Wæs-hael: To your health!

The Medieval Kitchen...

Wassail

Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well
And so merry let us be
Let every man drink up his cup
And health to the old apple tree

I want to share a couple for a really good wassail recipes with you as the last days of the Holiday Season come to a close with 12th night parties and wassailing between the 6th and the 17th of January (depending upon how you count the time from Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve or what calendar you use…).

Wassailing is an ancient custom wherein the apples are blessed with songs and an offering. Generally associated with the Feast of Twelfth Night or The Feast of the Epiphany, there is some controversy as to when 12th Night actually occurs. (see links above.) Today, it’s often an excuse for a party with music, dancing, and seasonal sweets.  The songs are fun to sing and – in my opinion, any occasion where a string band (or, if I’m lucky, a Celtic rock band)strikes up for an evening of celebration is fine with me!

This first recipe is really good!  It was posted on January 3, 2012 by Needs Mead at “The Inn at the Crossroads”; a blog devoted to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series: ” We are also fans of food.  What, then, would be more natural than to combine them into one fabulous blog?”.  Not the first time a fantasy novel inspired culinary creations!  http://innatthecrossroads.com/2012/01/03/wassail/: “Our Thoughts: Incredible. I struggled to find a wassail recipe that really appealed to me, so naturally, I made one up. The resulting beverage is cider perfected. It tastes of autumn, crisp winds, and the Wolfswood. The alcohol combination manages to disappear completely into the cider (danger! danger!), although the ale gives just the slightest fizz. It starts out subtle, then builds almost instantly to a spiced cider explosion.”

This next is quite good, an very traditional. It will warm up just about anyone’s toes & fingers while trooping through a winter orchard:

Wassail

Next crown the bowl full
With gentle Lamb’s Wool Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of Ale. too,
And thus ye must doe
To make the Wassail a swinger. (Wm. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night)

 Nemeton, a site devoted to Elizabethan & Jacobean (1558–1625) era culinary arts creates a modern redaction for this “recipe” from Shakespeare: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/elizabethan/fetch-recipe.php?rid=eliz-wassail.

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