Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tom Bawcock's Eve

Fish Wall Hanging from Lucy Neatby
Always being one to extend celebrations as long as possible, I embraced Tom Bawcock's Eve - it's an early start to Christmas partying.  This is an event that is celebrated in a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, UK. The village is Mousehole pronounced "Mowzel" and every Dec 23, villagers and visitors celebrate the story of a fisherman from the area, named Tom Bawcock.  Now stories vary, but, the one I like is the tale of how Tom Bawcock saved the village of Mousehole from starvation by cooking up a pie of fish heads and tails. It was called "starrygazey pie" - no doubt alluding to the fish eyes that were abundant in the pie. (You may see it in wikipedia as stargazey pie - but that's wrong. I still have ties to Penzance.)

Ironically in googling for more information I came across a song called Starry Gazey Pie. I have the feeling that nothing will be isolated or obscure again.  It seems that the more esoteric an item is, the more it will be embraced by the creative, only to become mainstream by its popularity and the hunt for the obscure begins again.
Tug Boat socks from Lucy Neatby

I have been to Mousehole a few times; but sadly never on Dec 23. Now I've been to Marazion - not too far away in global terms for a New Year's day sing-song in the local pub - magical. I have also been to St. Ives - no sign of the cats!

What does all this have to do with knitting - not a lot except that knitting draws from the obscure.  Hand knitting is a niche interest. OK, maybe it's shared by a million people worldwide...that's just 1% of the world's  population.  The styles and stitches, that have been passed along, come from the nooks and crannies of the earth - islands in the North Atlantic, small communities in Japan, mountain villages in Greece or Peru. Those who have had an opportunity to experience life's oddities from the tiny corners of the world can appreciate the special nature of knitting and it's obscurity.
Inka Hats from Cabin Fever

Dinner tonight?  OK something obscure. My knitting friend, Brenda, and I both have the book "1000 things to eat before you die." We try to do something from that every once in a while - it's not a cookbook per se - it's more of a catalogue of the esoteric. We could try oysters, because it reminds me of a restaurant on Hilton Head that flew in oysters from places as far away as Tatamagouch and Malpeque Bay.  You could add some Solomon Gundy - pickled herring - which tastes in Digby, NS exactly as those cured herrings did, that my grandmother would buy from the German delicatessen on Bloor street in TO. Add some Oka cheese and some bread from an Armenian or Estonian bakery and you don't have to go any where. Your holiday is on your plate!  Enjoy!

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