Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle

I was inspired to write this post after reading Peter's fantastic article on Rum Shrub at New England Folklore. I think food folklore is something that I tend to overlook, but it can be just as interesting and wonderful as anything else in folklore.

Where I grew up, and still live, rhubarb is a stable in desserts. I absolutely love a steaming rhubarb crumble covered in thick custard - it's the best thing to stave off those cold winter nights. We used to grow them in our back garden and our neighbour would jump over the fence, apparently steal them all and the next day we would have a knock at the door, only to find my neighbour presenting us with a beautiful rhubarb pie.

Here in Yorkshire we have the Rhubarb Triangle - a 9 square mile triangle between Rothwell, Morley and Wakefield that has become famous for its 'forced' rhubarb. The plant is native to Mongolia, where they thrived in the cold, dark winter months. After they were brought to England by Yorkshireman Sir Matthew Lister, the soil in the area around Leeds was found to be particularly good for growing. Forcing sheds were erected, blocking out any sunlight and leaving the rhubarb to grow in total darkness, which allowed for faster growth. They would be then picked out by candlelight, as not to hinder their progress.

Apparently, I have been told, there is a hobby in which people visit the rhubarb at night, talking along microphones, and listen to the plants 'whisper'. I thought this was hilarious, but I haven't managed to find any more information on this strange phenomenon.

Do you have any strange food folklore in your area? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow lore

Here in Britain the icy white blanket of doom has began creeping over our fair land, grinding all public transport to a halt and essentially being annoyingly cold.

Like all weather, snow has some great predictive folklore behind it and The Farmer's Almanac has a nice list of them on their site.

Here are some of them:

  • Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry will cause snow to gather in a hurry.
  • As high as the weeds grow, so will the bank of snow.
  • A green Christmas = a white Easter.
  • If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, winter will be mild.
  • If there is thunder in winter, it will snow seven days later.
  • See how high the hornet’s nest, ’twill tell how high the snow will rest
  • The higher muskrats’ holes are on the riverbank, the higher the snow will be.
  • A halo ’round the moon means ’twill rain or snow soon.

Newfoundland folklore states that snow in May is a cure for sore eyes, with people collecting it up when it fell and storing it for medicinal purposes.

Of course, there is also the wide spread western tradition of sculpting snow men when the snow is thick enough, traditionally decorating them with coal eyes and a carrot nose.

Do you know any folklore surrounding snow? If so, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Happy New Year and a resolution

Hi everyone and welcome to 2013, so Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all had a fantastic time if you celebrated (and even if you didn't) and I wish you all the best for this year.

I've made a resolution, one that I'm going to try my best to keep. I don't update Midnight Folklore as much as I would like, so I'm going to be writing at least a post a week. I also want to expand it with interviews and even some original video content. I think there's still a dearth of folklore blogs on the internet, so it's important that I keep up to date. That said, check my links if you want to see some other really awesome blogs and sites to tickle your pickle.