Breakfast at Baker Street – M. Vernet
The Holiday Season is upon us and I thought, my dear readers, you might like a look at the meals served up in the Canon. And some tasty recipes that don’t have a trace of odious chemicals or Arsenic!
Food was not a great concern to Holmes and Watson. Dashing about and traveling here and there made their routine quite varied.
They occasionally had lunch or dinner at a restaurant but seldom talked about the food.
In BRUC, Holmes dined at a “garish” Italian Restaurant. In a note to Watson he said “Am dining at Goldini’s restaurant, Gloucester Rd., Kensington. Please come at once and join me there. Bring with you a jemmy, a dark lantern, a chisel and a Revolver.— SH”
Holmes offered Watson coffee and Curacao and one of the proprietor’s cigars. Watson didn’t eat and Holmes didn’t offer left-overs, so, sorry we still don’t know if it was pasta or eggplant parmigiana.
“The” Vegetarian restaurant was mentioned in REDH. Meaning ,perhaps that they ate there on occasion. If they served “Sandwiches and coffee,” they might have eaten lunch there that very day on their way to a concert. “Sarasate plays at the St. James Hall this afternoon.” said Holmes.( Pablo de Sarasate was a Spanish Violinist 1844-1908.)
The Vegetarian Movement was very active in England in the 19th Century. England embraced the vegetarian ideals. A prominent advocate of “ethically motivated Vegetarianism” was the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, (1828-1910)
The fact that Sir Arthur mentions a Vegetarian Restaurant in such an off-handed manner shows how widely it was accepted in Holmes and Watson’s time.
Unfortunately the only Vegetarian edibles mentioned in the canon are “Green Peas,”3STU, “Oranges,” REIG and “Nuts,” GLOR.
Holmes and Watson’s favorite restaurant was Simpson’s Grand Cigar Divan, located on The Strand. In DYIN, after “three days of absolute fast,” Holmes picked Simpson’s to break his fast. “Something nutritious at Simpson’s would not be out of place,” he said while nibbling on a biscuit.
In ILLU they dine there twice! “We dined once more at our Strand Restaurant,” said Watson.
Originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house- Simpson’s Grand Cigar Divan, became the home of chess. To avoid disturbing the chess games a silver domed trolley with large joints of beef on it was wheeled to your table and carved for you. It had the best of British food.
In 1904 it was remodeled when The Strand was widened and the name changed to Simpson’s Tavern and Divan. It is still in business today, and called Simpson’s-on-the-Strand. They still use the antique silver domed trolleys and named among their illustrious guests are Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson.
When Holmes and The Good Doctor could relax enough to Dine at home they seemed to prefer wild game. The ever present cold beef on the sideboard was there for quick meals and sandwiches. (SCAN and BERY)
Wild Fowl was a favorite. They had Woodcock twice, Pheasant with Pate’ de Fois Gras pie, Partridge and Christmas Goose. And once on a case, (SHOS) some fresh trout they caught themselves!
What surprised me the most about Holmes and Watson’s eating habits was how often Breakfast was mentioned. Twenty times! Whether they ate it, postponed it, didn’t like it, or skipped it entirely, Breakfast seemed to be a very important meal.
When speaking of a case to Watson over Breakfast Holmes said, “There is little to share, but we may discuss it when you have consumed the two hard-boiled eggs with which our new cook has favored us. Their condition may not be unconnected with the copy of the Family Herald which I observed yesterday upon the hall table. Even so trivial a matter as cooking an egg demands an attention which is conscience of the passing of time and incompatible with the love romance in that excellent periodical.”
Holmes took his eggs seriously! And Holmes and Watson took their Breakfasts seriously. Whether a cup of cocoa, tea on the train, or one of Mrs. Hudson’s satisfying meals, the canon is full of tasty morning dishes. Here is a sampling: Ham & Eggs, (twice,) Hard-boiled eggs, Curried Chicken, Eggs & Toast and “Fresh Rashers.”
My family has a tradition of having a very big brunch on Christmas morning. We try to do different foods every year. I think this year we will attempt a “Full English Breakfast,” in honor of my favorite Detective and his ever faithful (and usually hungry) friend. Won’t you join us?
A “Full English Breakfast,” also called a “Fry Up,” consists of at least three types of meat (steak, sausage, ham, streaks or rashers,) fried eggs, Heinz Beans,(canned,) fried mushrooms, fried tomato, fried potato, (hash browns, lately,) fried slice,(bread,) Toast, a mug of Builder’s Tea and H&P brown sauce.
