Folklore, Food & Fairytales

An Arts and Performing Arts podcast
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In which we discover that kindness can overcome cruelty, a little magic  goes a long way and there are many historic cheese related wonders. This is the first of four seasonal story and festive food related  episodes to take us through December and lead us to the big midwinter celebration of your choice, I hope you enjoy the slightly different  focus.  I will let today's story to speak for itself and allow it to  weave its seasonal magic spell. The links to the folklore books and historic recipe books can be found at my blog together with additional resources including recipes for Savouries. St John mince pies and Eccles Cakes are on sale currently here The recipe for Welsh Rarebit can be found in their cookery book The Book of St John or if you need good cheese savoury recipe straight away then it can also be found in the Guardian, its about four down the list of great British recipes, please shut your eyes for the first recipe if you're a vegetarian.   Links for Cheesemakers and Cheesemongers mentioned in this podcast for Cheddar for Pitchfork Cheddar, Gorwydd Caerphilly for Stichelton for Shropshire Blue for Perl Las for Lypiatt and Baronet for Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire for Sinodun Hill for Ticklemore Academy of Cheese Courtyard Dairy – A wonderful innovative cheesemonger in Yorkshire who won Cheesemonger of the Year at the World Cheese Awards. Neal’s Yard Dairy – A fantastic cheesemonger who works long term with British artisan  cheesemakers and is at the forefront of the save British cheese movement  after the decimation of the industry due to Covid.
In which we discover that a hero should keep his promises, that you should wait to get home before snacking, your father isn't always right and a delightful Hungarian cheese puff can save your life.  This podcast also has a terrifying ogre, three mysterious old ladies, three wonderful yet terrifying dogs, three miraculous napkins, a generous employer, cakes, a slightly inconvenient wife, and many herds of animals.  Warning: this podcast also contains nuts.  The story in the podcast is based on Eisenkopf from Andrew Lang's Crimson Fairy Book The recipe can for Sajtos Pogácsa - Hungarian Cheese Puffs can be found here. You can find The Prince of Transylvania's Court Cookbook and other resources in Further Reading
In which we find out that some Cinderellas will stop at nothing to achieve happiness, sometimes stepsisters just go home in a temper and that macaroni cheese is older than you might think. This podcast also contains powerful fairies from Sardinia, ships  that won't go, feasts, six wicked stepsisters, two wicked stepmothers, a disappointing father, a mysterious date tree, golden gardening tools and a Cinderella with a darker side.  It may also contain some disdain for Mrs Beeton. The story that Cat Cinderella is based on can be found at Cenerentola in Stories from the Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile. The recipe for the ultimate comfort food - Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese with Sriracha Broccoli can be found on my website. Here is more information about the Fairy Grotto on Sardinia. A bonus story about Sardinian Fairies in case you fancy a short read. Further reading and other resources mentioned in the podcast including historic recipes.
In which we discover that there's a difference between a rogue and a villain, people can be very careless with their animals and that you should never leave a stranger alone with your goose or your whiskey. Today's story is The Cunning Thief from More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs originally collected by Patrick Kennedy in the Fireside Stories of Ireland. Today's recipe is for Roast Goose with Mashed Potato, Prune & Apple Stuffing  Additional further reading links including the Forme of Cury, Sawse Madame, other historic cookbooks and the Herodotus story can be found at the bottom of this post.
In which we find that kindness, wit, cleverness and politeness are the keys to a wonderful future, the perfect cheese toastie is within your grasp and sometimes you have to make your own happy ever after. A slight change to the usual format with two short stories instead of the usual longer one. The original stories of Kate Crackernuts and The Three Heads in a Well can be found in English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs This week's recipe for the Best Ever Cheese Toastie can be found on my blog. Further reading list can also be found here.
In which we find out that princesses definitely can decide their own destiny, that seeking your fortune can take a very long time and that the gift of pomegranates is always welcome. This Armenian folk tale incorporates wonders, adventures, giants, jewels beyond price and even incredible embroidery. You can find the story that my tale is based in this wonderful contemporary collection. The Punjabi folktale Kupti & Imani with some lovely similarities to our tale can be found here. If you would like to cook this episode's recipe then you can find it on my website. It is also the place to find further reading about these fantastic tales, pomegranates and historic recipes.
In which we confirm that a clever, witty woman can save the day, that food adulteration in soda bread is occasionally warranted and that outwitting a giant can save you a lot of DIY. Today's story is an Irish tall tale based on the Legend of Knockmany from Celtic Fairy Tales, edited by Joseph Jacobs.  Another version is available in Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry by W. B. Yeats. We also discuss the history of the story, which is not as old as first appears and the origins of the heroes and their ancient sagas. Finally we investigate the history of bread in Ireland and this week's recipe There is some further reading about historic Irish foodways, an analysis of this tale as well as ancient recipes for bread available at my website.
In which we discover that fate can be tricksy, fish pie can be surprising and that you can get away with pretty much anything if you are a baron. This episode includes a wonderful story about fate, the history of fish pie and a fantastic luxury pie recipe. The link for today's recipe is here If you are interested in the faithless queen you can read about her in the Life of Vertigern If you are more interested in Polycrates then you need Herodotus You can find the links to the historic cookbooks I mentioned on my blog.
In which we discover that it can be unwise to have your name on your belt, that cleverness is important for heroes, the downsides of wagon driving and how a pudding can save or take a life. Today’s story has giants, heroes, magic swords, enchanted ladies, generous princes, a possessed princess, treasure, wicked magicians, monsters and even the devil has a bit part. The original text that this story is based on is found in English Fairy Tales You can also read more about Culhwch & Olwen and other excellent adventures in the Mabinogion. Today's recipe is Sticky Toffee Pudding. You can find more information about the history of puddings as well as the ingredients for Hasty Pudding at the blog post associated with this podcast. Its also the best place for further reading resources as well as other references mentioned in the podcast. There are other stories, recipes and food histories at Hestia's Kitchen as well as contact details if you would like to say hello, suggest ideas for foods you would like investigated or just tell me what I've got wrong. I'd love to hear from you.
