The quest for preservation
There was a constant search for a successful method of preserving food for those who did not have easy access to fresh supplies, such as on long sea voyages when the diet for most seamen was hard biscuit and salted meat (pork and beef) kept in wooden casks. By the end of the 18th century a method of preserving food in airtight glass bottles had been perfected by the Frenchman Nicolas Appert, and ‘bottling’ fruit is still popular for preserving home-grown produce. Glass was fragile and heavily taxed, and so the search went on for better methods. In the early 19th century, canning was developed as a means of preserving food, but it only became cost-effective after the Napoleonic Wars, using thick tin-plated iron canisters, referred to now as tins or cans – the tinning prevented corrosion (nowadays, cans and canned food tend to be called tins and tinned food in Britain). These were bulk containers, not intended for household use. By the 1840s, the Royal Navy was ever more reliant on canned meat, Continue reading →
The expression ‘Sweet F.A.’ or ‘Sweet Fanny Adamas’ has been used since late Victorian times, though the meaning of ‘Sweet F.A.’ has altered over the years. It actually originated in the brutal murder of Fanny Adams by Frederick Baker in 1867 in the normally quiet town of Alton in Hampshire. A few decades earlier, Jane Austen had written some of her best-loved novels in the nearby village of Chawton, and she frequently walked to and from Alton to do shopping.
In the early afternoon of Saturday 24th August 1867, 8-year-old Fanny Adams was with her friend Minnie Warner and her sister Elizabeth Adams, who was a year younger. The three girls, according to the Hampshire Chronicle newspaper, were ‘of respectable parents, residing in Tan House-lane, Alton, [and] were playing in Flood Meadow, at the back of Mr. Jefferie’s tan yard, distance from their residences about 400 yards’. At the inquest and subsequent trial, many witnesses gave sometimes contradictory statements. What seems to have happened is that Frederick Baker went up to the girls and gave Minnie some coins Continue reading →