Friday, 1 April 2011

Today In History, A Forgotten Heroine

Most of you probably won't be aware, but today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Emily Frying

Looking back at history you'll notice that most of the famous names are men with a few noticable exceptions: Boudicca, Cleopatra, Marie Curie - there are others, but generally there names are forgotten: largely because of the social situations at the time.

The same was true for Frying, the eldest of what would eventually be a six-child family (front row, approximately 12-15 years old in this picture).  Her father, Robert Frying had drifted from job to job and is listed in the census for the time as a salesman, a butcher and finally a chef at the new Savoy kitchens

(The Royal Alex Kitchens, circa 1910 where Frying would later work)

Emily herself took on a role at the Savoy as Skillet Maid, where she worked until she married. 

This was handily timed as just before the turn of the century there had been a shortage of eggs and dairy produce due to a severe case of Foot And Mouth (a disease of cattle) that had drastically impacted on supplies - however with the endemic reduced and the Savoy kitchens newly refurbished it became very popular, and a sign of wealth, to dine on "Skilleted" eggs for breakfast. 

Head Chef Marcel Holtz recorded in his diary that "Miss Frying was a deft hand with the skillet: a hard worker and much admired through the kitchens.  So much so that the staff began to refer to the art of skilleting eggs as "frying"

Being a low graded maid Emily's contribution to culinary delights was never publicised, nevertheless the term "frying" passed into common parlance and eventually began to replace the name "skillet" for the pan.  It was only about 15 years ago that her name was discovered under the records of the Savoy at the time and a member of her family managed to trace the line.

Emily herself came to a sad end, dying in a workhouse when her husband was killed in the war and she could not find employment.

For more information on Emily - click here


Titus said...

You know, you had me to about half-way through...

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

well, i had to try

Hope you followed the link :)

Titus said...

Never. I knew exactly who was going to be at the end of it.

Argent said...

Haha, very good.

Lydia said...

Dear Pixies,
The link is not available in my country. No fooling. Were you? Or is this a true and amazing story? :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

lydia - it was a link to Rick Astley's immortal 80s single "Never gonna give you up"

Sorry about that!

Friko said...

That's a historical snippet not many people know.
As it came out on April Fool's Day think it will probably sink without trace fairly soon.