Jan 012019
 

I am finally back from my travels through Vietnam and Laos in time to wish you a joyous New Year, and peace, health, and happiness for 2019. Here’s a Scots custom for the day to mark the beginning of blogging for 2019 – without too many interruptions, I hope.

In Scotland, the first Monday of the New Year was traditionally known as Hansel Monday, or Handsel Monday, and gifts (Scots: hansels) were given at this time. Among the rural population of Scotland, Auld Hansel Monday, is traditionally celebrated on the first Monday after January 12. This custom reflects a reluctance to switch from the old (Julian) style calendar to the new (Gregorian) calendar.

The word “hansel” originates from a mix of an Old English word “handselen” which means “to deliver into the hand” and an Old Norse word “handsal” meaning “to seal a promise with a handshake,” and evolved into the Middle English “hansel” which refers to small tips and gifts of money given as a token of good luck, particularly at the beginning of something. The modern house-warming gift is a hansel. John Trotter Brockett’s 1825, A glossary of north country words, in use, describes Handsel Monday as an occasion “when it is customary to make children and servants a present.” On this day, tips of small gifts were expected by servants, as well as by the postman, the deliverers of newspapers, and all people who serve a house or houses. In this respect it is somewhat similar to Boxing Day, which eventually supplanted it. If the handsel was a physical object rather than money, tradition said that the object could not be sharp, or it would “cut” the relationship between the giver and the recipient. The day is known in Scots Gaelic as Diluain Traoighte (drained Monday).

It was custom when I was growing up not to give a new purse or wallet to someone without placing a token coin in it, and at one time this custom was known as “handseling a purse.” Not to do this supposedly meant that the purse would always be empty. Money received on Handsel Monday is supposed to insure monetary luck all for the rest of the year. Similar customs accrue to New Year’s Day in other parts of the world, where giving small tokens of food, especially green food (because money is green), ensures financial fortune in the coming year.

In his Statistical Account of Scotland (1792) John Sinclair notes:

It is worth mentioning that one William Hunter, a collier (residing in the parish of Tillicoultry, in Clackmannanshire), was cured in the year 1738 of an inveterate rheumatism or gout, by drinking freely of new ale, full of harm or yeast. The poor man had been confined to his bed. for a year and a half, having almost entirely lost the use of his limbs. On the evening of Handsel Monday, as it is called, some of his neighbours came to make merry with him. Though he could not rise, yet he always took his share of the ale, as it passed round the company, and in the end he became much intoxicated. The consequence was that he had the use of his limbs next morning, and was able to walk about. He lived more than twenty years after this, and never had the smallest return of his old complaint.

So, Handsel Monday has multiple benefits.

These days, people who make regular deliveries expect money in their Christmas “boxes” rather than small gifts, and I understand the change in customs. Nonetheless, I lament the passing of the old ways because money, while welcome, is impersonal. At Christmas in the Catskills I always spent several days making a wide range of cookies to make up mixed plates to give to friends and neighbors, inspired by an old friend who used to do the same. It seems like a lot of work, and it is – no question. You have to love baking and the expectation of the joy of the season you will bring. I don’t do this any more because I live in countries that do not celebrate Christmas, and I do not have the circle of friends close by that I once had. Still, I recommend the practice. I always made springerle along with other cookies. Here is a good video:

Sep 252018
 

On this date in 1237, kings Henry III of England and Alexander II of Scotland, signed the Treaty of York, which affirmed that Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland were subject to English sovereignty. This treaty established the Anglo-Scottish border in a form that remains almost unchanged to modern times (the only modifications have been regarding the Debatable Lands and Berwick-upon-Tweed). The treaty detailed the future status of several feudal properties and addressed other issues between the two kings, and historically marked the end of the kingdom of Scotland’s attempts to extend its frontier southward.

The treaty was one of a number of agreements made in the ongoing relationship between the two kings. The papal legate Otho (also known as Oddone di Monferrato) was already in England at Henry’s request, to attend a synod in London in November 1237. Henry informed Otho in advance of the September meeting at York, which he attended. This meeting was recorded by the contemporary chronicler Matthew Paris, who disparaged both Alexander and Otho. Paris’ false allegations against Alexander, portraying him as boorishly uncivil and aggressive, have been repeated uncritically in several historical accounts. In fact, Henry and Alexander had had a history of making agreements to settle one matter or another, and they were, by and large, cordial because the two had strong kinship ties. Alexander was married to Henry’s sister, Joan, and Alexander’s sister Margaret had married Hubert de Burgh, a former regent to Henry. On 13th August 1237 Henry advised Otho that he would meet Alexander at York to conclude a peace treaty. Their agreement was reached on 25th September “respecting all claims, or competent to, the latter, up to Friday next before Michaelmas A.D. 1237”.

The title of the agreement is Scriptum cirographatum inter Henricum Regem Anglie et Alexandrum Regem Scocie de comitatu Northumbrie Cumbrie et Westmerland factum coram Ottone Legato (Agreement written between Henry, king of England and Alexander, king of Scotland concerning the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, done in the presence of papal legate Otto). The particulars of the agreement are as follows:

    The King of Scotland: quitclaims to the King of England his hereditary rights to the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland; quitclaims 15,000 marks of silver paid by King William to King John for certain conventions not observed by the latter; and frees Henry from agreements regarding marriages between Henry and Richard, and Alexander’s sisters Margaret, Isabella, and Marjory.

    The King of England grants the King of Scotland certain lands within Northumberland and Cumberland, to be held by him and his successor kings of Scotland in feudal tenure with certain rights exempting them from obligations common in feudal relationships, and with the Scottish Steward sitting in Justice regarding certain issues that may arise, and these, too, are hereditary to the King of Scotland’s heirs, and regarding these the King of Scotland shall not be answerable to an English court of law in any suit.

    The King of Scotland makes his homage and fealty – de praedictis terris [in the aforementioned territories]

    Both kings respect previous writings not in conflict with this agreement, and any charters found regarding said counties to be restored to the King of England.

Older historians have shown little interest in the agreement, either mentioning it in passing or ignoring it altogether, and it still does not get much mileage in contemporary histories of relations between Scotland and England. Given that the treaty established a border that is still in effect 800 years later, you’d think it would have more prominence.  Undoubtedly, the problem rests in the fact that for hundreds of years England and Scotland were at each other’s throats, so that the location of the border between the two countries was of minor importance in comparison with the rivalry between them.

The waters are further muddied by the fact that the official chronicler Matthew Paris, (c. 1200–1259), who was known for his rhetorical passion and his invectives against those with whom he disagreed, did not like the participants for some reason. Paris describes the papal legate Otho in negative terms, as someone who was weak and timid in the face of strength but overbearing in his use of power over others, and as someone who avariciously accumulated a large amount of money. He describes Alexander and Henry as having a mutual hatred in 1236, with Alexander threatening to invade England. He describes the 1237 meeting at York as the result of Henry’s and Otho’s invitation to Alexander, and that when Otho expressed an interest in visiting Scotland, Alexander claimed no legate had ever visited Scotland and he would not allow it, and that if Otho did enter Scotland he should take care that harm does not befall him. Paris goes on to say that Alexander had become so excited in his hostility at the possibility of Otho’s visit to Scotland that a written agreement had to be drawn up concerning Otho’s visit.

There is nothing in contemporary primary sources to support Paris’ vituperative account, and it is contradicted by well-known facts regarding dates and correspondences, and by information concerning previous visits to Scotland by legates. Legates had visited Scotland in the reigns of Alexander’s father William I, his uncle Malcolm IV, and his grandfather David I, and Alexander himself had seen a papal legate hold a council at Perth for four days, making his alleged outrage and threats incongruous and highly improbable.

Despite the fact that Paris’ slanders are contradicted by the actual facts of the case, historians have frequently used them as reliable source material, and, hence, end up giving us a twisted analysis of Anglo-Scottish relations of the time.

Borders drawn on a map by treaty are a decided curiosity. The inhabitants on either side of the line owe their national allegiance to political centers that are typically quite a distance from the borderlands, yet they are often culturally more alike one another than different. Such is the case of the peoples divided by the Anglo-Scottish border. Their dialects are similar, their occupations are alike because of a shared geography, and their cuisines show more similarities than differences. So, what is a good dish to celebrate a border that divides people who are culturally alike? You might want to debate this question yourself, especially if you have more than a nodding acquaintance with English and Scottish cooking traditions. I’m going to go with the noble kipper, a type of smoked herring that is produced in ports on either side of the border: the same, yet different.

No one knows how kippering of herrings originated although there are many fanciful tales that have been invented over the years. Ports in both northern England and in Scotland claim to be their birthplace with little to no justification or historical support. Herrings are turned into kippers by splitting them open, gutting and salting them, and then curing them in wood smoke. If smoked long enough they turn red, giving them the old name “red herring,” which appears as early as the 13th century in a poem by the Anglo-Norman poet Walter of Bibbesworth: “He eteþ no ffyssh But heryng red.”

