‘Fine words butter no parsnips’

We plan to add an Archives section to this website later this year, and include old documents, photographs, etc. for you to enjoy. But in the meantime, we thought we might whet your appetites with an old cookery book published by the Cornwall Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1929.

The book has come to us courtesy of Federation Archivist Judith Williams, and is a delightful collection of recipes including everything from grovey cake (made with the rendered fat after pig-killing) to rabitty pasty to kiddley broth (made from marigold heads) to no less than 10 recipes for saffron cake. I wonder how many of these recipes sound familiar to our members in 2017?

The bottom of each page of the book contains a little saying: “Fine words butter no parsnips”, “He that will steal an egg will steal and ox” and “A slow drink is better than a dry sermon”, to list just a few.

The preface to the first edition, written by Edith Martin of Tregavethan in April 1929, reads:

In issuing this, the first printed CORNISH RECIPE BOOK, I wish, first of all, to acknowledge with grateful thanks, the very great assistance given me by many members of the Cornish Women’s Institutes, members of the Old Cornwall Societies and the public generally.

It is in great part due to their contributions of Recipes, etc., that it has been possible to issue such a fine collection of matter relating entirely to the Duchy of Cornwall.

The collection is probably still incomplete, and should long-forgotten dishes occur to the minds of readers glancing through this book, I should be glad if they would forward them to me, with any criticisms of this present work, for inclusion or correction in the next edition.

The Recipes have been printed exactly as received, and if it is apparent that there is some slight repetition of the same Recipe it is because it varies in different districts, each of which claims that theirs is the correct one. My readers must judge for themselves.

You can click here to see the cookery book in its entirety. The original book itself will be stored in our Archives at Chy Noweth.

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