Thursday, 9 June 2011

Gathering Nuts in Sway

Sorry, I've had another Victor Meldrew moment today (please check out this link, it's the Honda song!) whilst driving across the forest; I spotted some rubbish that some ******* had fly tipped onto our beautiful forest....and it made me so angry. I stopped and took these pictures because I really couldn't believe it! In the picture with the ponies you can just see the rubbish behind them, this is their home, how could someone do this? My story continues because whilst I was out of the car getting these pics, a Police car arrived in the car park and the officer was taking a great deal of interest in my car (well, Lyn's car actually, before the exhaust fell off yesterday!) As I walked back to the car he turned and approached me. (Seriously, he looked like he was about 12 years old!)
"Are those valuables on your seat Sir? Looks like a camera case?" I opened the car and showed him my glasses case which was empty (I think he was really looking for sweeties!) Joking aside, he was making a serious point about car park thefts in the forest and valuables not being left on display tempting thieves. It was ideal really because he left it open for me to rant on about the fly tipping episode in front of us. I felt a lot better afterwards, he just got into his little panda car and zoomed off. I digress, please read on..

Fact is often stranger than fiction, so I am told. This could possibly be one of the reasons why I am unearthing strange facts which appear to be fictitious. On a recent expedition to the local library I was fortunate enough to make an accidental discovery, it was a long forgotten recipe for a very rare cookie!
I made the discovery whilst delving into 'Peakes' reference book of commercial 'cookies'. The 'So-So' or 'Suggestive' cookies were actually manufactured here in the New Forest area. In fact they were made in the old part of Sway.
Sway has certainly been put on the map recently but I think that the credit that Sway is now receiving is long overdue. A few hundred and more years ago, Sway was a central part of the Forest's industries and crafts, during that period many tales emerged that are confusingly re-told today. I believe, what I have discovered here is a link with the old Sway story of the 'biscuit quarries'.
The 'cookie' or biscuit that I have come across has even been given a special section in the names section of 'Peakes'. Apparently, it originally got it's name from a reaction of a well respected cookie freak, a certain Mr Fren. When he was asked for his opinion of the Sway biscuit he simply said that it was, "So-So" and the name was born. It's second name 'suggestive' , was a nick name used by the people of Sway when they accidentally discovered that the 'So-So' cookie was quite an acceptable aphrodisiac.
It is thought that the reason for the biscuit having this particular quality is largely due to one local ingredient, the Sway nut. Now it's simply a myth but once there were vast quantities of these nuts around Sway (there are still a few people who believe that Sway may still has some nuts today). The nut was supposed to have been found deep underground and could only have been commercially available if quarried.
The most likey location for the quarry would have been behind the old ale house known locally as the Three Horseshoes in Pitmore Lane. In some of the old documents there are a few hints of the 'Sway nuts', in this area. The nuts were a little like monkey nuts in shape except that on 'Sway nuts' the shell was also regarded as part of the nut itself.
The men who quarried the nuts became known locally as 'Sway nutters' and were always well respected by others in the local community. The nuts were usually transported to the bakery which, in those days, was situated in 'Back lane', Sway. It was here that the ancient recipe was used to make the cookies. Obviously another prime ingredient in the cookies were the leaves of the sugardii treacaldii (Treacle plant), which enhanced the final flavour.
When the secondary properties of the Sway cookies became widely known the local people found it hard to meet the rising demand, ( and the baking powder shortage didn't help)! During the 1850's the cookies were being exported around the world. Eventually the quarry dried up around 1865 and the cookie faded away.
As I said at the beginning, fact is stranger than fiction, who would have believed that a small New Forest village such as 'Sway' could have contributed so much to the countries economy? Who indeed...?

Recipe for Sway 'suggestive' Cookies
To make 18 cookies:- Ingredients;
4oz Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4oz semolina
4oz butter
4oz sugardii treacadii
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of milk
3oz Sway nuts
Bake for 20 25 minutes at 375F
Enjoy !

1 comment:

  1. You know you're completely nuts, don't you! Pop over to my blog as I have a little something for your blog!
    (Lyn) xx ooxx (I don't usually put those!)