Friday, April 8, 2011

Abraham Hayward, Aristology and Dutch Sauce

Abraham Hayward was a remarkable fellow.  A famous lawyer, debater (against the likes of John Stuart Mill), editor of the Law Magazine, influential member of London’s exclusive Athenaeum Club, and essayist.

 He was the translator of a laudable version of Goethe’s Faust (a consummate scholar, he met with Goethe’s widow in Germany to polish his second version) and said to be “one of the 2 best read men in all England” (the other being Thomas McCauley).  He was also a life-long bachelor with "no sympathy for modern ideas” who said at the end of his days “I have outlived everybody I could look up to” (you can read more about him in The Life and Times of Abraham Hayward).


Abraham Hayward (1801-1884)

His 1884 NYT obit said “He was not merely a diner-out, although no man dined out more frequently than he did: he was never called a wit, although he said innumerable clever things; he was a leader of no school, and exponent of no phase of thought but he unquestionably was consulted by politicians of the first rank… he was the last of the really brilliant and influential pamphleteers, so was he the last of the raconteurs.”  His cardinal rules were  “Never explain. Never tell about the place or persons. Always pre-suppose a cultivated audience, and do not insult them by letting them think you fancy you know more than they do.  Those who miss the point of your story from ignorance are the inferior ones who do not matter.  The best people will understand.” This is the keynote to the doctrine of “cutting it short” and Hayward was a master of this technique by all accounts.

So much more than a ‘diner-out’ –– Abraham Hayward was a renowned gourmet and much admired as a dinner guest and host till the end of his long life.  Hayward’s The Art of Dining was first published in 1852,  fleshing out articles he had written in 1835-6 for the Quarterly Review.

At his death, his friend Edmund Yates said “ I remember his telling me that, though known as a gourmet – and the “Art of Dining” is still the pleasantest book of gastronomy extant –– he lived very plainly and drank nothing but good claret, and that, though always at work, his income earned by his pen never had exceeded £200 a year (NYT Feb 25, 1884)

First Page of Hayward's Book 

These articles in turn were inspired by the work of one Thomas Walker (1784-1836).  Walker was a police magistrate at Lambeth Court as well as a staunchly opinionated gourmet who hailed from Manchester — where simple dinners were held in higher esteem than the reigning fashion of the day’s over-coursed, over-stuffed, over-sauced fare. This was the heyday of the Regency after all — a time when too much was never enough and a dozen dishes at a meal were considered normal.  Hayward much prized Taylor’s work and agreed with his principles.

A proponent of a disciplined, unaffected way of dining, Taylor wrote of it (and many other topics) in a small periodical called The Original that he published every Wednesday at 12pm (he was nothing if not precise) the last year of his life (for a total of 29 issues). 

His food essays were collected into a small book called Aristology  in 1881, edited by Felix Summerly (pseudomnym of Sir Henry Cole, who published the first Christmas card),  although there were other collections as early as 1837. Aristology remained popular for 100 years, even getting a new illustrated edition in the 1960’s. The essays are remarkably eccentric and cover topics from A— the absurdity of ill-conceived, inconvenient serving dish placement to W — the intelligent practice of serving woodcocks before more substantial dishes (“Delicacies are scarcely ever brought till they are quite superfluous, which is unsatisfactory if they are not eaten, and pernicious if they are.”) with stops at such things as a discussion of the optimum temperature for dining and a fine rant about the screeching horror of barbarically excessive ornament in between.  Thanks to the wonders of Google Books you can sample both of these books easily online.  I think you will find them both intense and vivid slices of London life around the Temple in the early years of the 19th century. 

Leigh Hunt (friend of Byron, Keats and Shelley) was quoted on the frontispiece of Hayward's book:  “ It is well known that to constitute a perfect entrée there must be observed a certain coherence and harmony among the dishes – so that fish may not interfere with fowl, or stew take the place of roast.  How should we be shocked to see a syllabub responsive to sirloin – a cod’s head yoked to a mince pie—or a frican [from fricandeau, a spiced braised piece of veal or beef] lean shouldering a plate of cherries?  In like manner there must be a sort of adaptation or homogeneousness among the guests assembled — so that the old may not be confounded with the young – the high with the homely — the rough with the refined.”

Walker’s Aristology begins:

“According to the lexicons, the Greek for dinner is Ariston, and therefore, for the convenience of the terms, and without entering into any inquiry, critical or antiquarian, I call the art of dining Aristology, and those who study it, Aristologists.  The maxim, that practice makes perfect, does not apply to our daily habits: for, so far as they are concerned, we are ordinarily content with the standard of mediocrity, or something rather below…. Anybody can dine, but very few know how to dine, so as to ensure the greatest quantity of health and enjoyment… and as to enjoyment, I shudder when I think how often I have been doomed to only a solemn mockery of it; how often I have sat in durance stately, to go through the ceremony of dinner, the essence of which is to be without ceremony, and how often in this land of liberty I have felt myself a slave!”

