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TITLE
Staple foods of the Caithness crofter
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CAITHNESS_CROFTING_06
PLACENAME
Canisbay
DISTRICT
Northern Caithness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS: Canisbay
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
2756
KEYWORDS
crofting
crofters
crofter
croft
crofts
cuddins
fishing
audio

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Caithness crofters with access to the sea made good use of its resources. Seaweed was used as fertiliser and fish provided a rich source of nutritious food. The most common inshore fish was the cuddin, a member of the cod family known by a great variety of local names. In Orkney they were called cuithes. The most common modern English name is coley. Cuddins were also known by different names according to their age. Small cuddins, a few inches long, were called sellags, and were abundant close inshore in the late summer and autumn. In this audio extract, a Canisbay crofter recalls how his family regularly ate cuddins, salted pork and herring.

'Tell ye another thing we did, we went till e fishin. We used to go oot till e sea wi boats an get fish. We used to do a lot o at in e summer. Ye got what they call the cuddins - that wis a small fish. Ye used to get them; the local fishermen used to go oot. At a certain age ye wis taken oot an ye hid a go at is fishin, this cuddins. Ye took them home then an ye dried them - dried them oot - an that wis, that did for e winter time. Because when we wis bairns comin home frae e school we just used to dread comin home for wur dinner - we knew what would go an is cuddins, wis just sick o them, sick fed up wi them. Ye got cuddins every second night or somethin, sometimes in e winter.

An the old pig wis killed up; he wis killed in e winter too. Well, no really winter, he wis killed jist after harvest time. An he wis all - he wis hung up. This guy came along an butchered him or, killed him at any rate. Ah can mind aboot it an that wis a whole day's work. The pig wis taken into the barn an hung up an so on, an dressed up, an then it wis salted doon in, in whatever, tubs or whatever they'd got, Ah don't know, Ah canna mind now but he wis salted doon an at did ye - ye'd salt pork for maybe till e latter end o spring. Ye'd salt pork an cuddins. Ye didn't see much o e - Well, a butcher came, oh, ye'd a butcher wance a week but he hidna a great variety. There wisnae much stuff; there wis potted heid an puddins an beef, an at wis yer lot. Ye could do what ye like wi it, Ah mean that wis it. That wis aboot e most ye got oot o e butcher.

An then there a, there were a herrin cairt, what we called the herrin cairt; it wis a guy wi a horse an a cairt came oot to Wick, Ah think his name wis Charlie Stewart. An he came in e summer time wi this fresh herrin, an he hid an old one o is old horns he blew, car horn, going beep-beep on it, an it - He let ye know he wis comin in, ye bought is fresh herrin. They were quite good. An then later on he arrived - he took orders in - ma mother, she bought aboot, oh heavens, it wis aboot three hundred herrin. It seems to be a colossal amount of herrin, Ah know, but all is three hundred herrin it wis all - she bought is an is wis salted doon, an at wis another thing, a bit of variety for e winter. Ah mean, there's five or six o us at wis, the old man himsel, he took two herrin. We'd, we'd scoff aboot a ten herrin, maybe, in a go, for wan dinner an at wis all right, but ye got tired o it but it wis all right, an then ye got a, Ah mean, when ye took e herrin there wis a pail, ye got a pail o watter then puttin in, there's oatmeal puttin in or somethin, an at wis supposed to keep the thirst off cos ye wis awful thirsty. Ah don't know what oatmeal hid to do wi' it, but there wis oatmeal puttin in, in is watter, an that wis supposed to keep yer, yer thirst'

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Staple foods of the Caithness crofter

CAITHNESS: Canisbay

1980s

crofting; crofters; crofter; croft; crofts; cuddins; fishing; audio

Highland Libraries

Caithness Recordings: Crofting & Farming

Caithness crofters with access to the sea made good use of its resources. Seaweed was used as fertiliser and fish provided a rich source of nutritious food. The most common inshore fish was the cuddin, a member of the cod family known by a great variety of local names. In Orkney they were called cuithes. The most common modern English name is coley. Cuddins were also known by different names according to their age. Small cuddins, a few inches long, were called sellags, and were abundant close inshore in the late summer and autumn. In this audio extract, a Canisbay crofter recalls how his family regularly ate cuddins, salted pork and herring.<br /> <br /> 'Tell ye another thing we did, we went till e fishin. We used to go oot till e sea wi boats an get fish. We used to do a lot o at in e summer. Ye got what they call the cuddins - that wis a small fish. Ye used to get them; the local fishermen used to go oot. At a certain age ye wis taken oot an ye hid a go at is fishin, this cuddins. Ye took them home then an ye dried them - dried them oot - an that wis, that did for e winter time. Because when we wis bairns comin home frae e school we just used to dread comin home for wur dinner - we knew what would go an is cuddins, wis just sick o them, sick fed up wi them. Ye got cuddins every second night or somethin, sometimes in e winter. <br /> <br /> An the old pig wis killed up; he wis killed in e winter too. Well, no really winter, he wis killed jist after harvest time. An he wis all - he wis hung up. This guy came along an butchered him or, killed him at any rate. Ah can mind aboot it an that wis a whole day's work. The pig wis taken into the barn an hung up an so on, an dressed up, an then it wis salted doon in, in whatever, tubs or whatever they'd got, Ah don't know, Ah canna mind now but he wis salted doon an at did ye - ye'd salt pork for maybe till e latter end o spring. Ye'd salt pork an cuddins. Ye didn't see much o e - Well, a butcher came, oh, ye'd a butcher wance a week but he hidna a great variety. There wisnae much stuff; there wis potted heid an puddins an beef, an at wis yer lot. Ye could do what ye like wi it, Ah mean that wis it. That wis aboot e most ye got oot o e butcher. <br /> <br /> An then there a, there were a herrin cairt, what we called the herrin cairt; it wis a guy wi a horse an a cairt came oot to Wick, Ah think his name wis Charlie Stewart. An he came in e summer time wi this fresh herrin, an he hid an old one o is old horns he blew, car horn, going beep-beep on it, an it - He let ye know he wis comin in, ye bought is fresh herrin. They were quite good. An then later on he arrived - he took orders in - ma mother, she bought aboot, oh heavens, it wis aboot three hundred herrin. It seems to be a colossal amount of herrin, Ah know, but all is three hundred herrin it wis all - she bought is an is wis salted doon, an at wis another thing, a bit of variety for e winter. Ah mean, there's five or six o us at wis, the old man himsel, he took two herrin. We'd, we'd scoff aboot a ten herrin, maybe, in a go, for wan dinner an at wis all right, but ye got tired o it but it wis all right, an then ye got a, Ah mean, when ye took e herrin there wis a pail, ye got a pail o watter then puttin in, there's oatmeal puttin in or somethin, an at wis supposed to keep the thirst off cos ye wis awful thirsty. Ah don't know what oatmeal hid to do wi' it, but there wis oatmeal puttin in, in is watter, an that wis supposed to keep yer, yer thirst'