In which we find out what happens when Madam Moon is absent from the sky, why you should always listen to a Wise-Woman and how any of this is relevant to a fruity tea-time snack. A wonderful story from the wilds of the Carrlands of North Lincolnshire.  It's a little dark (literally) and the horrors and crawly creatures amongst the watery bogs and marshes make this the perfect story for when the nights are drawing in. Light a fire or pop a pretend one your television, get out the candles and be prepared to be just a touch scared in the best possible way. Afterwards we discover a possible reason why this story is so surreal, how we treated malaria without quinine and what surprising crops are grown here. The episode's recipe for Lincolnshire Plumbread as well as a lot more information and some further reading can be found here: The books and website resources I mentioned can be found here: A series of original sound compositions – combining spoken word, music and effects – inspired by, and set at, three locations in the agricultural landscape of North Lincolnshire Investigating The Legends of the Carrs as published in Folk-Lore in 1891 - Maureen James Cursed, a history of witchcraft and black magic in modern times. - Thomas Waters
In which we discover why you should never pose as an oil salesman, what your salt consumption reveals about you and how a good bread recipe connects the two. We also learn, more importantly, that a clever, courageous, quick-thinking woman is what you really need to save the day and the treasure. This is the recipe for the excellent loaf that is topped with salt, doesn’t require any kneading and can be on the table in under 2.5 hours. It might be a less than obvious connection but I hope you’ll forgive me if you make it. Its so tasty and chewy and has holes like the expensive, time-consuming ones you see on instagram. It goes with almost every type of cuisine, is brilliant with soup and cheese but you can also dip it in houmous without a concern in the world. I can eat at least half, just dipped in good, grassy extra virgin olive and a little extra salt. Just add a big glass of slightly rough red wine and a good book and it might be the perfect evening. Its also great for guests except for any robber captains that have decided on your death as the ultimate vengeance. Then again, you just can’t suit everybody. This is an excellent recipe for lavash Further reading: The Arabian Nights: The Husain Haddawy Translation Based on the Text Edited by Muhsin Mahdi, Contexts, Criticism, ed. by Daniel Heller-Roazen Salt, A World History by Mark Kurlansky
In which we find out how giving away your lunch can find you a bride and win you a kingdom and how relevant that is to a delicious apricot flapjack. Jesper and the Hares is essentially a Jack tale who’s hero just happens to be named Jesper. Jesper is wily, clever and tricky and has two foolish elder brothers. He also wins the day though a combination of trickery and generosity to those more vulnerable and needy than himself. I don’t think we need to worry about a spoiler alert, there will be no tragedy tales here. We also talk about the significance of grain and the harvest in fairy tales and how important this was to the original audience of these tales. The recipe for this week is apricot flapjacks, the oat based bar as opposed to the American/Canadian pancake.  It's an unusual recipe as it has a squidgy filling layer of apricot rather than apricots chopped through.   You can use a different dried fruit if you’re not keen or just leave it out altogether but it does add a touch of luxury and sharpness to cut though the sweet oat mixture.  Its great for breakfast or as a snack and would be perfect to give to any old ladies that you happen to come across when out walking even if you’re not trying to win a princess. You can find the recipe here as well as some further information about the history of flapjacks and the story.
In which we enter the world of Russian folklore and ask impertinent and possibly irrelevant questions about a soup called Solyanka. Vasilissa the Fair is a Russian wonder tale, as collected by Alexander Afanasief. In this unusual story, the heroine comes up against not only the traditional wicked stepmother and envious stepsisters but also a dangerous Baba Yaga. We also talk about what happens to those who don't share their food and how sometimes home is scarier than the hut of a child-eating witch/pagan goddess of the earth/nature spirit. This week's recipe is for Solyanka, a historic Russian (possibly Ukrainian) dish. Solyanka is a wonderful salty, sour soup or stew. The rich melting beef, smoky sausages and the unami from the mushrooms is enhanced by the saltiness and sourness of the preserved vegetables and olives. The tomatoes and prunes disappear into the sauce to provide a touch of sweetness that complements the whole dish. If you'd like to cook a vegan/vegetarian version there are some excellent recipes online with cabbage and an unami mushroom hit. If you want to know more about it's history and some further reading on either the recipe, Vasilissa the Fair or Baba Yaga please visit
The Gifts of the Magician & The Great Historical Oxtail Mystery In which I explain how the wonderful story of Gifts of the Magician is connected to Oxtail via an extremely tenuous link and actually quite an interesting history. Story - The Gifts of The Magician adapted from Andrew Lang’s Crimson Fairy Book Recipe - Braised Oxtail with Orange & Star Aniseadapted from Diana Henry’s Recipe This story is Finnish in origin from the Finnische Marhchen, it shares similarities with the The Magician’s Horse, Iron John and the Hairy Man.  The dispossession of a weak king occurs in various other stories, most notably The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa from Russia, The Grateful Beasts from Hungary and a Breton fairy tale called King Fortunatus’ Golden Wig.  A weak king often results in a a strong clever queen and I must admit to twisting this story slightly in this direction. The Great Historical Oxtail Mystery, associated research material and further reading can be found on my blog Hestia's Kitchen where I indulge myself in food history.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Rachel Mosses
Podcast Status
Dec 1st, 2020
Latest Episode
Dec 1st, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
26 minutes

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