Monday, December 27, 2010

Dickens Smoking Bishop, Wedgwood Jasperware

I always love a Christmas Carol! And I have always wondered what is meant when the chastened and changed Scrooge says to Bob Crachit that they will discuss the matter (getting Tiny Tim well) over an afternoon bowl of Smoking Bishop. Well..this morning, a tea friend living temporarily in England reported that she and her husband visited the Dicken's House in London on Christmas day and received a gift of postcards, a guide and a recipe for Smoking Bishop that she passed along to a tea group,  Afternoon Tea Across America as follows:


6 Seville oranges
4 oz. sugar
1 quart strong red wine
1 bottle Ruby Port

the oranges in a moderate oven for approximately 20 minutes until
golden brown, and then place in a warmed glass or pottery bowl with 6
cloves pricked into each fruit. Add the sugar and pour in the wine, but
not the Port. Cover and leave in a warm place for a day. Then, squeeze
the oranges into the wine and pour through a sieve.

To keep for future use, bottle in sterilised bottles and seal at this state, omitting the Port.

To serve immediately, add the Port to the liquid and heat in a pan, but do not boil. Serve in warmed goblets and drink hot.

pour into bottles and stand in a pan of simmering water; this keeps it
hot and makes pouring easier. If Seville oranges are out of season use 5
sweet orange and one yellow grapefruit instead.

"...we shall discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob!"
- Scrooge, from 'A Christmas Carol' 1843.

I also found this version:

Smoking Bishop
• Take six Seville oranges and bake them in a moderate oven until pale brown. If you cannot procure any bitter Seville oranges, use four regular oranges and one large grapefruit.
• Prick each of the oranges with five whole cloves, put them into a warmed ceramic or glass vessel with one-quarter pound of sugar and a bottle of red wine, cover the vessel, and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours.
• Take the oranges out of the mixture, cut in half and squeeze the juice, then pour the juice back into the wine.
• Pour the mixture into a saucepan through a sieve, add a bottle of port, heat (without boiling), and serve in warmed glasses.
• Drink the mixture, and keep Christmas well!
The line is usually changed to read "warm punch", because they probably figured no one would know what Smoking Bishop was...and quite right too. Now, if I can find out WHY it was called that....

One of my favorite types of English pottery is Wedgwood jasperware or jasperware, and we always have many items in jasperware at Time Was Antiques.  Jasperware is a form of stoneware that was named jasper ware because Josiah Wedgwood thought it resembeled the semi precious stone from the quartz family. Jasperware was introduced in 1775 and has enjoyed popularity since then. The Wedgwood jasper ware is the most famous, but was made by many othe English firms including Dudson, Adams, Minton & Copeland and was extensively made by the German firm Shafer & Vater in the Victorian era.

Designed at a time when classical Greece and Rome were considered the heighth of culture, beauty and learning, the designs are often re telling of mythology. This particular dish features a vignette of applied white jasper figure on blue in a design called Cupid As Oracle with the cherub Cupid donning a mask to prophesy. They are so beautifully detailed. We watched them work on jasperware several times during visits to the Wedgwood factory and subsequently the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, England and were in awe of the skill required to create the delicate designs.
Here are links to the jasperware category at Time Was Antiques and the Wedgwood Museum website. Well worth a visit.

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