Tuesday, 14 June 2016

But Is It Gluten Free

I am reading a novel by John Buchan called Huntingtower. In its pages, I have just come across a description of a meal that might be straight out of Enid Blyton's Famous Five fantasies.

The two protagonists of Buchan's novel have just persuaded a widow in a village to give them beds for the night and now they are sitting down to a really good tea. I love posting fictional meals, so here is the passage about what exactly the old lady gives them to eat:

"A quarter of an hour later the two travellers, having been introduced to two spotless beds in the loft and having washed luxuriously at the pump in the backyard, were seated in Mrs Morran's kitchen before a meal which fulfilled their wildest dreams. She had been baking that morning, so there were white scones and barley scones, and oaten farles, and russet pancakes. There were three boiled eggs for each of them; there was a segment of an immense currant cake ('a present from my guid brither last Hogmanay'); there was a skim-milk cheese; there were several kinds of jam, and there was a pot of dark-gold heather honey. 'Try hinny and aitcake,' said their hostess. 'My man used to say he never fund onything as guid in a' his days.'"

(We are in Scotland, I should add, for those baffled by the rendering of the widow's accent.)


  1. Huntingtower is a good one; Buchan knew how to tell a story. is this part of the Greenmantle series? i'm sure i've read it, but it was a while ago(yrs). what's a farle? tx....

    1. I've been shaken by a piece of casual anti-Semitism further on in the book - I'm hoping the person who articulates it is going to turn out to be a villain. It isn't part of the Richard Hannay series. I'll try to make a post about it when I'm finished. It has lovely descriptions of spring in the fresh air in the Highlands of Scotland

    2. I'm assuming a farle is something so extraordinarily delicious it has been banned, for fear of worldwide obesity.

    3. i read quite a bit of Buchan at one time; he was a friend of Rider Haggard, i think, and also a Tory political figure in some capacity. but i do remember his books had a conservative slant...

    4. Was he a friend of Rider Haggard? How interesting, I didn't know that. The book says he had a lot of illness but still managed a great deal. I'm going to look him up and find out more

    5. i got buchan mixed up with doyle or kipling; don't know which. they knew each other, i think, but i can't find any evidence that they were "friends"... sorry about that...

    6. Speaking of Kipling, every time I go to Ypres and surrounding war graves, which in my current life is fairly often, I like to read this story: