Blog powered by Typepad


  • google search


« Yorkshire oatcakes/Haverbread | Main | Still more Haggis »

March 31, 2008


Rachel Laudan

Adam, Fascinating. The treatment of grains is something that is almost forgotten. Hulling is really tricky. The kind of wheat makes a huge difference.

Two quick comments. This is, I think, part of a huge family of boiled wheat dishes across Europe and the Middle East--surprise! But the similarities to the asure that is found in Turkey and many surrounding countries has always struck me. There it's clearly a celebration dish with all kinds of religious connotations.

Second, I haven't looked at it in years but I remember a great description of frumenty in Thomas Hardy, the Mayor of Casterbridge, I think.


Interestingly there is a revival of hulled wheat types (Triticum monococcum (einkorn), T. dicoccon (emmer) and T. spelta (spelt)) due to the rise in gluten intolerance and interest in "natural" foods. Having seen how difficult it is to hand process hullless bread wheat, I can imagine the extra effort that had to be made to process these grains. Yet boiled gruels of these grains (and others) seems to have been a staple of many cultures, makes sense that an extra special enriched version would be seen as a festival food and in this latter form was preserved as a dish after the daily gruel was forgotten.


A most informative post...It made me think of the beginning of The Mayor of Casterbridge, where there is a frumenty seller (I think) - in any case it is certainly mentioned by Hardy in that book.

Norman Darlington

Fascinating post. I'm just in the process of making frumenty right now. Followed a recipe in Norwak's "The Farmhouse Kitchen". I had no trouble creeing the wheat (8 oz wheat simmered to dryness in 3 pints of water), now at the second and final stage simmering the creed grain in 2 pints milk with sugar and dried fruit, and a pinch of nutmeg.

She mentions:
"In Wiltshire, this used to be eaten on Mothering Sunday in Lent, and the creed wheat could be bought ready for the dish. In Lincolnshire it was served hot or cold at sheep-shearing time, and at harvest suppers. In Yorkshire it was a traditional Christmas Eve or Twelfth Night dish..."

Adam Balic

Thanks Norman. I wonder what the difference was in our wheat regarding the creeing.

On a recent trip (in Australia)I was offered frumenty at a cafe as a breakfast dish. It wasn't called that, but it was interesting to see how popular it was with the customers.


Does hard winter vs. hard spring vs soft wheat make a difference?


Yes, Thomas Hardy - that's what made me search for frumity on the web. I seem to recall that for special occasions (or clients) they put brandy in it. Let's face it, it's porridge isn't it? Only with wheat. I think wheat varieties today are perhaps not adapted to frumity as they are grown for other qualities. Our bread, for example, is very different to that of Hardy's Wessex.
Fascinating website - added to my favourites straightaway.

Adam Balic

Hardy was born just before the repeal of the Corn Laws, so I'm not sure that the wheat used would have been that different. As historic recipes substitute barley in some cases, I wonder if it is the culinary technique, rather then the ingredients that mattered. In this case I think that removing the hull was the important detail.

The comments to this entry are closed.