Madog, the Welsh Columbus


It should hardly be surprising of a man who has nineteen sons (and, presumably, a similar number of daughters, the insatiable old goat!), that most of them were illegitimate; although, since six of them were legitimate (and, presumably, a similar number of daughters), his wife was certainly no slouch. The problem was that Welsh custom, […]

December 28, 2017

Taffy — still popular with Americans


A corruption of “toffee”, it’s odd that this north-Wales Christmas tradition (sometimes thought to be the origin of nick-naming Welsh people “Taffy” (see here: Why Are the Welsh Called “Taffy”?) has been largely abandoned in Wales considering that taffy remains so popular in the USA.  “Noson Gyflaith” took place during the later hours of Christmas […]

December 24, 2017

Welsh Rarebit


Welsh Rarebit is still very common in Wales, and well understood as a piece of toast covered in a sauce made from cheese, beer and mustard, and grilled for a couple of minutes until melted. So I was surprised to find this Victorian recipe (Mrs Beeton No 1652) from 1861, which prescribed a Welsh Rarebit […]

December 20, 2017

Curse of the Sand Faeries


Henry de Beaumont, the French-speaking Norman 1st Earl of Warwick, was a horrid man: aggressive and arrogant. Hunting one day in the district of Three Cliffs Bay, his party espied a pretty Welsh girl singing in a clearing in the woods. Consumed with lust, he ordered his men to kidnap her, and drag her back […]

December 18, 2017

Mince Pie, Tudor Style!


“Why is it called mincemeat when it doesn’t contain meat,” is a question that every child in Wales asks at this time of year.  The Welsh consume mince pies by the million every December.   In our family, we say that eating more than 24 mince pies in December before Christmas day will bring good luck […]

December 16, 2017

So Just Who Was St David Anyway?


For a nun, his mother seems to have put it about rather a lot!  St David’s father is variously said to have been Sant, prince of Ceredigion; or Sandde, prince of Powys; or King Arthur; depending which tradition you refer to, but they’re all agreed that his mother was Non.  He was born at Capel […]

December 7, 2017



Very often, food that is said to be “traditional” is greatly adapted.  Not so in this case.  Cawl is about as authentic as it gets.  It’s the broth of peasants, for whom cooking meant an iron pot that simmered permanently on the hearth, and into which, ingredients were tossed as and when available.  Perhaps you’d […]

December 3, 2017