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 Food and Drink 
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Post Food and Drink
Basil Hall wrote: "It is a standing order in sea-cookery, I may remark, never to ask of what any eatable is composed..."

Indeed there are some pretty grim descriptions of food/drink at sea. Here is one mentioned in Daniel Baugh's British Naval Administration in the Age of Walpole. It is credited to Admiral Russell (1689):

"…in severall of the buts of beare, great heaps of stuff was found at the bottom of the buts not unlike mens' guts, which has alaramed the seamen to a strange degree."

I would definitely be alarmed! :shock:

Anyone else have any interesting descriptions to share?

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susan


Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:57 pm
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Came across an interesting receipt today.

Receipt for Salt or Pickled Beef:Cut off chunk, about 2 lbs.
Soak in a pail of fresh water for 24 hrs,
Drain and chop into bit size pieces,
Boil for 3 hours in fresh water,
Add potato, turnip, onion, and 1 tsp black pepper,
Drop a large stone in the bottom,
Simmer for one hour,
Throw out the beef and vegies,
Eat the stone!

:roll:

Bob

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Sat Jan 22, 2005 12:47 am
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From G.S. Parsons:

"Sir Sidney [Smith], among many peculiar eccentricities, asserted that rats fed cleaner and were better eating than pigs or ducks; and, agreeably to his wish, a dish of these beautiful vermin were caught daily with fish-hooks, well baited, in the provision hold, for the ship was infested with them, and served up at the captain's table; the sight of them alone took off the keen edge of my appetite."

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Mon Jan 31, 2005 3:40 am
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Basil Hall on chopsticks from Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea, and the Great Loo-Choo Island:

"Chopsticks are two pieces of ivory or wood, about a foot in length, of the thickness of a quill; they serve in China instead of a knife and fork, and are held in the right hand. Until the difficult art of holding them is attained, they are perfectly useless. The Chief at this feast [on Loo-Choo (Ryukyu) Island], seeing that we made little progress, ordered sharp pointed sticks to be brought, which he good humouredly recommended our using instead of the chopsticks."

The mental image of naval officers in dress uniforms trying to be dignified while poking at food with pointed sticks is amusing.
:lol:

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susan


Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:00 am
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Although it's not specifically about food at sea, I thought this bit from The Scotsman (1 Aug 1838) was interesting and could very well affect sailors:

"Great caution should be exercised at this period in the use of unripe fruit, and particularly of new potatoes. The excessive use of this root, and of unripe fruit, is well known to induce periodically, at this season, English cholera, and other alarming effects in the stomach and bowels."

***

This reminds me of the Monty Python skit. Seems a piece of fresh fruit can cause bodily harm after all. LOL!

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Sat May 28, 2005 7:37 am
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From Frederick Chamier's The Life of a Sailor:

"My next specimen [of cooking] was in the shape of a mouse-pie; the tails of the little animals were collected like pigeons' feet: I was cuffed for that. No man living could tell the difference between a mouse and a sparrow-pie blind-folded, and the quadrupeds cur-tailed."

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Sun Jul 03, 2005 4:55 pm
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Tin can which held roast veal.

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Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:23 am
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From an article in the May 1841 USJ entitled "Naval Recollections of the Late American War" (War of 1812):

"As a contrast to the midshipman's berth of the present day, where luxury and comfort form a prominent feature at the festive board, I cannot refrain from mentioning, that, with the exception of a few casks of flour, appropriated to our use from the general stock captured in the Chesapeake, there was little else in our mess but 'salt junk,' seven years old, which, of course, was as hard as mahogany; and biscuit that had traversed more than half the globe, each piece of which was filled with numerous insects called weevils,—and, when struck against the table, (a most necessary preparation before putting it in your mouth,) these maggots would be scattered about in every direction. But, as no better could be procured on the station, it was, of course, of no use to condemn what we had: so we remained contented with our prize-flour, made up in all shapes and fashions, morning, noon, and night."

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Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:44 pm
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From Recollections of James Anthony Gardner: Commander R.N. (1775-1814). The following is about marine Lieutenant Augustus John Field, who Gardner called "a very strange being."

"Our ship was full of rats, and one morning he caught four which he had baked in a pie with some pork chops. When it came to table he began greedily to eat, saying, 'What a treat! I shall dine like an alderman.' One of our lieutenants (Geo. M. Bligh) got up from the table and threw his dinner up, which made Field say, 'I shall not offend such delicate stomachs and shall finish my repast in my cabin,' which he did and we wished the devil would choke him. When he had finished, he said one of the rats was not exactly to his taste as the flesh was black; but whether from a bruise or from disease, he could not say, but should be more particular in the future in the post mortem examination. I never was more sick in my life..."

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Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:45 am
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I love reading this old stuff that Susan has been able to dig out , and I commend the fiction authors for including it in their work, but we often hear how the average seaman wasn't undernourished, particularly with regard to the hard physical work he had to do, so has anyone come up with contemporary accounts to that effect?

