Tuesday, 13 June 2017

AmGods Ep 107 A Prayer for Mad Sweeney

For want of a heart
A coin is lost
For want of a coin
A kingdom is lost
Faith is lost.

At last! Food in the script! Screen snacks! A lot of the food I made for this episode fell in the unappetizing category of mouldy prison meals and sea-sickening sailors’ rations. 
Made "mould" on the bread with cotton ball bits, watercolour and powdered colouring
               But there were some lovely English mansion kitchen and market scenes in Essie’s early days and those scenes were a dream to create: historically accurate meat pies, boiled puddings, spit-roast pigs...a market full of meat vendors, bread and pies, vegetables overflowing in wicker baskets and wheelbarrows.
A whole pig roasting on a spit with trussed birds and sausages getting smoked in the fireplace

Dressing the kitchen table with duck in plumage pies, asparagus pie, smoked ham, cabbages and more

meat pies and pretzels for sale at the market

Game hanging in the kitchen

Pastry "coffins" waiting to be filled

And begorra! Flaming Turnips!
Also fun – but sadly, on the cutting room floor: Essie carves scary faces in turnips - the historical forerunners to our very own Jack o’Lantern pumpkins. Legend is that because he could get neither into heaven nor hell, Stingy Jack's wandering soul used to haunt the hills of Ireland on horseback scaring the bejeezuz out of everyone. To light his way, he would carve out a turnip and carry a burning piece of coal in it as he galloped over hill and dale in the misty Irish night.  Stingy Jack
        carving turnips for Stingy Jack                                           a candle in a carved turnip by the window 

But a bit more Godsplaining about Mad Sweeney who is becoming almost lovable to us now that we know his hard-luck story and his noble hard-fighting heart. After all they’ve been through, he believes in Laura – and that she will return the king’s coin to him once/if he helps bring her back to life. 
Leprechauns, once upon a time were feared and revered spirits that time reduced to mad, flitting birds & faerie folk.
Today, these once powerful magical spirits are reduced to ignominious station of breakfast cereal salesmen
- image Orlando Jones

Mad Sweeney - Our King of Leprechauns
is based on the medieval Irish myth of Buile Suibhne aka Mad Sweeney. 
             He was a powerful king who loved to go to war but when he attempted to prevent the establishment of a church on his land, he was punished by a curse that banished him to wander the wild woods. His wife tried to stop him from leaving by grabbing his robe, causing it to unravel and leave him naked. So hence began his madness. He grew feathers and was doomed to fly about aimlessly in the form of a bird until he would one day be killed by his own spear. (sort of like a certain US president and the blue bird of Twitter).

King Sweeney's men had to eat whatever game they could catch in the field. I made guinea hens into crucified ground squirrels for the scene of the soldiers around the battlefield campfire.
              His is a rich legend full of foes, friends, kindness and cruelty and Pablo Shreiber’s portrayal gives us a glimpse of Mad King Sweeney's complex history. Check out my Godsplaining post from Episode 101 to see a photo of the huge wall in Dublin that tells his story in gorgeous mosaic.
              Once you start empathizing with him, you’ll need to know how to swear. Here are a few good insults to rip out next time you are at the pub:

Banjaxed – broken
Eejit – foolish person
Effin and blindin – swearing
Gobshite – inept fool
Manky – disgustingly filthy
Wagon – overbearing contrary unattractive woman
Bollix – stubborn unpleasant man

Now here's the sweetest part: something to eat from darlin' Essie! 
Here’s a great recipe for the sweet bread Essie stole from the young master’s plate and left as an offering for the leprechauns trusting that they would repay her in good luck. It’s from my food styling assistant who made dozens of loaves for the shoot and for hungry me who can never resist another little bite of warm cake.
borrowed this photo from "Hostess at Heart" Julie Menghini with gratitude 
Spicy Applesauce Oatmeal Loaf

Serve in thick buttered slices to bewitch your own Mad Sweeney

1 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup brown sugar
2 lg eggs, beaten
½ cup corn oil
¾ cup applesauce
½ cup milk

1 in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and stir until well blended. Add rolled oats, brown sugar, raisins and stir to combine well.
2 In a small mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir just until mostly blended. Do not mix too much. Batter should be lumpy.

3 Lightly grease and flour a 9” x 5” loaf pan and pour in batter. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Next week -  It's a foodapalooza! Easter really knows how to throw a Goddam party. 
There's so much food in this last episode but it will leave you so hungry for moar! No worries! Bryan Fuller & co are already busily working on Season 2. 

Oh no...bunnies wait in Essie's 19th century kitchen with the other ingredients. 😭 


  1. This reminds me a friend's yearly, cathartic ritual: the F!#k You! Turnip


    The bread recipe will be saved for when it's not a million degrees outside, though it looks delicious.

    1. Hi Amy - I don't know why I read that as F*ck You Trump. But I enjoyed Clever Manka's blog and I'm sure the turnip-burning has something to do with Samhain, the old Celtic new year and would probably have involved burning turnips (pumpkins are a new world thing) in the spirit-cleansing bonfires. The bread is delicious - much more moist than the picture which is a place-holder until I get a chance to bake and photograph the actual recipe.

      I too await cooler baking weather!

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