William Verrall, the redoubtable eighteenth-century landlord of the White Hart Inn in Lewes, Sussex, trained under a continental chef and was determined to introduce the 'modern and best French cookery' to his customers. Gently mocking Englishmen who eat plain mutton chops or only possess one frying-pan, he gives enthusiastic advice on must-have kitchen gadgets and describes enticing dishes such as truffles in French wine and mackerel with fennel. This selection also includes the recipes that the poet Thomas Gray scribbled in his own well-thumbed copy of Verall's Complete System of Cookery, which was one of the best-loved food books of its time.
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William Verrall was publican of the White Hart Inn in Lewes, Sussex from 1737-1760. Having been apprenticed to the French chef, St. Clouet, Verralls' recipes were an inspired combination of the French and English traditions and stood apart from those of his contemporaries. Published in 1759, the ideas in his Complete System of Cookery are strikingly modern and many dishes - which include turkey braised with chestnuts, rabbit with champagne and ham hock with peach fritters - would not be out of place on restaurant menus today.
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