Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 132 pages of information about Acetaria.

In the country he spent his time studying, writing and in developing his own and his brother’s estates.  He translated several French books, one of them by Nicolas de Bonnefons was entitled “The French Gardener; instructions how to cultivate all sorts of fruit-trees.”  Evelyn undoubtedly knew another book of de Bonnefons called “Les Delices de la Campagne.”  Delights of the country, according to de Bonnefons, consisted largely in delights of the palate, and perhaps it was this book which suggested to Evelyn to write a cookery-garden book such as Acetaria.  He also translated Jean de la Quintinie’s “The Compleat Gardener.”  His “Sylva, or a discourse of Forest Trees” was written as a protest against the destruction of trees in England being carried on by the glass factories and iron furnaces, and the book succeeded in inducing landowners to plant millions of trees.

The list of Evelyn’s writings shows a remarkable diversity in subject matter.  There was a book on numismatics and translations from the Greek, political and historical pamphlets, and a book called “Fumifugium or the inconvenience of the Aer and Smoke of London dissipated,” in which he suggests that sweet-smelling trees should be planted to purify the air of London.  He also wrote a book called “Sculpture, or the History of Chalcography and Engraving in Copper.”

Living in the country and cultivating his fruits and vegetables, Evelyn grew to be an ardent believer in vegetarianism and is probably the first advocate in England of a meatless diet.  He was so keen on preparing foods without meat that, like another contemporary, Sir Kenelm Digby, he collected recipes.  These, interspersed with delightful philosophic comments and some directions about gardening, were assembled in the little book Acetaria.  This was published in 1699 along with the ninth edition of the “Kalendarium Hortense,” a gardener’s almanac.

The material for Acetaria was gathered as early as 1679 with the idea of making it one chapter of an encyclopedic work on horticulture.  The Plan of a Royal Garden, was Evelyn’s outline for that ambitious work.

The recipes are unusual and delicious and some of them are practical for today, especially for the owner of a garden where pot herbs are cultivated.  Evelyn uses the pot herbs for flavoring soups, egg dishes, “salletts” and puddings.  The eggs with sweet herbs prepared in ramikins and the pudding flavored with the petals of calendulas are particularly good.

The book reveals his zest for living and the culture of his mind.  It also shows the thought and life of a country gentleman during the reign of Charles the Second.  Evidently, in Evelyn’s home, the spirit of scientific investigation prevailed and there was a delight in new ideas.  Evelyn supervised the garden and knew how to instruct the cook to prepare new dishes.

Project Gutenberg
Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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