Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yorkshire Beer.

Now this recipe (from the same newspaper source as the previous two days) triggered a real trip down memory lane for me, on account of one of the ingredients.

Home-made Yorkshire Beer.
1 breakfast cupful of linseed,
1 breakfast cupful of hops,
1 lemon
1 lb. of sugar
1 oz stick of spanish
Half-penny worth of yeast (either brewer’s or German)
1 gallon water.
Put lemon sliced into a pan with linseed, hops, spanish (bruised), sugar and water. Boil 20 min. Strain into a vessel. Let stand until just warm and add the yeast. Stir the contents well, place in a warm place, and cover with a cloth. After 24 hr. skim off the yeast and pour off the liquor carefully into another vessel, leaving the sediment. Bottle immediately and in three days the beer is fit for use.
For some tastes the above portion of sugar may be found too large. It may be diminished but the beer will not keep so long.
When in season, a cupful of nettle tops and a few dandelion flowers may be boiled with the other ingredients if liked.

The ingredient is of course ‘spanish’. It is a particularly northern word for liquorice – I don’t know that it is used outside Yorkshire, but would be very interested to hear from you if you have any ideas. ‘Spanish’ was the only word we ever used as children. It came in short, brittle, shiny sticks with one end slighly flattened with some sort of logo on it. We used to suck the end to a tiny point and loved the black lips and mouth. Or, we would buy packets of ‘kali’ – fizzy sherbet powder, and dip the spanish in it and suck it. The third thing was to put a stick of it in water, and shake and shake it till it dissolved into ‘spanish water’ – our sort of childhood ‘beer’.

Why liquorice is called ‘spanish’ is a mystery. There is a particular Yorkshire connection with liquorice. It is a major product of the town of Pontefract (especially famous for its ‘Pontefract Cakes’ or ‘Pomfret Cakes’ – flat discs of liquorice stamped like sealing wax with an image supposedly of the castle.) One theory is that it was Spanish monks at the Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx who introduced it to the area. Another is that liquorice was introduced (imported) from Spain. A dearth of theories for such an intriguing subject, methinks.

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