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(or Fig Sue, Fig Sewe)
A hot stew or soup made with ale, figs and spices, generally thickened with bread.
Modern Fig-Sue by Sue of Santa Monica, USA
Given in 'A Dictionary of obsolete and provincial English' by Thomas Wright (Wright 1857) as; "A mess made of ale boiled with fine wheaten bread and figs".
Fig-Sue has some association with the Easter period, as a correspondent to the 'Westmorland Gazette' (Saturday 12 October 1833, p3) says; "Does the rustic who eats his pancake on Shrove-Tuesday, his fig-sue on Good Friday, know, or care anything, how the good old custom originated?". The 'Dorset County Chronicle' for Thursday 17 March 1864 has; "Fig-sue-a mixture of ale, sliced figs, bread and nutmeg for seasoning, boiled together and eaten hot like soup, is still prevalent, on Good Friday, in North Lancashire the dish is pronounced a very palatable one.". Though clearly palates change, by 1937 Fig-Sue was described in the 'Nottingham Evening Post' under 'Dying Customs' as; "a horrid concoction bread and figs".
As recently as 2002, a correspondent named 'Abel' to rootsweb.com described; "Fig sewe was a kind of porridge, taken on Good Fridays as an appetiser before a fish course. Made from figs cut into quarters, combined with cubed wheaten bread, boiled in beer or ale which was seasoned with sugar/treacle and nutmeg."
Original Receipt in 'Regional Flavour - a TV Times book' (Independent Television Books Ltd 1975 - ISBN 0 900 72748 9) found by Linda Johnson
A hot drink made from figs and mild beer, which was drunk on special occasions mainly in the farm houses. It was drunk from the old-style blue and white porridge basins.
Preparation Time: overnight
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
2 pints mild beer
4oz dried figs
Bring half a pint of beer to a simmer and pour over the figs. Leave to soak overnight. Add the remaining beer and bring the mixture to simmering point again and hold it at simmering point for 5 minutes. Strain and allow to cool before drinking. The figs, of course, are cooked and taste absolutely delicious, hot or cold, after being soaked in the beer.”
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