In the course of writing my next Marian Halcombe Camlet adventure I needed some invalid fare of my own. Trapped in a burning whorehouse and then extracted from the wreckage, Marian clearly had to be sustained on a special diet. So I called upon author Charles Dickens to supply a (entirely fictional) suitable invalid beverage. The most famous writer of the Victorian age was well known to be a party animal, and his novels abound with the massive meals and delicious drinks that he plainly adored. So I did not hesitate to allocate him the credit for this recipe, what we would call a cocktail, which is eminently drinkable:
Dickens’ Special Milk Cup
Put a vanilla bean into a jar, fill it with sugar, and set aside for three days. Beat a cup of rich milk together with an egg, strain through ice, and add a spoonful of the sugar and a spoonful of Jamaican Flavoring. Dust the foam with ground nutmeg and serve. May also be taken hot.
And the secret ingredient, that Jamaican Flavoring? In the novel the great man writes to Marian’s husband Theo: “In case she is in need of some slight strengthening, I enclose the following as a tribute to your incomparable wife. The receipt is my own invention – I plume myself on a clever hand with libations — and you will recognize the Flavoring, also enclosed. You will find that the ladies will absorb any quantity of Dickens Special Milk Cup, so long as you assure them that the secret flavoring is from Jamaica but confide no further details!”
Those of you who are fans of musical theater need no more clues. Yes, I stole the gag from Frank Loesser’s GUYS & DOLLS. Charles Dickens gives Marian a bottle of rum, the best dark rum from Montego Bay!