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Ask a Foodie: Stumped by Victorian Cooking Terms

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jean_victor_balin_toque1Q: I have been reading a cookbook from the Victorian era called “The Modern Cook.” It’s free online at Google Books. It’s a fascinating document of an earlier time, but I’m having trouble with a few of the terms:

  • What is minionette pepper?
  • In a recipe for puréed sorrel, it says to pass the sorrel through a tammy. What is a tammy?

Thanks. Love the site.


A: The names of and spellings of both culinary ingredients and implements can change over the years, though the purposes may be the same.

Minionette pepper is now mostly often seen spelled as mignonette pepper. offers the following definition: “A coarsely ground mixture of peppercorns, seasonings such as coriander and occasionally herbs. … Both white and black peppercorns are commonly mixed together to make the spice. It is most often used to enhance the flavor of roasted meat such as beef, lamb, veal, or poultry.”

A tammy is a conical shaped sieve used to make a fine strain. Though the name is not used any more, it is likely akin to the China cap, which was the subject of an earlier Ask a Foodie.

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