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Historic (rec.food.historic) Discussing and discovering how food was made and prepared way back when--From ancient times down until (& possibly including or even going slightly beyond) the times when industrial revolution began to change our lives.

The origins of the prawn/shrimp cocktail



 
 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 08-03-2005, 03:27 PM
Max
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Default The origins of the prawn/shrimp cocktail

Hi

Does anyone know anything about the origins/history of the
prawn/shrimp cocktail dish?

Any info gratefully received!

Thanks
Max
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 09-03-2005, 03:32 PM
TOliver
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Default


"Max" wrote ...
Hi

Does anyone know anything about the origins/history of the
prawn/shrimp cocktail dish?

Any info gratefully received!

I suspect the lack of answers is evidence not of a lack of interest, but due
to a question for which there may be no definitive answers.

How long have folks eaten boiled shrimp?

Who first discovered that cooked shrimp kept longer than raw shrimp?

Who first awoke hungry and shelled a few shrimp left over from last night's
"boil up" and discovered that cool/cold shrimp were quite pleasant?

Shrimp cocktails were certainly a regular menu item in fancy restaurants in
the mid19th century and in the US spread rapidly to become "the" appetizer
in restaurants in the mid20th century, the standard precursor of steak.

....But then I can recall asa lad sitting on the plaza in Vera Cruz peeling
shrimp and eating them with key lime juice, salt and chiles, under the
general impression that folks had been doing the same since Cortez passed
through town.....;-P

TMO


  #5 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2005, 02:08 AM
Richard Wright
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Default

On Wed, 09 Mar 2005 14:32:37 GMT, "TOliver"
wrote:


"Max" wrote ...
Hi

Does anyone know anything about the origins/history of the
prawn/shrimp cocktail dish?

Any info gratefully received!

I suspect the lack of answers is evidence not of a lack of interest, but due
to a question for which there may be no definitive answers.

How long have folks eaten boiled shrimp?

Who first discovered that cooked shrimp kept longer than raw shrimp?

Who first awoke hungry and shelled a few shrimp left over from last night's
"boil up" and discovered that cool/cold shrimp were quite pleasant?

Shrimp cocktails were certainly a regular menu item in fancy restaurants in
the mid19th century and in the US spread rapidly to become "the" appetizer
in restaurants in the mid20th century, the standard precursor of steak.

...But then I can recall asa lad sitting on the plaza in Vera Cruz peeling
shrimp and eating them with key lime juice, salt and chiles, under the
general impression that folks had been doing the same since Cortez passed
through town.....;-P

TMO

Well, there is a bit more to a prawn (or shrimp) cocktail than eating
cold prawns just as there is a bit more to a hamburger than eating
hot beef.

Mid 19th century in US? What's the source? The Oxford English
Dictionary does not record the phrase in the USA until 1939:

1937 America's Cook Bk. 180. "Lobster or shrimp cocktail . . . Chill
thoroughly and serve in cocktail glasses."

Perhaps the recipe and name is even later in England. Earliest
citation by OED gives: 1960 M. Patten Cookery in Colour no. 23. "The
correct way of serving these cocktails, though, is to use glasses,
when the lettuce should be shredded very finely and put at the bottom
of the glasses."
Ibid. no. 25 "Cocktail sauce for Prawn or Shrimp Cocktail."

I thumbed through various English cookbooks and could not find it
until Gladys Mann's "Traditional British cooking for pleasure" which
dates from 1967.

Of course the dish may have gone under another name earlier on. But
eating cold prawns is not enough. Any earlier recipe under another
name would need to specify the properties of serving prawns in
individual glasses on a lettuce base and with a concocted sauce
containing ingredients such as tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce
and (perhaps) sour cream..

Anyway, it's off to prepare a prawn cocktail for this evening.



  #6 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2005, 02:31 AM
Jenn Ridley
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Default

Richard Wright wrote:

On Wed, 09 Mar 2005 14:32:37 GMT, "TOliver"
wrote:


"Max" wrote ...
Hi

Does anyone know anything about the origins/history of the
prawn/shrimp cocktail dish?

Any info gratefully received!

I suspect the lack of answers is evidence not of a lack of interest, but due
to a question for which there may be no definitive answers.



Well, there is a bit more to a prawn (or shrimp) cocktail than eating
cold prawns just as there is a bit more to a hamburger than eating
hot beef.

