As many of you know, I love discovering old traditions which relate to food. I have a lovely one for you today which is very applicable to the season, as today is Twelfth Day. The tradition also involves cheese, which means the story is a nice sequel to my post a week or so ago on the The Christmas Cheese.
I came across the story in Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain: chiefly illustrating the origin of our vulgar and provincial customs, ceremonies, and superstitions,Volume I, by John Brand (1849.) The author notes that “Yawning for a Cheshire Cheese is mentioned as a Christmas gambol in the Spectator, No. 179, for September 25th, 1711.”
A short piece in Notes and Queries (1921) quotes the correspondence from The Spectator in 1711:
Addison, writing in The Spectator, No. 179, for Tuesday, Sept. 25, 1711 says “I hope you will oblige the world with some reflections upon Yawning, as I have seen it practiced on Twelfth-night, at the house of a very worthy gentleman, who always entertains his tenants at this time of the year. They yawn for a Cheshire-cheese, and begin about Midnight, when the whole company is disposed to be drowsy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time so naturally as to produce the most yawns amongst his spectators, carries home the cheese."
I have been unable to discover any other reference to this “gambol.” Robert Gower.
As the recipe for the day, I give you an interesting curry – or is it an interesting Welsh Rabbit?
Grate a teacupful of rich, hard cheese, and add to it a teacupful of milk, a teaspoonful of mixed mustard and one of curry powder. Stir it over the fire till thick and smooth, and spread it over slices of buttered toast. Brown a few minutes in the oven, and serve hot.
The West Australian (Perth, WA) Jan 9, 1880
I like the "as to produce the most yawns amongst his spectators" - sleeplessness remedies know about this, and always have the people in their television commercials yawn. It makes the viewer yawn as well, and think (probably subconsciously), "this must work"!
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