Asparagus Loaves or Sparrow Grass Rolls

Asparagus forced in French Rolls.
Take three French rolls, take out all the crumb, by first cutting a piece of the top-crust off; but be careful that the crust fits again in the same place; fry the rolls brown in fresh butter; then take a pound of cream, the yolks of six eggs beat fine, a little salt and nutmeg, stir them well together over a slow fire till it begins to be thick; have a hundred of small grass boiled; then save tops enough to stick the rolls with, the rest cut small and put into the cream, fill the loaves with them: before you fry the rolls make holes thick in the top crust and stick the grass in; then lay on the piece of crust and stick the grass in, that it may look as if it were growing. It makes a pretty side-dish for a second course.
Hannah Glasse. The Art of Cookery 1796

To dress Asparagus.
[in this later edition, Glasse writes to just boil the asparagus then...] Cut the round of a small loaf, about half an inch thick, toast it brown on both sides, dip it in the asparagus liquor, and lay it in your dish: pour a little butter over the toast, then lay your asparagus on the toast all round the dish, with the white tops outward. Do not pour butter over the asparagus, for that makes them greasy to the fingers, but have your butter in a bason, and send it to table.
Hannah Glasse. The Art of Cookery 1805 edition

Having scraped the stalks of three bundles of fine, large asparagus, (laying it, as you proceed, in a pan of cold water,) tie it up again in bunches, put them into a pot with a great deal of boiling water, and a little salt, and boil them about twenty minutes, or till quite tender. Then take out the asparagus, and drain it. Cut off the green tops of two-thirds of the asparagus, and on the remainder leave about two inches of the white stalk; this remaining asparagus must be kept warm. Put the tops into a stew-pan with a pint of cream, or rich milk, sufficient to cover them well; adding three table-spoonfuls of fresh butter, rolled in flour, half a grated nutmeg, and the well-beaten yolks of three eggs. Set the stew-pan over hot coals, and stir the mixture till it comes to a boil. Then immediately remove it. Have ready some tall fresh rolls or penny loaves; cut the tops carefully off, in a nice circular or oval piece, and then scoop out the inside of the rolls, and fill them with the stewed asparagus while it is hot. Make small holes very nicely in the tops or lids. Fit the lids again on the rolls, and stick in the holes (of which you must make as many as you can) the remaining asparagus, that has had the bit of stalk left on for this purpose. Send them to table warm, as side-dishes.
Leslie, Eliza. The Lady's Receipt-Book; a Useful Companion for Large or Small Families... Philadelphia: 1847
NOTE: I have often made this dish, and it is delicious each time.

Sparrow Grass and Asparagus

Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener... 1883
Tansactions. Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. 1877
Dictionary of Americanisms. John Bartlett. 1877
The American Quarterly Review. 1828
A Dictionary of Lowland Scotch. Charles Mackay. 1888
Anecdotes of the English Language. Henry Christmas. 1844
The history of the twelve great livery companies of London. William Herbert. 1834

©2008 Patricia Bixler Reber