When I tell people that my book takes place on the Isle of Man, I’m often met with the response, “I know where that is!” …only to have the person then point to the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Skye, random places in Scotland, or any number of other gorgeous, windswept locations in and around the U.K. But the Isle of Man is a unique destination!
Isle of Man, circled here in yellow; it’s a Crown Dependency, but not actually part of the UK! So today, I’m here to share a little about the Isle of Man by introducing you all to an important aspect of any culture: the FOOD! Hopefully, by the time you’ve read this post, you’ll have at least the briefest of insights into what makes the Isle of Man a special place to visit (or, you know, to use for a book setting!).
Food features prominently in FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP: Bridey and her three sisters share secrets over meals. Bridey’s da provides for his family by going to sea and filling up his nets—until something scares all the fish away. Whenever Bridey’s in distress, she can run to her mam’s kitchen and make her favorite oatmeal-currant cookies.
As you might imagine, I had to do some delicious research on Manx cuisine! The food on the Isle, like the rest of its culture, has both Celtic and Norse influences. Below are some dishes that Bridey herself would recognize as authentically Manx.
#1: Spuds and Herrin’
This is one of the most popular meals on the Isle, and is the Manx national dish! Despite Bridey’s distaste for seafood (she doesn’t trust anything from the ocean!), her mam often makes spuds and herrin’ for supper.
While Bridey may not care for these salted, smoked fish (usually herring like the ones seen above), her mysterious crush, Fynn, can’t get enough of them.
These Queen scallops, locally known as “Queenies,” are another popular seafood on the Isle. They’re often served with bacon and garlic butter. Mackerel, crab, and lobster are also frequently caught and consumed here!
#4: Loaghtan Lamb
The Loaghtan is a type of sheep found only on the Isle of Man! These Manx sheep have four to six horns, and their dark, rich meat is considered a delicacy by many. Here’s a recipe for Manx Broth, which could be made with lamb or (if you don’t live on the Isle) regular beef.
This Manx cake-like fruit bread, often served for breakfast or tea-time, is one of Bridey’s favorite foods!
*If you’d like to try your hand at making a bonnag, there’s a handy recipe here.
A beverage made of treacle (molasses) and hops; Manxmen of the early 20th century believed this drink to be good for a boost of energy and strength! However, it isn’t made today.
And now, I’ll leave you with this adorable non-food picture:
Because no post about the Isle of Man would be complete without the tailless Manx cat. Thanks for reading! And as Bridey would say, “Cair vie!” –That is, “Fair winds!”
Sarah Glenn Marsh is a young adult and picture book author. Her YA historical fantasy debut, FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP, will be released by Sky Pony in September 2016. She is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Sarah lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and four rescued greyhounds, and when she’s not writing, she can often be found painting or antiquing.
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