“Fygeye – Take Fygys, an sethe hem tylle þey ben neysshe, þan bray hem tylle þey ben smal; þenne take hem vppe an putte hem in a potte, & Ale þer-to; þan take Bred y-gratyd, an Pyne? hole, & caste þer-to, & let boyle wyl; & atte þe dressoure, caste on pouder Canel y-now, & serue forth: & ?if þow wolt colour yt in .iij. maners, þou myt, with Saunderys, Safroun, & of hym-self, and ley on pouder y-now, & serue forth.”
The Austin Manuscripts, c. 1440
This recipe via The Foods of England Project, is for a very early version of ‘figgy pudding’, quite distinct from the figgy-pudding of the Christmas carol, which is probably much closer to the plum pudding that eventually morphed into the Christmas pudding that we know today.
Let’s have a go at a translation of the medieval, shall we?
Take figs and boil (or simmer?) they until they are soft, then mash them up, then put them in a pot and add ale. Then add grated bread and whole “Pyne” (not sure – could be pine nuts?) and boil a while. At the dresser, add enough powdered cinnamon and serve it forth. If you want to colour it you can, with Saunderys (sandalwood, which gives a red colour), saffron (yellow) and “of hym-self” (not sure again – colour with more figs?) and add enough powder and serve forth.
So, that’s a dish of boiled figs, ale and breadcrumbs, with added pine nuts, cinnamon, and sandalwood or saffron for colour. They seemed to liked their puddings mushy, back in the fifteenth century.
As always, if you decide to try to make a bowl of Fygeye, please do let me know how you get on. Leave a comment below, or even better, email me with your notes and photos.