Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good Old Scottish Bread.

In a recent post I used the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish language (1808) by John Jamieson for inspiration, and the book is a veritable treasure-house of food words. There are many, many references to bread, and I have selected a few of my favourites for you today, starting with:

DEW-PIECE, s. A piece of bread, which in former times used to be given to farm-servants, when they went out to their work early in the morning, S.B.
“The girl was called for, and asked, if she had given him any hard bread; No, says she, but when I was eating my dae piece [apparently meant for dew-piece] this morning, something come and clicked it out of my hand.” Sinclair’s Satan’s Invisible World [1685], p. 48. This is evidently from dew, or perhaps daw, the dawn; corresponding to O.Teur, dagh-mocs [?], jentaculum.

This is also a very interesting use of a familiar word:

FOAL, s. A bannock or cake, any soft and thick bread, Orkn.

I tried to find a little more information on ‘foals’ and came up with the following, from the Dictionary of the Scots Language:

FOLE, n. Also foal, phoal. A small, soft, thick oatcake  … made with the last piece of dough in the dish …  or baked specially for a child. … Hence livery fole, a bannock containing chopped fish liver.

Livery foles ring the same bell as the Norwegian fish-flour bread we talked about the other day, does it not?

But, back to our source for the day. Two entries show the influence on cake and bread types from adjacent Northern Europe:

COOKIE, s. A species of fine bread, used at tea, of a round form, S.
Teut. koeck, libum, Kilian, a cake made of fine flour.

KRINGLE, s. A kind of bread brought from Norway.
Sw. kringla, a kind of bread made in a particular form: Wideg. Kringla signifies a circle.

I thought I had found a new (to me) type of bread when I read the following dictionary entry:

BAKIN-LOTCH, s. Some sort of bread, most probably of an enticing quality.
For there was nowther lad nor loun
Micht eat a bakin-lotch.
Evergreen, ii. 180. St. 11
Tent. lock-en, to entice, lock-aes, a bait.

Unfortunately however, it seems that John Jamieson might have made an error. Almost a century later, there is the following challenge to his definition:

Baikin-loache – baked loche (the loach or beardie, a small river-fish, was esteemed a great delicacy: Vernacular writings of George Buchanan, 1892)

Dictionaries – the best kind anyway - provide more than mere definitions and etymological explanations:

HUNGRY GROUND. A curious superstition prevails in some parts of the West of S[cotland.] Some tracts of country are believed to be so much under the power of enchantment, that he, who passes over any one of them, would infallibly faint, if he did not use something for the support of nature. It is therefore customary to carry a piece of bread in one’s pocket, to be eaten when one comes to what is called the hungry ground.

We must have a recipe for the day: there are many intepretations of the concept of ‘kringles’ – and this one sounds like a grand and practical alternative to a dry crust if you have to risk the hungry ground:

Beat well the yolks of eight and whites of two eggs, and mix with four ounces of butter just warmed, and with this knead a pound of flour and four ounces of sugar to a paste. Roll into thick biscuits; prick them, and bake on thin plates.

A New System of Domestic Cookery (1827) by Maria Rundell.


Margaret Pinard said...

Could not the 'fole' of above also be related to 'farl' meaning a quarter of a circle of the usual non-leavened oat and bere breads?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Margaret, Yes, I think it could be. I remember thinking that at the time, and was sure I had done a post on 'farls' previously, and meant to link to it, but in my usual morning haste, I forgot! Thanks very much for adding value to the little story!