Kissing Comfits

SEA HOLLY roots were preserved in sugar and sold as Candied Eringo, or Kissing Comfits, Colchester being the centre of the trade. They were sold until as late as the 1860s (Grigson. 1955), and were said to be good for those that "have no delight or appetite to venery", and were "nourishing and restoring the aged, and amending the defects of nature in the younger" (Gerard). Likewise René Rapin, in a Latin poem on gardens, 1706 (in translation):

Grecian Eringoes now commence their Fame Which worn by Brides will fix their Husband's Flame

And check the conquests of a rival Dame.

There is, too, a reference in Dryden's translation of Juvenal's Satires; he is talking about libertines:

Who lewdly dancing at a midnight ball For hot eryngoes and fat oysters call.

The best known quote is from Shakespeare. Falstaff, in Merry wives of Windsor, says: "Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Green Sleeves'; hail kissing comfits, and snow eringoes".

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