A Feast of Folklore

By Ben Gazur

From witch cake to wassailing, strange stories of Britain's food.

Food & drink | History
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British food has a somewhat dubious reputation. Who in their right mind would eat a Puppy Pie? Is a toad-in-the-hole something edible? I can even imagine some people turning their nose up at my Nan’s Toenail Pudding. The quirky nature of British food is matched by hundreds of years of folklore and folk tales that A Feast of Folklore brings to life.

A Feast of Folklore leads you down the dark alleys of British food history to meet the gloriously eccentric folk and the food they used in everything from magic spells to medicine. They even ate some of it.

Why do people hurl themselves down a hill in pursuit of a wheel of cheese? Why are hot cross buns hung from the rafters of a pub? Why do farmers shoot their shotguns through the branches of apple trees? The questions may be peculiar, but the answers are all peculiarly British.

In twelve chapters packed with more titbits of folklore than a Stargazy Pie has fish-heads A Feast of Folklore brings dark magic and deadly delicacies back into the home, where they belong. Alongside folk tales you’ll find recipes and instructions for those brave enough to give these traditions a go. Here’s a smörgåsbord of what you’ll find inside:

  • Bread – How to get perfect bread every time by placing a Pixie Loaf next to your oven.
  • Hot cross buns – Why, grated into a drink, they cure all ills.
  • Cakes – Are witches really put off by urine in a cake?
  • Baking – Why the village of Biddenden makes biscuits in the shape of conjoined twins.
  • Eggs – How you can stop a witch using an egg-shell as a boat.
  • Dairy – Why a pregnant lady might use a groaning cheese.
  • Meat – How not arguing with your spouse could win you a side of bacon.
  • Fruit – What day the devil urinates on Britain’s blackberries.
  • Vegetables – How to ward off the flu with an onion.
  • Drink – Will a live eel placed in a drink really cure alcoholism?
  • Spices – How much salt should you place on a corpse’s chest?
  • Love spells – How to find your true love with nothing more than an onion under your pillow.

Inspired by Ben’s gourmand appetite for both food and folklore, A Feast of Folklore will have you looking at your Spotted Dick in an entirely new light.

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