The harbor village of Craster in Northumberland is famed for Craster kippers, which are prepared in a local smokehouse, sold in the village shop and exported around the world. Likewise, the kippers from nearby Seahouses. On the other side of the border, kippers are produced in Dunbar and Eyemouth.  The herring used to make the kippers in these towns is all the same fish, but the resultant kippers are markedly different. Which is better is a matter of personal taste.

Kippers need to be poached or grilled before they are eaten, typically as a breakfast dish on either side of the border. I can’t say when the last time was that I had a kipper for breakfast, but my normal custom is to eat a whole fish, poached, with plenty of wholewheat bread and butter on the side. Some people like a fried egg in addition, but I find this habit to be a trifle overwhelming.

Dec 232017
 

Today is the birthday (1812) of Samuel Smiles, was a Scottish author and government reformer who campaigned on a Chartist platform, but who became an almost overnight celebrity for his book Self-Help (1859), which promoted thrift and claimed that poverty was caused largely by irresponsible habits, while also attacking materialism and laissez-faire government. In some ways it was a testament to Victorian morality.

Born in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland, Smiles was the son of Janet Wilson of Dalkeith and Samuel Smiles of Haddington. He was one of eleven surviving children. While his family members were strict Reformed Presbyterians, he was not religious. He studied at a local school, leaving at the age of 14. He apprenticed to be a doctor under Dr. Robert Lewins. This arrangement enabled Smiles to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1829. There he also developed an interest in politics, and became a strong supporter of Joseph Hume (a strict fiscal conservative in Parliament). During this time, he contracted a lung disease, and his father was advised to send him on a long sea voyage.

His father died in the cholera epidemic of 1832, but Smiles was enabled to continue with his studies because he was supported by his mother. She ran the small family general store firm in the belief that the “Lord will provide.” Her example of working ceaselessly to support herself and his nine younger siblings strongly influenced Smiles’s future life.

In 1837, he wrote articles for the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle and the Leeds Times, campaigning for parliamentary reform. In November 1838, Smiles was invited to become the editor of the Leeds Times, a position he filled until 1842. In May 1840, Smiles became secretary to the Leeds Parliamentary Reform Association, an organization that held to the six objectives of Chartism: universal suffrage for all men over the age of 21; equal-sized electoral districts; voting by secret ballot; an end to the need of MPs to qualify for Parliament, other than by winning an election; pay for MPs; and annual Parliaments.

As editor of the Leeds Times, he advocated radical causes ranging from women’s suffrage to free trade and parliamentary reform. By the late 1840s, however, Smiles became concerned about the recommendation of physical force by Chartists Feargus O’Connor and George Julian Harney, although he seems to have agreed with them that the movement’s current tactics were not effective, saying that “mere political reform will not cure the manifold evils which now afflict society.” In 1845, he left the Leeds Times and became a secretary for the newly formed Leeds & Thirsk Railway. After nine years, he worked for the South Eastern Railway.

In the 1850s, Smiles abandoned his interest in parliament and decided that self-help was the most important avenue to reform in society. In 1859, he published Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct. The origins of Self-Help lay in a speech he gave in March 1845 in response to a request by a Mutual Improvement Society, published as, The Education of the Working Classes. In it Smiles said:

I would not have any one here think that, because I have mentioned individuals who have raised themselves by self-education from poverty to social eminence, and even wealth, these are the chief marks to be aimed at. That would be a great fallacy. Knowledge is of itself one of the highest enjoyments. The ignorant man passes through the world dead to all pleasures, save those of the senses … Every human being has a great mission to perform, noble faculties to cultivate, a vast destiny to accomplish. He should have the means of education, and of exerting freely all the powers of his godlike nature.

The newly founded Routledge publishing house rejected publishing Self-Help in 1855. Twenty years later Smiles was seated next to George Routledge at a dinner, and he said to him, “And when, Dr. Smiles, are we to have the honour of publishing one of your books?” Smiles replied that Mr. Routledge already had the honor of rejecting Self-Help. Although John Murray was willing to publish Self-Help on a half-profits system, but Smiles rejected the offer. In 1859, he self-published the book, retaining the copyright, while he paid John Murray a ten percent commission, for distribution, I presume. It sold 20,000 copies within one year of its publication. By the time of Smiles’s death in 1904 it had sold over a quarter of a million copies. Self-Help brought almost instant celebrity status and he became a much-consulted pundit. He was also deluged with requests to lay foundation stones, sit for his portrait, present prizes to orphan children, make speeches, and so forth, but he declined them all.

Smiles wrote articles for the Quarterly. In an article on railways, he argued that the railways should be nationalized and that third-class passengers should be encouraged. In 1861 Smiles published an article from the Quarterly, renamed Workers Earnings, Savings, and Strikes. He claimed poverty in many instances was caused by habitual imprudence:

Times of great prosperity, in which wages are highest and mills running full time are not times in which Mechanics’ Institutes and Schools flourish, but times in which publicans and beer sellers prosper and grow rich … A workman earning 50s. to 60s. a week (above the average pay of bankers’ clerks) was content to inhabit a miserable one-roomed dwelling in a bad neighbourhood, the one room serving as parlour, kitchen, and sleeping-room for the whole family, which consisted of husband, wife, four sons, two cats, and a dog. The witness was asked: Do you think this family was unable to get better lodgings, or were they careless? They were careless, was the reply.

In 1866, Smiles became president of the National Provident Institution, but left in 1871, after suffering a debilitating stroke. He recovered from the stroke, eventually having to learn to read and write again. In 1875, his book Thrift was published. In it, he said that “riches do not constitute any claim to distinction. It is only the vulgar who admire riches as riches.” He claimed that the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 was “one of the most valuable that has been placed on the statute-book in modern times.” He also criticized Victorian laissez-faire:

When typhus or cholera breaks out, they tell us that Nobody is to blame. That terrible Nobody! How much he has to answer for. More mischief is done by Nobody than by all the world besides. Nobody adulterates our food. Nobody poisons us with bad drink. Nobody supplies us with foul water. Nobody spreads fever in blind alleys and unswept lanes. Nobody leaves towns undrained. Nobody fills gaols, penitentiaries, and convict stations. Nobody makes poachers, thieves, and drunkards. Nobody has a theory too—a dreadful theory. It is embodied in two words—Laissez faire—Let alone. When people are poisoned by plaster of Paris mixed with flour, “Let alone” is the remedy. When Cocculus indicus is used instead of hops, and men die prematurely, it is easy to say, “Nobody did it.” Let those who can, find out when they are cheated: Caveat emptor. When people live in foul dwellings, let them alone. Let wretchedness do its work; do not interfere with death.

In 1877, the letters young Smiles wrote home during his teenage sea voyage and the log he kept of his journey to Australia and America between February 1869 and March 1871 were published in London in book form, under the title A Boy’s Voyage Round the World.

In 1881 he claimed that,

Labour is toilsome and its gains are slow. Some people determine to live by the labour of others, and from the moment they arrive at that decision, become the enemies of society. It is not often that distress drives men to crime. In nine cases out of ten, it is choice not necessity. Moral cowardice is exhibited as much in public as in private life. Snobbism is not confined to toadying of the rich, but is quite as often displayed in the toadying of the poor… Now that the “masses” exercise political power, there is a growing tendency to fawn upon them, flatter them, speak nothing but smooth words to them. They are credited with virtues they themselves know they do not possess. To win their favour sympathy is often pretended for views, the carrying out of which is known to be hopeless. The popular agitator must please whom he addresses, and it is always highly gratifying to our self-love to be told that someone else is to blame for what we suffer. So it rarely occurs to these orators to suggest that those whom they address are themselves to blame for what they suffer, or that they misuse the means of happiness which are within their reach … The capitalist is merely a man who does not spend all that is earned by work.

Karl Marx he was not. The late 19th century and early 20th century saw the rise of New Liberalism, Keynesian economics, and socialism, all of which viewed thrift unfavorably. The New Liberal economists, J. A. Hobson and A. F. Mummery in their Physiology of Industry (1889), claimed that saving resulted in the underemployment of capital and labor during trade depressions. Over time Smiles fell out of vogue and now he is mostly seen as a Victorian curiosity although some of his ideals are still valuable. Certainly the self-help movement is alive and well.

On 16 April 1904, Samuel Smiles died in Kensington in London and was buried in Brompton Cemetery. Shortly before his death, he was reportedly offered a knighthood, which he declined to accept.

Mrs Beeton sounds almost like Smiles in the following passage, down to vaunting the Scots over the English for their legendary thrift.  If you are not a Brit you probably don’t know that the English make fun of the Scots for their frugality.

