Alexis Soyer

In March 1855 Alexis Soyer, a famous chef of the Reform Club had arrived at Scutari. At that time there was only one kitchen which had thirteen coppers in it, in which all the food for the hospital had to be cooked. This meant that there was not time for proper cleaning. Each orderly had rations for each patient in his care. Meat on the bone, gristle, fat, offal, hacked into chunks and cooked in the coppers. When they thought the meat was cooked they put out the fire under the copper, and got out their own rations. They often marked the meat with old rags rusty nail or buttons. It was only luck if a patient was in favour, whether he received gristle or meat. There were no knives or forks, so it had to be eaten with their fingers. This was their only supply, with no soup or pudding. When they had finished cooking the meat in the coppers, they were washed and rinsed, to be used for boiling tea. Soyer made up recipes using the army rations. Permanent soldiers were in his kitchen who could be trained as cooks. He also invented ovens to bake bread and biscuits. Soyer’s iron stove became standard equipment for the army. It weighed between eighty and ninety pounds, and was made or iron. Two of these stoves could be carried by one mule. They were able to boil, stew, bake and steam.

Nightingale Fund ….


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