Lynton Lamb engravings for Aristology

We just don’t speak like that anymore – not even close.  The sophisticate Hayward was certainly inspired by Taylor’s lawyerly prose.  Most of the observations are solid and insightful –– best to limit the number of guests, have small, intimate dining rooms with good fireplaces and to have neither plate, table or room overly decorated.  He reflected; “As our senses were made for our enjoyment, and as the vast variety of good things in the world were designed for the same end, it seems a sort of impiety not to put them to their best uses, provided it does not cause us to neglect higher considerations.  The different products of the different seasons, and of different parts of the earth, afford endless proofs of bounty, which it is as unreasonable to reject, as it is to abuse.”  Both men’s opinions about food are really ahead of their time… MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David or Alice Waters would agree with much of the menu direction -- especially a love of simple good fruit as the fitting end to a fine meal -- not huge confectionary creations to spoil the stomach.

Hayward only included a handful of precious recipes at the end of his book and his Dutch Sauce was one of the honored few. It made such an impression on me that the post grew around it.  As you probably figured out, it is related to Hollandaise… but it’s an ethereally delicate version using cream instead of butter and elderflower vinegar instead of lemon.  The result is so very fine.  Since it was used in tandem with a lobster sauce on salmon in Hayward’s Spring menu, I decided to put it together with poached egg and asparagus with smoked salmon… the result was perfect — a voluptuaries dream that tastes as sexy as it looks.

Since most of us do not have a bottle of elderflower vinegar* hanging around, I used St. Germain   liqueur with vinegar with great success… you can even buy small bottles of it in most liquor stores and need very little for the dish.  It’s important to use a fine smoked salmon sliced parchment thin and not the saltier and earthier lox… it would overpower the dish.   I think the sauce exemplifies the elegance of these fine gourmets (although they would want the sauce on the side and not slathered on the dish–– I loved the luxury of the pour).  Oh, and use good English Muffins  … I made mine for this using my favorite recipe for them (using mashed potatoes as they were originally made) and used great cream from Milk Thistle Farm and my favorite eggs from Grazin Angus Acres.

 Dutch Sauce with Poached Eggs, Smoked Salmon and asparagus, Serves 2-4


2 egg yolks
½ c heavy cream
*2 T plus 2 t elderflower vinegar or 1 T + 1 t. St Germain Liqueur and1 T + 1 t. white wine vinegar
1/8 t mace
s + p to taste

2 toasted English muffins
4 eggs, poached to your liking
4 pieces smoked salmon
8 spears of asparagus cut in half

Whisk the yolks and 1T of St Germain and 1T of vinegar together and warm over a low flame.  Slowly whisk in the cream and continue whisking till the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper and mace and taste.  If you like the sweet/sour mix add both teaspoons of remaining liquid.  If not, add more of whichever you would like.

Lay ½ a muffin on the plate, top with smoked salmon and poached egg and pour Dutch Sauce over all.  Add the asparagus and serve

* When elderflowers come into season, you can put them into a  bottle with vinegar, wine or vodka and let them steep a few days if you would like to  have your own, but St.Germain’s infusion is spectacular if sweet!
*Since I first made this, I have discovered elderflower tea in the health food store.  It is only made with elderflowers.   Steep a bag of tea in a cup of white wine vinegar and the result will make you very pleased.  It is delicious.

I am so grateful to food historian Carolin Young for introducing me to Walker and Aristology in her book Apples of Gold, Settings of Silver and to my wonderful reader David Julian at the blog Cooking with Julian for telling me of her book... a wonderful cycle of passionate people sharing their passions.

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday!!


Tanya said...

We just don't have very many people like Mr. Walker anymore. Thank you for sharing about him and his works.
As always, a very nice read, Deana.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Very interesting read about Hayward and Walker. The fine art of dining (at home) seems to be fading away. It seems more and more people are dining out rather than cooking and entertaining at home. We don't entertain as often as we used to but thank goodness for our gourmet group.

I love the sound of this delightful variation of the classic Eggs Benedict! Perfect for spring. I am also impressed that you made your own English Muffins!

Inspired2cook said...

I've never heard of Dutch sure looks good!!! I love smoked salmon benedict so I know I would love your recipe!

Fresh Local and Best said...

It is very true that so few no how to dine. For better or worse, it's a lost art to accommodate a broader audience.

I do wonder what elderflower vinegar must be like. This is a superb combination. I agree, Grazin' Angus' eggs and Milk Thistle Farm's crema is simply the best.

Mari @ Once Upon a Plate said...

I learn so much from you, Deana ~ thank you for sharing all that you do. I was very much interested in learning about Thomas Walker and Abraham Hayward.
Having moved away from the SF Bay Area to a rural area in the Pacific North West ~ I miss the dining-out opportunities. But I enjoy cooking/baking, so when we want something special (with no travel involved), I get busy in the kitchen. This dish looks divine, and your photography is spectacular. Drool-worthy, indeed!

