I love egg nog…a lot. Come December, I turn into an egg nog junkie. I lurk in dark alleys with a bottle of Hartzlers (the good stuff) wrapped in a brown paper bag, yelling at passersby, “I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough.” And this is without adding rum…
I like to think the main character in my book, Beneath the Destined Stone, would have the same addiction, though she would definitely add the rum. I wondered, though, if she whipped up a batch would she be introducing a new drink to the Middle Ages, or was egg nog already around?
According to Wikipedia, they didn’t have egg nog as we know it today. But they did have a drink called Posset, an eggnog-like beverage made with Sack, a white wine imported from Spain or the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a recipe for Posset earlier than the 17th century. What I did find was a recipe for Caudell, a medieval drink made with egg and wine (or ale), but without milk or cream.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this drink. Wine in egg nog is weird enough, but no cream! It’s bordering on sacrilege as far as I’m concerned. But for the sake of my main character, and this blog, I decided to give it a try.
The recipe comes from Gode Cookery, the ratios are my own. Feel free to adjust to taste.
6 egg yolks
1 c. white wine or ale
3 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch saffron (optional)
1 pinch salt
- Combine wine or ale with egg yolks and whisk over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil, whisking continually until thick and frothy.
- Reduce heat and add sugar, saffron, and salt
- Stir until ingredients are well dissolved.
- Serve warm
Makes 2 servings.
Terrible daughter that I am, I served this to my parents before trying it myself. They hated it. My dad reacted as if I’d just fed him a cup of raw sewage and then promptly wrote me out of the will. My mom’s reaction wasn’t as pronounced, but I saw a flash in her eyes that warned of future retribution.
Needless to say, I took my own sip with a feeling of dread. Admittedly, the first sip was rough. But not nearly as bad as my parents made it out to be. It tasted exactly like you might imagine–a combination of egg nog and wine. Problem is, my brain was screaming, these two things don’t go together! Still, I’ve tasted worse drinks. That being said, it wasn’t particularly appetizing.
Determined to figure out the medieval appeal, I kept drinking. What pleasure could medieval people possibly have gotten from this drink? Over the next few sips, I began to work it out. It was surprisingly creamy for having no cream or milk. I mean, extraordinarily so. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, milk was not something most people drank during the Middle Ages. It was typically reserved for infants and the elderly. So the creaminess factor without fear of ingesting spoiled milk was probably a big draw.
Plus the sugar and saffron would have made this an expensive drink. Psychologically, this would have had some appeal. It’s like how nobody cared about Abercrombie and Fitch until they raised their clothes prices. Once you had to spend $50 for a plain white t-shirt with their logo, they were suddenly the go-to brand of the late 90s. Maybe this was the Abercrombie of drinks.
As I kept drinking, I underwent something that I like to call the Mad Dog 20/20 effect. If you’ve never had Mad Dog 20/20, count yourself lucky. It is a cheap, high proof “wine” that will knock you on your butt for a couple of bucks. The first few sips taste a lot like cough syrup. Horrible. But before long, you’re so drunk that it starts to taste better, then eventually good. If you reach the “good” stage, beware. You can fully expect the following morning to be one of the worst of your life.
I underwent a slightly less drastic version of the Mad Dog 20/20 effect as I drank my Caudell. Now I should explain that I rarely drink. If you have even the slightest bit of an alcohol tolerance, this probably won’t happen to you. But it doesn’t take more than a few sips of wine for my head to start spinning. So halfway through my glass, I went from–“Why would they drink this?”–to–“I totally get it. This stuff’s not bad!” Fortunately, I stopped before I hit the “good” stage and didn’t suffer for it the next day.
Either this is an acquired taste, or you have to already be drunk to enjoy it. I can’t say I’m dedicated enough to find out. I do wonder if Posset would be better. Maybe adding some cream would dilute the wine taste and make it more palatable. If I can ever find an appropriately old recipe, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’ll stick with the modern stuff.
|This image was originally posted to Flickr by Dinner Series at http://flickr.com/photos/49889671@N03/6554389497. It was reviewed on 25 July 2012 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.|
This image was originally posted to Flickr by philosophygeek at http://flickr.com/photos/43776406@N00/2563480380. It was reviewed on by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.
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