roast duck with rum
On my recent trip to Caravan Book Store I came across Through Europe with a Jug of Wine, a cookbook written by Morrison Wood published in 1964. The title seduced me. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Europe and I’m missing it fiercely. My grandparents spent their senior years traveling the world; they took every opportunity to share their love of European history and culture with me. There is nothing my husband and I enjoy more than renting a car and driving from country to country, exploring little villages off the beaten path and discovering hole-in-the-wall restaurants that turn out to be gems. It seems that Morrison Wood and his wife were also enamored of exploring Europe’s lesser-known local delights. Through Europe with a Jug of Wine follows Wood and his wife as they travel across Europe through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and the British Isles. They visited 156 cities and towns, collecting hundreds of recipes along the way. Wood hoped that the book might serve as “gastronomic guide” to Europe, which is why most of the recipes are accompanied with an origin story from their trip– where they first tried it, who cooked it for them, etc. Though it is a cookbook it also very “readable.” I found myself curling up on my living room couch and reading through the book like a novel, imagining myself in all of the places that Woods and his wife traveled together.
As Forrest Gump might say, vintage cookbooks are like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes I pick up a vintage cookbook and find a fabulous treasure trove of recipe ideas; sometimes the recipes turn out to be unappetizing or just plain weird. I was delighted to find that Through Europe with a Jug of Wine is filled with really interesting dishes, many of which I am eager to try. The first recipe that jumped out at me was Roast Duck with Rum. This recipe was picked up during the Woods’ time in England, where they discovered that many folks preferred duck plainly roasted and sometimes basted– nothing fancy. This made sense to me; duck meat is so rich on its own, it really doesn’t need a lot of “dressing up.” Roasting a whole duck seemed like a perfect seasonal holiday choice, and I liked the addition of rum, brandy, citrus and ginger. The resulting Roast Duck with Rum was lightly seasoned, succulent and juicy, with just a hint of sweetness. I garnished with fresh parsley and orange slices, then added a sprinkle of fresh orange juice over the top of the duck just before serving. This would make a fragrant and lovely centerpiece for a holiday meal.