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The Taste of Liverpool Cuisine

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Although not the biggest city in England, Liverpool is among the most well-known. The city’s name is derived from the old English words meaning muddy water and stream or pool, and it underwent a number of spelling changes before becoming Liverpool. The muddy part of the original name may have related to the fact that the river in question – an inlet that no longer exists – was crowded with weeds and plants, such as liverwort.

The borough of Livpul was founded in 1207 by King John, marking the beginning of the city’s history and by 1235, Liverpool had its own castle. Interestingly, all seven of the city’s original streets still exist today, but up until the 18th century, when it started to play a key part in overseas trade, the city was a rather inconsequential town.

On the banks of the River Mersey, the first ever commercial wet dock in England was built in Liverpool in 1715. The Canning Dock was built in 1737, but it was the Albert Dock, which was finished in 1846, which revolutionised how the port of Liverpool operated by allowing it to fully capitalise on the massive amounts of trade passing through the city. In fact, by the time the Albert Dock was opened, it was estimated that up to 40% of all international traffic was moving through Liverpool.

The Congregational Church, the neoclassical St. George’s Hall, and the 1836 opening of Lime Street Station are just a few of the noteworthy structures erected during this period of the city’s expanding riches. Albion House, another well-known structure in Liverpool, is also well-known for having served as the prior residence of the White Star Line, the official owners of the doomed RMS Titanic.

Since many residents of Liverpool worked on the different cruise ships that departed from Liverpool, the city experienced a wide variety of cultural influences, especially from the USA and Jamaica. Many Chinese immigrants also arrived in Liverpool in the late 1860s, primarily as a result of the Blue Funnel Shipping Line hiring Chinese seamen. Due to the influx of goods like silk, cotton, and tea, which increased trade and contributed to the region’s distinctive cultural diversity, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Liverpool formed close ties.

Liverpool was targeted by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, which resulted in some of the most extensive destruction seen in the UK. These bombing strikes are thought to have resulted in up to 2,700 fatalities, and substantial damage was done. The effects of this damage, combined with the city’s declining economic situation as other ports and international locations started to compete more successfully, led to Liverpool’s economic decline in the second half of the 20th century.

However, in place of its role as a trade hub, the city became known as a centre for culture, thanks to the vibrant music and cultural scene that developed throughout the 1950s and 1960s and produced perhaps the city’s most successful and well-known export, the Beatles.

Due to its rich cultural and industrial past, Liverpool was designated a World Heritage Site, and today it is one of England’s most energetic cities. It is no surprise that this thriving port has created a distinctive cuisine that is influenced by the different cultures that have impacted the city throughout the years. Here are some of Liverpool’s most well-known and well-liked culinary contributions:

Wet Nelly

This tasty dessert with an intriguing name was initially created as a means to use up leftover bread. Wet Nelly has some similarities to the well-known bread and butter pudding, and is a fantastic go-to recipe if you want something sweet to finish a meal. Scraps of old bread and cakes are the main ingredient in this recipe, which is then combined with spices, sugar, dried fruit, and eggs. The finished dish is served with cream, ice cream or custard.

Everton Mints

These little hard-boiled sweets, also referred to as humbugs, were first made in Everton, an area of the city which is also home to one of Liverpool’s two famous football teams. They can be purchased in many supermarkets or specialty sweet shops, and are usually brown with white stripes and provide a distinctive peppermint flavour.

Scouse

Scouse, the most well-known of Liverpool’s dishes, is so well-liked there that the name has evolved into a nickname for residents of Liverpool and for their regional dialect. It is a rich meat stew that is typically cooked with mutton or beef and thick-cut vegetables. Although it appears to have some similarity to other local English stews or hot pots, it has a very different origin, and may originally have been brought to the city from Norway by travelling seafarers brought to the city. Available throughout the city, scouse is usually served with a slice of bread and pickled cabbage.

Bubble and Squeak

Although this meal is very well known throughout England, Liverpool is where it is most frequently served at family gatherings. It usually has a potato foundation and is a classic way to use up any leftover vegetables from a Sunday roast. All the ingredients are diced up and fried in a frying pan and the name of the dish is derived from the sounds the pan makes when the food is cooking. Bubble and squeak is a flexible and filling dish that can be eaten at any time of day.

