4 whole cloves
15 whole allspice 15 whole pepper
Per pint of sauce:
1 glass wine
1/2 glass mushroom catchup
1 tsp. essence of anchovy
few grains Cayenne pepper
Bread toasted or fried
Put the fish into a stew-pan, with a large onion, four cloves, fifteen berries of allspice, and the same of black pepper; just cover them with boiling water, set it where they will simmer gently for ten or twenty minutes, according to the size of the fish; strain off the liquor in another stew-pan, leaving the fish to keep warm till the sauce is ready.
Rub together on a plate as much flour and butter as will make the sauce as thick as a double cream. Each pint of sauce season with a glass of wine, half as much mushroom catchup, a tea-spoonful of essence of anchovy, and a few grains of Cayenne; let it boil a few minutes, put the fish on a deep dish, strain the gravy over it; garnish it with sippets of bread toasted or fried.
N.B.-The Editor has paid particular attention to the above receipt which Catholics, and those whose religious tenets do not allow them to eat meat on maigre days, will find a very satisfactory substitute for the meat gravy soup. Mushroom catchup and onions supply the place of meat better than any thing.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: One of the most fascinating aspects of Dr. Kitchiner’s book, especially considering its date of publication, is that it contains recipes specifically designed for Catholics who were obliged to abstain from meat not merely on Fridays but on a great number of other days of religious significance throughout the year. Even the book’s subtitle–as interminably longwinded as such things usually were in the period–includes the line “with A Complete System of Cookery for Catholic Families.” Alas, this in fact consists of just a few recipes like the one above rather than the “complete system” advertised.
It should however be noted that America in this period was still (outside of Maryland and a few other enclaves) overwhelmingly Protestant in religion, with Catholicism regarded as near-heresy, and its adherents looked at with considerable suspicion. The “American Party” (better remembered today as the “Know-Nothing” Party) was growing rapidly at this time. Its platform was based on little more than animosity to immigrants who had the bad taste to be from southern Europe and therefore more likely to be Catholic. Publishing even something as politically neutral as a cookbook therefore required a certain amount of courage when it spoke admiringly of such a group.