Now for the US translation. Unfortunately, some if the ingredients are not available in the US, so I’ve figured out some substitutions.
English sausages are bigger and hardier than our “Breakfast Links.” A good substitute might be a fresh Bratwurst or homemade Venison sausage.
Pork is cut differently in the UK. “Streak” is basically our normal cut of cured bacon. And a “Rasher” is cut from the fatty part of a pork loin, leaving the fat on,which is taken off in the US. Then it is cured like bacon or left as is for “Fresh Rashers.” It is sliced very thin and fried till crispy.
There is no real substitute, but if you buy an inexpensive pork roast, 3lbs. or so, remove the bone and slice it thin, leaving the fat on it, it may come close to a “Fresh Rasher.” another simpler substitute would be a thin cut loin pork chop.
Heinz baked beans was a surprise to me! You just heat them and serve over toast. Some Brits drain them and add hot sauce.
A fried slice is bread fried in the meat drippings, not to be confused with Toast, which uses a Toaster!
Builder’s Tea is a strong inexpensive tea drunk by construction workers on their tea break. A mug is used, not a pot. P&G Tips, Tesco Brand and Tetley are typical teas used. P&G Tips and Tetley are readily available in the US. Add milk and sugar, please!
H&P sauce, (Houses of Parliament) is a favorite in the UK. It’s made by Heinz and is called a Brown Sauce. It is similar to A1 steak sauce, but not as spicy. It used to be made in England, but the Heinz Co. has recently relocated to Holland. Some Britons protested the move and loss of jobs and have boycotted it. To be on the safe side and not offend anyone, just use your favorite steak sauce.
A “Full English Breakfast,” would be a thoughtful gesture for your Sherlockian friends. The basis for a fun and filling Sherlock themed Holiday party.
I’ve written out several recipes for you to try. No matter how you like to celebrate, remember as Sherlock said, “Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and it’s solution is it’s own reward. If you will have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another investigation in which also a bird will be the chief feature.” (BLUE)
Mrs. Henry Baker’s Christmas Goose
(Here’s hoping you find a rare jewel inside!)
You should be able to find a frozen goose at your local supermarket, but best talk to your butcher about it. 10lbs is a typical size, $3.00/lb is a typical price. A goose is VERY fatty; much like a duck. It’s very much like a duck in taste.
DIRECTIONS: Remove giblets and set them aside. Use a deep roasting pan and place the bird on a rack. Allow about 1/2 hour per pound cooking time at 350.
Rub the goose with the juice if a lemon and put sliced lemon and sage leaves into the cavity.
Halfway through cooking time, remove the accumulated fat. USE CAUTION! VERY HOT! You may need to remove the fat several times. Keep an eye on the fat level.
The Goose is done when crispy brown and internal temp. is 160.
Traditionally served with potatoes,carrots and parsnips roasted in the goose fat. You could serve Mrs. Hudson’s “Green Peas.”
This recipe is my own for making chopped chicken liver. A treat from my Long Island, New york, childhood. Just substitute goose liver, or use chicken liver. One man’s chopped liver is another man’s Pate’.
To simmering water add goose or chicken livers (about two pounds). Sage leaves, a large chopped onion,and a celery stick halved. Simmer until liver and celery are well done. The longer the better (about an hour.) Drain the water, and remove celery (Or can leave it in , your choice.) Cool.
Put all ingredients into a mini-food processor, and blend till the consistency of Peanut Butter.
Spoon the liver pate’ mix into a mixing bowl.
Add a teaspoon each of garlic powder, paprika and salt & pepper to taste.
Add a Tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix well.
Spread on a Baguette!
Mrs. Hudson’s Chicken Curry
This recipe has been a favorite at our house for years, ever since the kids watched “Red Dwarf” and wanted to know what curry was. It’s mild enough for the whole family. Just add more curry powder if you like it hot!
3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts sliced
2 Cans Cream of chicken soup
I can Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
3 or 4 Green Onions Diced
Brown sliced chicken in a little oil till well done (no pink.) Add to a large saucepan, chicken soup and broth. Simmer till soup is bubbly. If it is too thick add water a little at a time.
Add Curry Powder and chicken and simmer till everything is hot and well blended.
Turn off heat and add green onions and let them rest on top as a garnish.
Cover saucepan and let the onions warm up a bit in the steam do not cook them.
Serve over rice.
Wishing you all the compliments of the Season!
And my Thanks to:
William S. Baring -Gould “The Annotated Sherlock Holmes”
Matilda for ‘The Story Sketches”
Mrs Hudson’s Kitchen Forum