Mary Bergfeld said...

I am astounded everytime I visit here. There is something fresh and new each time I stop by. You've created a wonderful spot for your readers to visit. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

La Table De Nana said...

You have heard of the fountain of youth?
You are the fountain of interesting information.
Like a class in a university every time..
So well researched.. and the ephemera is always a treat as well as your special food pics:)
Have a lovely weekend~

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Most precious Deana,

Oh dear, where do I begin to speak eloquently about the rich textures and history that you display here....topped off with that killer velvety sauce. I can taste it now, so creamy and melding with the softness of the salmon....oh mon dieu....everything about your posts HITS ALL THE SENSES, a mark of a skillful and PASSIONATE WRITER...and you came to romp with me on the beach and to visit THE SISTAHOOD! Yes, WE MUST NOT FORGET TO BE AWESOME in whatever genre we make our mark! YOU HAVE PUT ON YOUR AWESOME FOR THE DAY!

Peace and much love and admiration, Anita

tasteofbeirut said...

Interesting post! I am learning about Dutch sauce (will be able to impress my son's Dutch partner with this) and this remarkable man. This dish is a perfect, refined and elegant version of an egg benedicte and I will keep it in mind for my next poached egg concoction.

Barbara said...

Another amazing post, Deana. I loved reading about Abraham Hayward. Can you imagine saying: “I have outlived everybody I could look up to” ( Was he a bit of a snob perhaps?)

Fascinating to use heavy cream in place of butter and the St. Germain vinegar instead of lemon. What a velvety texture this sauce must have. Hollandaise was my mother's favorite. What fun she would have had trying your recipe!

So impressed you made your own English muffins. I always buy them from Wolfermans...think they are the best!

Becky said...

Looks delicious -- perfect for brunch or any other meal. :)

Lucy said...

Beautiful! Home made English muffins no less. You are an exquisite, as they used to say in the 19th century French novels.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This sounds like a wondrously fantastic sauce Deana! And Mr Hayward sounds like a man I would have liked to have known! :D

pierre said...

bravo for the dutch sauce what i do is to add some whipped cream and it becomes a mousseline a real delish !!Pierre

Ken Albala said...

Oh, I bought a copy, but now need to read it!! So Macaulay is the man - historian. But what person in what famous movie (actually two versions) is named after him? Hint the other male lead is C.K. Dexter Haven.

Anonymous said...

Very neat, thanks for the intro to Abraham Hayward, would sure love to learn more! The Dutch sauce sounds incredible, wonderful with St Germain. This is an awesome breakfast for sure!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

What I like so much about this is that it concerns people who had other careers, but were passionate and articulate about the pursuit of food. I was noticing before you mentioned it, that some of the thoughts about seasonality sounded somewhat modern!

Lazaro Cooks said...

Very interesting read about Abraham Hayward. Love some of his wit and wisdom.

My kind of dish asparagus and eggs. Mace is the interesting spice here, good inclusion. Excited to see what you have in store for us with the white version.

Hope you had a good time with the piggies, let me know!

Medifast Coupon said...

Great history lesson, very good post.

Diane said...

It amazes me where you find these interesting posts from. They are always so intriguing and you always manage to tie it all up with a wonderful recipe. Just cut some asparagus from the garden so will give the Dutch sauce a try. Diane

Karen from Globetrotter Diaries said...

Where do u find these men?! ;) I adore hollandaise sauce (esp as eggs benedict) so I can only imagine with cream.... mmmm......

Actually a real question, where do you get your inspiration and information for your posts usually? I love that I'm always learning something new here

dessert girl said...

Oh, I love this! I love old recipes and hearing the history behind them. Also, who can resist that name? Dutch Sauce.

Marjie said...

Dutch sauce sounds good. I think I'll just skip making elderberry vinegar...

Unknown said...

Elderflower vinegar? Wow, thats a niche product no? Here in England you find elderflower cordial, but I never heard of vinegar.
I love your dish. I am a huge fan of egg foods :D. I love scrambled eggs on bagel with cheese for dinner when I am eating alone, but I think I'd like to change it to this ;). This is the perfect morsel, delicious, and supremely elegant. Beautiful post as usual.
*kisses* HH

Sue said...

A fascinating read . . . and as ever, inspiring! I am off to research Elderflower vinegar - we have banks of it around here later in the year. I have made wine from it before - and from rose petals. I discovered an old bottle of rose petal wine that had turned to vinegar last year and used that as a substitute whilst cooking chicken in foil parcels with herbs . . . lovely.


Jacque said...

Such a lovely blog!! I feel I could lose myself for hours here.
Thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

Awesome breakfast treat.... and that is a smooth Dutch sauce too!! I would love to wake up to this meal:)

Peter said...

That photo is seriously sexy. You get an A for the post, and extra credit for the food porn sauce-drool.