Friday, November 23, 2007

Oranges and Lemons Day.

November 23

Today is the feast day of St.Clement, the patron saint of blacksmiths and of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, and main star of the nursery rhyme and children’s game of “Oranges and Lemons”. The rhyme ostensibly refers to the ringing bells of a number of churches in the City of London, and there are two contenders for the “St Clement’s” – St. Clement Danes (in The Strand) and St Clement Eastcheap (near London Bridge).

There are many interpretations of the possible symbolism and meaning of the rhyme, but no convincing historic associations between either of these churches and citrus fruit. It was deemed a good enough connection however for the small seedless cross between an orange and a tangerine to be named a Clementine. Tenuous connection or not, the nursery rhyme itself is now the connection, so if we need an excuse to eat oranges and lemons, this is it. Which reminds me to ask (those of you on the other side of the ‘other’ pond) who is it that decides on these strange celebratory days with names such as Creamy Mashed Potato Day and Salad of Wild Rice with Pomegranate Seeds Day? Has anyone declared today officially Oranges and Lemons Day?

There is another food association with St Clement in addition to bread and citrus. A “Wayz-Goose” was often held on or around St Clement’s day: this does not mean that everyone got to cuddle a bird, the phrase was used more as we would refer to a Bean Feast, or an Annual Knees-Up – specifically one provided by an employer at the beginning of winter. No doubt goose was often served, for at this time of the year the remaining animals which were not required for breeding and could not be over-wintered would be slaughtered. For journeyman printers, the giving of the Wayz-Goose indicated that their employer would then allow them to work by candlelight (the days been short and dim by this time of year in the Northern hemisphere.)

Here is a lovely pudding, very suitable for those shortening days you are getting in the upper half of the world.

Orange Marmalade Pudding.
Mix six ounces of grated bread-crumbs with three ounces of finely-shred beef suet. Add a pinch of salt, a quarter of a tea-spoonful of powdered ginger, half a tea-spoonful of baking powder, half an ounce of candied lemon-peel chopped small, two tablespoonfuls of moist sugar, three well-beaten eggs, and a quarter of a pint of new milk. Take a well-buttered mould, spread a layer of the mixture at the bottom, then put a layer of orange marmalade, and repeat until the mould is full, being careful to let the mixture be at the top of the pudding. Bake in a moderate oven, and turn out before serving. Time – 2 hours to bake the pudding.
[Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, 1870's]

Monday’s Story …

Kedgeree, otherwayes.

Quotation for the Day ..

Huge lemons, cut in slices, would sink like setting suns into the dusky sea, softly illuminating it with their radiating membranes, and its clear, smooth surface aquiver from the rising bitter essence. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

P.S. To my American friends. I have not forgotten that today is also THANKSGIVING. Please have a happy safe day and eat yourselves almost to bursting point. If you feel the need to look back in history as you digest all that dinner, last year's historic Thanksgiving menus might just do the trick. They are HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE. I hope one day to join one of you for a genuine Thanksgiving Feast!


Unknown said...

I don't know how widespread it is -- perhaps some active printers will respond -- but I have heard the term Wayzgoose used for a festive & ceremonial dinner for artisan letterpress printers at my university. I couldn't say whether the connection with St. Clement was remembered.

Lili said...

Funny coincidence. We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with rum, featuring lemon juice, clove studded lemons, orange peel, sugar, rum (obviously), and cinnamon, made steaming with boiling water. It was lovely.

Lili said...

Sorry, that last comment should have read we celebrated Thanksgiving with grog, not rum, although there was plenty of it. Obviously, I am still groggy.

Anonymous said...

Janet, you have a permanent invitation for Thanksgiving dinner. Menu this Thanksgiving was:

Melon with Prosciutto

Roast Fresh Turkey w/gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Roast sweet potatoes
String Beans with Grape Tomatoes
Baked mushrooms, Italian style

Pumpkin Pie (what else)
Fresh fruit cup (Mangoes with blueberries).

All washed down with wine or soft drinks.

I drive 75 miles south to buy a bushel of mangoes on Pine Island end July. We pig out on them and I also freeze several containers in fresh orange juice. They keep their texture and freeze beautifully. I also purée and freeze some for Mango Mousse(my party piece). I have to say, though, that your Bowen (sp?) mangoes are superior.

Best, and thanks for your wonderful Thanksgiving posts.


The Old Foodie said...

Hello nbm - Yes, I am sure you are right, the Wayzgoose celebration was particularly associated with printers. I have no idea why!

Lizm. Grog sounds good, especially if it is citrusy and cinammony.

Colleen - I'll be over there to have Thanksgiving one of these years, I promise.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Though my Thanksgiving celebration is anything but "traditional" you'd still be welcome at our table any time...

Lovely, informative, wonderful blog!

The Old Foodie said...

Wow! thanks for all the invitations (and the ones that came via email). I really must line you all up one Thanksgiving!