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Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly..

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Sep 29 2017 11:00AM

29th September is also known as Michaelmas Day or the Feast of St. Michael, and marks the start of the new agricultural year.

The end of the main harvest season was historically marked with a final party before labourers returned to work. At the Michaelmas feast a "stubble goose", fattened on the stubble of the wheat fields, was usually the star of the show, so the day also became known as Goose Day.

Legend has it that it was Michaelmas Day when Queen Elizabeth heard that Francis Drake had defeated the Spanish Armada. She was supposedly tucking into a goose when the messenger arrived and so she vowed to eat it every Michaelmas from then on.

According to folklore, Michaelmas is also the last day that blackberries should be picked. It's said that, because St. Michael kicked Lucifer out of heaven, the devil spits (or worse) on the fruits and they will soon be spoiled or even poisonous. Of course, there's no real truth in that but in the old calendar Michaelmas Day fell on 10th October and they do tend to be past their best by mid-autumn. Because of this, it's also traditional to end a Michaelmas feast with a pie made with the last blackberries of the season.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Aug 24 2017 11:00AM

Saint Bartholomew is the patron saint of tanners and his feast day in the height of summer was cause for celebration.

St. Bartholomew's patronage is somewhat ironic given the nature of his death which, suffice to say, was gruesome and involved knives (you can look it up if you're the bloodthirsty type) His death was commemorated on 23rd and 24th August and, given the reliable weather and proximity to the harvest, was a particularly popular date for fairs across the country.

London's Bartholomew Fair was one of the largest in Britain, attracting many thousands, and was popular for hundreds of years from its instigation by Royal Charter in 1133.

At its peak, the fair lasted for two weeks, starting on St. Bartholomew's Day when it was opened by the Lord Mayor, and attracted every manner of artist, trader and entertainer you can imagine. Singers, dancers, jugglers, and circuses all came to town, as well as many of the less desirable elements of society.

The fair's reputation as a hub of disorder, drunken revelry, thievery and immorality grew steadily until local political opposition from the guilds and City authorities led to its abandonment in the 1850s.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Mar 1 2017 11:00AM

St. David is the patron saint of Wales. He was a Welsh bishop and son of the king of Ceredigion (a kingdom forming part of west Wales).

St. David's Day is celebrated on 1st March, the day he died in 589AD, reputedly aged more than 100 years old. The celebrations do not have a particularly defined format but most involve daffodils (the national flower of Wales), that most famous of Welsh vegetables, the leek, and laverbread.

At first glance, a plate of greeny-black gunge isn't that appealing, but bear with us. Laver is the name of a particular seaweed that grows in the littoral zone (that's the beaches) of the UK and around the world. It is widely eaten in Asia and you might have seen it as "nori" on Japanese restaurant menus. The green outer layer of sushi rolls (which you can buy dried in many Asian supermarkets) is also nori.

To make Laverbread (Bara Lafwr in Welsh) the raw laver is boiled then finely minced to create a thick paste. Most commonly the paste is coated in or combined with oats before frying and the usual accompaniments are bacon and cockles to create a hearty breakfast fit for any hardworking coal miner or fisherman.

For some reason the English and Scots rarely go near laver and yet the delicacy is a Welsh national dish. It has a distinct flavour that owes much to its high iodine content. Other foods with lots of iodine include olives and oysters so you can get an idea of the sort of taste your letting yourself in for - flavoursome and pretty unique.

Did you know…? There are no poisonous seaweeds in the British Isles. Some don't taste great but none of them will kill you. If you're not quite ready to forage your own you'll find laverbread in some supermarkets and several online fish retailers sell it as an accompaniment.

"Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus!"

(Happy St. David's Day)

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 14 2017 11:00AM

The Feast of St. Valentine on 14th February commemorates the beatification of Valentine, a priest imprisoned and executed by the Romans for preaching Christianity.

It was only in the Middle Ages that Valentine's Day started to become associated with romantic love, particularly thanks to the writing of Geoffrey Chaucer, and by the 18th Century it had become the festival that we recognise today with sweethearts exchanging cards, presents and flowers.

Despite the over-commercialisation that it has undoubtedly been subjected to, most of us still look forward to receiving a card or two and to the opportunity to cook a meal for our loved ones. But it’s possible that the day has its roots in something much older and more lascivious.

The pre-Roman festival of Lupercalia was celebrated between 13th and 15th February. Lupercalia celebrated Lupa, the wolf who had suckled Romulus and Remus (the twin founders of Rome), and Lupercus, the Roman god of shepherds. The party would kick off with a sacrifice of goats and dogs. As part of the festivities, the animals' skins were cut into thongs and used to whip girls and young women to ensure their fertility. So, hardly the mushy, romantic stuff of today.