  1. IT HAS BEEN ASSERTED, that English cookery is, nationally speaking, far from being the best in the world. More than this, we have been frequently told by brilliant foreign writers, half philosophers, half chefs, that we are the worst cooks on the face of the earth, and that the proverb which alludes to the divine origin of food, and the precisely opposite origin of its preparers, is peculiarly applicable to us islanders. Not, however, to the inhabitants of the whole island; for, it is stated in a work which treats of culinary operations, north of the Tweed, that the “broth” of Scotland claims, for excellence and wholesomeness, a very close second place to the bouillon, or common soup of France. “Three hot meals of broth and meat, for about the price of ONE roasting joint,” our Scottish brothers and sisters get, they say; and we hasten to assent to what we think is now a very well-ascertained fact. We are glad to note, however, that soups of vegetables, fish, meat, and game, are now very frequently found in the homes of the English middle classes, as well as in the mansions of the wealthier and more aristocratic; and we take this to be one evidence, that we are on the right road to an improvement in our system of cookery. One great cause of many of the spoilt dishes and badly-cooked meats which are brought to our tables, arises, we think, and most will agree with us, from a non-acquaintance with “common, every-day things.” Entertaining this view, we intend to preface the chapters of this work with a simple scientific résumé of all those causes and circumstances which relate to the food we have to prepare, and the theory and chemistry of the various culinary operations. Accordingly, this is the proper place to treat of the quality of the flesh of animals, and describe some of the circumstances which influence it for good or bad. We will, therefore, commence with the circumstance of age, and examine how far this affects the quality of meat.

I’ve picked rumbledethumps as the dish to honor Smiles, partly because it’s Scottish, partly because it is a thrifty dish, and partly because I love the name. Rumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. It is similar to Irish colcannon, and English bubble and squeak, either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself. I’ll also follow Smiles in recommending that you employ a little ingenuity in working out how to make rumbledethumps. You don’t need a recipe, just the idea (and I’ll give you a photo too).

Begin by shredding some cabbage and slicing an onion. Also boil some potatoes.  Fry the onions and cabbage in butter until they are soft. Mash the potatoes with a little butter plus salt and pepper to taste.  Combine all three well and place in a baking dish. Covered with shredded melting cheese of your choice, and bake in a hot oven until the top is golden and bubbly.

May 012017
 

The 1st of May is a global celebration in one guise or other. I’ve already dealt with 2 important celebrations, International Workers’ Day (throughout Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond) http://www.bookofdaystales.com/international-workers-day/  and May Day which is mostly an English custom http://www.bookofdaystales.com/may-daymay-morning/ . It is also Walpurga’s Day which is celebrated in Germanic countries, typically more on the Eve than the day itself http://www.bookofdaystales.com/walpurgas-nightmay-eve/ . Now it’s the turn of Celtic traditions. Beltane was not historically associated with an exact date, but in modern times it has been pegged specifically to May 1.  As always, there’s a great deal of nonsense written about the nature of Beltane historically, with precious little in the way of primary sources to back it up. Romantic, and wishful, speculation always trumps proper historical method, largely because people have a (bad) habit of believing what they want to believe. Having fun in whatever way you want is fine with me.  I’d just prefer that you leave historical justification out of the picture. Here is what is reasonably certain.

In Irish Gaelic, the festival is usually called Lá Bealtaine (“day of Beltane”) while the month of May is Mí Bhealtaine (“month of Beltane”). In Scottish Gaelic, the month is called (An) Cèitean or a’ Mhàigh, and the festival is Latha Bealltainn. Sometimes the older Scottish Gaelic spelling Bealltuinn is used. In modern Scottish Gaelic, Latha Buidhe Bealltainn or Là Buidhe Bealltainn (“the yellow day of Beltane”) is used to describe the first day of May. This term Lá Buidhe Bealtaine is also used in Irish and is translated as “Bright May Day”.

Despite more fanciful etymologies of recent years, it is commonly accepted that the Old Irish word Beltaine is derived from the conjectured archaic Celtic *belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire”. The element *belo- is probably cognate with the obsolete English word “bale” (as in bale-fire) meaning “white” or “shining.” Middle English “bale” comes from Old English bǣl (“funeral pyre”) which derives from Proto-Germanic *bēlą (“pyre”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (“to shine; gleam; sparkle”). Old Norse bál is also a cognate and may have been the direct source for the English word via Norse invaders. The most important point from all of this is that Beltane is a FIRE festival.

The best historical documentary evidence of the Celtic celebration of Beltane comes from Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, but something akin to it has been noted in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany. Beltane in pastoral communities is associated with the beginning of the summer season when the animals of the community were driven up into summer pasture. The reverse traditionally occurred on Samhain (~ November 1) when they were driven back down to the village for winter.  Because timing was determined by climate and not by the weather, the exact date varied. In solar terms, Beltane is approximately a cross-quarter day – that is, in Northern latitudes, about halfway between the vernal equinox, and the summer solstice.

There are a number of customs that were once associated with Beltane, many of which died out but were revived in the second half of the 20th century: bonfires, May bushes, visits to holy wells, and house decorating. The Beltane bonfire was probably the most widespread tradition historically, and is the most common today.  There are references to Beltane in Old Irish literature, notably the (perhaps 10th century) glossary Sanas Cormaic and the anonymous, The Wooing of Emer by Cú Chulainn in the 15th or 16th century Tochmarc Emire, where we read:

For the druids used to make two fires with great incantations, and to drive the cattle between them against the plagues, every year.

I don’t trust this statement for one minute. What did early modern chroniclers actually know about druid customs that had died out a millennium earlier? In fact, we know virtually nothing about druids anywhere in the British Isles, but there is no end of idle speculation.  It’s possible also that Beltane bonfires were a conscious revival in the 18th and 19th centuries based on these old MSS, rather than the continuation of an ancient tradition.  In the 19th century, the ritual of driving cattle between two fires was documented in parts of Ireland and Scotland. Sometimes the cattle would be driven around a single bonfire or be made to leap over flames or embers. The people themselves would do likewise. In the Isle of Man, people encouraged the bonfire’s smoke to blow over them and their cattle. Subsequently people would daub themselves with the fire’s ashes and sprinkle it over their crops and livestock. Burning torches from the bonfire would be taken home, where they would be carried around the house or boundary of the farmstead and would be used to re-light the house’s fire which had been doused the night before.

Food could also be cooked at the bonfire. In 1769, Thomas Pennant wrote that, in Perthshire, a caudle made from eggs, butter, oatmeal and milk was cooked on the bonfire. Some of the mixture was poured on the ground as a libation. Everyone present would then take an oatmeal cake, called the bannoch Bealltainn or “Beltane bannock”. A bit of it was offered to the spirits to protect their livestock (one bit to protect the horses, one bit to protect the sheep, and so forth) and a bit was offered to each of the animals that might harm their livestock (one to the fox, one to the eagle, and so forth). Afterwards, they would drink the caudle.

According to several 18th century writers, who may or may not be reliable sources, in parts of Scotland there was another ritual involving the oatmeal cake. The cake would be cut and one of the slices marked with charcoal. The slices would then be put in a bonnet and everyone would take one out while blindfolded. According to one writer, whomever got the marked piece would have to leap through the fire three times. According to another, those present would pretend to throw him into the fire and, for some time afterwards, they would speak of him as if he were dead.

The use of yellow flowers such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse, hazel, and marsh marigold as garlands was a common Beltane custom, analogous to customs throughout Europe. These were placed at doorways and windows at Beltane in 19th century Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. Sometimes loose flowers were strewn at the doors and windows and sometimes they were made into bouquets, garlands or crosses and fastened to them. They would also be fastened to cows and equipment for milking and butter making.

The May Bush was a common custom in parts of Ireland until the late 19th century. This was a small tree or branch—typically hawthorn, rowan or sycamore—decorated with bright flowers, ribbons, painted shells, and so forth. There were household May Bushes (which would be placed outside each house) and communal May Bushes (which would be set in a public spot or paraded around the neighborhood). In Dublin and Belfast, May Bushes were brought into town from the countryside and decorated by the whole neighborhood. Each neighborhood competed for the most well-decorated tree. A certain amount of rowdiness associated with this custom led to the May Bush being outlawed in Victorian times. The practice of decorating a May Bush with flowers, ribbons, garlands and bright shells is found among the Gaelic diaspora, most notably in Newfoundland.

May garlands are a part of the Cornish May 1st celebrations in Padstow. On the evening of the Eve of May the town is thoroughly decorated with flowers, green bowers, and bunting. On May 1st there are two processions through town accompanying their ‘Obby ‘Oss – a unique custom of unknown origins. In the early part of the 20th century it was a very obscure event. But it was popularized by folklorists mid-century so that it is now a gargantuan tourist attraction, laden with the usual nonsense about ancient pagan origins despite the fact that the earliest reference to an ‘Obby ‘Oss in Padstow is 1803.

