How to candy a mouse. Yes, really.


Much fun to be had in these pages, and some squirm-making moments too, in a mixture of the history of cooking (based on what is obviously a wide acquaintance with ancient cook books), reflections on food, and personal foody experiences.  Alice Thomas Ellis denies any attempt at scholarship, so one can settle down for a jolly ramble through chapters entitled  From Cradle to Gravy, The Servant Problem, In the Soup, Another Man’s Poison and so forth.  She is concerned mainly with British food and cookery, but makes a few digressions to the US and Europe.  She has an eye for the social implications of the food she describes, as well as a high sense of social comedy, and her own family members emerge, rather touchingly, at intervals through her narrative.

Oh yes, the mice:  see page 31.  Apparently the trick is to tie their tails to a wooden spoon laid across a pan filled with heavy sugar syrup.  “They were delicious … the bones were crisp and edible …”.


6 responses »

  1. That’s…kind of horrifying. (Though I have a cookbook somewhere devoted to trying to reconstruct all, or nearly all, the meals mentioned in Patrick O’Brian’s sea stories – including one in which a couple of midshipmen cook some “millers”, or ship’s rats. The authors got themselves some carefully tended lab rats, butchered them, and cooked them – and reported that they were delicious.)

    • The book sounds great – and obviously brave and determined authors. O’Brian’s descriptions of food and shared meals are hugely entertaining, food and social life both.

      • It is fascinating, both for the lengths the authors (a mother and daughter, fwiw) go to in their driven pursuit of authenticity and for the reference quotes from the original stories.

  2. I’m a vegetarian. That’s where I draw the line. Don’t really understand why some animals are more acceptable than others. In fact, in terms of numbers of lives, I would think that the bigger, the more morally acceptable.

    • I can imagine eating savoury baked mouse (associations with disease are probably what puts one off) but like most modern British I don’t fancy literally sweet meat. As to the moral dimension of large versus small lives, you have a point!

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