Potted Shrimp

This unique seafood dish is formed of small prawns that have been clarified in flavour-infused butter before being stored in a jar. The dish is typically served spread over fresh bread or toast and the butter is typically flavoured with nutmeg, however cayenne pepper is occasionally included. Shrimps are abundant off the coast of Liverpool, and historically, they were preserved in this manner to enable for the storage of excess stocks for periods when catches were less successful.

Salt and Pepper Chips

Salt and pepper chips are a symbol of the connection between China and Liverpool, which is home to one of the oldest and largest Chinese populations in Europe. Traditional chip shop chips are combined with onions, peppers, and chillies before being tossed with a variety of spices. The meal, which is now a staple in Liverpool, is thought to have been created in the 1990s.

Liverpool Gin

Gin was very popular on the Liverpool docks, both because of its high alcohol content and alleged health benefits, and was widely drunk by sailors. The city’s trade in overseas herbs and spices also contributed to Liverpool Gin’s development of a distinctive flavour. For many decades, gin fell into decline, but now new Liverpool distilleries are making gin using authentic recipes, and many pubs in the city have started to serve gin cocktails that pay homage to Liverpool’s maritime heritage.

Pea Whack

Pea Whack is a substantial and warming meal and a unique Liverpool’s version of pea soup. Made using a ham bone, split peas, celery, onions, carrots, and garlic, the ingredients are added to a pot of water, brought to a boil, and then cooked on a low heat for a few hours. The ham bone is then taken out before meat is added and the result is the perfect dish for a cold autumn evening.

The Best of English Jam

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There are few more typically English treats than a spoonful of jam. Whether you add jam to your scones, your Victoria sponge or just eat it with bread, jam manages to keep alive the spirit, tastes and smells of summer even in the gloomiest of English winters.

It isn’t only the English who are obsessed with jam. Jam has been enjoyed all over the world, from Canada to southeast Asia. In ancient Rome, the main goal of jam-making was to preserve fruits in honey. These pickled fruits were frequently offered as a treat at the conclusion of a meal.

After the Crusades, when sugar was first imported to western Europe, it began to replace honey as the main form of sweetener and jam-making changed to something like the process we would recognise.

In fact, jam quickly became a sought-after luxury. In the era of maritime exploration and trade, English seamen would carry enormous quantities of jam on their ships to help combat vitamin C deficiency, while Mary Queen of Scots reputedly believed that jam could cure a range of ailments.

Jam continued to be popular throughout England, but its production experienced a major boost when the Women’s Institute was given a grant of £1,400 to purchase sugar for jam manufacturing in an effort to aid with food shortages during the Second World War. During a time of great need, thousands of tonnes of fruit were jammed and preserved and many families learned the art of jam making.

In England today, there is plenty of variety of jams out there, but also a wide range of quality. Quality does not, however, equate with cost. Generally if you want to sample the best jam products, you will have to pay more than for a standard supermarket jam, but that isn’t always the case, and there are plenty of underrated high quality jam available throughout England, if you know where to look.

There is no escaping the fact that jam contains a significant amount of sugar, which is used to keep the fruit from spoiling and hence lengthen its life. This frequently leads to a high-calorie content, especially in jams created using traditional methods. However, there are alternatives available, such as jams prepared with stevia or those with reduced sugar.

For many people following a special or restricted diet, the amount of sugar in a particular jar of jam is extremely important. It is always important to check the label for important ingredient information, including whether white sugar or healthier alternatives like cane sugar or unsweetened concentrated fruit juices have been used.

There are also a few helpful benchmarks for quality to look out for. For a jar to be considered a fruit jam, it typically needs to have at least 45% fruit per 100 grammes of jam. This information ought to be printed on the jar’s label, and generally, the quality and taste of the product tend to increase with the amount of fruit in the jar. To give you some idea of the variety of English jam making out there, here is a selection of some of the best jams available in 2022.

Thursday Cottage Gooseberry Jam

Since 1965, Thursday Cottage has been producing jam in Somerset and Essex. They take a traditional approach, manufacturing 100 jars of jam at a time in small batches, but their range includes over 120 flavours, including gooseberry jam. The fruit in this particular jam maintains its shape and flavour throughout the process as the cooking is done on a small scale and the combination of tart gooseberry – at a concentration of 64g per 100g – with the sugary sweetness creates a beautifully balanced flavour.

