Flummery, when we first saw the word we had no idea either, but it turns out that flummery is rather interesting.
First a description, flummery is a sweet dessert pudding that was popular in the UK from the 17th to 19th Century. We first found the word upon seeing an interesting dish for Bonnie Prince Charlie Flummery and naturally had to discover more.
According to one legend Flora MacDonald was half way through a dish of flummery when she was arrested for her part in helping Prince Charles escape following his defeat at Culloden. Another says that she made the dish for Prince Charles before he escaped, but who knows which, if either, is true. Even so it was enough for us to find out what on earth flummery is!
There appear to be variations on flummery from as early as the middle ages where it was more of a broth that could be made by pretty much anyone. Oats were a staple food of many and thus even the poor could make their own flummery. Most recipes seem to follow along the lines of soaking cereal (oats appear most popular), the liquid from which is then set to form a clear jelly. Thankfully this then seems to have been flavoured with orange or rosewater and topped with honey.
Whilst we are calling the dish flummery in England it was said to have been called ‘wash-brew’, no doubt because the resulting grey liquid resembled dishwater. Regardless of its appearance the dish was considered healthy and was served to many invalids believing that its bland but hardy nature would strengthen those who were unwell. This practice of eating flummery when sick looks to have continued until the 20th Century though variations in the dish were becoming more common. As time went on the jelly like texture was achieved with gelatin and the basic dish was enhanced with cream, eggs, fruit and even wine.
If you want to give it a go here’s one of the best recipes we can find from ‘The Cook and Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary’ from 1822:
Steep in cold water, for a day and a night, three large handfuls of very fine white oatmeal. Pour it off clear, add as much more water, and let it stand the same time. Strain it through a fine hair sieve, and boil it till it is as thick as hasty pudding, stirring it well all the time. When first strained, put to it one large spoonful of white sugar, and two of orange flower water. Pour it into shallow dishes, and serve it up with wine, cider, and milk; or it will be very good with cream and sugar.
Rather unappetizingly flummery became known as a word to mean bland or unsatisfying food and today the word is still used to mean an empty compliment or nonsense.
We think we’ll stick with having our oats in porridge or flapjack but if you want to give it a shot you can find more recent recipes for flummery on the internet. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and let us know how you enjoy your flummery!
All the best, K&D