Wikipedia

This text was copied from Wikipedia on 25 April 2015 at 6:01AM.

Posset pot, Netherlands, Late 17th or early 18th century, Tin-glazed earthenware painted in blue V&A Museum no. 3841-1901[1] Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. The word is mainly used nowadays for a related dessert similar to syllabub. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a cold and flu remedy and was more of a drink than a mousse.

Introduction

To make the drink, milk was heated to a boil, then mixed with wine or ale, which curdled it, and the mixture was usually spiced.[2]

It was considered a specific remedy for some minor illnesses, such as a cold, and a general remedy for others, as even today people drink hot milk to help them get to sleep.

History

The OED traces the word to the 15th century: various Latin vocabularies translate balducta, bedulta, or casius as "poshet", "poshoote", "possyt", or "possot". Russell's Boke of Nurture (c. 1460) lists various dishes and ingredients that "close a mannes stomak", including "þe possate". Posset is frequently used as a starting point for other recipes (e.g. "Make a styf Poshote of Milke an Ale", and "Take cowe Mylke, & set it ouer þe fyre, & þrow þer-on Saunderys, & make a styf poshotte of Ale", each of which is the first sentence of a longer recipe).[3] Recipes for it appear in other 15th-century sources: boil milk, add either wine or ale "and no salt", let it cool, gather the curds and discard the whey, and season with ginger, sugar, and possibly "sweet wine" and candied anise.[4][5]

In 14th- and 15th-century cookery manuals, a possibly-related word spelled variously "possenet", "postnet", or "posnet" is used to mean a small pot or saucepan.[6][7]

In 16th-century and later sources, possets are generally made from lemon or other citrus juice, cream and sugar. Eggs are often added.

"Posset sets" for mixing and serving possets were popular gifts, and valuable ones (often made of silver) were heirlooms. Such sets contained a posset "pot", or "bowl", or "cup" to serve it in, a container for mixing it in, and usually various containers for the ingredients, as well as spoons. The posset set that the Spanish ambassador gave Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain when they became betrothed in 1554 is believed to have been made by Benvenuto Cellini and is of crystal, gold, precious gems, and enamel. It is on display at Hatfield House in England and consists of a large, stemmed, covered bowl, two open, stemmed vessels, a covered container, three spoons, and two forks.

The word "posset" is mostly used nowadays for a cold set dessert loosely based on the drink, containing cream and lemon, similar to syllabub. It is also used to refer to the semi-digested milk brought up by babies after a feed.[8]

In fiction

The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg'd their possets
That death and nature do contend about them,
Whether they live or die.
"But I was by this time so weary that I could have slept twelve hours at a stretch; I had the taste of sleep in my throat; my joints slept even when my mind was waking; the hot smell of the heather, and the drone of the wild bees, were like possets to me; and every now and again I would give a jump and find I had been dozing."
  • The Warden in Incarceron says that Claudia used to give her young, ailing tutor Jared sweetmeats and possets. This was used to illustrate how she only cares for Jared.
  • In The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, the queen of Harfang asks that one of the protagonists, Jill Pole, be given "...all you can think of—possets and comfits and caraways and lullabies and toys."
  • In Michael Frayn's play Noises Off, the Brents' country home is described as "a delightful 16th-century posset mill".

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Posset Pot". Metalwork. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  2. ^ Hieatt and Pensado 1988.
  3. ^ Austin 1888.
  4. ^ Hieatt and Pensado 1988, Item 130.
  5. ^ Robina Napier 1882.
  6. ^ Hieatt and Butler 1985, Item 1, Diversa Cibaria; items 32, 54, Forme of Cury; item 26, Diuersa Servicia; item 32, Utilis Coquinario.
  7. ^ Austin 1888, Item 89, Harleian ms. 279; "Stwed Beef" and "Stwed Mutton", Harleian ms. 4016.
  8. ^ Rachel Waddilove 2006, p. 65.
  9. ^ "The Box of Delights". Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 

References

9 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

posset

A spiced drink of hot sweetened milk curdled with wine or ale.

ETYMOLOGY: Middle English poshet, possot : perhaps Old French *posce (Latin posca, drink of vinegar and water, from potare, to drink; see potable + Latin esca, food, from edere, to eat; see edible) + Middle English hot, hot; see hot.
http://www.bartleby.com/61/55/P0465500.html

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

"..What posies for our wedding rings;
What gloves we'll give, and ribbonings;
And smiling at our selves, decree
Who then the joining priest shall be;
What short sweet prayers shall be said,
And how the posset shall be made
With cream of lilies, not of kine,
And maiden's-blush for spiced wine.
Thus having talk'd, we'll next commend
A kiss to each, and so we'll end..."
http://www.emule.com/poetry/?page=poem&poem=3014

Both pancake and fritter of milk have good store,
But a Devonshire white-pot must needs have much more;
Of no brew ... you can think,
Though you study and wink,
From the lusty sack posset to poor posset drink,
But milk's the ingredient, though wine's ... ne'er the worse,
For 'tis wine makes the man, though 'tis milk makes the nurse.
.....No doubt the original word in these places was SACK, as in Chappell's copy - but what would a peasant understand by SACK?
Dryden's receipt for a sack posset is as follows:-
'From fair Barbadoes, on the western main,
Fetch sugar half-a-pound: fetch sack, from Spain,
A pint: then fetch, from India's fertile coast,
Nutmeg, the glory of the British toast.'
http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/li...

MISCELLANY POEM, V. 138.

Next (Poem 68) ...
"quod posset zonam soluere uirgineam. ..
that could untie her girdle of virginity. "
http://www.vroma.org/~hwalker/VRomaCatullus/068...

Pedro  •  Link

Posset...(Brewers)

Properly means a drink taken before going to bed; it was milk curdled with wine.

"In his morning draught...his concerves or cates...and when he goeth to bedde his posset smoking hot."
Man in the Moone (1609)

Australian Susan  •  Link

As a child in the '50s, I was given a posset if ill and unable to take solid food: it was milk, with an egg beaten up in it, sugar and sherry. Wonderful comfort food. It is used as such in the children's classic book, The Box of Delights.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

another Posset:To make a posset
PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: The Art of Cookery Refined and Augmented, 1654 | CLASS: Authentic
DESCRIPTION: A posset, a cream & wine custard
from:a interesting sauce. http://www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec53.html
To make a posset.
Take a quart of new Cream, a quarter of an ounce of Cynamon, Nutmeg quartered, and boyl it till it taste of the spice, and keep it alwayes stirring, or it will burn to; then take the yolks of 7 Eggs beaten well together with a little cold Creame; then put that into the other Creame that is on the fire, and stir it till it begin to boyle; then take it off and sweeten it with Sugar, and stir on till it be indifferent coole; then take somewhat more than a quarter of a pinte of Sack (half a pinte will be too much) sweeten that also, and set it on the fire till it be ready to boyle; then put it in a convenient vessel, and pour your Creame into it, elevating your hand to make it froath, which is the grace of your Posset; and if you put it thorow a tunnell, it is held the more exquisite way.

Adam  •  Link

I've just made a posset.
It is very nice but more than one cup may cause excessive vomiting due to the whole cream/sugar/sherry mixture. The top goes all lumpy and you can spoon that out, the middle is the nicest bit where the spicy cream mixes with the sherry and the bottom bit is mainly sherry.
Nice, but I couldn't get my housemates to have any.

Bill  •  Link

POSSET, [posca, Lat.] milk curdled with treacle, wine, or any acid.
---The Royal English dictionary. D Fenning, 1763.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.

References

Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.

1660

1662

  • Dec

1663

1664

  • Mar

1668