Roots and Wings – Strawberry Jam

English food manufacturer Roots & Wings has built a solid reputation for producing delicious products by using only natural ingredients and employing painstaking preparation.

Their strawberry jam combines English-grown Albion strawberries from Herefordshire with Honeoye strawberries to create the ideal pairing for a lusciously rich result. The strawberries are gently stirred by hand in vintage open copper-lined pans and each batch is only approved for shipment when it meets the expert jam makers’ specifications.

Bumblee’s Preserves – Strawberry Jam

The jams from Bumblee’s Preserves are created by hand using recipes that have been handed down through many generations. The company is based in a Somerset kitchen rather than a factory and the major ingredients are strawberries, sugar and lemon. With 70g of fruit per 100g and no preservatives or flavours, this is a delightful jam that is suitable for vegans and the gluten-intolerant.

Cottage Delight – Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Jam

This recipe, which blends sweet, delicious rhubarb with energising stem ginger for a mixture that is nicely balanced and has a rich texture, is a prime illustration that jam is not just about strawberries. This gluten-free and vegetarian jam is produced in small batches and it is delicious when spread liberally over crusty toast, or when added to crumbles, pies, or meringues. It is no surprise to find that this jame has twice been awarded a Great Taste Awards Gold Star.

English Heritage – Morello Cherry and Brandy Jam

This preserve, which contains brandy and Morello cherries instead of the usual jam ingredients, should give your morning toast or afternoon scones a distinctive flavour. This delectable spreadable, which was created especially for English Heritage, is also vegetarian-friendly.

Liberty – Yorkshire Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

This jam from Liberty was created in association with Elspeth Biltoft of Rosebud Preserves and is aimed at home bakers. A Yorkshire-inspired rhubarb and ginger concoction, it delivers a tart and acidic flavour that would also taste great spread on scones or combined with porridge.

Mercers of Yorkshire –  Scrumptious Strawberry Conserve

This jam is packed with flavour, and packs a major fruity punch! The flavours are the result of the unique way that the strawberries are chosen and picked. Mercers only use locally sourced, in-season fruit, that is picked at exactly the optimal moment. This fruity delight boasts a strawberry density of 56 percent and is economically priced when compared to several commercial brands. Well regarded around England and overseas, this jam has won the Deliciouslyorkshire Awards’ Best Jam prize.

Rosebud Preserves – Extra Fruit Strawberry Jam

Rosebud Preserves has been producing jam in the Yorkshire dales since 1989. To produce a genuine and natural flavour, they use products that have been foraged from the wild and the result is a jam that is full of fruit. In fact, their jam has around 81g of fruit per 100g, combined with fresh lemon juice and unrefined cane sugar to produce a delightful and memorable flavour.

Tiptree – Raspberry Seedless Jam

Wilkin & Sons, a preserves-focused company founded in 1885, has been farming in Tiptree, Essex, since at least 1757 so their products benefit from over 250 years of experience. A rich and tasty delight, their raspberry jam is also non-GMO certified and appropriate for vegetarians, vegans, and coeliacs, so it should appeal to a variety of palates.

Cartwright & Butler – Strawberry Preserve

This strawberry preserve by Cartwright & Butler, manufactured in Yorkshire using their own recipe, is a traditional jam alternative, which uses field-grown strawberries to ensure maximum flavour. As a bonus, the jam is packaged in a lovely kilner jar that you can wash out and reuse in your kitchen after the jam is gone and in fact many customers use the jar for their own jam-making endeavours.

Fortnum & Mason – English Cherry Preserve

This cherry jam from Fortnum & Mason is full of English fruit and is great on toast as well as being a useful light sweetener for a roast duck supper. This jam is prepared using a small batch method, using fruit that has been harvested at precisely the right moment and the result is a flavourful and flexible treat that goes well with a range of dishes.

The World of English Cheddar

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Even though there are many different kinds of English cheese, some of which are eaten outside of these islands, if you ask any cheese enthusiast to identify the most well-known varieties, they will likely respond with Stilton and Cheddar.

Although some people may prefer Stilton, English people clearly have a preference. The most popular cheese in England is cheddar. The bulk of the cheeses you can purchase in English supermarkets fall into the cheddar category, however, some are tastier than others. And millions of people all over the world enjoy the flavour of cheddar.

