Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to Water and the Olden Days

A little on the lighter side today.  You all know how important water is, but you probably never realized how vital it was to homemakers in the Victorian Era - as captured in the 1892 Snow White Cook Book. In addition to recipes, there is a section on "Cosmetiques", and the first entry is for a "Complexion Wash".  It explains:
Put in a vial one drachm of benzoin gum in powder, one drachm nutmeg oil, six drops of orange-blossom tea, or apple blossoms put in a half pint of rain-water and boiled down to one teaspoonful and strained, one pint of sherry wine.  Bathe the face morning and night; will remove all flesh worms and freckles, and give a beautiful complexion. 
I just have to wonder if the flesh worms and freckles would continue in evidence if tap water was used instead of rain-water.

It goes on to alternatively recommend:
...put one ounce of powdered gum of benzoin in a pint of whiskey; to use, put in water in wash-bowl till it is milky, allowing it to dry without wiping. This is perfectly harmless.
Yeah, harmless, right!  As long as Pa doesn't miss his whiskey!

I'm surprised how often rain-water is specified in these pages.  I guess that's some kind of testament to either the source of most water in 1892, or it was simply perceived to be more pure.  I'm guessing it had to do with a softness issue, but the book never really says one way or the other.

Here are the first two Snow White Cook Book posts (in case you missed them):  September 29, 2010   and  October 28, 2010.


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