Monday, February 3, 2014

3 February 2014

William Jackson Hooker [Harvard University Herbaria]

On the cloth was nothing but a plate, a knife and fork, a wine glass, and a bottle of claret, for each guest, except that in the middle stood a large and handsome glass-castor of sugar, with a magnificent silver top. The natives are not in the habit of drinking malt liquor or water, nor is it customary to eat salt with their meals. The dishes are brought in singly: our first was a large turenne of soup, which is a favorite addition to the dinners of the richer people, and is made of sago, claret, and raisins, boiled so as to become almost a mucilage. We were helped to two soup-plates full of this, which we ate without knowing if any thing more was to come. No sooner, however, was the soup removed, than two large salmon, boiled and cut in slices, were brought on, and, with them, melted butter, looking like oil, mixed with vinegar and pepper; this, likewise, was very good, and we with some difficulty cleared our plates, earnestly hoping we had finished our dinners. Not so; for there was then introduced a turenne full of the eggs of the Cree, or great tern, boiled hard, of which a dozen were put upon each of our plates; and, for sauce, we had a large basin of cream, mixed with sugar, in which were four spoons, so that we all ate out of the same bowl, placed in the middle of the table. We petitioned hard to be excused from eating the whole of the eggs upon our plates, but we petitioned in vain. "You are my guests," said he," and this is the first time you have done me the honor of a visit, therefore, you must do as I would have you; in future, when you come to see me, you may do as you like." In his own excuse, he pleaded his age for not following our example, to which we could make no reply. We devoured with difficulty our eggs and cream; but had no sooner dismissed our plates, than half a sheep, well roasted, came on, with a mess of sorrel (Rumex acetosa), called by the Danes scurvy-grass, boiled, meshed, and sweetened with sugar. It was to no purpose we assured our host that we had already eaten more than would do us good: he filled our plates with the mutton and sauce, and made us get through it as well as we could; although any one of the dishes, of which we had before partaken, was sufficient for the dinner of a moderate man. However, even this was not al ; for a large dish of Waffels, as they are here called, that is to say, a sort of pancake, made of wheat-flour, flat, and roasted in a mould, which forms a number of squares on the top, succeeded the mutton. They were not more than half an inch thick, and about the size of an octavo book. The Stiftsamptman said he would be satisfied if each of us would eat two of them, and, with these moderate terms, we were forced to comply. For bread, Norway biscuit and loaves made of rye, were served up; for our drink, we had nothing but claret, of which we were all compelled to empty the bottle that stood by us, and this, too, out of tumblers, rather than wine glasses. It is not the custom in this country to sit after dinner over the wine, but we had, instead of it, to drink just as much coffee as our host thought proper to give us. The coffee was certainly extremely good, and, we trusted it would terminate the feast; but all was not yet over ; for a huge bowl of rum- punch was brought in, and handed round in large glasses pretty freely, and to every glass a toast was given. If at any time we flagged in drinking, "Baron Banks" was always the signal for emptying our glasses, in order that we might have them filled with bumpers, to drink to his health; a task that no Englishman ought to hesitate about complying with most gladly, though assuredly, if any exception might be made to such a rule, it would be in an instance like the present. We were threatened with still another bowl, after we should have drained this; and, accordingly, another actually came, which we were with difficulty allowed to refuse to empty entirely; nor could this be done, but by ordering our people to get the boat ready for our departure, when, having concluded this extraordinary feast by three cups of tea each, we took our leave, and reached Reikevig about ten o'clock; but did not for some time recover from the effects of this most involuntary intemperance.

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