The village of Cheddar in Somerset has a history that can be traced all the way back to the 12th century. At that time, local farmers used the area’s well-known canyons and caves as a place to store their milk to keep it cool on hot days. According to the myth, a milkmaid left a pail of milk in one of the caves and promptly forgot about it. When she returned, the milk had hardened into the first ever Cheddar cheese.

Whatever its origins, Cheddar seems to have quickly gained enormous popularity. Records reveal that in 1170, King Henry II purchased an astounding 10,240 pounds of Cheddar, claiming it to be the best cheese in England. The practise of purchasing Cheddar for royal banquets was carried on by his son, King John, and later, in the 17th century, King Charles I apparently pre-order his Cheddar wheels to ensure a full supply. Cheddar was remained popular in royal circles two hundred years later, as evidenced by the fact that Queen Victoria received a half-ton wheel of the cheese as one of her wedding presents!

Cheddar became well-known throughout the world as the British empire expanded, and this English staple was especially well-liked in the US. But at this point, thanks to the development of a number of new technologies, notably the invention of a curd scalding procedure by Joseph Harding, who is frequently referred to as the “father of Cheddar,” we start to see the advent of the mass-produced Cheddar that is commonly sold in supermarkets. Cheddar manufacture became an industrialised endeavour in 1851, when the first cheese factory was built in New York.

Although there is a place for Cheddars that are mass-produced, real Cheddar is very different from the yellow slabs you find on store shelves. It is always created by hand, with local and native bacteria, on farms using unpasteurized milk from the farm’s cows. Additionally, genuine farmhouse cheeses are typically cloth-bound rather than vacuum-packed.

When cheddar is made in the traditional manner, it becomes distinctive to a particular farm and has a richer flavour, and Somerset is still renowned for having a concentration of farmhouse cheddar producers; in fact, the three producers we emphasise, Montgomery’s, Westcombe, and Keen’s, are only eight miles apart. But they all produce distinctive, individual Cheddars.

In the 1990s, farmers and cheesemakers all over England began to create their own variations of the traditional Cheddar, reviving the farmhouse Cheddar movement that had dwindled by the middle of the 20th century. And now, since the emphasis has shifted from place to recipe, it is no longer accurate that “genuine” farmhouse Cheddar can only be found in Somerset.

Farmhouse Cheddar appeals partly because it represents the particularities of each farm’s circumstances and shows the effort that goes into each one. Here are the top seven English farmhouse Cheddar producers worth checking out in 2022.

Keen’s

At the end of the 19th century, Somerset was home to hundreds of cheesemakers, but only a small number have persisted to the present day, and Keens is one of them.

They have been producing classic Cheddar using raw, unpasteurized milk obtained from grass-fed cows since they moved to Moorhayes Farm in 1899. Five generations later, they are still known for their award-winning English Cheddar from cows grazing on the 500-acre family farm’s rich Somerset grass, which is only 50 yards from the dairy. Keen’s Cheddar, which can be aged for up to 18 months, has a distinct, acidic flavour with plenty of sharpness.

Dale End

This organic, unpasteurized Cheddar is matured for 18 months and has a tangy, robust flavour. Only a small amount of Dale End’s cheddar is produced each year, emphasising its quality. Cheesemaker Alastair Pearson uses full-flavoured, premium unpasteurized milk from the local Dairy Shorthorn cows, a traditional breed of cattle renowned for the exceptional quality of its milk.

Dale End Cheddar is part of the Botton Village, Camphill Village Trust, a social enterprise which supports those with mental health and learning impairments. Camphill Communities has more than 130 residents and is entirely self-sustaining and biodynamic.

Montgomery’s

For three generations, the Montgomery family has farmed Somerset’s grasslands. The family farm was purchased by Sir Archibald Langman in 1911, and the method for creating Cheddar has been handed down through the generations.

As a result, Montgomery’s Cheddar is one of the most sought-after cheeses in England, especially among those who are concerned about the origin of their food. The secret to their Cheddar is attention to detail, which includes improving the texture and flavour of the completed product as well as assuring the quality of the pasture grass.

A small staff milks and takes care of the family’s 200 Friesian cows, and the cheeses are aged for up to 18 months while being wrapped in muslin cloths. The deep, rich, and nutty flavours of Montgomery’s Cheddar produce a truly magnificent treat.

