I’ve written so much about opera-singer-turned-food-writer Madame de Ryther, she almost feels like family, so I think it is safe to include her thoughts and recipes in this Friday’s post.
But before I do that, I wanted to mention that quite some time ago, blog reader Bill S., who also developed a bit of an obsession with Jule, alerted me to the fact that he’d come across information proving that Madame de Ryther had indeed once been married. Prior to that, I’d wondered whether she had adopted the name because it sounded somewhat exotic and would have been useful for her singing career.
Bill sent me a couple of obituaries for Jule’s husband John de Ryther, who died “at home” in his room at the Arlington Hotel in Rome, New York, on September 30, 1884. He was roughly 50 years of age. The cause of death was given as lung congestion and “asthmatic difficulty.”
The Rome Citizen article indicates that John had not been well for a number of years. I wonder whether a fall he’d taken in an elevator shaft the previous year had perhaps hastened his demise. Surely it could not have helped.
The Utica Morning Herald, April 18, 1883, reported under the heading “Rome Matters”: “John De Ryther. who fell thro’ the elevator well at the Arlington yesterday, is much more comfortable this evening.” I found another article in the Rome Citizen dated July 13, 1883, that mentioned a little girl had fallen the same distance as John down an elevator shaft (24 feet), but that she came away unscathed, while he had been “disabled for weeks”. Such a fall certainly could not have helped someone who already had a history of health problems.
In any case, it’s clear from the obituaries that John was a highly beloved and popular citizen who had held many important positions. At the time of John’s death, Jule was in her late 40s and living in New York City, where her singing career was still going strong.
Bill also sent me a ton of links to loads of Jule’s food and recipe articles, and he even managed to find an image of Jule’s face in an old newspaper he found on Newspapers.com. Unfortunately, I cannot display it here until I find it on a website like Fulton History that places no restrictions on usage. Bill wondered why, given Jule’s success in life as an opera singer and food writer, that he could find no bona fide photos of her anywhere. I find that quite strange too. But hopefully one or more surface some day so I can include them here.
I found the two Jules De Ryther articles below on Fulton History; they are from 1904. The custard article, which includes instructions and ideas for custard pies and baked and boiled custards, would have been good to include in the post I did with my great-grandmother’s custard recipe, but, alas, that ship has sailed.
As for the blackberry pie recipe, it really sounds heavenly. I am going to give it a whirl when blackberries are in season and at their best (and the price is reasonable). Her recipe calls for 1.5 quarts per pie, and she insists that no lard be used for the crust and that the pie should be eaten immediately and never refrigerated.
Finally, for anyone planning to try Jule’s recipes that require baking, a reminder that oven temperatures were referred to differently back then:
- Slow Oven = 325°F (163°C)
- Moderate Oven = 375°F (191°C)
- Hot or Quick Oven = 425 °F (218°C)
- Bread or Pastry Oven = 360°F (182°C)