Sunday, January 1, 2017

Holiday Feasting - The History of "Humble Pie"

Baking; France c. 1475 codex 1056.

In the 14C, the numbles (or noumbles, nomblys, noubles) referred to the heart, liver, entrails etc. of animals, especially of deer – what we now call offal. The word numbles became "umble," and it was often used to refer to the pie of lesser value than the pie with the more costly meat. Therefore, the poor would often eat "umble" pie. Nowadays, if you have taken a tumble in life and have to live a standard of life you would not usually be used to, it is said that you are having to eating "humble pie."

1675: Meatless Mince Pies.
From: The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight In Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery, Hannah Woolley; 1675
To make an Egg-Pye, or Mince-Pye of Eggs.
Take the Yolks of two dozen of Eggs hard boyled, shred them, take the same quantity of Beef-Suet, half a pound of Pippins, a pound of Currans well washt, and dry'd, half a pound of Sugar, a penny-worth of beaten Spice, a few Carraway-Seeds, a little Candyed Orange-peel shred, a little Verjuice and Rosewater; fill the Coffin, and bake it with gentle heat.

1750: Mince Pye, Costly or Stinking varieties.
From: The Country Housewife’s Companion; William Ellis, 1750.
To make a Mince-Pye 
How a poor Woman makes palatable Mince-Pyes of stinking Meat.
This is a poor industrious woman that rents a little tenement by me of twenty shillings a year, who for the sake of her poverty is every week relieved, with many others, by the most noble lord of Gaddesden Manour; who killing a bullock almost every week for his very large family, he has the offald meat dressed, and is so good as to have it given away to the poorest people in the neighbourhood. But it sometimes happens, through the negligence of careless servants, that this charitable meat is apt to stink in hot weather, for want of its due cleaning, boiling, and laying it in a cool place: However, the poor are very glad of this dole, as it does their families considerable service. And to recover such tainted meat, this woman, after boiling and cleansing it well, chops and minces it very small, and when mixed with some pepper, salt, chop'd sage, thyme and onion, she bakes it: This for a savoury pye. At another time she makes a sweet pye of this flesh, by mixing a few currants and plumbs with it. But in either form the taint is so lessened that it is hardly to be perceived.

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