Friday, 13 February 2015

Food Mystery: Calling all Lovers of Jewish Cuisine

Solving Colonial Era food mysteries often requires a moderately decent knowledge of modern dishes. Often, if the instructions in a recipe are unclear or incomplete, I start with a modern version and work my way back.

But I've stumbled across a bit of a puzzle, and my lack of knowledge about Jewish food is letting me down.

Here is a letter to the editor of The Australasian from Saturday 28th October 1865, in which "Inquirer" asks for a recipe for the Jewish dish 'Chorissa':

Recipe for Making "Choriser" Wanted. (1865, October 28). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2015, from
The only mentions I can find of Chorissa online are from other Victorian-era cookbooks:
From the glossary of The Jewish Manual (1846) by Judith Cohen Montefiore:"Chorissa, a sausage peculiar to the Jewish kitchen, of delicate and piquante flavour."
From the chapter on "Foreign and Jewish Cookery" in Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery ( 1865):
     The chorissa is s peculiar kind of smoked sausage much served at Jewish tables* as an accompaniment to boiled poultry, &c. It seems to be in great part composed of delicate pounded meat, intermingled with suet and with a small portion o some highly-cured preparation, and with herbs or spices which impart to it an agreeable aromatic flavour.

      Drop the chorissa into warm water, heat it gently, boil it for about twenty minutes, and serve it surrounded with rice prepared as for currie. It will be found very good broiled in slices after the previous boiling: it should be cold before it is again laid to the fire. In all cases it will, we think, be found both more easy of digestion and more agreeable if half-boiled at least before it is broiled, toasted, or warmed in the oven for table. It is a good addition to forcemeat, and pounded savoury preparations, if used in moderation."
And here is the footnote from that passage:
      * We were made acquainted with it first through the courtesy of s Jewish lady, who afterwards supplied us with the address of the butcher from whom it was procured: Mr. Pass, 84, Duke Street, Aldgate, from whom the chorissa also may be purchased, and probably many other varieties of smoked meat which are used in Jewish cookery. For such of our readers as may not be acquainted with the fact, it may be wall to state here that all meat supplied by Jewish butchers is sure to be of first-rate quality, as they are forbidden by the Mosaic Law to convert into food any animal which is not perfectly free from all "spot or blemish."

So, cookery friends, can any of you help solve the mystery? What dish is being referred to here? Can we help 'Inquirer' find a recipe, albeit 150 years late?