Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Image of Muffet on tuffet. Dr. Thomas Muffet (possibly Moffett or Moufet), an entomologist who died in 1604, wrote The Silkwormes and their flies "lively described in verse". Miss Muffet is said to depict his daughter, Patience. Accreditation is deemed shaky by some, as the first extant version is dated 1805 in Songs for the Nursery, whose 1812 edition read "Little Mary Ester sat upon a tester . . . ." Halliwell's 1842 collection read "Little Miss Mopsey sat in a shopsey . . . ."

Mother Goose scholars agree that "Little Miss Muffet" is not about Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), supposedly frightened (according to some speculators) by John Knox (1505-1572), Scottish religious reformer.

— based on text in Mother Goose: From Nursery to Literature (McFarland Pub.) by Gloria T. Delamar

Recipe...
Miss Muffet's Curds and Whey Salad

Some of Mother Goose's rhymes have very old English words in them. Some people say a tuffet is a three-legged stool and others say it is a little grassy bump big enough to sit on. Did you know that curds and whey is an old word for cottage cheese? The curds are the lumpy parts and the whey is the milky part.

Image 
of Miss Muffet on tuffet with spider nearby. Equipment: mixing spoon, measuring cup

Ingredients (for each person):
1 leaf of lettuce (for the tuffet)
1/3 cup cottage cheese (for Miss Muffet's curds and whey)
1 prune (or raisin) (for the spider!)

Wash the lettuce under cold water and shake off the drops of water. Put it on a small plate. Measure 1/3 cup cottage cheese and put it on the lettuce. Put the prune on top of the cottage cheese. If you want a smaller spider, use a raisin on top of the cottage cheese. Even Miss Muffet wouldn't be afraid of this spider!

— from Mother Goose Cookbook, work-in-progress, c 1998, Gloria T. Delamar


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