Sowens Disappointment – April 1905

Slightly sour flavour of sowens. Some weeks ago, “Epicure” expressed surprise in the correspondence column that I was unfamiliar with the composition of sowens “seeing I (“Gretchen”) was so well acquainted generally with the customs and practices which were in being in the not very long past.”

In passing, I may say that my acquaintance with Scottish country practices of a past generation is wholly traditional having listened to the “tales of my fathers.” I spent all my school holidays on farms in North Ayrshire, but never did I hear sowens so much as alluded to.

It was not until a woman grown, and through Burns, I enquired what this was which “set a’ their gabs asteerin’” at Hallowe’en. Then I was told that sowens were long out of date, that it was never made in the house of my grandfather, who told his children that the meal seeds were not so mealy as they used to be in his young days; and that caused sowens to go out of fashion.

My great grandparents, however, to the end of their days, thought there was no other dish so delicious for supper and sometimes for dinner in summer. And in their house, my mother and aunts acquired the taste. They tell of the first time they saw sowens, and a strange, old fashioned dish it appeared, even to them, its delicious smoothness looked very inviting but the slightly sour flavour, caused by the fermenting of the meal, was a great disappointment.

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