11 April 2017

A Buttery in the Family

A buttery?
Along my maternal Shropshire line of genealogy is the name of Buttery.  Earlier, its spelling was Buttrey. 

In 1891, 41% of all Buttreys in England lived in Shropshire.  There were 8% of the Butterys there at that time.

A buttrey or buttery was a room or storeroom where barrels and butts of alcohol were stored in medieval times.  The name has nothing to do with butter.

I do not know if the Buttreys of Moreton Say in the 1600s were originally cellarers or merely peasants.  I have recently discovered a family tree tracing the ancestors of the family to Uffington near Shrewsbury.  Nearby is Haughmond Abbey.  There is likely to have been a buttery there.

06 April 2017

The Editing of Ancestors Within

Lately, I have been spending a little time editing my blogs.  Polishing my prose is much the same as polishing anything.  It is a job I tend to put off until the dust begins hindering the activities I would prefer to do.

A credible historian, unlike a romanticist illustrator of historical moments, must strive for accuracy, clarity and honesty.  The accuracy and clarity parts are straightforward for an honest editor.

But what of the honesty of an editor's purpose?  A romanticist writer or editor would choose to convey information in such a way as to sway opinions and stir emotions.  I prefer to help people to discover their own opinions.

How do you check the facts, communicate with clarity, be honest with yourself and learn about your own thoughts and emotions? 

How do you know when to change or challenge something?

How do you know when and how to intervene in history? 

I mainly want my earlier writings to be comprehensible to myself at present.  Whether anyone else finds my words easy to understand is of secondary concern to me, except that I hope readers will continue to be willing to assist me.  Finding the truth of history is usually a team effort.  You may even be willing to help me improve my spelling and grammar!

Although I prefer to do the dusting myself, as I often come across previously lost items while doing so, finding previously lost history is another matter entirely.  In fact, I consider explorations of the past to be much like dusting off false assumptions. 

Editing Ancestors Within is therefore a decision-making process, shaping my perceptions of both the past and the future.  It is certainly hard work.

I don't think my writing or editing or dusting are anything like the highly symbolic image of Oliver Cromwell as portrayed by Ford Madox Brown.  Nor do I think my efforts are like any of that painter's other work.  I would like to provide a true likeness of the past, and people in the past, perhaps as Robert Walker attempted to do. 

29 March 2017

Breakfast with Forebears

I have never much liked porridge, or cornflakes, or any other sort of breakfast cereal for that matter.  I prefer bread, butter and cheese and a cup of tea to begin my day.  I may have a piece of fruit with my cup of tea, or not.  Sometimes, I like an egg on toast.

You may know the story of Goldilocks and her porridge-eating experiences.  I would probably eat porridge too if I was very hungry.  If I had a choice between cold porridge, excessively hot porridge and a bowl of it at just the right temperature, I know which I would prefer.

This blog post is, of course, about forebears not three bears.  When I was growing up, I rarely felt like eating breakfast.  It was too early in the day for me.  I was not an early riser.  Getting me out of bed was almost as much of a struggle for my mother as attempting to untangle my hair and tidy it sufficiently before school.

My husband prefers a healthy, organic muesli for breakfast, full of different grains, seeds, fresh fruits and dried fruits.  I prefer different grains, seeds and dried fruits to be in cakes for afternoon tea.

The bathroom scales indicate I should cut back on my cake-eating interludes.  At least I no longer drink tea in the afternoons.  The caffeine keeps me awake at night.  I do my best to maintain a moderate approach to life.

I like to be up and about for at least an hour before I eat anything.  Luckily, I can now eat when and what I please although fewer calories would probably be a good idea.  I am not sure if the same would apply to my forebears.
Do you like porridge?  Have you ever experienced a Goldilocks economy? Do you know much about the history of breakfast?

Unlike in my earlier years, I now find it easy to get up early in the mornings.  That may mainly be because I wake up early with ideas I want to write down before I forget them.  If I stay in bed, the ideas disappear and I spend all day trying to think of them again.