Whether or not Lupercalia is, in fact, the mother of the modern day Valentine’s Day is hotly debated by academics. But they do share some similar themes and it is not hard to see how feasts and festivals falling around the same date might have become intertwined.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Mar 14 2016 12:17PM

Here’s a tasty idea for any of you West Country foodies - British Asparagus growers are aiming to crowdfund The Great British Asparagus Feast.

As any regular readers will know, we’re huge fans of asparagus. The season is lamentably short and traditionally runs for just eight weeks - from St. George's Day on 23rd April to the summer solstice on 21st June. It’s hard not to get excited about the arrival of this superstar ingredient which embodies everything that is great about seasonal food.

The Great Brigtish Asparagus Feast will take place in Bristol on 5th May and backers will be able enjoy a 5 course meal made by some of the regions best chefs including Josh Eggleton (of Michelin-starred Pony & Trap), Seldon Curry (Wallfish Bistro) and Jamie Randall (Adelina Yard). £75 buys you the full meal with a matching wine flight but if you can’t stretch that far, you can bid for one of the season’s first 100 bundles of asparagus from as little as a fiver.

You can find more info here: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/great-british-asparagus-feast

And here: @BritAsparagus

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Dec 17 2015 09:46AM

First, an apology that it's been so long since our last post. This time, however, it's really not our fault! As you may have read, our website provider has been subjected to a sustained cyber attack meaning all of its websites were shut down for several days. So, we're sorry if you haven't managed to get access to the Well Seasoned site recently. We're assured that the security issues have now been fixed.

It's hard to believe that there is just one week to go before Christmas. We're having the warmest December for more than 100 years and whilst the mild weather isn't exactly unpleasant from a global perspective, it's worrying that we have yet to see any snow or widespread frost. Surely not a good sign for the planet as a whole and we're seeing signs of confused animals and plants all around. Let's hope some colder weather arrives soon and put everything back in the right place.

With just 4 days to go until the winter solstice, it is the beginning of the season of Yule. This is the pagan celebration of midwinter, the death of the old sun and birth of the new one. Unsurprisingly at the darkest time of year, fire and light play a part and traditionally, the new light was represented by a Yule log. A large log was brought into the house (usually the youngest member of the household) on the darkest day of the year and burnt throughout the twelve day season of Yule (later adopted as the twelve days of Christmas).

The exact ritual surrounding the Yule log varies from county to county (and indeed country to country throughout Europe) but certain themes are consistent. It was thought to be unlucky to let the fire go out and the very end of the log was usually kept to kindle next year's fire, representing the continuing cycle of the seasons.

Given the need to burn for many days, an entire tree would often have been burned in large houses. These days, most houses don't even have an open fire, let alone one big enough to burn entire tree and so for most families the "Yule log" has become a chocolate cake representing the old tradition.

This might be our last post before Christmas. If so, have a really cool Yule and enjoy the festivities!

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Sep 29 2015 01:00AM

Today, 29 September, is also known as Michaelmas Day and marks the start of the new agricultural year. (Harvest Festival was on 24 September so labourers would have had a few days off before returning to work.)

At the Michaelmas feast, goose (traditionally a "stubble goose" fattened on the stubble of the harvested fields) was usually the star of the show, so the day also became known as Goose Day.

Why a goose? Well, legend has it that it was Michaelmas Day when Queen Elizabeth heard that Francis Drake had defeated the Spanish Armada. She was tucking into a goose when the messenger arrived and resolved to eat it every Michaelmas Day from then on.

According to folklore, Michaelmas is also the last day that blackberries should be picked. It's said that (because St. Michael, whose day it is, kicked Lucifer out of heaven) the devil spits on the wild fruits on the 29th and they will soon be past their best. Because of this, it's also traditional to make a Michaelmas pie from the last blackberries of the season.

Have a gander at this classic apple and blackberry pie recipe.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 1 2015 02:00AM

February is usually cold, dark and pretty miserable. Its only redeeming feature is that it's mercifully short. But, as ever, seasonality fans have something to celebrate. Today is an important date in diary - it's the festival of Imbolc.

In the pagan calendar, 1 February (which is about half way between the Winter and Spring equinoxes) marks the beginning of Spring and the festival of the goddess Brighid. As with so many pagan festivals, a Christian feast has cropped up to ensure that the converted can still have a good knees-up and, by remarkable coincidence, it is also celebrated as the Feast of Saint Brighid. Who'd-a-thought-it?

Ask any cross section of people when Spring starts and you’ll get a variety of answers but, whichever viewpoint you subscribe to, it's a nice feeling to know we have turned the corner, that the darkest (though not necessarily the coldest) days of Winter are now behind us and that we can look forward to Spring.

So, happy Imbolc to all you pagans, Christians and seasonal foodies!

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