Friday, 12 August 2016

Red Stuff from the Grossers

No, I didn't do any writing Wednesday. I thought about what I could write, but I didn't put fingertips to keyboard, at least not on Blogger.

I was up to my elbows in red stuff, specifically strawberries and tomatoes. Bill and I went up to our favourite green grocers in Seaton Delaval and they had boxes on sale, so I took all the strawberries (16 punnets - which as far as I can tell is just the name they call a plastic or lightweight container). I weighed them when we got home and they were each just over 500 grams, so we basically paid less than 50 pence a pound for some wonderful strawberries. Often when buying on sale like this, you get a lot of rotten fruit. Going through all the punnets, I found maybe 4-5 grey, fuzzy ones and about a dozen pale pink, flavourless ones. The rest were gorgeous. We kept out two punnets for cereal and snacking; the rest got cleaned and put in the freezer. Considering jam or vodka...hmmm.

The other red stuff was a load of tomatoes. I bought 3 boxes at £1.99 each. After culling, blanching and bagging I had 15.5 kg. Those are also in the freezer, barring a large box for salads, most likely for spaghetti sauce, but I'll need to collect a few more things before I have a go at that again. I can't figure out what was wrong with these foods that they didn't sell for full price.  I think we need to go on Wednesdays more often.

I have been slaving away at my family history, trying to bring all my family lines down to present to see if Ancestry will complete any more DNA circles for me. If you're not into this sort of thing I'm probably speaking a different language. Suffice it to say we both find it fascinating. As I'm working down a family line collecting births, marriages, death records, census and military records, I'm 'reading' a story about this person's life. Obituaries are lovely stories, too. All the drama you could want can be found in your own family history, particularly if you look widely. I'm trying to use all the 'hints' Ancestry has given me (down to 69 pages from 151) and so I jump from family to family, staying long enough to verify the information and promising myself I will return to this very interesting story.

I was thinking it reminded me of the book I'm presently reading, called London: a Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd. He covers quite a long period, roughly from the ice age to about WWII. I'm just about in the middle of the 1300 pages and I'm in the 1300's, medieval London. His characters die off with each chapter as he moves forward in time, but they are replaced by people with the same name or with physical characteristics (white shock of hair, long nose, etc) that let us know they are descended from the earlier people. This is much like James Michener used to write, only I couldn't put down Michener's books and this one is a bit harder work. Better than the plot or the characters is the history.

One bit of history that grabbed me: the setting is a grocery business, in which our character has taken an apprenticeship.

"It was only recently that the ancient Company of Pepperers, who dealt in spices, had merged with a group of general wholesalers, who, since they sold in gross quantities, were known as the "grossers". The new Grocers Guild was large and powerful. They and the Fishmongers vied with the Wool and Cloth Guilds for the city's greatest offices."

These days it sounds a bit mad to think of a Fishmongers Guild, but in medieval England merchant guilds controlled town governments. A guild is simply an association of artisans or merchants who controlled the practice of their craft in their town. I will leave you to read about guilds, and today's livery companies, which I've mentioned on a couple of occasions. The phrase "Worshipful Company of Girdlers" - or of just about anything - makes me smile.


Indigo Dragonfly said...

Wow, looks like you got some real bargains with the strawberries & tomatoes! I'll be doing some more diving into merchant guilds, etc. to see how they worked here in the States.

I'm an avid amateur genealogist, too, but I take it in spurts. It is fascinating to follow all those lines back into the past, and connect them with the present and (through children and grandchildren) into the future.

Shelley said...

Merchant guilds in the US? I've never thought of that. Hope you'll share what you learn on your blog!