were widespread and domestic manuals of all sorts included creative options for cooks and homemakers to boil beef feet, knuckles, tendons, and joints into broth or “beef tea” as it was often referred to. Boiling the bones released the gelatinous nutrients and the addition of milk to this recipe would provide a healthy dose of calcium. The inclusion of lemon peel, cinnamon, or mace may sound odd to modern cooks but the holistic benefits of spices were well regarded and often added for their medicinal benefits.
“A Great Restorative:
Bake two calf’s feet in three pints of water, and new milk, in a jar close covered, three hours and a half. When cold remove the fat. Give a large teacupful the last and first thing. Whatever flavor is approved, give it by baking in it lemonpeel, cinnamon, or mace. Add sugar.”
From, A New System of Domestic Cookery, formed upon principles of economy, and adapted to the use of private families. By A Lady. (Maria Rundell) Second Edition. (Boston: Andrews & Cummings,1807): 248.