Holy wells were often visited at Beltane, as well as at Imbolc and Lughnasadh. Visitors to holy wells would pray for health while walking “sunwise” (moving from east to west) around the well. They would then leave offerings; typically coins or clooties (cloths). The first water drawn from a well on Beltane was seen as being especially potent, as was Beltane morning dew. It could (theoretically) be rolled in or collected in a jar, left in the sunlight, and then filtered. You might notice my skepticism. Ever tried collecting dew in a jar?

Most Beltane customs died out a long time ago and in many locations traces are seen only in place names and a few landmarks. There are a number of place names in Ireland containing the word Bealtaine, indicating places where Bealtaine festivities may have once been held. It is often Anglicized as Beltany. There are three Beltanys in County Donegal, including the Beltany stone circle, and two in County Tyrone. In County Armagh there is a place called Tamnaghvelton/Tamhnach Bhealtaine (“the Beltane field”). Lisbalting/Lios Bealtaine (“the Beltane ringfort”) is in County Tipperary, while Glasheennabaultina/Glaisín na Bealtaine (“the Beltane stream”) is the name of a stream joining the River Galey in County Limerick.

I suggest that you play around with the idea of oatcakes and caudle on this day since they are so commonly mentioned in old sources. They both come in kaleidoscopic variety in the Celtic world. The traditional Scottish oatcake or bannock was a heavy, flat cake of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape, then cooked on a griddle or, before the 19th century cooked on a bannock stone, a large, flat, rounded piece of sandstone, placed directly on to a fire, then used as a cooking surface. Most modern bannocks are made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent, giving them a lighter texture.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest use of the word “caudle” in 1297. The earliest surviving recipe, from 1300–1325, is simply a list of ingredients: wine, wheat starch, raisins, and sugar to “abate the strength of the wine”. In a description of an initiation ceremony at Merton College, Oxford in 1647, caudle is described as a “syrupy gruel with spices and wine or ale added”. Another recipe from the late 14th century has more ingredients and more details on the cooking procedure: “mix breadcrumbs, wine, sugar or honey, and saffron, bring to a boil, then thicken with egg yolks, and sprinkle with salt, sugar, and ginger.” A 15th-century English cookbook includes three caudle recipes: ale or wine is heated and thickened with egg yolks and/or ground almonds, then optionally spiced with sugar, honey, saffron, and/or ginger. This is one version of caudle you can make without much effort. Just be sure to keep an eagle eye on the pot; it burns without much effort also !! This recipe is for one serving, but can easily be multiplied.

Caudle

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1 tbsp oatmeal
2 eggs, beaten
honey
salt
grated fresh nutmeg
whisky or ale

Instructions

Heat the milk in a pan with the oatmeal and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon, then turn down the heat and simmer until it starts to thicken.

Whisk in the eggs, plus honey and nutmeg to taste and simmer for about five minutes, constantly stirring to avoid sticking.

Remove from the heat and stir in whisky or ale in the quantity you want. Serve hot (“caudle” means “hot”) in mugs, or, if you prefer, you can pour it over a bannock as a dessert.

Jan 012017
 

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Today is the birthday (1854) of Sir James George Frazer OM FRS FRSE FBA whose evolutionary theories of social anthropology were very influential in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his work is still popular in some quarters, although it has been thoroughly superseded within the profession. His most famous work, The Golden Bough (1890), documents and details the similarities among magical and religious beliefs around the globe. Frazer posited that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, replaced by religion, in turn replaced by science. The two great weaknesses of Frazer’s work as an anthropologist is that he did no fieldwork, and, hence, was oblivious to the importance of context when assessing social behavior.

Frazer was born in Glasgow, and attended school at Springfield Academy and Larchfield Academy in Helensburgh. Thence he studied at the University of Glasgow and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took an honours degree in Classics and remained a Classics Fellow all his life. From Trinity, he went on to study law at the Middle Temple, but never practiced.

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Frazer was elected 4 times to Trinity’s Title Alpha Fellowship, and was associated with the college for most of his life, except for a year, 1907–1908, spent at the University of Liverpool. He was knighted in 1914, and a public lectureship in social anthropology at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Glasgow and Liverpool was established in his honor in 1921. He was, if not blind, then severely visually impaired from 1930 on. He and his wife, Lily, died in Cambridge within a few hours of each other. They are buried at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground in Cambridge, England.

Except for visits to Italy and Greece, Frazer was not widely travelled. His prime sources of data were ancient histories and questionnaires mailed to missionaries and imperial officials all over the world. Frazer’s interest in social anthropology was aroused by reading E. B. Tylor’s Primitive Culture (1871) and encouraged by his friend, the biblical scholar William Robertson Smith, who was comparing elements of the Hebrew Bible with Hebrew folklore.

Frazer was foundational in what became known as the “myth and ritual” school, which was very influential in both social anthropology and Biblical studies for many decades into the 20th century. I have my own issues with the definition of “myth” which I will set aside for the moment. Frazer did at least posit a crucial link between sacred narrative and ritual in culture which is somewhat enduring. His generation’s choice of Darwinian evolution as a social paradigm, interpreted by Frazer as three stages of human progress—magic giving rise to religion, then culminating in science— is entirely bankrupt. All cultures contain all three paradigms at all times, though different cultures place different emphasis on each, as do individuals within those cultures.

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The Golden Bough, contains a wealth of data on cultural practices worldwide (of questionable accuracy) with the general sub-text that early Christianity is just one of a number of religions based on the concept of a dying a rising god, with a lot of overlapping details as well. The first edition, in two volumes, was published in 1890. The third edition was finished in 1915 and ran to twelve volumes, with a supplemental thirteenth volume added in 1936. He published a single-volume abridged version, largely compiled by his wife Lady Frazer, in 1922, with some controversial material on Christianity excluded from the text. The work’s influence extended well beyond the conventional bounds of academia, inspiring the new work of psychologists and psychiatrists. Sigmund Freud cited Totemism and Exogamy frequently in his own Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics. This mostly goes to prove that Freud was just as wrong in this regard as Frazer, every bit as much as Marx was wrong when he relied on the evolutionary theories of Lewis Henry Morgan.

The symbolic cycle of life, death, and rebirth which Frazer found in the sacred stories of many peoples captivated a generation of artists and poets. Perhaps the most notable product of this fascination is T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land (1922). Also Jim Morrison in his “Celebration of the Lizard” (finally titled “Not to Touch the Earth” as a song within the Waiting for the Sun album of 1968) included lyrics such as “not to touch the earth, not to see the sun” — sentences which serve as chapter titles in Frazer’s work. More recently, Frazer’s work influenced the ending of Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Apocalypse Now (1979) (a copy of The Golden Bough is shown in one of the final shots).

Frazer was from Glasgow and today is Hogmanay, so a traditional Scots recipe is in order. Here is potted hough, an old favorite of mine. “Hough” is Lowland Scots for “shin” which is a very cheap cut of beef because it is so tough (veal shin is used in ossobucco). Beef shin is very tasty but requires long, slow cooking. Potted hough is served cold, and makes a great dish on a New Year’s Day buffet spread.

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Potted Hough

Ingredients:

2 lb (1kg) beef shin, bone in
salt and pepper
cayenne
ground all-spice
beef stock

Instructions:

Put the meat in one piece with the bone and seasonings to taste into a large saucepan. Cover with beef stock and bring to a very gentle simmer. Skim as needed and keep on a gentle simmer for around 6 hours.

Refrigerate overnight with the meat separate from the broth.

In the morning skim off the fat from the broth and return it to the heat. If it did not gel overnight, reduce as you think fit.

Strip the meat from the bone and shred it finely. Add it back to the stock, check the seasonings, then simmer for a few minutes.

Grease a few small moulds or dishes and divide the mixture between them. Pack the meat tightly, then chill to set.

Unmould and serve with bread or toast.

Mar 052016
 

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Today is the birthday (1324) of David II, variously called Daibhidh a Briuis in Medieval Scots Gaelic, Dauid de Brus in Norman French, and Dauid Brus in early Scots-English. He was king of Scots from 7th June 1329 until his death in 1371). This is a great opportunity for me to talk a little about Scottish history which I am still learning about in fits and starts, because I learned nothing about it in school. My knowledge of history in general had little help from my formal schooling. In Australia my high school year had zero history classes. Chemistry, physics, and maths were deemed too important. I shifted around in secondary schools in England, where the general history curriculum wandered all over the map from 16th century voyages of “discovery” (i.e. European colonialism) to naval warfare, to the Russian Revolution, to who knows where else. It settled into 19th century England for O-level, then Europe since Napoleon for A-level (plus the Roman Revolution for Latin, and a smattering of the Greek Empire for Greek). Then at Oxford it was Biblical history for the first 2 years, then the Byzantine Empire and the Protestant Reformation in my final year. Not exactly a coherent education. I thank my lucky stars, though, because by being denied an adequate training in history I also avoided the prejudices of historians as I matured. I have a bee in my bonnet about the nature of history, which, as luck would have it, I am teaching now. My first question to my students is always, “why do we study history?” Of course, they have no answer other than “we have to.” I have studied and published about various historical periods for my own reasons. I am much less interested in WHAT happened in history as WHY it happened WHEN it happened. Cynically, I’d say that MONEY and POWER are pretty well universal answers. So . . . David II.

