14th August 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Take some tivlach and some gjola …

A Shetland Cook’s Book by Jenni Simmons. Published by The Shetland Times Ltd, £11.99 (paperback).

Have you heard of hakkamuggi, gjola, hoonska or tivlach?

A Shetland Cook’s Book, com­piled by Jenni Simmons, is full to bursting with Shetland traditional dishes and local names for food items.

Split into separate sections of the main stays of the Shetland diet of fysh, flesh, mylk, coarn, taaties and maet – as well as a short chapter on food for special occasions – each page is a potpourri of dialect names for foods, Shetland recipes and food related quotations.

Many of the terms and recipes will be a real education for some such as the aforementioned hakka­muggi, a fish stomach stuffed with mixed fish livers, flaked fish and oatmeal; or swee’d heid brö, a cleaned, boiled sheep’s head singed of wool and simmered for several hours.

Other recipes and sundries are more well known, such herrin and taatties, traicle bannocks and tattie brö, and will no doubt make many a mouth water at the mention!

The pages of the book are also complimented by the author’s own illustrations and many black and white pictures from the Shetland Archives.

However, this is a book which can’t quite make up its mind whether its a glossary of Shetland dishes, a recipe book or historical look at the Shetland diet. In the current format the lines blur between recipes, definitions, authors notes and quota­tions; having a separate recipe section at the end of each chapter may have helped this.

It would also have been inter­esting to have had an etymological insight into some of the food terms.

Regardless of its format, Jenni Simmons’ book is a tribute to a bygone age and an insight into the lives of Shetlanders.

A Shetland Cook’s Book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Shetland and good old home cookery and would make a good starting point for anyone who is looking to research the traditional diet and Shetland foodways. And with Christmas coming up on the horizon it would make a nice gift for Shetlanders at home and away.

The book is available from The Shetland Times Bookshop priced at £11.99.

Louise Scollay