Lincolnshire Poacher

On the family farm in Lincolnshire, which is situated on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds about ten miles from the east coast, Simon Jones produced his first batch of cheese in 1992. It is possible to maintain a thriving dairy herd in a region where dairy farms are uncommon and cheese making is essentially unknown thanks to the lush pastures that grow on calcareous limestone.

With the assistance of Welsh cheese maker Dougal Campbell, Simon originally established a tiny, independent dairy facility with a 1000-litre vat, but the cheese was extremely popular and the business began to expand from 1995. Lincolnshire Poacher has a waxy feel and a fruit, almost sweet flavour and is made mainly from milk taken from the family farm.

Winterdale Shaw

The Betts family has been in charge of Church Farm in Offham, Kent, since it was established in 1946. It is located at the summit of the Kent North Downs and looks out over the ancient settlement of Wrotham.

It has a reputation for excellence and in June 2006, it won a Bronze Award at the World Cheese Awards. The Winterdale cheese dairy is housed inside an oak-framed barn and the unpasteurized milk from the family farm is used to create an intriguing and varied-flavoured cheddar, while a deep underground cave keeps the cheese cool and eliminates the need for refrigeration.

About 100 Friesian Holstein cows, raised using non intensive agricultural techniques, provide the milk. The cows are allowed room to roam during the winter, being housed in big, open straw-bedded cow barns. In the spring, they are then moved into the lush meadows of the chalky North Downs in Kent. The combination of the local grass, the breed of cow, and the quality of the milk all help to make the finished cheese a distinctive and popular food.

Quickes

Since a distant ancestor named Richard Quicke married and resided in the region, the Quicke family has been residing in Devon. Many of the fields were farmed by Richard and his descendants, who also kept up the woodland, but it was a descendant, Sir John Quicke, who started the family’s farmhouse cheese business in the 1970s.

The business expanded and is now one of the biggest farmhouse cheese producers in the UK, creating fantastic old-style cheddar while still using only the farm’s milk. Quicke’s continues to produce superb clothbound cheddar using traditional recipes, time-tested methods, and heritage starters that have been handed down through the years. The rich, mature cheddar from Quicke’s is a product of 500 years of expertise, commitment, and care.

Westcombe

Richard Calver began manufacturing traditional cheese on his farm in 2001 after a lengthy stint of producing generic supermarket cheddar. Together with his son Tom, Richard still manages the business and between them they have refined the cheese, turning it into a rich, deep, savoury cheddar that can be found in some of the top cheese shops in the nation.

Their signature cheese, the handcrafted, traditional clothbound Somerset cheddar known as Westcombe, is created much the same way it has always been and it has won several accolades, including the Artisan Somerset Cheddar title from Slow Food.

This cheese has a complex flavour with lingering overtones of hazelnut, caramel, and citrus. It also has a mild lactic tang. A smooth breakdown and structured, solid texture let the flavours linger on your palate for a really unforgettable dining experience.

Best of English Bread

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Bread has been a staple item in English culture for many years. For most of English history, bread, or its lack, was a political issue. Even in modern, global England, bread remains one of the most important ingredients in any pantry. The Chorleywood bread making method revolutionised the manufacture of this staple in the 1960s, but the finished product has nothing in common with the numerous regional bread varieties that have evolved around England over the decades before.

The first evidence of leavened bread dates to 4000 BC in Egypt, but it wasn’t until 400 BC in Greece that it was introduced to Europe, where barley flour was used instead of wheat.

In early mediaeval England, there were two types of daily bread. For the majority of people, it was a hearth-cooked round of unleavened bread that was probably about the size of a hand. This bore little relation to the leavened round of bread, around the same size as a dense modern bun, which was the version of bread enjoyed by those wealthy enough to construct an oven. This form of bread was eaten widely and often topped with butter, cheese, or other ingredients.

The recent coronavirus lockdown, which caused bread flour to become a highly sought-after product across the nation, led to a resurgence in interest in baking bread at home. So to give you a taste of the breadth and depth of the art, here is a collection of the most well-known varieties of superb English bread that honour the long-standing history of English breadmaking.

Stotties

The stotty is a type of bread that gained popularity in the north east of England. It is often referred to as a stotty cake. It is a sizable circular flatbread that can have a diameter of up to 30 centimetres. Its name comes from the dialect word “to stott,” which meaning “to bounce.” Why then the name? In order to confirm that the product had the proper texture, it was customary to bounce the finished product on the kitchen floor. Failed stotty cakes were then discarded.

