Devilled mackerel bones and roe, anyone? No thanks!

I’ve been looking at Mrs A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book – that’s the title, and in particular I’ve been looking at her section on savouries, that almost forgotten part of a dinner coming after dessert. In this last part she considers how fashion has changed.

During the last few years a vast increase in savoury dainties has been brought before the public, and many have met with undoubted favour. Fish have been cured and put up in a great variety, many of the preparations being ready for immediate use, or forming pretty and delicate dishes with a minimum trouble.

Ready meals! Pre-made! Plus ça change!

Among such we may mention, just for example, Luxette,  marinaded fillets of herrings, and curried prawns.

Luxette… some sort of savoury paste Agnes produced and sold to her fans. Just as TV and celebrity chefs today promote and sell their own brands! Agnes Bertha Marshall led the way!

Among the different articles which may be served for savouries are dishes made from Parmesan, Gruyere, pr other tasty cheeses, caviar, anchovies, oysters, sardines, fish roes, devilled bones, mushrooms, artichoke bottoms, olives, eggs, marrow and a host of others too numerous to give at length

Devilled bones? Does she really mean devilled bones? Bones? She lists marrow which is back in fashion now and crops up all over the lace in fancy dishes, but bones? I looked it up in her index and I have to say, that what I discovered almost shocked me – and broad-minded s I am about weird things to eat, I truly can’t imagine myself eating this, let alone serving it to guests! It just goes to show how tastes have changed:

Devilled mackerel bones and roe
(Os de laitance de maquereau á la diable

  • mackerel bones, roe and head
  • warm butter
  • salt and mignonette pepper
  • devil paste (mix together 1 tsp French mustard, 1 saltsp English mustard, 1 dsp chopped chutney, a dust of coralline pepper (paprika) a little sat)
  • browned breadcrumbs
  • well-buttered toast
  • turned olives or watercress to garnish
  1. cut the bones from the mackerel in about 2 inch lengths
  2. split the roe in halves
  3. split the head in half and take out the eyes
  4. lay in an ovenproof dish and pour over the butter, sprinkle with slat and pepper
  5. mask over with devil paste and sprinkle with breadcrumbs
  6. grill or broil until quite crisp[
  7. serve on buttered toast cut in the shape of its bone(?)
  8. place a piece of roe on each
  9. serve on paper with turned olives or watercress round each dish.

Imagine taking the fish’s eyes out! Imagine serving crispy fish bones! Honestly, it really sounds extraordinary and horrid. I must also say, that her instructions aren’t as clear and precise as Eliza Acton who wrote her cookery book forty years earlier. How many fish are there supposed to be? How do you cut toast into the shape of a bone? Does the head sit on the bone-shaped toast? Where are the crispy bones? Luckily I shall never make this as it just isn’t clear!



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