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David II was the elder and only surviving son of Robert I (Robert the Bruce) of Scotland and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. He was born at Dunfermline Palace, Fife and in accordance with the Treaty of Northampton’s terms, he was married on 17 July 1328 to Joan of the Tower, daughter of Edward II of England and Isabella of France, at Berwick-upon-Tweed. She was seven years old, he was only four. Their marriage lasted 34 years, but it was childless and apparently loveless. They had no children.

David became King of Scots upon the death of his father on 7 June 1329, aged 5 years, 3 months, and 3 days. David and Joan were crowned at Scone on 24 November 1331. These were turbulent times for Scotland. Edward I (aka Hammer of the Scots) had laid claim to Scotland by birthright and so pursued a series of wars there. Resistance came from William Wallace (of Braveheart fame), whilst Robert the Bruce played both sides, eventually siding with Scotland and defeating the English in key battles. But the matter was not settled when David inherited the throne as a baby.

During David’s minority, Sir Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray was appointed Guardian of Scotland by the Act of Settlement of 1318. After Moray’s death, on 20 July 1332, he was replaced by Donald, Earl of Mar, elected by an assembly of the magnates of Scotland at Perth, 2 August 1332. Only ten days later Mar died at the Battle of Dupplin Moor. Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell, who was married to Christina, Robert the Bruce’s sister, was chosen as the new Guardian. He was taken prisoner by the English at Roxburgh in April 1333 and was thence replaced as Guardian by Archibald Douglas (the Tyneman), who died at Halidon Hill that July.

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Meanwhile, on 24 September 1332, following the Scots’ defeat at Dupplin, Edward Balliol, a protégé of Edward III of England, and a pretender to the throne of Scotland, was crowned by the English and his Scots adherents. By December, however, Balliol was forced to flee to England. He returned the following year as part of an invasion force led by Edward III. Following the victory of this force at the Battle of Halidon Hill in July 1333, David and his wife were sent for safety into France, reaching Boulogne on 14 May 1334. They were received very graciously by King Philip VI. Little is known about the life of the Scottish king in France, except that Château Gaillard was given to him for a residence, and that he was present at the bloodless meeting of the English and French armies in October 1339 at Vironfosse, now known as Buironfosse, in the Arrondissement of Vervins. Meanwhile, David’s representatives had once again obtained the upper hand in Scotland, and the king was able to return to his kingdom, landing at Inverbervie in Kincardineshire on 2 June 1341, when he took the reins of government into his own hands.

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In 1346, under the terms of the Auld Alliance, David invaded England in the interests of the French, who were at war with the English in Normandy. After initial success at Hexham, David was wounded, and his army soundly defeated at the Battle of Neville’s Cross on 17 October 1346. David was captured and taken prisoner by Sir John Copeland, who imprisoned him in the Tower of London. David was transferred to Windsor Castle upon the return of Edward III from France. David and his household were later moved to Odiham Castle in Hampshire. His imprisonment was not reputed to be a rigorous one, although he remained in England for eleven years. Joan, being Edward’s sister, was allowed to be free and visited David only a few times. When he finally returned to Scotland she decided to remain in England, and died there in 1362, aged 41.

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On 3 October 1357, after several protracted negotiations with the Scots’ regency council, a treaty was signed at Berwick-upon-Tweed under which Scotland’s nobility agreed to pay 100,000 marks (to be paid at the rate of 10,000 marks per year) as a ransom for their king. This was ratified by the Scottish Parliament at Scone on 6 November 1357. David returned at once to Scotland; but, after a few years, owing to the poverty of the kingdom, it was found impossible to raise the ransom installment of 1363. David then went to London and sought to get rid of the liability by offering to bequeath Scotland to Edward III or one of his sons in return for a cancellation of the ransom. David did this with the full awareness that the Scots would never accept such an arrangement. In 1364, the Scottish parliament indignantly rejected a proposal to make Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the next king; but over the next few years, David strung out secret negotiations with Edward III, which apparently appeased the matter.

He remarried in 1364, Margaret Drummond, widow of Sir John Logie, and daughter of Sir Malcolm Drummond. He divorced her in 1370. They had no children. Margaret, however, travelled to Avignon and made a successful appeal to the Pope to reverse the sentence of divorce which had been pronounced against her in Scotland. She was still alive and, in theory, married to David when he died.

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From 1364, David was harsh with recalcitrant nobles and a wider baronial revolt, and continued to pursue the goal of final peace with England. By the time of his death, the Scottish monarchy was stronger, and the kingdom and royal finances more prosperous than might have seemed possible. David died unexpectedly and at the height of his power in Edinburgh Castle on 22 February 1371. He was buried in Holyrood Abbey. At the time of his death, he was planning to marry his mistress, Agnes Dunbar (niece of Agnes Randolph, also known as “Black Agnes of Dunbar”). He left no children and was succeeded by his distant nephew, Robert II. Thus, he was the last male of the House of Bruce.

Medieval Scots cooking varied greatly between rich and poor. Oats and root crops were staples in the highlands, but the gentry ate beef, game, and fish. The cooking traditions shared a great deal with the English, but also with French influences, and were based on locally available ingredients plus spices. Here is a classic Scots soup, still popular, partan bree. “Partan” is Gaelic for crab, and “bree” for broth.

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Partan Bree

⅓ cup long grain rice
600ml milk
400ml fish stock
500g cooked crab meat
2 anchovy fillets (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)
grated nutmeg
150ml cream
salt and white pepper
paprika
finely chopped parsley

Instructions

Place the rice and milk in a saucepan, and simmer until the rice is cooked well.

Bring the stock to a simmer.

Reserve some of the best looking pieces of crab meat for garnish. Blend the crab meat, rice, milk and anchovy fillets (if used) in a blender until very smooth. Add the blended mixture to the stock and combine well with a whisk over low heat, stirring constantly. Add cayenne (if used), nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cream and heat through gently.

Serve in shallow bowls garnished with the reserved crab, paprika, and parsley.

Jun 132015
 

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Today is the birthday (40 CE) of Gnaeus Julius Agricola,a Gallo-Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. The De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae (Concerning the Life and Death of Agricola or, more usually, simply Agricola), written by his son-in-law the Roman historian Tacitus, is the primary source for most of what is known about him. (see http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/tacitus-agricola.asp )There is also detailed archaeological evidence from northern Britain.

Agricola began his military career in Britain, serving under governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Subsequently he served in a variety of positions. He was appointed quaestor (financial officer) in Asia province in 64, then tribune of the plebs (largely a ceremonial position) in 66, and praetor (state legal and military official) in 68. He supported Vespasian during the Year of the Four Emperors, and was given a military command in Britain when the latter became emperor. When his command ended in 73, he was made patrician (noble) in Rome and appointed governor of Gallia Aquitania. He was made consul and governor of Britannia in 77. While there, he completed the conquest of what is now Wales and northern England, and led his army to the far north of Scotland, establishing forts across much of the Lowlands. He was recalled from Britain in 85 after an unusually lengthy service, and thereafter retired from military and public life.

Agricola was born in the colonia of Forum Julii, Gallia Narbonensis (now Fréjus in France). Agricola’s parents were from noted Gallo-Roman political families of senatorial rank, his ancestors were Romanized Gauls of local origin. Both of his grandfathers served as imperial governors. His father, Lucius Julius Graecinus, was a praetor and had become a member of the Roman Senate in the year of Agricola’s birth. Some time between August 40 and January 41, the Roman emperor Caligula ordered his death because he refused to prosecute the Emperor’s second cousin Marcus Junius Silanus.

His mother was Julia Procilla. Tacitus describes her as “a lady of singular virtue”. Tacitus states that Procilla had a fond affection for her son. Agricola was educated in Massilia (Marseille), and showed what was considered an unhealthy interest in philosophy: one of his father’s passions.