The stottie is a chewy, hefty bread that was historically baked in the coolest area of a coal-fired oven using leftover dough. Modern stotties are usually much lighter, but it’s still vital to get the texture just right because they frequently hold hefty ingredients like eggs and bacon. One of the most well-known manufacturers of stotties in the nation was Greggs of Gosforth, now a UK-wide company, who kept its stotty formula a closely-guarded secret.

Cottage Loaf

Although you won’t find many cottage loaves in your supermarket, they were once common in England. It’s a type of bread that stands out for its form. The cottage loaf is created by stacking two round loaves, the top loaf being smaller than the bottom loaf. It resembles the brioche and the pain chapeau to some extent, but it is uniquely English.

The cottage loaf has a long history, but its name wasn’t given to it until the middle of the 19th century. Although it was based on a rectangular shape, the ‘cottage brick’ was also a variation of the cottage loaf that was popular in London. Although it is extremely uncommon, several neighbourhood bakeries still create this appealing-looking bread because it is challenging to make and not as convenient for slicing as the standard loaf.

Crumpet

It is said that the Anglo-Saxons are the originators of this particular bread, although the name ‘crumpet’ has Celtic roots and may be related to Breton and Welsh phrases for a certain form of pancake. According to a recipe from the 17th century, the original crumpets were a form of hard pancake fried on a griddle using buckwheat flour, baking powder, egg, and milk.

To this basic recipe, Victorian bakers added yeast and baked the dough in a ring mould, and thus the crumpet was born. Bakers in the Midlands and London created the distinctive holes on the top of the crumpet by doubling the baking powder levels in the recipe, creating a small round bread that has been well-liked in England ever since and may be adapted as a morning dish or a tea-time treat.

Milk Bread

Milk bread was invented in Blackpool, Lancashire, and is occasionally referred to as the Blackpool Roll, Blackpool Milk Roll, or Lodger’s Loaf. It is a soft, white loaf that is around 17 centimetres across and is prepared with milk, as the name would imply. Typically cooked in a cylindrical mould to give it a distinctive shape, the bread doesn’t develop a crust because it isn’t exposed to air during cooking, which increases its softness and makes it a kids’ favourite.

There is some evidence to suggest that the original milk bread production method included using extraordinarily lengthy moulds, each measuring around a metre long, before the baker divided the finished product into many loaves.

Tea Cake

In England, there is debate over the exact boundary that separates bread from cake (and let’s not even start on the line between cake and biscuits!). But both artisan bakeries and supermarket baking departments frequently stock tea cakes. The term “tea cake,” which was once used to describe any cake served with afternoon tea, is now mostly linked with a type of bread that is lightly spiced and fruited. The tea cake is typically created with a dough that has been mildly sweetened and incorporates dried fruit. It is traditionally cut in half and buttered and has a steadfast following.

Muffin

The English muffin bears no resemblance to the cakes that the Americans call muffins, but the history of this form of bread certainly has a Transatlantic twist.

Mashed potatoes and leftover biscuit and bread dough scraps were combined to create the first English muffin, which was then fried on a hot griddle. In Victorian England, servants were the first to consume them, but other facets of English society quickly adopted them. During this time, muffin-making spread throughout England with many local variations, giving rise to the London muffin vendor and the well-known song about the Muffin Man.

However, to further complicate matters, although having many similarities to the product from the Victorian era, the current English muffin was actually developed in the US. In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated to the United States and opened a bakery in New York City where he sold what he called “toaster crumpets.” This kind of muffin is the bread that is familiar to us today; it is frequently consumed as a breakfast staple but is also a favourite teatime snack.

Huffkins

The huffkin is an unusual English bread that is an oval, flat loaf with a large indentation in the middle and a soft crust. It is a traditional Kentish recipe that yields bread that is softer and more open-textured than ordinary bread. Local stone ground flour is typically used in its preparation. The huffkin is a multipurpose bread that stores well and is perfect for stuffing as well as slicing and eating at breakfast. It is a native English product that deserves more recognition.

