Thackeray’s Ode to Curry

Poem to Curry
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 -1863)

Three pounds of veal my darling girl prepares,
And chops it nicely into little squares;
Five onions next procures the little minx
(The biggest are the best, her Samiwel thinks),
And Epping butter nearly half a pound,
And stews them in a pan until they’re brown’d.

What’s next my dexterous little girl will do?
She pops the meat into the savoury stew,
With curry-powder table-spoonfuls three,
And milk a pint (the richest that may be),
And, when the dish has stewed for half an hour,
A lemon’s ready juice she’ll o’er it pour.

Then, bless her! Then she gives the luscious pot
A very gentle boil – and serves quite hot.
PS – Beef, mutton, rabbit, if you wish,
Lobsters, or prawns, or any kind fish,
Are fit to make a CURRY. ‘Tis, when done,
A dish for Emperors to feed upon.

Sound like the lady could be making Hannah Glasse’s curry – only with veal, no? A delightful example of 19th Century food porn poetry with big onions, little minxes, savory stews and hot pots. As an Englishman born and initially raised in Kolkata by parents both with ties to the East India Company, Thackeray wrote about something he knew well – curry. Something to amuse you as we continue on our journey examining curry through foreign eyes.

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