Historical recipes aren’t easy to decipher. You may struggle with strange terms, odd ingredients and confusing spelling. Here are some tips to get you started.
What about all these F words?
It really helps to remember to read the f as an s. It can be odd, it can even look a little rude sometimes, but it’s that simple. Swap around the s and f and you won’t have any more difficulties. The reason why they wrote an f instead of an s? Well, it’s not f, but actually a long s. It was a different way of writing s. It was always pronounced as an s is pronounced; it was never pronounced as an f.
Wet and moist sugar. This really confused me. To put it simply these terms have to do with the way sugar used to be transported. It came as barrels of sugar molasses which were refined later. Sugar is wet first, dark brown molasses sugar to you and me, moist next which is the light brown stuff or dry, refined white sugar. It should be added that sugar used to come in cones too. My aim to recreate some for the Town House’s kitchen.
Spelling in English was not standardised until the 18th century. But even after then words were often spelt phonetically (as they sounded) and in local dialects. Vowel sounds in particular could be written in a variety of different ways. It all depended on how the writer said the word.