It was on a Lammas night,
When corn rigs are bonie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light,
I held away to Annie:
The time flew by, wi tentless heed,
Till ‘tween the late and early;
Wi’ sma’ persuasion she agreed
To see me thro’ the barley.
From The Rigs O’ Barley by Robert Burns
Lammas Night was one of the four major pagan festivals’. It took place on the 1st of August and celebrated the harvesting of cereal crops and summer fruits. Fresh loaves would be baked and placed in circles, and later churches as an offering of thanksgiving. The festival also commemorated the end of summer and the waning days of autumn.
I mention all this now as I’ve just returned with Jodie and Hung from Long Meg and her Daughters, a late Neolithic stone circle east of Penrith; where the remains of such votive offerings were still visible among the stones.
Jodie Phillips and Hung-Chun Huang studied Mexican and Chinese literature at Newcastle and Kaohsiung universities (Taiwan) respectively, while Hung completed an MA in English literature at Lancaster. Like Kat and Susan ‘The Italian Job’ they work as trainees at the Wordsworth Trust. Professionally and socially they are great friends and are a delight and an inspiration to work alongside. One evening after work we took a drive out to the stone circle.
Of the thirteen hundred or so circles around the British Isle Long Meg is one of the largest. Meg herself stands over ten feet high and is a nine-ton block of red sandstone that was originally brought up from the riverbed two miles away. It bears cup and ring markings and is positioned to align with the mid-winter sun. The Daughters are made from granite: around seventy in total they form a ring beside her. There are numerous legends associated with the stones the most famous being that of sorcery and petrifaction. A Scottish wizard called Michael Scott, while passing through the area, came across a coven of witches and turned them into stone. It is said that the stones cannot be counted and that whoever manages to reach the same number twice, will break the spell and release them.
Just for the record we managed sixty-four, sixty-seven and sixty-nine.
Hung’s recipe for: Coffin Lid
Coffin Lid (Coffin Bread) is a very famous Taiwanese cuisine, which is also available in night markets. (Taiwan has numerous nice and fun night markets.) The pronunciation of “coffin” in Mandarin is similar with “getting promotion and becoming rich.” So it’s a symbol of good luck. [Even if it still sounds horrible to you, “bread bowl” is similar to “Coffin Lid”.]
1 whole loaf bread (uncut)
20g chopped carrots
20g chopped potatoes
20g chopped onion
Some seafood or diced chicken
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
Some white pepper powder
1. Melt butter in a pan, put onion until the fragrance is out and then add flour.
2. Add some milk and whisk gently until it mixes properly.
3. Put seafood/chicken, mushroom, peas, cooked carrot and potatoes in. When everything is cooked, leave it to one side.
4. Cut the bread into 3-4cm thick slices and deep fry in the oil until golden and crispy.
5. Cut a square into the bread, to make a lid – but be careful not to cut all the way through (make it like a square bowl).
6. Fill the bread with the stew (step 1-3) and put the lid back on.
Next week: When the lake drops, Neptune rises.