Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Frumenty Feast

Frumenty: Frumety: Fermitty, these are only three of the many ways of spelling the name of this old English dish, traditionally served at different times of the year in different parts of the country.

It would seem that the spelling ‘frumenty’ is quite common judging by the number of hits on my word search, importantly, local people remember the dish, which they say faded out around 60 years ago. They also say that it was prepared using cree’d wheat, which was boiled and left to soften. Miss Elizabeth Bainbridge who lived at the Woodborough Hall in the 1700's, is the person most associated with Frumenty in Woodborough's history.

This is the start of a short account of the dish from the "The Christian Year Cookbook"

Ingredients are:

2 pints of milk

¼ pound raisins

¼ lb currants

3 tablespoons flour

1 breakfast cup prepared wheat

¼ grated nutmeg

2 eggs (optional)

Method: Put wheat, currents and raisins into milk and bring to boil. Thicken with flour, add nutmeg and sweeten to taste. Boil for ten minutes, keeping well stirred, or simmer for about half and hour. If wished, stir in two beaten eggs before serving.

“The Yorkshire W.I. Recipe Book” also has the recipe; it states the name was derived from the Latin Frumentum, meaning corn. In Yorkshire it seems to be a Christmas thing, which would be followed by apple pie, cheese and gingerbread. Their recipe is as follows:

8oz wheat

3 pints water

¼ teaspoon salt

To Serve with

Hot milk and sugar or salt and nutmeg

Method: Wash the wheat and soak in water for one hour. Put into stew pot with fresh water and salt and cook gently in a moderate oven until it is soft. Pour off the water and serve the wheat with hot milk and either sugar or salt and a little grated nutmeg.

“The WI Calendar of Feasts” states that one of the main features of the Christmas Eve supper was Frumenty, Which is perhaps man’s most ancient dish quite likely dating back to before the Iron Age. It consists of cree’d hulled wheat, stewed very gently for 12 hours or more, then boiled if necessary until it jellies. Mix with milk; sweetened and spiced it can either be eaten hot as porridge, or cold with cream as a dessert. The rich eat Frumenty all year round with venison, festive meat, or with porpoise, the equivalent of venison for fast days. The poor ate it by itself sweetened with a few currants and spices.

So there you have it, just three ideas from local research, but no doubt there are many others on the Internet, now we know the ‘correct’ spelling, Frumenty seems to be the most recognised spelling of the word. Perhaps someone might start a frumenty appreciation society, if there isn't one already!!

Bon appetite



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