Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets

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Copyright: This work is in the public domain in the USA only.

Living in the country and cultivating his fruits and vegetables, Evelyn grew to be an ardent believer in vegetarianism and is probably the first advocate in England of a meatless diet. He was so keen on preparing foods without meat that, like another contemporary, Sir Kenelm Digby, he collected recipes. These, interspersed with delightful philosophic comments and some directions about gardening, were assembled in the little book Acetaria. This was published in 1699 along with the ninth edition of the "Kalendarium Hortense," a gardener's almanac. The material for Acetaria was gathered as early as 1679 with the idea of making it one chapter of an encyclopedic work on horticulture. The Plan of a Royal Garden, was Evelyn's outline for that ambitious work. The recipes are unusual and delicious and some of them are practical for today, especially for the owner of a garden where pot herbs are cultivated. Evelyn uses the pot herbs for flavoring soups, egg dishes, "salletts" and puddings. The eggs with sweet herbs prepared in ramikins and the pudding flavored with the petals of calendulas are particularly good. The book reveals his zest for living and the culture of his mind. It also shows the thought and life of a country gentleman during the reign of Charles the Second. Evidently, in Evelyn's home, the spirit of scientific investigation prevailed and there was a delight in new ideas. Evelyn supervised the garden and knew how to instruct the cook to prepare new dishes.