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Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels Hardcover – November, 1997

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A Bone to Pick by Mark Bittman
A Bone to Pick by Mark Bittman
Columnist Mark Bittman shares his opinions on how diets can impact your health and the planet, food safety, GMOs and more. Learn more | See more new and healthy cookbooks

Editorial Reviews Review

Animal lovers, relax--"Spotted Dog" is a kind of pudding, not a dalmatian. It is also the favorite pudding of Jack Aubrey, the fictional creation of writer Patrick O'Brian. Aubrey's adventures as an officer of the British Navy--and those of his friend and ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin--during the tumultuous years of the Napoleonic Wars have been masterfully detailed in O'Brian's many novels; now Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and her daughter, Lisa Grossman, take readers on a culinary adventure through the kitchens and cuisine of the early 19th century.

Since food figures prominently in O'Brian's novels, his fans will already be familiar with such names as Skillygalee, Drowned Baby, Soused Hog's Face, and Jam Roly-Poly, but they may wonder exactly what those dishes are. Lobscouse and Spotted Dog makes it all clear: Skillygalee, for example, is oatmeal gruel, while Drowned Baby is similar to Spotted Dog, only without the currants and eggs. And Spotted Dog is...? You'll find the recipe in the Grossmans' book, along with excerpts from the Aubrey/Maturin novels and many other authentic 19th-century dishes to test your sense of adventure, your culinary prowess, and possibly your waistline. Lobscouse and Spotted Dog is more than a cookbook--it's a window into the past, an inspired piece of culinary detective work, and a delightful gastronomic companion to the novels of Patrick O'Brian.

About the Author

Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas, both avid Patrick O'Brian fans, live and cook on Long Island, New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393045595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393045598
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Doug Briggs on July 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I once knew a lady who had a vast collection of cookbooks. She read them, too, even if she indulged in little adventurous cooking. I often wondered how one could find entertainment reading recipes - was the recreation as adventurous as poring over the instructions for assembling a barbecue pit one was not going to assemble?
Perhaps if I had peeked into her cookbooks I would have discovered some enchanting prose among the recipes, as I have in "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog". Open the book anywhere ... Aah, here on page 92 is the recipe for drowned baby, also called boiled baby, introduced by this passage from "The Nutmeg of Consolation":
"The gunroom feast for the Captain was if anything more copious than that of the day before. The gunroom cook, by means known to himself alone, had conserved the makings of a superb suet pudding of the kind called boiled baby in the service, known to be Jack Aubrey's favourite form of food, and it came in on a scrubbed scuttle-cover to the sound of cheering."
Sure, I read this passage during my several reads of "Nutmeg", but standing here alone it seems to sparkle with more clarity. Now I clearly see the pudding, gliding in on a scrubbed wooden hatch cover (to the surprise of no one there) and I thrill to the sound of cheering.
Here, once again, the perfect team has stepped forward to contribute an enchanting and tantalizing contribution to the Aubrey/Maturin series. A daunting task it must have been for this multi-talented mother and daughter (sailboaters, too, they are), to unearth and translate into modern terms the scores of recipes found in this book, to translate the contemporary equivalents of their ingredients.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Jo-Ski on January 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As anyone familiar with Patrick O'Brian's famous Aubrey/Maturin series knows, amid swash-buckling adventures in Admiral Nelson's Navy, thought-provoking prose, and a truly wonderful friendship that includes celebrating music together (Jack and Stephen play string duets when not out saving the Royal Navy, King, and Country), the books also revel in descriptions of meals and dishes. Voila--this delightful gastronomic companion to the books!
Let me tell you, this book is deLISH--foreward by Patrick O'Brian himself. The mother/daughter authors preface the book by explaining how "Patrick O'Brian fever" broke out amongst themselves and all their friends (the books are contagious!); they ended up on a feverish research adventure to write this gastronomic companion. The authors set out to emulate O'Brian in point of accuracy and meticulous research. In short, they've basically reconstructed mid-to-late 18th century/early 19th century cooking! In actually reconstructing/preparing dishes, they conceded as little as possible to the amenities of the modern kitchen (however, the final recipes adapt preparations to 20th century ingredients and conditions).
They took quite a scholarly approach to researching the book--e.g., studying the social and economic raisons d'etre for the raised pie and the two wholly different traditional approaches to its construction, tracing the etymology of a dozen different suet pudding names back to a single root, following the evolution of pudding back to its Roman sources and establishing its common ancestry with sausage, etc.
Here you'll find how to make such dishes as Burgoo, Syllabub from the Cow, Ship's Biscuit, Skillygalee, Drowned Baby, Sea-Pie (anywhere from one to six or more "decks"!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Peter Mackay on January 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Which I've just got it for you here, ain't I?
If you are a fan of the Aubrey/Maturin naval fiction novels of Patrick O'Brian, there is one theme underscoring the appearance of Captain Jack Aubrey RN, and that is food, whether it be the weevilly sea biscuit and salt horse of the midshipmans' berth or the prodigious dishes served in the great cabin aft.
They are wonderful dishes with wonderful names. drowned baby is a dessert. Sea pie contains no fish. Spotted dog is not a dalmation. We are given tantalising glimpses into their nature, but recipes are not to be had. Patrick O'Brian was a wizard with words, but no cook.
The deficiency is rectified in this invaluable companion to the canon. Every dish is tracked down and recreated. The authors not only give the recipe, but tell you precisely how to do it for those unfamiliar with the utensils and methods (and ingredients) of a bygone age.
I cannot recommend this book too highly, but I must issue a hearty warning. Do not partake of the dishes described without at least a dozen mates to help you eat them! Or you will wind up as stout as Captain Jack.
And mind you lay in a good stock of madeira, sillery and port for atmosphere.
A glass of wine with you, dear reader!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alex Funke ( on July 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
AS a devotee of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin sea novels, I find that every effort to annotate and enhance the world that O'Brian has created is truly an event. We have had dictionaries of sea terms, atlases, musical compilations, and now at last a book that gives a proper recipe for Drowned Baby.
The (highly quialified) authors have not only researched the cookbooks of the period (and these are a treat to see quoted, let me say; cooking used to be a rugged and labor-intensive occupation, no matter where practiced) but they have actually cooked the dishes--and eaten them with, it appears, great gusto. The commentary is witty and full of sly ideas on how to cook and enjoy these dishes, which provide a window on a whole different style of eating. Included are such charmers as the "lightly seized" crayfish which were almost Duhamel's undoing, and (at last!) a recipe for portable soup. A delicious book!
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