He began his career in Roman public life as a military tribune, serving in Britain under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus from 58 to 62. He was probably attached to the Legio II Augusta, but was chosen to serve on Suetonius’s staff and thus almost certainly participated in the suppression of Boudica’s (Boadicea) uprising in 61. Returning from Britain to Rome in 62, he married Domitia Decidiana, a woman of noble birth. Their first child was a son. Agricola was appointed as quaestor for 64, which he served in the province of Asia under the corrupt proconsul Lucius Salvius Otho Titianus. While he was there, his daughter, Julia Agricola, was born, but his son died shortly afterwards. He was tribune of the plebs in 66 and praetor on June 68, during which time he was ordered by the governor of Spain, Galba, to take an inventory of the temple treasures.

In June 68, the emperor Nero was deposed and committed suicide, and the period of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors began. Galba succeeded Nero, but was murdered in early 69 by Otho, who took the throne. Agricola’s mother was murdered on her estate in Liguria by Otho’s marauding fleet. Hearing of Vespasian’s bid for the empire, Agricola immediately gave him his support. Otho meanwhile committed suicide after being defeated by Vitellius.

After Vespasian had established himself as emperor, he appointed Agricola to the command of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix, stationed in Britain, in place of Marcus Roscius Coelius, who had stirred up a mutiny against the governor, Marcus Vettius Bolanus. Britain had suffered revolt during the year of civil war, and Bolanus was a mild governor. Agricola reimposed discipline on the legion and helped to consolidate Roman rule. In 71, Bolanus was replaced by a more aggressive governor, Quintus Petillius Cerialis, and Agricola was able to display his talents as a commander in campaigns against the Brigantes in northern England.

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When his command ended in 73, Agricola was enrolled as a patrician and appointed to govern Gallia Aquitania. There he stayed for almost three years. In 76 or 77, he was recalled to Rome and appointed suffect (replacement) consul, and betrothed his daughter to Tacitus. The following year, Tacitus and Julia married. Agricola was appointed to the College of Pontiffs, and returned to Britain for a third time, as its governor (Legatus Augusti pro praetore).

Arriving in midsummer of 77, Agricola found the Ordovices of north Wales had virtually destroyed the Roman cavalry stationed in their territory. He immediately moved against them and defeated them. He then moved north to the island of Mona (Anglesey), which Suetonius Paulinus had failed to subjugate in 60 because of the outbreak of the Boudican rebellion, and forced its inhabitants to sue for peace. He established a good reputation as an administrator, as well as a commander, by reforming the widely corrupt corn taxes. He introduced Romanizing measures, encouraging communities to build towns on the Roman model and educating the sons of the native nobility in the Roman manner.

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He also expanded Roman rule north into Caledonia (modern Scotland). In the summer of 79, he pushed his armies to the estuary of the river Taus, usually interpreted as the Firth of Tay, virtually unchallenged, and established some forts. Though their location is left unspecified, the close dating of the fort at Elginhaugh in Midlothian makes it a possible candidate.

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In 81, Agricola “crossed in the first ship” and defeated peoples unknown to the Romans until then. Tacitus, in Chapter 24 of Agricola, does not tell us what body of water he crossed, although most scholars believe it was the Clyde or Forth. The text of the Agricola has been emended here to record the Romans “crossing into trackless wastes”, referring to the wilds of the Galloway peninsula. Agricola fortified the coast facing Ireland, and Tacitus recalls that his father-in-law often claimed the island could be conquered with a single legion and auxiliaries. He had given refuge to an exiled Irish king whom he hoped he might use as the excuse for conquest. This conquest never happened, but some historians believe the crossing referred to was in fact a small-scale exploratory or punitive expedition to Ireland, though no Roman camps have been identified to confirm such a suggestion.

Irish legend provides a striking parallel. Tuathal Teachtmhar, a legendary High King, is said to have been exiled from Ireland as a boy, and to have returned from Britain at the head of an army to claim the throne. The traditional date of his return is 76–80, and archaeology has found Roman or Romano-British artifacts in several sites associated with Tuathal.

The following year, Agricola raised a fleet and encircled the tribes beyond the Forth, and the Caledonians rose in great numbers against him. They attacked the camp of the Legio IX Hispana at night, but Agricola sent in his cavalry and they were put to flight. The Romans responded by pushing further north. Another son was born to Agricola this year, but he died before his first birthday.

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In the summer of 83, Agricola faced the massed armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Tacitus estimates their numbers at more than 30,000. Agricola put his auxiliaries in the front line, keeping the legions in reserve, and relied on close-quarters fighting to make the Caledonians’ unpointed slashing swords useless as they were unable to swing them properly or use thrusting attacks. Even though the Caledonians were put to rout and therefore lost this battle, two thirds of their army managed to escape and hide in the Highlands, or the “trackless wilds,” where they engaged in continuous guerrilla war. Battle casualties were estimated by Tacitus to be about 10,000 on the Caledonian side and 360 on the Roman side.

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A number of historians have reckoned the battle to have occurred in the Grampian Mounth within sight of the North Sea. The site of the battle may have been Kempstone Hill, Megray Hill or other knolls near the Raedykes Roman camp; these points of high ground are near the Elsick Mounth, an ancient trackway used by Romans and Caledonians for military maneuvers. However, following the discovery of the Roman camp at Durno in 1975, most scholars now believe that the battle took place on the ground around Bennachie in Aberdeenshire.

Satisfied with his victory, Agricola took hostages from the Caledonian tribes. He may have marched his army to the northern coast of Britain, as evidenced by the discovery of a Roman fort at Cawdor (near Inverness). He also instructed the prefect of the fleet to sail around the north coast, confirming (allegedly for the first time) that Britain was in fact an island.

Agricola was recalled from Britain in 85, after an unusually long tenure as governor. Tacitus claims Domitian ordered his recall because Agricola’s successes outshone the Emperor’s own modest victories in Germany. He re-entered Rome unobtrusively, reporting as ordered to the palace at night. The relationship between Agricola and the Emperor is unclear; on the one hand, Agricola was awarded triumphal decorations and a statue (the highest military honors apart from an actual triumph). On the other hand, Agricola never again held a civil or military post, in spite of his experience and renown. He was offered the governorship of the province of Africa, but declined it, whether due to ill health or (as Tacitus claims) the machinations of Domitian. In 93, Agricola died on his family estates in Gallia Narbonensis aged fifty-three. Rumors circulated attributing the death to a poison administered by the Emperor Domitian, but no positive evidence for this claim was ever produced.

Tacitus wrote as a eulogy (underscoring the notion that Agricola was an honest man in a corrupt world):

Under Domitian, it was the principal part of our miseries to behold and to be beheld: when our sighs were registered; and that stern countenance, with its settled redness, his defense against shame, was employed in noting the pallid horror of so many spectators. Happy, O Agricola! not only in the splendor of your life, but in the seasonableness of your death. With resignation and cheerfulness, from the testimony of those who were present in your last moments, did you meet your fate, as if striving to the utmost of your power to make the emperor appear guiltless. But to myself and your daughter, besides the anguish of losing a parent, the aggravating affliction remains, that it was not our lot to watch over your sick-bed, to support you when languishing, and to satiate ourselves with beholding and embracing you. With what attention should we have received your last instructions, and engrave them on our hearts! This is our sorrow; this is our wound: to us you were lost four years before by a tedious absence. Everything, doubtless, O best of parents! was administered for your comfort and honor, while a most affectionate wife sat beside you; yet fewer tears were shed upon your bier, and in the last light which your eyes beheld, something was still wanting.

If there be any habitation for the shades of the virtuous; if, as philosophers suppose, exalted souls do not perish with the body; may you repose in peace, and call us, your household, from vain regret and feminine lamentations, to the contemplation of your virtues, which allow no place for mourning or complaining! Let us rather adorn your memory by our admiration, by our short-lived praises, and, as far as our natures will permit, by an imitation of your example.

The Romans introduced a great many foods to Britain including garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, cabbages, peas, celery, turnips, radishes, and asparagus. They also domesticated wild fruits such as apples, and imported cherries, mulberries, and grapes. Amongst the many herbs that they introduced to Britain were rosemary, thyme, bay, basil and savory, and the spices pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. Famously, they cultivated oysters at Colchester.

Oysters were in very high demand in Rome and, because of this, supplies became limited. The Roman chef Apicius reports that oysters were shipped to Rome from all over the empire although his description for preserving them for travel would not have worked. He gives several recipes for oysters including a sauce that appears to be a kind of mayonnaise. Ingredients are pepper, lovage, egg yolks, vinegar, broth, olive oil and wine, with honey optional. He also gives one that is a kind of vinaigrette using pepper, lovage, parsley, dried mint, cumin, honey, vinegar and broth. His recipe for oyster croquettes could easily be replicated:

Cook the firm parts of oysters, remove the hard and objectionable parts, mince the meat very fine, mix this with cooked spelt [or flour] and eggs. Season with pepper, shape into croquettes and fry. Underlay a rich fish sauce.