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Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:23 pm
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I believe our greatest clue to the health and well-being of the common seaman -- given his diet -- may well be included in the contemporary drawings and paintings of the time, which show Jack Tar as a stocky, powerful looking man. He is not portrayed as a weak, starved soul.

Now part of that is due to the perception the nation needed to have of its seamen, but part of it was also a result of the reality. Constant work and high intensity exercise, combined with a high calorie diet would result in a profile not so different from the body builders we have today, without the overblown muscles and with a bit of flesh over the muscles he had.

Not the best for marching miles on bad roads, but certainly ideal for hauling the ropes and weights necessary to work a ship at sea.

I realize a fair bit of this is extrapolation, but it is based on physiology and what exercise and diet do the human form. Anyone have something more detailed?

Charity


Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:08 pm
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HMS Charity wrote:
I believe our greatest clue to the health and well-being of the common seaman -- given his diet -- may well be included in the contemporary drawings and paintings of the time, which show Jack Tar as a stocky, powerful looking man. He is not portrayed as a weak, starved soul.

I will try to keep in mind during future reading of Mary’s request for comments about the overall diet of seamen in contemporary accounts but I thought that the information supplied by NAM Rodger in Chapter III of his "The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy" to be interesting. Chapter III is titled Victualling and Health and contains a lot of details about the subject. Here is an excerpt that gives credence to the artwork referenced by Charity.

"The diet supplied by the establishment was plain and very restrictive in its range, but it provided more than sufficient calories for hard physical work…. By the standards of the poor, naval food was good and plentiful. To eat meat four days a week was itself a privilege denied a large part of the population if only because in many parts of the country firing was too expensive for the poor to cook every day."

I knew that meat was expensive in that era but never gave any thought to the cooking costs.

Rodger’s book is a good overall reference.

Don


Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:58 pm
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HMS Charity wrote:
I believe our greatest clue to the health and well-being of the common seaman -- given his diet -- may well be included in the contemporary drawings and paintings of the time, which show Jack Tar as a stocky, powerful looking man. He is not portrayed as a weak, starved soul.




I believe you are absolutely right, Charity.... pictures were but "photographs" of a bygone age, and slightly sidetracking, the most enduring experience I have of such artistic records, was many years ago at a stately pile in Derbyshire, where I was glued to an oil painting of a small Elizabethan girl, holding a doll. The lacework on both their dresses was intricate.

More recently at the RN Museum in Portsmouth I, at last, after much investigation, encountered the original portrait of my avatar, Sir Harrd Burrard Neale. The gold lace on his coat is stunning.

Thanks again!

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Last edited by Mil Goose on Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:42 am
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timoneer wrote:
HMS Charity wrote:
I believe our greatest clue to the health and well-being of the common seaman -- given his diet -- may well be included in the contemporary drawings and paintings of the time, which show Jack Tar as a stocky, powerful looking man. He is not portrayed as a weak, starved soul.

I will try to keep in mind during future reading of Mary’s request for comments about the overall diet of seamen in contemporary accounts but I thought that the information supplied by NAM Rodger in Chapter III of his "The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy" to be interesting. Chapter III is titled Victualling and Health and contains a lot of details about the subject. Here is an excerpt that gives credence to the artwork referenced by Charity.

"The diet supplied by the establishment was plain and very restrictive in its range, but it provided more than sufficient calories for hard physical work…. By the standards of the poor, naval food was good and plentiful. To eat meat four days a week was itself a privilege denied a large part of the population if only because in many parts of the country firing was too expensive for the poor to cook every day."

I knew that meat was expensive in that era but never gave any thought to the cooking costs.



....thanks, Don, appreciated. Looking at the book itself I see that NAMR references that to Stephen Gradish, who, in my ignorance, I have not heard of before, but a web search soon enlightened me. What a wonderful learning curve I am on. :)

Quote:
Rodger’s book is a good overall reference.


....one of these days, I will read it in its entirety, instead of merely referring to it, and regrettably, I overlooked it when I made my post asking for further evidence about nutrition. :) I do see frequently in The Times advertisements from the Victualling Office inviting tenders for foodstuffs.

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Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:50 am
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Mil Goose wrote:
I do see frequently in The Times advertisements from the Victualling Office inviting tenders for foodstuffs.




...and in THE TIMES of 30th May 1785 there is a notice from the Victualling Office, where they are actually selling the following items:

".... several Lots of Beef, Pork, Sugar, Sugar Candy, Wine, Rice ...." but then if continues " .....Butts, Rum Punchions, Foreign Hogsheads, Sour Trout Barrels, Irish Half Puncheon Staves, broken Staves...broken and bent Hoops, Lead...Iron Hoops.... lying in the Stores of this Office, at Tower-hill, King's Old Mills, Rotherhithe, and Redhouse, near Deptford ...." , so are they actually selling off the containers, etc, rather than the food which I initially thought?

Theories, explanations, please? :)

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Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:59 pm
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