[Sca-cooks] Littiu was 12th Night 2007 Stories
Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius
adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Jan 8 11:09:19 PST 2007
On Jan 8, 2007, at 1:17 PM, Johnna Holloway wrote:
> The Littiu as described on the website
> "The dish is described in books of monastic rules, and is
> prescribed in
> the Brehon law as the appropriate food with which noble hostages and
> foster sons are nourished by right."
> Are we sure that this is correct?
> The reason I ask is that Brid Mahon's Land of Milk and Honey
> repeats this passage (I think it is the same one)
> “The children of inferior grades are to be fed on porridge or
> made of oatmeal on buttermilk or water taken with stale butter and are
> to be given a bare sufficiency; the sons of chieftains are to be
> fed to
> satiety on porridge made of barley meal upon new milk, taken with
> butter, while the sons of kings and princes are to be fed on porridge
> made of wheaten meal, upon new milk, taken with honey.“ page 64
> The source is given as Ancient Laws of Ireland, volume 2 pp 148-151.
> So wouldn't oats have been served to the lower class fosterings while
> the sons of
> the upper classes would have eaten either barley or wheat?
Well, I was asking out of curiosity, more or less, for the reasoning
process, and not having any particular expectations in mind one way
or the other.
What I was able to dig up was this passage from P.W. Joyce's "A
Social History Of Ancient Ireland" (excuse the scanner/OCR fu):
"6. Corn and its preparations.
It will be seen in chapter xxiii., sect. 2 (pp. 271, 272, below),
that all the various kinds of grain cultivated at the present day
were in use in ancient Ireland. Corn was ground and sifted into
coarse and fine, i.e. into meal and flour, which were commonly kept
in chests. The staple food of the great mass of the people was
porridge, or as it is now called in Ireland, stirabout, made of meal
(Irish min), generally oatmeal. It was eaten with honey, butter, or
milk, as an annlann or condiment. So well was it under stood, even in
foreign countries, that stirabout was almost the universal food in
Ireland‑a sort of characteristic of the country and its
people‑that St. Jerome takes occasion to refer to the custom in a
letter directed against an Irish adversary, generally believed to be
the celebrated heresi arch Celestius, the disciple of Pelagius.
Jerome could use tongue and pen in hearty abuse like any ordinary
poor sinner: and he speaks revilingly of Celestius, who was a
corpulent man, as 'a great fool of a fellow swelled out with Irish
The common word for stirabout was, and still is, littiu, modern
leite, gen. leitenn [letthë, letthen] ; but in the Brehon Laws and
elsewhere it is often called gruss. Gruel was called menadacli: it is
mentioned as part of the fasting fare of the Culdees. The Senchus Mór
annotator, laying down the regulations for the food of children in
fosterage, mentions three kinds of leite or stirabout : ‑ of
oatmeal, wheatmeal, and barleymeal: that made from oatmeal being the
most general. Wheatmeal stirabout was con sidered the best: that of
barleymeal was inferior to the others. For the rich classes,
stirabout was often made on new milk: if sheep's milk, so much the
better, as this was looked upon as a delicacy. Finn‑leite,
'white‑stirabout,' i.e. made on new milk, is designated by an
epicure, in an exaggerated strain ‑ 'the treasure that is smoothest
and sweetest of all food' : it was eaten with honey, fresh butter, or
new milk. For the poorer classes stirabout was made on water or
buttermilk, and eaten with sour milk or salt butter: but butter of
any kind was more or less of a luxury. All young persons in fosterage
were to be fed, up to a certain age, on stirabout, the quality and
condi ment (as distinguished above) being regulated according to the
rank of the parents."
"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils mangent de la
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them
-- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
-- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry
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