Mid 19th century in US? What's the source? The Oxford English
Dictionary does not record the phrase in the USA until 1939:

1937 America's Cook Bk. 180. "Lobster or shrimp cocktail . . . Chill
thoroughly and serve in cocktail glasses."


My 1937 copy of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook has shrimp cocktail
in it (Allow 1/4 to 1/3 cup canned or cooked shelled shrimps for each
person. Remove intestinal vein. Chill. Break in pieces and serve in
cocktail glasses with any cocktail sauce or Mayonnaise.)


jenn
--
Jenn Ridley :
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2005, 05:12 AM
Richard Wright
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Default

On Wed, 09 Mar 2005 20:31:41 -0500, Jenn Ridley
wrote:

Richard Wright wrote:

On Wed, 09 Mar 2005 14:32:37 GMT, "TOliver"
wrote:


"Max" wrote ...
Hi

Does anyone know anything about the origins/history of the
prawn/shrimp cocktail dish?

Any info gratefully received!

I suspect the lack of answers is evidence not of a lack of interest, but due
to a question for which there may be no definitive answers.



Well, there is a bit more to a prawn (or shrimp) cocktail than eating
cold prawns just as there is a bit more to a hamburger than eating
hot beef.

Mid 19th century in US? What's the source? The Oxford English
Dictionary does not record the phrase in the USA until 1939:

1937 America's Cook Bk. 180. "Lobster or shrimp cocktail . . . Chill
thoroughly and serve in cocktail glasses."


My 1937 copy of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook has shrimp cocktail
in it (Allow 1/4 to 1/3 cup canned or cooked shelled shrimps for each
person. Remove intestinal vein. Chill. Break in pieces and serve in
cocktail glasses with any cocktail sauce or Mayonnaise.)


jenn


That's a proper 'cocktail' recipe, certainly. I made a mistake when I
typed". . . in the USA until 1939". Should have been 1937, the date of
the OED citation.

No details of the recipe given, but 'shrimp cocktail' is on a
suggested menu in "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service" by Ida C.
Baily Allen [Doubleday:New York] 1924. This is according to:

http://www.foodtimeline.org/fooddecades.html

I looked in "A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband" by Weaver and
LeCron (1917). Would have expected to find it in this absurdly
patronising book, if recipes for shrimp cocktail were circulating at
the time of the first world war.
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2005, 06:11 PM
Alf Christophersen
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Default

On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 15:12:59 +1100, Richard Wright
wrote:

That's a proper 'cocktail' recipe, certainly. I made a mistake when I
typed". . . in the USA until 1939". Should have been 1937, the date of
the OED citation.

No details of the recipe given, but 'shrimp cocktail' is on a
suggested menu in "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service" by Ida C.
Baily Allen [Doubleday:New York] 1924. This is according to:


I guess any cocktails dates back to the moment they became invented
and became a fashion.

Shrimp salads was wellknown, at least in Scandinavia long time before
that.
But who invented shrimp/prawn cocktails, I don't know, neither were. I
guess though it was a natural choice when cocktails entered the scene
and someone had a lot of prawns available for a dinner:-) could be
Scandinavia since it was fished a lot here.
I doubt England since the coast was already before 1940 heavily
polluted and seafood eating traditions was quite bland. I remember my
mother talking about a dinner at an upper class restaurant in London
in the 30'ies when she studied in Oxford, getting inedible, rotten
cod. At the neighbour table sat one famous American actress who bent
over and asked if there was something wrong with the fish, and my mom
told her it was simply rotten. They got something else to eat. (The
cook didn't know any difference btw. fresh and rotten fish since all
fish at that time at least was many days old when served in London,
with almost no cooling. Just like here in Norway in valley districts
where the writer Kjell Aukrust living as a child at Alvdal in
Ųsterdalen, quite a distance from the coast, lively describes how fish
was transported in an uncooled wheelchair with a horse slowly walking
in warm summer sun with stinking, rottening fish uncovered on the
chair, half covered by clouds of flies who had a really good time. It
seemed like the fish my mother got served at that time in London, had
had the same treatment.

