Post by Alison Hein.
Next up in the Food Song category – Simon and Garfunkel’s ubiquitous “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” title song of the1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
I’ve listened to this song countless times – once softly, straining to hear through bedroom walls to my sister’s room as she listened over and over and over again. Later, more audibly, out on my own but lonely for home. And more recently, quieter again, as I remember and reflect on times past. It always fills me with love and melancholy, and pulls at my heart strings. But, I never once questioned the song’s history or meaning – until now.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.
“Scarborough Fair” is an old English ballad, possibly with older Scottish roots tracing back to the late 1600s. Sometimes the place name changed, and often the refrain changed, with “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” not appearing until the 1800s.
And the meaning of the herbal refrain? Theories abound. Here’s mine: every herb has its own meaning, translating “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” to “festivity, wisdom, remembrance, and courage.” A perfect love potion to overcome the impossible tasks set forth in the lyric, and return two hearts to one. Sigh.
Love is inspiration for great food, and a savory bread pudding is a thing of wonder and delight. Lovely as a dinner side, pleasant with a luncheon salad, and surprisingly just right for breakfast. The fresh, fragrant herbs add richness, depth and color to a simple poor man’s dish. Maybe Savory Scarborough Bread Pudding will pull at your heart strings a little too, and become your one true beloved breakfast in bed. 😉
Savory Scarborough Bread Pudding
1 loaf stale French or Italian bread
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese, such as Swiss or Gruyere
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut or tear bread into bite-sized cubes (should be around 6 to 8 cups) and set aside. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, or if you prefer, 8 ovenproof serving-sized dishes, and set aside.
In large bowl, add eggs and whisk until slightly thickened. Whisk in milk. Add shredded cheese, chopped herbs, butter, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add bread cubes to egg mixture and stir well to make sure the herbs are evenly distributed. Pour egg-bread mixture into serving dish (or dishes) let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake bread pudding for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is puffed up and the top is golden brown. If you are using individual serving dishes, check for doneness after 30 to 35 minutes. When done, the bread pudding will be puffed up and browned, and egg will be fully cooked and not jiggly. Serve hot with fried ham or bacon, if you like.
Makes 8 servings.