By Emily MacDonald, Gaelic Director, Colaisde na Gaidhlig
At Halloween-time, you will still find a few houses in Cape Breton that serve the ancient Gaelic dish, fuarag. At one time, it was very common to eat a spoonful of fuarag at each house you stopped at on Halloween night. Although all you need to make fuarag is oatmeal and cream, each family and in some cases, each community, had its own special way of preparing and enjoying this dish.
To make fuarag, oatmeal and cream were mixed together in a big bowl and placed on the kitchen table. Each visitor that would enter the home would grab a spoon and eat from the same bowl. I have heard many different stories about fuarag while visiting with people around Cape Breton. Most commonly, people added whipping cream to the oatmeal; however, I have heard of some cases where sour cream was used. Some people would brown the oatmeal in the oven first to bring out the oat flavour. One man I spoke to told of himself and his brothers putting buttermilk on top, and another told of adding a little whiskey to the mix.
Special items were added to the fuarag upon preparation. Most commonly, a button, a coin, a thimble and a ring were hidden in the mixture. If your spoonful of fuarag contained one of these items, it meant good or bad fortune was to come your way within the following year. If you received the ring, you were going to wed; if you received the coin, you were going to come into money; the button meant you were going to live a bachelor’s life and if you received the thimble you would become a spinster. One family had a variation of this method, where the mother would add buttons to the fuarag mixture and whichever child would find the most buttons would win the game.
My own father-in-law welcomes each October 31st with great enthusiasm in anticipation of his first feed of fuarag, a dish he has enjoyed since he was a child at Halloween-time. Why don’t you make a bowl for your family and friends this year – good fortune might be right around the corner!
2 tbsp raw oatmeal
2 cups whipping cream
Mix cream in large bowl. Brown oatmeal on cookie sheet in oven. Add browned oatmeal to cream. Stir in special items. Enjoy!
Fuarag: Biadh sònraichte traidiseanta air Oidhche Shàmhna
Aig àm na Samhna ann a’ Ceap Breatainn, tha taigh na dhà fhathast ann far a’ faigheadh tu an seann bhiadh traidiseanta, fuarag. Aig aon àm, bha e cumanta gu leòr spàlag de dh’fhuarag fhaighinn aig gach taigh ’s an stadadh tu air Oidhche Shàmhna. Ged nach eil a dhìth ort ach min-choirce agus uachdar, bha dòigh shònraichte ann a bhith ga dèanadh aig gach coimhearsnachd air neo gach teaghlach.
Chuireadh `ad a’ mhin-choirce agus an t-uachdar ann am bobhla mór air a’ bhòrd agus ghabhadh a h-uile duine a thigeadh dhan taigh spàin mhór dhi, ás an aon bhobhla. Chuala mi iomadh dòigh air a bhith ga dèanadh ’s mi a’ seanchas ris an t-seann fheadhainn mun cuairt air Ceap Breatainn. Mar bu chumanta, chleachdadh `ad uachdar milis `s an fhuaraig, ach chuala mi aig cuid gun cuireadh `ad uachdar goirt ris a’ mhin-choirce. Bha cuid dhe na daoine a’ cur na min-choirce `s an àmhainn gus a ruadhadh an toiseach mun cuireadh `ad i ris an uachdar. Thuirt fear gun cuireadh e-fhéin `s a bhràithrean beagan de bhlàthach air, agus fear eile gun cuireadh e beagan de dh’ uisge-beatha rithe.
Cho luath `s a thig a’ chiad là dhen Dàmhair, bidh m’ athair-céile fhéin deiseil deònach airson a chuid fhuaraig ithe, biadh a bh’aige aig àm na Sàmhna bhon a bha e na ghill’ òg. Am bliadhna, carson nach cuir sibh fhéin bobhla de dh’ fhuarag air dòigh airson ur teaghlaichean `s caraidean!