Lardy Cake

The lardy cake is another variation on the popular English fruit-flavoured bread and is made from a basic bread loaf recipe with the addition of sugar, dried fruit, nutmeg, and tiny chunks of lard. Because of the fat and sugar, the interior becomes mushy, while the caramelised sugar makes the crust crispy. Although it dates back to the 18th century, when spices and dried fruits became more affordable, this special type of bread is primarily found in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.

The Delights of Cambridgeshire Food

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The globally famous Cambridge University is perhaps the best known aspect of the county of  Cambridgeshire, which has long been regarded as a part of the larger region of East Anglia, but it has a reputation for the quality of its food products and unique dishes.

East Anglia itself has long been a strong rural storehouse and a significant source of the agricultural and other food products that have sustained England through war and peace over the centuries, and Cambridgeshire has played a big role in that production.

The North Sea inlet that is now known as The Wash served as the county’s primary defining feature in the past. This used to reach much farther inland than it does now, and it frequently flooded, leaving behind deposits of silt, peat, and clay that eventually contributed create the rich, fertile soils that were so beneficial to farmers in the area.

The majority of the original Wash has long since been drained and reclaimed, creating the flatlands known as the Fens, which is interspersed with low ridges that were originally islands.

In the years following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, an English army commanded by Hereward the Wake rebelled against the invading Norman king William the Conqueror, and one of these islands, the Isle of Ely, became one of the most well-known places in English history as their safe haven.

The Ouse, the Nene, and the Cam, a tributary of the Ouse, are three significant waterways that help define Cambridgeshire. A protracted process of redirection and embankment at the river basins contributed to the creation of more fertile agricultural land, with cereal crops flourishing on the chalky ridges in the county’s east, vegetables growing well in the Fens, and fruit trees flourishing on the slopes of the various former islands.

In fact, this reclamation process has a long history. When the invaders first arrived in the Cam valley during Roman times, they began to undertake reclamation efforts and the process lasted until well into the 16th century, creating an agricultural heartland.

The county has also played a significant role in English history. The area became the scene of battles between the Danes and the Anglo Saxons over control of England, and in the Middle Ages the University of Cambridge was established, elevating the city to the status of one of England’s most significant intellectual hubs. The county also gained fame for its numerous architectural accomplishments, including the stunning cathedral in Ely and the numerous academic buildings in Cambridge.

Despite being recognised for its agricultural past, the county does feature a manufacturing hub at Peterborough, which grew significantly in the second half of the 20th century as a result of a population expansion and the growth of engineering and light industry.

However, Cambridgeshire is still primarily a rural area, at the heart of the East Anglian region, which generates the majority of England’s grain and vegetable harvests, resulting in more than 5,700,000,000 loaves of bread and 2.5,000,000 pints of beer produced year!

Not surprisingly, there is a corresponding strong tradition of distinctive Cambridgeshire produce, which is celebrated at numerous farmers markets and festivals, including the Cambridge Beer Festival and the Strawberry Fair of early June. Here is a special selection of some of the traditional and modern foods and produce that have helped to define Cambridgeshire’s culinary reputation.  

Cambridge Cheese Company

One of the most well-known artisanal food businesses in Cambridgeshire is the Cambridge Cheese Company. Established in 1994, their store is surrounded by Cambridge’s iconic historic buildings and is stocked with more than 200 different varieties of the greatest cheeses. This is the perfect place to start for cheese lovers seeking for a carefully chosen selection of the best cheeses, all sourced from farmers who practise sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Cambridge College Pudding

Sometimes known simply as College Pudding, this tasty English dessert is traditionally considered to be the first pudding in England to be made by boiled in a cloth. Packed with currants, raisins and candied orange peel, it has long been associated with Cambridge University and has been served up to students at the University since 1617.

Originally, this was a steamed suet pudding of dried fruit, dates, milk, eggs, spice, flour and breadcrumbs that was made in two rounds, which were then sealed together with butter, wrapped in cloth and baked or steamed before being served with a wine sauce. Over the centuries, the recipe has been altered with less spice involved and by the Victorian era, the puddings were usually being baked in ovens instead of being steamed in a pudding cloth.

Cambridge Burnt Cream

This Cambridgeshire favourite, which is essentially an English take on the popular crème brulee, is thought to have originated at Cambridge University’s Trinity College. It is produced by baking a thick vanilla custard, topping it with sugar, and then burning the sugar until it is crisp. We don’t know when this dish was first made, but somewhere in the 1800s it was associated with Trinity College and started to show up in cookbooks under the names “Cambridge burnt cream” or “Trinity cream.” This dish is still served today by Trinity’s cooks, and it is excellent on a chilly winter night.

