This week’s writing prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Food and Drink. I immediately thought of my ancestor Daniel Strang, Sr! Evidently, according to Madam Knight of Boston, he may have owned an inn and tavern in Rye, Westchester County, New York, and offered his services as a cook to his guests, but he was a terrible cook! She requested he make her a fricassee, and in her opinion, as she states, “I desired a fricasee, which the Frenchman undertakeing mannaged so contrary to my notion of cookery, that I hastned to bed superless…” Her full review of her night spent at his inn is included below.
A bit about his tavern and inn, and Madam Knight’s review, from the book Chronicle of a Border Town: History of Rye, Westchester County, New York:
“In the village itself, ‘Strang’s tavern’ was the ancient public house. A portion of the original building still standing on the southeast corner of the post-road and Rectory street.
Madam Knight of Boston gives an amusing description of her entertainment at this inn, in the course of her journey on horseback in 1704 from that city to New York: —
‘From Norowalk we hasted towards Rye, walking and leading our horses near a mile together, up a prodigious high hill; and so riding till about nine at night ; and there arrived and took up our lodgings at an ordinary inn a French family kept. Here being very hungry, I desired a fricasee, which the Frenchman undertakeing mannaged so contrary to my notion of cookery, that I hastned to bed superless : being shewd the way up the pair of stairs which had such a narrow passage that I had almost stopt by the bulk of my body. But arriving at my apartment found it to be a little Lento chamber, furnisht amongst other rubbish with a high bedd and a low one, a long table, a bench and a bottomless chair. . . . My poor bones compalined bitterly, not being used to such lodgings ; and so did the man who was with us ; and poor I made but one grone, which was from the time I went to bed to the time I riss, which was about three in the morning. Setting up by the fire till light, and having discharged our ordinary, which was as dear as if we had had far better fare, we took our leave of Monsier, and about seven in the morn came to New Rochell, a French town, where we had a good breakfast, and in the strength of that, about an how’r before sunsett, got to York.’ (1)
So, what exactly is a fricassee? It is a stew made with pieces of meat that have been browned in butter that are served in a sauce flavored with the cooking stock. Fricassee is usually made with chicken, veal or rabbit, with variations limited only by what ingredients the cook has at hand. (2, 3, & 4)
History of fricassee: by the general description of frying and then braising in liquid, there are recipes for fricassee as far back as the earliest version of the medieval French cookbook Le Viandier, circa 1300. In 1490, it is first referred to specifically as “friquassée” in the print edition of Le Viandier. (4 & 6)
Below you will find a recipe for Brown Fricassee Rabbit Recipe from the 1700’s, it is a brown fricassee and comes from The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse. The original book was published in 1747 (5) and gives you an idea of the types of ingredients used at the time. Rabbit meat would have been readily available for him to use, although often fricassee is made from chicken and in that case would be a white fricassee.
- Rabbit meat
- Three eggs
- Mace spice.
Here is the video on how to cook the brown fricassee rabbit.
A bit about Daniel Streing/Strang, Sr., he was born in 1655 in Gien, Loiret, France. (Gien is on the Loire River and is 50 miles from Orléans). He was the son of Henri Strengs / Strangs / Lestrange and Marie Babault. His family were French Huguenots. He married Charlotte Marie Lemaistre on 21 August 1680 at The Chateau de Chamerolles, at Lorret, France, it was one of the few churches where Protestants of Huguenot or similar descent were able to marry. Their first child was born in France. The remainder of their children were born in America.
If you’d like to read more about his life and upbringing in France, time spent in England, as well as his life in America, and details about his wife’s family, and their descendants, see my full blog post about them here: Daniel Streing / Strang, Sr. and Charlotte Marie Lemaistre – My first confirmed French Ancestors.
- Baird, Charles Washington. (1871). Chronicle of a Border Town: History of Rye, Westchester County, New York, 1660-1870, Including Harrison and the White Plains Till 1788. New York, NY: Anson D. F. Randolph and Company.
- “Fricassee | Lexico.com (Oxford Dictionary)”. Lexico Dictionaries | English.
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Comfort Food. Penguin. 2007. p. 108
- Fricassee. Wikipedia.com
- Brown Fricassee Rabbit Recipe from the 1700’s – Kevin Felts. January 16, 2018.
- Hess, Karen (1996). Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery. Columbia University Press. p. 41.
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