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The mayonnaise from Apicius would make a good dipping sauce. For me, I’ll stick with a dozen Colchester oysters on the half shell with a squeeze of lemon.

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Nov 302013
 

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Today is the feast of Andrew the Apostle, called in the Orthodox tradition Protokletos, or “First-called,” Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name “Andrew” (Greek: Andreia, “manhood, valour”), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews, Christians, and other Hellenized people of the region. Unusually, no Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The gospels state that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men.” At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.

The Gospel of John says that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. In the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus. Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), with Philip told Jesus about the Greeks seeking Him, and was present at the Last Supper.

Eusebius in his church history quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Scythia. The Chronicle of Nestor adds that he preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper river as far as Kiev, and from there he traveled to Novgorod. Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in 38, installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome, he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written in the 2nd century. Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew’s mission in Thrace, as well as Scythia and Achaia. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

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Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. According to Judith Calvert “The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later Middle Ages.”

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Relics of the Apostle Andrew are kept at the Basilica of St Andrew in Patras in Greece; the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, Amalfi in Italy; St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh in Scotland; and the Church of St Andrew and St Albert, Warsaw in Poland. There are also numerous smaller reliquaries throughout the world. St Jerome wrote that the relics of St Andrew were taken from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman emperor Constantius II around 357 and deposited in the Church of the Holy Apostles. The head of Andrew was given by the Byzantine despot Thomas Palaeologus to Pope Pius II in 1461. It was enshrined in one of the four central piers of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

andrew amalfi

In 1208, following the sack of Constantinople, those relics of St. Andrew and St. Peter which remained in the imperial city were taken to Amalfi, by Cardinal Peter of Capua, a native of Amalfi. The Amalfi cathedral (Duomo), dedicated to St. Andrew (as is the town itself), contains a tomb in its crypt that it maintains still contains the rest of the relics of the apostle.

In September 1964, Pope Paul VI, as a gesture of good will toward the Greek Orthodox Church, ordered that all of the relics of St. Andrew that were in Vatican City be sent back to Patras. Cardinal Augustin Bea along with many other cardinals presented the skull to Bishop Constantine of Patras on 24 September 1964. The cross of St. Andrew was taken from Greece during the Crusades by the Duke of Burgundy. It was kept in the church of St. Victor in Marseilles until it returned to Patras on 19 January 1980. The cross of the apostle was presented to the Bishop of Patras by a Catholic delegation led by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. All the relics, which consist of the small finger, the skull (part of the top of the cranium of Saint Andrew), and the cross on which he was martyred, have been kept in the Church of St. Andrew at Patras in a special shrine and are revered in a special ceremony every November 30.

Cypriot tradition holds that a ship which was transporting Saint Andrew went off course and ran aground. Upon coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff at which point a spring of healing waters gushed forth. Using it, the sight of the ship’s captain, who had been blind in one eye, was restored. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage and a fortified monastery stood there in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lionheart. In the 15th century, a small chapel was built close to the shore. The main monastery of the current church dates to the 18th century.

andrew cyprus

Apostolos Andreas Monastery (Greek: ????????? ???????) is a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew situated just south of Cape Apostolos Andreas, which is the north-easternmost point of the island of Cyprus, in Rizokarpason in the Karpass Peninsula. The monastery is an important site to the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as “the Lourdes of Cyprus,” served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities consider the monastery a holy place. As such it is visited by many people for votive prayers.

andrew luqa

Andrew is also revered in Malta. The first reference regarding the first small chapel at Luqa dedicated to Andrew dates to 1497. This chapel contained three altars, one of them dedicated to Andrew. The painting showing “Mary with Saints Andrew and Paul” was painted by the Maltese artist Filippo Dingli. At one time, many fishermen lived in the village of Luqa, and this may be the main reason behind choosing Andrew as patron saint. The statue of Andrew was sculpted in wood by Giuseppe Scolaro in 1779. This statue underwent several restoration works including that of 1913 performed by the Maltese artist Abraham Gatt. The Martyrdom of Saint Andrew on the main altar of the church was painted by Mattia Preti in 1687.

The official stance of the Romanian Orthodox Church is that Andrew preached the Gospel in the province of Dobruja (Scythia Minor) to the Daco-Romans, whom he is said to have converted to Christianity. There have been some ancient Christian symbols found carved in a cave near Murfatlar. These have been used for propaganda purposes in the communist era as part of the ideology of protochronism, which purports that the Orthodox Church has been a companion and defender of the Romanian people for its entire history.

Early Christian History in Ukraine holds that the apostle Andrew is said to have preached on the southern borders of modern-day Ukraine, along the Black Sea. Legend has it that he travelled up the Dnieper River and reached the future location of Kiev, where he erected a cross on the site where the St. Andrew’s Church of Kiev currently stands, and prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city, Jerusalem of the Russian/Ukrainian land.

About the middle of the 10th century (possibly earlier), Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought by divine guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern town of St Andrews stands today (Gaelic, Cill Rìmhinn). There are good reasons for supposing that the relics were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews.

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According to legend, in 832, Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. The legend states that he was heavily outnumbered and hence whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend.

Andrew’s connexion with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been “outranked” by Peter and that Peter’s brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle.” Numerous parish churches in the Church of Scotland and congregations of other Christian churches in Scotland are named after Andrew. The national church of the Scottish people in Rome, Sant’Andrea degli Scozzesi is dedicated to St Andrew.

My profile image here is taken from a larger photo of me beside the font of Iglesia San Andreas (Presbyterian) in Buenos Aires, where I was baptized in 1951.

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Andrew is the patron saint of several cities and countries including: Barbados, Scotland, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Patras in Greece, Amalfi in Italy, Luqa in Malta, and Esgueira in Portugal. He was also the patron saint of Prussia and of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and that of its commonwealth countries) feature St Andrew’s saltire cross. The saltire is also the flag of Tenerife, the former flag of Galicia and the naval jack of Russia.

The feast of Andrew is observed on November 30 in both the Eastern and Western churches, and is the national day of Scotland. In the traditional liturgical books of the Catholic Church, the feast of St. Andrew is the first feast day in the Proper of Saints.

Here is an excerpt from the page on St Andrew in the Lowland Scots edition of Wikipedia:

St Andra’s Day is the feast day o Saunt Andra an is celebratit on 30th November ilka yeir.

Saunt Andra is the patron saunt o Scotland an St Andra’s Day (Scots Gaelic: Latha Naomh Anndra) is Scotland’s offeicial naitional day. In 2006, the Scots Pairlament waled ti mak the day a Bank Haliday. Syn 2002, St Andra’s Day haes been Scotland’s offeicial banner day anaw, meinin that the Saltire Banner wul flee frae aw Scots Govrenment biggins wi a bannerpaul. Houme’er, Unitit Kinrick Govrenment biggins in Scotland wul flee the Union Banner, an anerlie flee the Saltire Banner gin thar is mair nor the ae bannerpul.

Full page is here:

http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saunt_Andra

I bet you didn’t know there was a Scots Wikipedia. Scots is now considered a language in its own right, distinct from English.

Scottish cuisine is as wrongfully maligned as its English counterpart by the ignorant.  As in England, cooking in Scotland suffered a setback in the 20th century because of shortages caused by the world wars, but is now firmly back on its traditional footing.

During the Late Middle Ages and early modern era, French cuisine played a role in Scottish cookery due to cultural exchanges brought about by the “Auld Alliance,” between Scotland and France against England, especially during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary, on her return to Scotland, brought an entourage of French staff who are considered responsible for revolutionizing Scots cooking and for some of Scotland’s unique food terminology. Many Scots cooking terms are derived from French:

“Ashet” from “Assiette” (a large platter).

“Cannel” from “Cannelle” (cinnamon).

“Collop” from escalope (cutlet).

“Gigot” from gigot (leg of mutton).

“Howtowdie” from Old French “Hétoudeau” (a boiling fowl).

One of my favorite soups is Scotch broth, made with a base of barley and lamb, plus carrots, onions and leeks.  I always make it when I have a bone left over from roast leg of lamb.  It can also be made cheaply with lamb neck bones.  Here’s my recipe from memory.  Amounts of ingredients are up to you. I wing it.

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Scotch Broth

Put a lamb bone with plenty of meat still on it, or 1-2 lbs of lamb neck bones, in a large pot, with 2 cups of pearl barley, some chopped fresh parsley, lots of freshly ground pepper, and salt to taste.  Top with water or light stock and simmer one hour.

Add diced carrot, onion, and leek (green and white parts) and simmer another hour, or until the barley is properly soft.

Add a few extra grinds of pepper and chopped fresh parsley. Simmer another 5-10 minutes and serve piping hot in deep bowls.