In Schųnberg-Erken there is no mentions of any cocktails, so I guess
the name for such dishes was not invented in 1933 when my copy was
printed (8th revision I think). But there are tiny dishes with shrimps
that resembles and in the salad recipe part there is a shrimp salad
where you had to make your own mayonnaise (false)
1 l shrimps, 60 g butter, 40 g wheat flour, 1 dl boullon (meat !!
strange), 4 egg yolks, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 knife edge pepper, 1 tablespoon
vinegar, 3 tablespoon oil, lobster color, 1 head of salad, 1
tablespoon finely chopped parsley.
Rinse shrimps and mix with 1/3 of following sauce:
Melt butter, stirin flour, thin slowly with bouillon under heating,
after short boiling take off heat and cool. Add egg yolk together with
salt (to be dropped if shrimps are very salty), pepper, vinegar and
oil. Mix thouroughly until smooth.
Serve in shells or on a vase covered by finely chopped salad leaves.
1/3 of sauce is colored by lobster color, in the last third, finely
chopped parsley is added.
Sauces is layered in stripes over the shrimps.

I guess the distance here is quite short to varying this dish with
other sauces like Worschtershiresauce (which point to England) and
using cocktail glasses.


  #9 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2005, 09:09 PM
Peter Volsted
Usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

hi

Alf Christophersen wrote:
In Sch=F8nberg-Erken there is no mentions of any cocktails, so I guess=


the name for such dishes was not invented in 1933 when my copy was
printed (8th revision I think).


Speaking about 'fish' never overlook Alan Davidson. In his "North=20
Atlantic Seafood". Viking Press, NY, 1979 page 474 he has a wonderful=20
recipe on Dublin Bay Prawn Cocktail and writes: "The word cocktail does=20
not sound either Irish or old; but this has been the traditional way of=20
eating Dublin Bay prawns in Dublin; at least from the time my maternal=20
grandmother lived there."
As he was born in 1924 I think that will backdate the birth of the=20
cocktail to somewhere in the last half of the 18. century.

Alf - your interesting story of rotten cod in London tends me to=20
recommend you Elizabeth David's "Harvest of the cold Months. The Social=20
History Of Ice And Ices", Penguin Books, London, 1994. Among other good=20
things there are interesting narrations on the use of ice for=20
fish-transportations into London in 17.-18. century from northern and=20
western parts of the kingdom - and from Norway.


--=20
good luck

peter

  #10 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2005, 12:34 AM
TOliver
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Posts: n/a
Default


"Peter Volsted" wrote in message
...
hi

Alf Christophersen wrote:
In Schųnberg-Erken there is no mentions of any cocktails, so I guess
the name for such dishes was not invented in 1933 when my copy was
printed (8th revision I think).


Speaking about 'fish' never overlook Alan Davidson. In his "North
Atlantic Seafood". Viking Press, NY, 1979 page 474 he has a wonderful
recipe on Dublin Bay Prawn Cocktail and writes: "The word cocktail does
not sound either Irish or old; but this has been the traditional way of
eating Dublin Bay prawns in Dublin; at least from the time my maternal
grandmother lived there."
As he was born in 1924 I think that will backdate the birth of the
cocktail to somewhere in the last half of the 18. century.

That's interesting (and would give some credence to their early attachment
to US restaurant menus.

At some moment in time, "shrimp on ice" or "chilled prawns" made the leap
from serving plate to cocktail glass, cheap imitations of which, really
sherbet or fruit cups, always seemed to grace the shrimp cocktails of US
restaurants in the late 40s/early 50s. My mother always claimed that the
dish was extremely popular in the restaurants of Galveston and the Gulf
Coast in the 1920s.

Many of what are essentially shrimp cocktails continue to be served on
appetizer or salad plates in old New Orleans restaurants, (sauced with more
inventive blends than the statndard Catsup/Worcestershire
Sauce/Horseradish/Tabasco and maybe lemon) but in this era of ceviche in
stemmed margarita glasses, change has become rapid. The "classic" version
of my youth featured large shrimp (the tails left on the the fashion of the
currently popular frozen and defrosted bright red "hotel"/"banquet
hall"/"reception", viciously nasty buggers which out to be outlawed) served
meaty foreparts down, tails hanging over the edge artfully arranged around
the bowl of some sort of stewmmed glassware. The thinner the glass, the
more upscale the restaurant. Purists refused oyster cocktails, trusting no
raw oyster not pried from the shell before their eyes. Crab cocktail? The
more elaborate dish, Crab Louis/Louie, seemed to take a firmer hold in the
South...

TMO

TMO


  #11 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2005, 01:33 AM
Lee Rudolph
Usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Richard Wright writes (both at and
at level):
....
Mid 19th century in US? What's the source? The Oxford English
Dictionary does not record the phrase in the USA until 1939:

1937 America's Cook Bk. 180. "Lobster or shrimp cocktail . . . Chill
thoroughly and serve in cocktail glasses."

....

I have a precitation for that (below), which I shall take care
to forward to the OED.

