Thursday, May 21, 2009


The legend goes that a group of smugglers hid their contraband goods (barrels or kegs of gin or brandy) in a pond in Devizes, Wiltshire, having been tipped off that revenue men were in the area. When the smugglers thought the revenue men had left, they began fishing their goods out of the pond with rakes. However, the revenue men returned and asked the smugglers what they were doing. Pretending to be simpletons, they replied they were raking out the cheese in the moon, seen in the reflection on the pond. The revenue men laughed at them for being so stupid and rode off. Moonrakers has come to mean a term for Wiltshire people in general – though as an insult or a complement, I'm not sure.
Not to be confused with: Moonraker, the 1979 James Bond film.

Meals for Moonrakers (published in 1954 by the WI), which I picked up in Oxfam in Salisbury the other day, contains mouth watering recipes for Sheep's Head Soup, Ham Cake, Hard Sauce, Egg Snow for Invalids, An Excellent Cake, Hermits, Braised Pig's Heart, Parsnip Wine and many others.

A very simple recipe from the book is as follows:

Artichoke Crisps
Do you know that artichoke crisps make an attractive dish to serve with coffee?
Peel artichokes and slice very thinly, wash in cold, salt water, and dry on wire oven rack in oven.
These can be put in after heat has been turned off or with oven put to low.
Store in airtight tins.


Melanie May said...

Do you have a recipe for nettle soup?

Barnaby said...

Not from Meals for Moonrakers unfortunately, but there's a simple recipe here:

I made it a few weeks ago and it turned out great. I hoped it would be vegetarian but the tens of greenflies I couldn't wash out of the nettles proved otherwise. They probably added to the taste anyway.