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19th Century Food & Drink

by Bernadette Weyde

“On Sundays we used to have Manx broth, porridge and milk, potatoes and herrings, and in the morning sollaghyn for breakfast, which was made of porridge and meat broth.

On Saturday night we took binjean, milk turned to crud (curd) with rennet or “steep” which was terrible good, then we had cowree (sowins or flummery), and the leavings of it were used on Sunday morning for breakfast, along with new boiled milk.

A favourite dish was the prinjeig, of which we had prinjeig baagh keyrragh and prinjeig mart. It is a “hackage” (haggis) made of the plucks, the livers chopped up, and this pudding is stuffed with chopped onions, groats, pepper and salt, and potatoes.

If sometimes they over-feasted themselves with it, they would say, “Oddagh yn prinjeig ye brisht ayn-ym” (the paunch might be broken in me).

We had also batter puddings made of milk and eggs, on Sundays, and dumbling oarn, made of barley meal.

I remember the coming-in of rice pudding, which was called first by the people “sweet porridge with currants in,” and quite a new thing with us at that time.

Tea, when it was first used, they ate the leaves with butter, throwing the water away, and then they made it in the pot and boiled it, and I still recollect getting tea once a week on Sunday evening, and I was always sick with it on the night.

Things used to be put on the table on wooden trenchers, scoured with white sand. There were no forks, and the knives had black handles of horn. The potatoes came in on a long wooden tray. The mashed potatoes were put in a dish; beside, there was a cup of butter, and we dipped all in it; the fish and all were eaten with the fingers, which is the Manx fashion now in the country.

Of cakes we have the Manx bonnacks, and the arran oarn, arran corkey, and arran flooyr (barley, oaten, and flour cake).

In my time they drank as they do yet, but a generation or two before they had large “coffers,” or what they called pans, and everyone, as could afford, made malt and brewed for themselves, and those that couldn’t just joined together, the same as we did with beasts. We killed a quarter, or half a beef or pig amongst ourselves, when a whole one was too much, or could not be afforded.

I think beer was the chief jough (drink), and we had good Manx ale; as for strong drink, they could have it if inclined for it, as it had been of old.”

(source: A Manx Notebook, Roeder’s Contributions to the Folklore of the Isle of Man; food photos http://bit.ly/18w7aTE and http://bit.ly/19bbSWj)


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