Carp: It’s what’s for dinner.

I was reading about the “Asian Carp Invasion”, and got curious about carps in the nineteenth-century. As Yi-Fu Tuan and discusses in great detail in Dominance and Affection (1984) (and I believe Kathleen Kete does as well, in The Beast in the Boudoir: Petkeeping in Nineteenth-Century Paris [1994]), aquariums were one of the most popular forms of pet-keeping during this period. Tuan (as the title of his book suggests) focuses on dominance in the selection and breeding of goldfish, and Kete cites aquariums as part of her argument that the bourgeois kept pets in an expression of a desire to dreamscape the private sphere.  

Here are some great images from Mark Samuel’s The Amateur Aquarist (New York: Baker Taylor, 1894) [thanks, googlebooks!]:

Unlike goldfish and the now highly-prized Japanese koi, “ugly” carp seem to have been more generally treated as dinner. (A search in Allrecipes.com turned up almost no carp recipes, but Tex Wasabi has a recipe that mimics the look of koi in a taco.)

(From The Cook’s Dictionary [London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830]).

(From French Domestic Cookery [London: Bogue, 1846]).

How Cats and Dogs Lived in London in Olden Times

These telling images accompany Frances Simpson’s article describing cats and dogs in London in the nineteenth century. The images alone describe the extent to which cats’ and dogs’ lives (and deaths) became of deep interest to bourgeois Londoners.

Homeless cat shelter.

Lost dog shelter (the famous Battersea facility).

Street seller of pet food (likely made of horse meat), attracting the local clientele. Where do these cats keep their moneys?

In the late 19th and early 20th, dogs and other live animals were still usually sold out on the street, not in fancy-schmancy pet stores like we have now.

Dog cemetery in Hyde Park.

Source: Simpson, Frances. “Cat and Dog London.” Living London. Ed. George R. Sims. London, Paris, New York & Melbourne: Cassell & Co., 1902.