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Leek and Tattie Soup

Yesterday (2 February 2006) was Candlemas, the first of the Scottish Quarter Days. It was traditionally the day that pupils used to give gifts to their schoolmasters – originally peat for heat or candles for light but this in time became siller or a cockerel.

Candlemas was originally a festival for the return of Spring held by the Romans in honour of Februa, the daughter of Mars. They carried torches through the city on February the first (the same date which was celebrated by the Celts as the first day of Spring). This festival was Christianized as the Purification of the Virgin Mary and was held on February the second. In medieval Scotland it was a day of pageants, processions and religious plays in honour of Our lady, as we can see from the Burgh Records of Aberdeen for 30 January 1505 –

‘ The provest and baillies statut and ordanit that the said craftsmen and thair successoris sal in order to the Offering in the Play pass twa and twa togedir socialie; in the first the flesheris, barbouris, baxteris, cordinaris, skineris. Couparis, wrichtis, hatmakeris and bonatmakaris togider; walcaris, litstaris, wobstaris, tailyeouris, goldsmiths, blaksmithis, and hammermen; and the craftsmen sal furnyss the Pageants.’

Also from the North-East comes a rhyme to help us fix the date of Easter (alternatively just contact Jim Lynch!) –

‘First comes Cannlemas and syne the new meen,
The neist Tyesday efter that is Festern’s Een;
That meen out and the neist meen’s hicht,
And the neist Sunday efter that’s aye Pace richt.’

As this is being compiled on a cranreuch caul day prior to Candlemas, it is too early to know the outcome of the bittie Scottish weather lore which goes –

‘If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o the winter’s to come and mair;
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half o the winter’s gane at Yule.’

However as the weather has more than a nip in the air, the recipe this week is designed to heat us all up! Leek and Tattie Soup is just the ticket.

Leek and Tattie Soup

Ingredients:  six potatoes, diced; 3 leeks, chopped; 1 ¼ pints (750 ml) chicken stock; salt and pepper to taste; 1 ounce (25 g) butter; 2 ounces (50 g) grated cheddar cheese

Method:  Boil the potatoes and leeks for about 15 minutes until the potatoes start to disintegrate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Work in the butter and serve with sprinkling of grated cheese. 

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