A reader alerted me to this wonderful bit of lore on the blog Spitalfields Life. Enjoy this with a glass of negus, which it’s something Preserved Killick will know about.
Nowadays, we may celebrate Christmas with a glass or four of mulled wine. But our Victorian and Georgian forebears had a vast panoply of punches, cups, caudles, noyeaux, neguses, shrubs, flips and possets at their disposal to mark the season. This included a range of ”clerical” punches, spiced and served piping-hot with the addition of roasted (and clove-studded) lemons and seville oranges. If the drink was burgundy based it was termed a “pope,” if claret-based it was deemed an “archbishop” and if port was the main constituent the punch was called a “bishop,” and so on.
At the very end of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” a reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge tells Bob Cratchett “… we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!” Now you know what that is.
This particular smoking bishop is Monsignor Cathal Septimus O’Herlihy, Bishop of Ballygramore, enjoying a glass of this edifying brew after a hard day. Note his mitre, crozier, cincture and zucchetto!
Paul Bommer did the illustration, and you can see a larger version at his place. There shall the searching reader also find sundry entries about a cat name Jeoffry.
I happen to have a recipie for negus, in case you have forgotten how to make it. This is from my always useful cookbook for Patrick O’Brien’s series entitled Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels.
1 pint medium-dry sherry or port
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 pint boiling water
Put the sherry, sugar, lemon juice and zest into a jug. Add the boiling water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into glasses or tankards and grate a little fresh nutmeg into each.
I am driven to wonder, however….
Is Smoking Bishop to English hot drinks what Stinking Bishop is to English cheeses?
I have new motivation to walk the lanes of Spitalfields the next time I cross the pond, which could be after the 1st of the year. And if Mr. Bommer is inclined, he can count on a pint.