....
That's a proper 'cocktail' recipe, certainly. I made a mistake when I
typed". . . in the USA until 1939". Should have been 1937, the date of
the OED citation.

No details of the recipe given, but 'shrimp cocktail' is on a
suggested menu in "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service" by Ida C.
Baily Allen [Doubleday:New York] 1924.

....

The 1932 edition of "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service",
reissued under the title "Ida Bailey Allen's Modern Cookbook",
has a recipe for "Lobster, Shrimp, or Crabmeat Cocktail" in
the "Savoury Cocktails" section of the chapter on "Foods that
Begin a Meal".

Savoury cocktails are usually made of raw fish, although
combinations of raw and smoked fish are sometimes used, and
in rare instances good-sized bits of broiled mushrooms and
sweetbreads are used instead of the fish.

These savoury cocktails should be properly served in cocktail
glasses, which are in turn imbedded in cracked ice--soup plates
or the new glass oyster plates being used for the service. If
the cocktail is mixed with the sauce in the glass, a bit of parsley
may top it, or pieces of green may be placed, wreath fashion, around
the cocktails. If you do not possess cocktail glasses, hollowed-out
green peppers or tomatoes may be used, or the cocktail sauce with
the savour ingredient may be thorougly chillled and served in ordinary
small cocktail glasses. In this case the green is placed at the base.

General Recipe for Cocktail Sauce
(Individual Service)

1/2 tablespoonful tomato catsup or 2 drops tabasco sauce
chili sauce 1/4 teaspoonful celery salt
1/2 tablespoonful lemon juice 3 drops Worcestershire sauce

Combine the ingredients in the order given, mixing them well. IF
desired, a half teaspoonful of olive oil may be added.
....
Lobster, Shrimp, or Crabmeat Cocktail

Allow to each person one-third cupful of diced lobster meat,
diced cooked or canned shrimps, or shredded crabmeat; combine
with cocktail sauce and serve as directed.

(Op. cit., pp. 112-113)

Lee Rudolph
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2005, 07:41 PM
Richard Wright
Usenet poster
 
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Default

On 10 Mar 2005 19:33:06 -0500, (Lee Rudolph) wrote:

Richard Wright writes (both at and
at level):
...
Mid 19th century in US? What's the source? The Oxford English
Dictionary does not record the phrase in the USA until 1939:

1937 America's Cook Bk. 180. "Lobster or shrimp cocktail . . . Chill
thoroughly and serve in cocktail glasses."

...

I have a precitation for that (below), which I shall take care
to forward to the OED.

...
That's a proper 'cocktail' recipe, certainly. I made a mistake when I
typed". . . in the USA until 1939". Should have been 1937, the date of
the OED citation.

No details of the recipe given, but 'shrimp cocktail' is on a
suggested menu in "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service" by Ida C.
Baily Allen [Doubleday:New York] 1924.

...

The 1932 edition of "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service",
reissued under the title "Ida Bailey Allen's Modern Cookbook",
has a recipe for "Lobster, Shrimp, or Crabmeat Cocktail" in
the "Savoury Cocktails" section of the chapter on "Foods that
Begin a Meal".

snipped

At the risk of turning this thread into a "my citation's earlier than
your citation", I have found the following from 1931 (since the Allen
book goes back to at least 1924 I don't expect my claim to last long):
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Lightning Cookery" by Countess Morphy. London: Country Life Ltd 1931.
Pages 15-16.

Prawn Cocktail

Ingredients: This can be made with either prawns, lobster or crab. For
4 people: 1/2 a pint of fresh prawns, 1 lettuce, equal parts of
mayonnaise, cream and Heinz's Tomato ketchup, a dash of brandy,
(optional).

Method: Wash and pick the lettuce in the usual way, and keep a few
small white leaves from the heart for decoration. Dry the other leaves
in a cloth and chop them finely. Place 1 tablespoonful of these in a
champagne glass, then add a few shelled prawns, or lobster or crab cut
in small pieces, and pour over this the mayonnaise, fresh cream and
tomato ketchup, which have been thoroughly blended in a basin with a
little salt and pepper, and a dash of brandy. Decorate each glass with
a few of the small leaves from the heart of the lettuce. Time: 25
minutes.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  #13 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2005, 08:49 PM
Lazarus Cooke
Usenet poster
 
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Default

In article , Richard Wright
wrote:

At the risk of turning this thread into a "my citation's earlier than
your citation",


No.... Go on. this has turned out to be a really interesting thread. I
should have guessed that it was an English invention, but of course it
isn't. What I'm wondering is whether it became popular during, or
before prohibition.

