1893 text

Tansy (tanacetum), a herb from which puddings were made. Hence any pudding of the kind. Selden (“Table Talk”) says: “Our tansies at Easter have reference to the bitter herbs.” See in Wordsworth’s “University Life in the Eighteenth Century” recipes for “an apple tansey,” “a bean tansey,” and “a gooseberry tansey.” — M. B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

First Reading

Pauline  •  Link

Tanzie of Spinnage
William Rabisha "The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected" 1661
Take a pint of Cream, a handful of grated bread, fourteen eggs, cast away the whites of six, season with a grated Nutmed, and sugar, and green it with the jouice of Spinnage; so bring it into a body, in a skillet, and fry it. This will be a very tender Tanzie, but if you intent to cut it according to the vulgar way, you must add the other whites of eggs, else deminish in your Cream; dit it up, scruise (sic) on the juice of a Lemmon, and garnish it with quartered Oranges, then scrape on Sugar. After this way and manner aforesaid, have I made Tanzies of Wallnut-tree buds in Lent, and of Pine-apples and Pitaches, at other seasons.

for the modern cook:
12 oz/350 g fresh spinach chopped small
5 fl oz/150 ml water
2 ozs/50 g butter
6 egg whites plus 6 whole eggs
3 ozs/75 g brown breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
sea salt and black pepper
15 fl oz/450 ml whipping cream
1 oz/25 g butter

Cook the spinach gently in the water for 15 minutes. Drain off any water that is left, add butter and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, breadcrumbs, seasonings and cream. Add the spinach.
Heat the remainng butter till sizzling in a large, wide pan, pour in the mixture and cook as for an omelette for 2 minutes. Then put the pan under a very not grill to brown and cook the top. alternaticely, cook six individual omelettes. Serve immediately.

From: "Pepys at Table: Seventeenth century recipes for the modern cook"

vicenzo  •  Link

from down under:Australian Susan on Sun 27 Mar 2005,
Good site with medicinal and culinary information - including a recipe.

Terry Foreman  •  Link


"Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family that is native to temperate Europe and Asia....Tansy was formerly used as a flavoring for puddings and omelets, but is almost unknown now. It was certainly relished in days gone by, for Gerarde speaks of them as "pleasant in taste", and he recommends tansy sweetmeats as "an especial thing against the gout, if every day for a certain space a reasonable quantitie thereof be eaten fasting". In Yorkshire, tansy and caraway seeds were traditionally used in biscuits served at funerals....According to liquor historian A. J. Baime's book Big Shots, Tennessee whiskey magnate Jack Daniel enjoyed drinking his own whiskey with sugar and crushed tansy leaf." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tansy

CGS  •  Link

OED on Tansy .

Forms: 5 tanesey, 5-8 tansie, 5-9 tansey, 6 -sye, -say, taunsey, 7-8 tanzy, -zey, 5- tansy.

1. An erect herbaceous plant, Tanacetum vulgare, N.O. Compositæ, tribe Corymbiferæ, growing about two feet high, with deeply cut and divided leaves, and terminal corymbs of yellow rayless button-like flowers; all parts of the plant have a strong aromatic scent and bitter taste.
Formerly much used in medicine as a stomachic, and in cookery. curled tansy, a variety with curled leaves, is used, like parsley, for garnishing dishes.
[c1265 Names of Plants in Wr.-Wülcker 556/17 Tanesetum, [AFr.] tanesie, [Eng.] helde.] c1420 Liber Cocorum (1862) 50 {Th}en grynde tansy {th}o iuse owte wrynge, To blynde with {th}o egges with owte lesynge. c1425

2. a. Applied to other plants, esp. the Silverweed or Goose-grass, Potentilla anserina, often distinguished as wild tansy and dog's or goose tansy; also locally to Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, and Ragwort, Senecio Jacobæa (Britten and Holl.).

3. a. A pudding, omelet, or the like, flavoured with juice of tansy: see also 5. arch. or dial.
Said to have been eaten at Easter in memory of the ‘bitter herbs’ of the Passover.

c1450 Two Cookery-bks. 86 Tansey. Take faire Tansey, and grinde it in a morter; And take eyren, yolkes and white, And drawe hem thorgh a streynour, and streyne also {th}e Iuse of {th}e Tansey..; and medle the egges and the Iuse togidre [etc.].

1621 FLETCHER Pilgrim III. vi, They [eggs] shall be all addle, And make an admirable tanzey for the devil.
1634-5 BRERETON Trav. (Chetham Soc.) 69 A dainty tansy of gooseberries.

1652 CULPEPPER Eng. Physic. 17 A Tansie or Caudle made with eggs and the juyce thereof while it is young, putting to it some Sugar and Rose~water.

1666 PEPYS Diary 20 Apr., And there spent an houre or two with pleasure with her, and eat a tansy.

b. A merrymaking or festive gathering; a village feast held on Shrove Tuesday. dial. See Eng. Dial. Dict.

{dag}4. Phrase. like a tansy: properly, fittingly, perfectly; perfect. Obs. [Origin unascertained.]

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

A kind of sweet dish made of eggs, cream, &c., flavoured with the juice of tansy, which is a species of odorous herb.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

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