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  • Writer's pictureTastes Of History

Sailing the Pirate Round

Updated: Feb 18

This year sees Tastes Of History portraying reputable innkeepers 'famed' for our 'good food at most reasonable prices'. Of course, we can keep prices low because our chief suppliers are notably 'legitimate' importers of 'revenue-free' goods (don't ask any questions!). They also operate a most profitable side-line in beach clearances and marine salvage should an unfortunate vessel be wrecked [1] on England's treacherous coasts…who said we’re ‘Pirates’?

Sailing the Pirate Round on behalf of English Heritage we visited several different ports of call, including Whitby [Abbey}, Dover [Castle], the Isle of Wight [Carisbrooke Castle], Falmouth [Pendennis Castle] and Scarborough [Castle].

Most of the recipes we prepared and offered visitors the chance to sample have been published in earlier Blog entries, namely 'A Banquet Fit for Pirates' and 'Pirates of Pendennis'. But for 'Sailing the Pirate Round' we decided to add a couple of extra vegetarian options and a couple of sweet treats. The first of those is a simple recipe for home grown marrow:

The next addition was for pickled mushrooms which, as for many pickles, may be eaten by themselves or to garnish other dishes.

TO PICKEL MUSHROOMS Take them of a nights Growth. peel them on both sides and put water and Salt to them all night. The next morning throw them into water and Salt Scalding hot over fier do but just Scald them and Take them out Again and Lay then to Cool. Then putt them into a Great Glass and putt to them whole Cloves, Mace, Ginger and pepper and then fill up the Glass with white wine and white wine Vinegar. Cover them close and keep then Covered for use.

The above recipe, from Eliza Smith's 'The Compleat Housewife', calls for a mixture of wine and white wine vinegar but she does not include the precise quantities. This version favours the wine over the vinegar but the amounts given can be altered to suit individual tastes.

The first of the sweet treats was Margaretta Acworth’s 1745 recipe for a Georgian period 'Orange Cake', which can be likened to a drizzle cake albeit made with oranges rather than lemons. It is interesting to note that Mrs Acworth’s collection of recipes includes a wide range of cakes that probably reflected the relatively new Georgian fashion for taking afternoon tea. Her recipe for a Georgian Orange Cake reads as follows:

ORANGE CAKES Take the peel of 5 China Orringes par'd very thin, one pound of fine sugar. Beat them together with one pound of flower & a pound of fresh butter melted & lett it stand till cool. Then beat them together with ten eggs.

China oranges were sweet and juicy and, as their name suggests, could have been imported from either China or Portugal from the late 17th-century onward. They were distinct from Seville oranges which were preferred for making marmalade or in other recipes needing a sharper flavour.

And finally, we offered Shrewsbury biscuits, a classic English dessert named after the county town of Shropshire. Also called Shrewsbury cakes they can be small in size for serving several at a time, or larger for serving as a dessert in themselves. The earliest known written reference for Shrewsbury cakes dates to 1602. The recipe is included in several early cookbooks including 'The Compleat Cook' of 1658, which states:

Take two pound of floure dryed in the oven and weighed after it is dryed, then put to it one pound of butter that must be layd an hour or two in rose-water, so done poure the water from the butter, and put the butter to the flowre with the yolks and whites of five eggs, two races of ginger, and three quarters of a pound of sugar, a little salt, grate your spice, and it well be the better, knead all these together till you may rowle the past, then roule it forth with the top of a bowle, then prick them with a pin made of wood, or if you have a comb that hath not been used, that will do them quickly, and is best to that purpose, so bake them upon pye plates, but not too much in the oven, for the heat of the plates will dry them very much, after they come forth of the oven, you may cut them without the bowles of what bignesse or what fashion you please.

The version given below is an alternative to Hannah Glasse’s 1747 recipe for 'Shrewsbury Biscuits' which can be found in the aforementioned ‘A Banquet Fit for Pirates’. These particular Shrewsbury Biscuits may well have been more at home in the 16th- and 17th-century England of William Shakespeare:

Together with the recipes we have already published, we hope these additions will enhance any Pirate Feast you may be inspired to create. Yo Ho m'Hearties, and Bon appétit!



1. Wrecking is the practice of taking valuables from a shipwreck which has foundered or run aground close to shore. A tradition still exists that wreckers deliberately decoyed ships on to coasts using tricks, especially false lights, so that they run ashore for easy plundering. While this has been depicted in many stories and legends, there is no clear evidence that it has ever happened.


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