If I had breakfast with my forebears, what would they think of me?

My maternal grandmother often spoke about food rationing.  I learned to appreciate food through my grandparents' appreciation of it.  They were never extravagant eaters.

My paternal grandmother worked as a caterer when I was a child.  She spent much of her life organising meals at home and in her job, as did her mother.

Good food is often the spice of life for many people, with or without spices. Even so, my grandparents rarely ate spicy foods.  They were all quite keen on crystalised ginger, especially my paternal grandmother.  My maternal grandparents liked it in marmalade.

My maternal grandmother had a very sweet tooth.  She loved bread and jam.  She called it 'a piece of jam'.

My maternal grandfather was especially concerned about digestive health and 'bowel movements' in later life.  He was not interested in trying different foods.  Having grown up in comparative poverty, buying strange foods was something he would have considered wasteful, especially if they did not taste very nice to him.

He often reminded me to 'masticate' my food properly.  He preferred a high-fibre, high bran packaged breakfast cereal

What did my Flemish ancestors have for breakfast?  Maybe they had waffles rather than porridge.  I would much rather have waffles if given the choice though they are a bit too sweet for my taste.  And I tend to prefer savoury foods.

What do you usually have for breakfast?

What did your forebears have for breakfast?

Have you often had a full breakfast or do you prefer to leave that sort of meal to fools?  What is a foolish breakfast in your experience?

What sort of breakfast do you consider to be unbearable?

Forgive me if I waffle on, but a full breakfast should really only be served with Staffordshire oatcakes.

I am not sure what my great grandparents in west Belfast had for breakfast.  Do you?

I do not think much of the traditional foods of Northern Ireland, especially if provided through the take-away outlets over there.  Nor do I think much of the quality of food throughout the rest of Ireland.  Even the vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets often looked past their best when I tried shopping there.

It seems something of a misnomer, therefore, to call Irish food cuisine, especially when comparing it to French food, or even Belgian food.

I did not think much of Scottish food when I lived in Scotland.  Too much porridge there, probably.  And Scottish oatcakes are not at all like the Staffordshire ones.

I am quite keen on Welsh food.  That may have something to do with my childhood family holidays in north Wales.  It may also have something to do with the fact that many of my mother's Shropshire ancestors had Welsh surnames.

Do you know much about Medieval cuisine?  I am not sure whether dietary habits in the 21st century are going backwards or forwards.  In Medieval times, apparently, it was considered immoral to have breakfast too early.  Parents and teachers should take note.

What really is traditional British food?  Is there such a thing?  How far back do the traditions of English food actually go, and where did they originate?

My great grandmother in London worked as a nippy in a tearoom in Edwardian times with her sister.  I am not sure if they served breakfasts there as well as other meals.

Nor am I sure what my husband's Italian forebears may have had for breakfast.  Are you familiar with Italian cooking at all?

In the Veneto, they are likely to have had polenta porridge.  Are you familiar with the foods of the Veneto?

In Lombardy, they may have had polenta porridge, too.  Are you familiar with the foods of Lombardy?

In Basilicata they may have had horseradish omelette.  Many cultures have omelettes of one sort or another.

How do you locate traditional knowledge?

Do you enjoy hearty traditional peasant foods?

When he was young, my husband had a semolina porridge for breakfast.  His father would always have nothing but black coffee and brandy for breakfast.  He lasted to the age of 90 on that!

My husband's maternal grandmother, his nonna, would have an egg flip, made of raw egg whipped with sugar and brandy or grappa. She also lived to her 90s.

Although I am certainly not a food blogger (it would make me feel far too hungry to write about food very often) I do like to search for trustworthy information and safe, nutritious food.  Who already knows what you have had for breakfast?

Today's pictures:

Girl eating porridge

Poor man's breakfast

Apples, grapes and flowers

Woman eating porridge

Renaissance waffles

Victorian porridge

Baroque porridge

Medieval porridge

Venetian polenta