Aug 152013
 

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On this date in 1057, Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (anglicised as Macbeth, and nicknamed Rí Deircc, “the Red King”), died in battle (the same day he killed Duncan I in battle in 1040 to become king). Macbeth was King of the Scots from 1040 until his death. He is best known as the subject of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth and the many works it has inspired, although the play presents a highly inaccurate picture of his reign and personality. Let me try to set the record straight. Some of what follows is disputed by historians because contemporary (or near contemporary) sources are biased and conflicting.  At the very least it is much closer to the truth than Shakespeare’s play.

Macbeth was the son of Findláech mac Ruaidrí, mormaer of Moray. His mother, who is not mentioned in contemporary sources, is sometimes supposed to have been Donada, a daughter of the Scottish king Malcolm II (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda). At the age of 7, Macbeth was sent to a Christian monastery to be educated by monks—a requirement for all chieftains’ sons. At age 15, Macbeth’s cousins, Malcolm and Gillecomgain, killed his father, possibly for being too close to Malcolm II, and potentially limiting their own royal aspirations. Macbeth reappears in annals around 1032 when his cousin, Gillecomgain, was killed by order of Malcolm II for his killing of Macbeth’s father. Macbeth was then elected mormaer of Moray, married Gillecomgain’s widow, Gruoch, and adopted her son, Lulach. The marriage strengthened his claim to the throne.

On November 24, 1034, Malcolm II died of natural causes (not very common for Scottish kings!). One month later, his son, Duncan MacCrinan, was elected king. For six uneasy years, Duncan ruled Scotland with a thirst for power that was undermined by his incompetence on the battlefield. In 1038, Ealdred, earl of Northumbria, attacked southern Scotland, but the effort was repelled and Duncan’s chiefs encouraged him to lead a counterattack. Duncan also wanted to invade the Orkneys Islands to the north. Over the objections of all of his advisers, he chose to do both at the same time.

The attack on the Orkneys was led by his nephew, Moddan, while Duncan led a force toward Northumbria. Both armies were soon routed and pursued by Thorfinn, mormaer of Orkney. Macbeth joined Thorfinn and, together, they were victorious, killing Moddan. On August 15, 1040, Macbeth defeated Duncan’s army, killing him in the process. Later that month, Macbeth led his forces to Scone, the Scottish capital, and, at age 35, he was crowned king of Scotland. So, although Macbeth did kill Duncan, as per Shakespeare, it was not an act of treachery.  Neither was Duncan an old man at the time. He was described in the annals as young and vigorous.

Duncan I

Duncan I

For 17 years, life was peaceful and prosperous under Macbeth. He ruled with an even hand and encouraged the spread of Christianity. He enacted several good laws, among them one that enforced the Celtic tradition requiring officers of the court to defend women and orphans anywhere in the kingdom. Another allowed daughters the same rights of inheritance as sons. The only domestic disruption was in 1045, a rebellion by Duncan I’s supporters that was soon suppressed.

In 1050, Macbeth and his wife traveled to Rome for a papal jubilee, giving alms to the poor and donating to the Church. However, upon his return, Macbeth faced political turmoil brewing outside his realm. In 1052, Normans living in England fled the strife between Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Edward the Confessor into Scotland. Celtic custom held that all travelers were welcome in Macbeth’s court. However, this act of kindness did not sit well with the English nobility. Around the same time, Duncan’s 21-year-old son, Malcolm, was lobbying English lords, claiming that it would be in their interests if he were king of Scotland.

In time, Malcolm’s efforts led to action. In 1054, Siward, earl of Northumbria, accompanied by Malcolm, led an army north into Scotland. Meeting little resistance from the southern provinces, they continued north. On July 27, 1054, Macbeth’s forces met the invaders in Dunsinnan, close to the capital in Scone. By the end of the battle annals report that 3,000 of Macbeth’s forces had fallen (3,000 being a round number in the annals meaning “a lot”).  The invaders only lost 1,500 (that is, “many, but fewer”), and the outcome was indecisive. Macbeth retrenched his army near Scone, and Malcolm moved south to control Cumbria, the southernmost province of Scotland.  Note that this is Shakespeare’s battle at Dunsinane, but without the leafy camouflage and without the death of Macbeth. It was a setback for Macbeth, not a disaster.

Dunsinane

Dunsinane

Over the next three years, Macbeth and his army were under constant assault by Malcolm, but he was able to stave him off. In 1057, Macbeth lost the support of two key allies, Pope Leo IX and the bishop of St. Andrew, Maelduin MacGille-Ordain, both of whom could have put pressure on England not to support Malcolm. Macbeth also lost his chief general, Thorfinn, ruler of the Orkneys, who had recently died.

On August 15, 1057, Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire by Malcolm’s men as he tried to return to Moray.

Lumphanan

Lumphanan

Macbeth’s body was buried in the holy isle of Iona, where many other Scottish kings were buried. A few days after his death, his stepson, Lulach, was elected high king. Lulach ruled for seven months before being killed by Malcolm’s agents. Finally, on April 25, 1058, Malcolm MacDuncan became high king of Scotland.

Unlike later writers, no near contemporary source remarks on Macbeth as a tyrant. The Duan Albanach, which survives in a form dating to the reign of Malcolm III, calls him “Mac Bethad the renowned”. The Prophecy of Berchán, a verse history which purports to be a prophecy, describes him as “the generous king of Fortriu,” and “the red, tall, golden-haired one/ he will be pleasant to me among them/ Scotland will be brimful west and east during the reign of the furious red one.”

Shakespeare used the 2nd edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587) for inspiration, but, even so, much of the plot and character portrayal in Macbeth is his own invention, not to mention the fact that Holinshed is grossly inaccurate. Holinshed mentions creatures of the woods as Macbeth’s otherworldly visitors – youthful nymphs or fairies with a benign nature – but Shakespeare converts them to old, ugly, and malevolent hags.  Holinshed says nothing of Macbeth’s personal nature, so the villainous, gullible, overreaching, tragic hero is also Shakespeare’s invention. The character of Lady Macbeth (one of the great stage roles of all time) is also a complete fabrication. About all we can do now is keep historical reality and Shakespearean storytelling at arm’s length from one another. Probably just as well to do the same for Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Richard III, and all the rest of his plays based on historical figures.

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Scottish cooking gets much the same undeserved bad rap as English cooking does from people who don’t know what they are talking about.  I would defy anyone to taste an Arbroath smokie or Scottish smoked salmon or Lanark blue cheese and not declare them exquisite. You are allowed to be indifferent to haggis, although I love it, but Scotch Broth is superb and is not open for discussion.  I tire of defending a cuisine that needs no defense. Criticism is based solely on ignorance.  Here is a recipe for Scotch Pie, a common pub or lunch snack in Scotland as well as in England.  Traditionally these pies are made with mutton, but lamb works just as well.  They are made with hot water pastry which is very versatile for pies.  It makes a solid (yet flaky) crust that can be baked without a tin (although you can get them), and that allows you to pick up the pie and eat it without it falling apart.  Unlike other hot water pastry pies, such as pork pie, or veal, ham, and egg pie, this one should be eaten hot. They are usually made with the lid sunken slightly so as to hold gravy if eaten on a plate.

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Scotch Pie

Ingredients:

Meat Filling:

1 pound (500g) lean lamb, ground
1 tsp mace or nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup (150ml) gravy (preferably from lamb drippings)

Hot Water Pastry:

1 pound (500g) all purpose flour
6 ounces (175g) lard (NO substitutes)
6 fluid ounces (225ml) approximately water
pinch of salt
milk for glazing

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 275°F/140°C

Combine the meat filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside, covered.

Sift the flour and salt into a warm bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour.

Melt the lard in a scant measure of the water in a small pan, and when it is bubbling add the hot liquid to the flour, working quickly to mix thoroughly. Keep the bowl and pastry warm otherwise you will not be able to work it.  I usually put it on the hob over the stove.

You are going to make 8 pies and lids, so you will have to gauge how much pastry you will need for each pie. Take enough dough for one pie and make it into a flattened ball. Grease the base of an inverted glass or glass jar 3-3½ inches (7.5-8.5cm) in diameter, and, working quickly, shape a pie shell over the base and down the sides. If the pastry cracks, pinch the crack together. You can trim the top of the pie shell with a knife to even it up. When the pastry has cooled (which will be quite quick). Remove the glass and place the pie shell, right side up on a greased baking tray. Repeat until you have 8 shells.

Fill the shells with meat and gravy, divided evenly into 8. There should be a space between the top of the filling and the top of the shell.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cut lids for the pies using the mouth of the glass.

Wet the edges of the lids, place them over the meat and press down lightly so that the lid rests on the top of the filling. Pinch the edges of the lid with the top of the shell so that it is completely sealed. Poke a small hole through the center of the lid.

Brush the surfaces of the pies with milk and bake for about 45 minutes.

The pies should be eaten straight from the oven, but can also be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Yield: 8 pies