L

--
Remover the rock from the email address
  #14 (permalink)  
Old 12-03-2005, 09:38 AM
Michael Dritschel
Usenet poster
 
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Default

Alf Christophersen writes:

On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 15:12:59 +1100, Richard Wright
wrote:

That's a proper 'cocktail' recipe, certainly. I made a mistake when I
typed". . . in the USA until 1939". Should have been 1937, the date of
the OED citation.

No details of the recipe given, but 'shrimp cocktail' is on a
suggested menu in "Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service" by Ida C.
Baily Allen [Doubleday:New York] 1924. This is according to:


I guess any cocktails dates back to the moment they became invented
and became a fashion.

Shrimp salads was wellknown, at least in Scandinavia long time before
that.
But who invented shrimp/prawn cocktails, I don't know, neither were. I
guess though it was a natural choice when cocktails entered the scene
and someone had a lot of prawns available for a dinner:-) could be
Scandinavia since it was fished a lot here.
I doubt England since the coast was already before 1940 heavily
polluted and seafood eating traditions was quite bland. I remember my
mother talking about a dinner at an upper class restaurant in London
in the 30'ies when she studied in Oxford, getting inedible, rotten
cod. At the neighbour table sat one famous American actress who bent
over and asked if there was something wrong with the fish, and my mom
told her it was simply rotten. They got something else to eat. (The
cook didn't know any difference btw. fresh and rotten fish since all
fish at that time at least was many days old when served in London,
with almost no cooling. Just like here in Norway in valley districts
where the writer Kjell Aukrust living as a child at Alvdal in
Ųsterdalen, quite a distance from the coast, lively describes how fish
was transported in an uncooled wheelchair with a horse slowly walking
in warm summer sun with stinking, rottening fish uncovered on the
chair, half covered by clouds of flies who had a really good time. It
seemed like the fish my mother got served at that time in London, had
had the same treatment.


In Tobias Smollett's "Humphry Clinker" (an epistolary novel published
in 1771), the character Matthew Bramble complains of much the same
thing upon a visit to London (letter of June 8):

"Of the fish I need say nothing in this hot weather, but that it comes
sixty, seventy, fourscore, and a hundred miles by land-carriage; a
circumstance sufficient without any comment, to turn a Dutchman's
stomach, even if his nose was not saluted in every alley with the
sweet flavour of _fresh_ mackarel, selling by retail - This is not the
season for oysters; nevertheless, it may not be amiss to mention, that
the right Colchester are kept in slime-pits, occasionally overflowed
by the sea; and that the green colour, so much admired by voluptuaries
of this metropolis, is occasioned by the vitriolic scum, which rises
on the surface of the stagnant and stinking water"

Indeed Bramble has little good to say about any of the food (or indeed
anything else) in London, especially when compared with home in
Gloucester.
  #15 (permalink)  
Old 13-03-2005, 03:20 PM
Alf Christophersen
Usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 21:09:41 +0100, Peter Volsted
wrote:

Alf - your interesting story of rotten cod in London tends me to
recommend you Elizabeth David's "Harvest of the cold Months. The Social
History Of Ice And Ices", Penguin Books, London, 1994. Among other good
things there are interesting narrations on the use of ice for
fish-transportations into London in 17.-18. century from northern and
western parts of the kingdom - and from Norway.


Well, that is in fact wellknown, but it did not always protect
completely against rottening of the fish. Problem was most probably
that not all people involved in transport or storing cared so much
about having the fish always covered by ice.
Ice stored in sawmill dust keeps for a very long period, but if you
transported the fish, you had to pick out the ice blocks from the
sawmill dusts and crush it. It rather quickly melted in summertime and
if the transporter did not care, it melted and the fish was rottening.
(or anything else)

My grandfather sailed ice from Kragerų to London in summer, so I have
stories about that., And crushed ice was used to cover fish at the
market in Oslo (and still is, but now we have coolers in addition
which prolong the life of the ice a lot, and all transport workers are
well teached about the importance of keeping ice and temperature under
strict control during transport and storage, especially when
transporting for a long distance on a car. But still I find taste of
cod in Oslo far from what cod taste when slaughtered just a few
minutes before preparation).
By the way, I remember those sawmill dust stores for ice when I was a
child, from where they was transferred to sail boats (more than 50
years earlier) to be sent to London etc.

 




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