Saturday, December 15, 2012


Says the reformed and rejuvenated Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of "A Christmas Carol": "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of steaming bishop."
A Christmas bowl of WHAT? wondered a curious friend of mine.
He discovered that Steaming Bishop (also known as "Smoking Bishop") is a festive punch made from port wine mulled with sugar, cinnamon, and a roasted, clove-studded orange or lemon (some recipes call for grapefruit).
My sister, an English professor, found this relevant passage from "Dr. Johnson was quite fond of it, as the following passage from Boswell's Life attests. One very late night in 1752 his friends roused him for a ramble and they walked to Covent Garden to help the fruit & veg merchants set up. They then repaired to one of the neighboring taverns, and made a bowl of that liquor called Bishop, which Johnson had always liked; while in joyous contempt of sleep, from which he had been roused, he repeated the festive lines,
     Short, O short then be thy reign,
     And give us to the world again!"
Dust off that punchbowl and ladle!

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