Cornish Fairing Biscuits, Cornwall
The fairing, a biscuit still happily available today, has a rather romantic past. At Cornish fairs as elsewhere in the country visitors would purchase little food gifts for friends, or for savouring themselves at a later date: sugared comfits, candied fruit for example. At medieval fairs spices were traded, the gathering being an efficient way for merchants to reach a wide clientele. Put the two together and you inevitably end with a spicy biscuit. Gingerbread indeed has been long associated with fairs and festivals.
A fairing was simply something or things in the festive food line taken home from a fair.
The Truro baker John Cooper Furniss harnessed the idea in the late Victorian era, and developed the fairing as we know it now: a round biscuit, about two inches in diameter, with a sweet and spicy flavour. Though the recipe is naturally enough not made public, the traditional version seems to contain cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger, and some of the sweetness comes from that British institution Golden Syrup.
Brittle like their cousin the gingersnap, and with a somewhat abrasive surface, they are a satisfying addition to a tea-time, and biting a fairing wherever you are can transport one back to holidays in Kernow and the endless beaches there - fairings are a safer bet for picnics on the sands than clotted cream and scones.
The biscuits were made in Truro from 1886 to 2006, but in that year the production moved for commercial reasons to Bodmin .
1 Response to Cornish Fairing Biscuits
From Mara Kurtz on 7th May 2009
Hello, I hope you can help me. I bought a large blue tin tube of ginger cookies in a shop in St. Mawes several years ago. I believe it had a yellow map of Cornwall on the side. I can't remember the brand. Could you please tell me what these might be? I would like to try and order them online. Thanks very much. Mara Kurtz New York, USA
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