Thursday, 18 July 2013

All trussed up, but nowhere to go

"Hang your plucked, drawn prime goose in a slight draught to crisp up the skin. Twenty four hours later, truss it"

Fanny is trying to ensure that I get a repertoire of 'basics' under my belt, and I think she's done a solid job so far with some seemingly, at least initially, strange choices. I'm trying to resist temptation to flip forward to some of the more recognisable Fanny dishes with flashy presentations, but I am here to learn and I am sure my patience will pay off. However the majority of the remainder of Part One of this glorious technicolour 80 part-work is a guide to Simple Cooking with Poultry - not essential for a vegetarian like me, but fascinating to see what Fanny thought of as 'basic', 'simple' and an 'introduction' to cooking all sorts of birds...

I'm realising that Fanny was ahead of the game in many ways, and her views on birds are no different - urging readers to only buy 'fresh, free run', even if you are thinking about 'capons' which Fanny tells us, via Noel Coward, are hens that have 'been arranged'. If you wondered what to look for in a fresh pigeon - and who doesn't? - the advice is clear - supple feet and firm vents. Is that freshly 'dead' or still wandering around? She also urges folk to buy in bulk for reasons of economy, and freeze... Only AFTER following her cooking tips of course, and NEVER freezing first, for reasons of family wellbeing. Fanny thankfully does not give more details, but you can imagine.

The 'pic-strip' comes into it's own in this guide - first and foremost we must learn to truss. Fanny has apparently simplified the process for the 'home cook' which I am sure everyone was eternally grateful. Fanny gets Peter to demonstrate, which indicates that it is so easy that 'anyone can do it, even Peter'. However, cooking whole birds in a 'mountain' of salt is something which must be shown by her own experienced hands. Peter is allowed to help out. Peter does not benefit from matching green jacket and eye shadow, sadly.

Fanny discusses the merits of roasting in aluminium foil versus in 'see through' foil - is this what we now call a roasting bag? I am thankful suddenly to be a vegetarian as Fanny instructs us to take our ordinary (sterilised) garden secateurs in hand and set about cutting chicken into neat pieces. I fear for readers fingers, but Peter is again allowed to show us how to do it, so I suppose it must be fairly straightforward and trips to Accident and Emergency free.

The recipes and techniques seem never ending, and I am confident that if I did eat poultry, I would be set for life. Fanny even has recipes for those family members who are 'regretfully placed' and need to avoid salt and fat in their diet. The answer? Roman Pots of course. If you are more fortunate you could do worse than cook a non-greasy goose or duck, surely? 

I've learnt more than I ever needed to know about buying, storing, cooking, and serving all sorts of birds in all sorts of manners. I am also learning about typography - almost ever font, style and colour has been used. Has Fanny made it simple and basic? I find it hard to say. She can't resist a flourish towards the end, of course, and showcases her Duckling a l'Orange in glorious presentation. I wonder how many readers in 1970 recreated this one, perfectly hung, trussed and prepared? 

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