22 April 2015

How to Skin a Lion Challenge: The Conclusion

By nonfictioness

Over the last few months I have been blogging about my challenge to try out some of the outmoded advice in my HTSALx600upcoming book How to Skin a Lion.

It has been a fun adventure and I have learnt some new skills that I will put to good use.

The most interesting challenge was trying the 1856 recipe for making mushroom ketchup (incidentally it has also been my most popular post with over 90 people reading it – seems there is a crowd of mushroom-lovers out there!). The recipe itself was a bit vague so I had to freestyle a bit, but I was really excited to try this forgotten condiment.

I imagined myself as a Victorian, chowing down on some meat with mushroom ketchup at a back-alley Ale House. Unfortunately this is not how it turned out and it seems my modern palate cannot deal with the amount of salt used in the original recipe.

I am still interested in trying to find a less salty recipe for mushroom ketchup and hope to mushroomsx600have another attempt at making it in the future.

I really enjoyed trying out some of the ‘mystical’ advice and although I am a sceptic at heart I was fascinated to see if any insight could be gained through trying to tell my fortune with playing cards.

The fortune-telling thus far has not proved to be accurate, but it was a good way to self-analyse and provided some useful starting points for introspection.

Trying to assess someone’s character through their facial moles was always going to be dubious and it didn’t disappoint but it kept me amused for a few hours while I searched for celebrities with moles who I could analyse!

The most useful skills I learned were how to darn (although I certainly need some more practice!) and how to bandage an arm, which was actually pretty simple but definitely a good skill to have.

The instruction I am most likely to use again is how to make lemon barley water as it was really easy but tasted delicious and fresh and I think makes a perfect drink for a summers’ day.barleyingredientsx600

There is a lot more advice in How to Skin a Lion that I would love to follow, such as some of the recipes for making lip balm and ginger wine, but unfortunately due to being Victorian recipes they use ingredients that are either frowned upon – spermaceti (the oil from a sperm whale’s head) or very hard to source (sugar loaf).

However even if I can’t actually try all the advice and recipes contained in the book it is still really interesting to marvel at how things used to be done and take pleasure in collecting and sharing lost or outmoded advice.

Just a few weeks now until How to Skin a Lion comes out, so hopefully some readers might stop by this blog and report on trying out some of the advice themselves, that would be wonderful!