Cambridge Cheese

This is a traditional cheese that is hard to find these days, but is still being made at home by enthusiasts and small producers. It was traditionally made inside a rectangle-shaped mould, roughly the size of a house brick, which was then stood on straw mats, which were woven from harvest straw. Commercial production of the cheese, which has a lovely soft, fresh taste, was hit by restrictions imposed during the Second World War, and it has not recovered commercially, but this is an old English cheese that is long overdue a revival.

Fenland Celery

Celery is a common vegetable consumed throughout England, and although it is also farmed in Suffolk and Norfolk, Cambridgeshire is renowned for producing a disproportionate amount of this well-known crop. Due to the distinctive Fenland soil structure and growing process, which ensures that a large portion of the flavor-packed root is kept, it is still cultivated and harvested in the traditional manner, and the crop from this region of the country is regarded as the finest in England. Fenland celery is a flavorful and adaptable vegetable that works well in soups, salads, and even cocktails. It is available from October to December.

Coolship Sour Ale

The extensive cereal farming, particularly in the eastern regions of the county, has given rise to a long established beer industry in Cambridgeshire and today there are numerous breweries continuing the tradition, including Elgood’s Brewery. This brewer operates from the North Brink Brewery in Wisbech, that was built in 1795 and they employ a process and range of equipment dating back to the early 1900s, producing a traditionally flavoursome range of beers.

There is something for every type of beer drinker in the Elgood collection, but one of their most interesting products is the Coolship range. The range consists of three varieties are in the Lambic style, making Elgood one of only a handful of breweries able to produce this form of beer. The beer is cooled in open trays which are known as coolship trays, which enables the growth of wild yeasts and flavours, after which, it is allowed to undergo spontaneous fermentation for up to nine months in special tanks, producing a distinctive sour English beer that is definitely worth checking out.

Cambridgeshire Gummburner

This extra-mature Cheddar-style artisan cheese is produced using unpasteurised cows milk from Holstein cows and actually starts life in Lincolnshire. A traditional Lincolnshire cheese is barrel aged for an initial period of between two and three years, and is then taken across the border to Cambridgeshire, where it is matured for another two years, adding extra bite and flavour. It is one of the many cheeses sold by the Cambridge Cheese Company.

Buckinghamshire’s Culinary Oddities

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The south of England is occasionally seen as a homogenous mass of picturesque communities, wealthy landowners, and historic sites.

However, like each county in this region, Buckinghamshire has its own culture, history, and personality. It shares connections with all seven of the counties it borders and can boast some stunning scenery thanks to the River Thames and the chalky uplands of the Chiltern Hills. Despite being mostly rural until the early 20th century, the county is now one of the best connected in England thanks to numerous rail and road connections and its close proximity to London.

Being so centrally located in the south of the country, Buckinghamshire has been at the heart of many of the most significant events in English history. There is some evidence of Neolithic-era settlements in the region, and by the time the Saxons were the dominant culture, it had developed into a thriving region of Mercia’s kingdom.

The thickly forested Chilterns were cleared by the early 17th century, as agricultural interests expanded and many of the most affluent people in the kingdom have left their mark in the county. The Stowe and Cliveden estates, for example, are just two of the famous English country mansions and parkland to have been established there.  

Buckinghamshire has significantly contributed in a number of areas in the modern era, including the world-famous Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, which is well known for its treatment of spinal cord injuries and which has the distinction of hosting the World Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games since 1948, the forerunner of the Paralympic Games.

Although there were printing companies and light manufacturing in the Aylesbury region during the nineteenth century and the town of Wolverton was well-known for its railway workshops, Buckinghamshire did not see the same dramatic effects of the Industrial Revolution as other regions did.

However, the county had an economic boom in the latter half of the 20th century as a result of the growth of the new town of Milton Keynes. This town, which also houses the Open University, which was established in 1971, included some of the smaller communities around and grew into an important economic hub.

Despite these contemporary developments, Buckinghamshire still has a very rural atmosphere, which is reflected in the wide range of traditional foods for which the county is renowned.

Grenadier Apples

The Bramley is currently the most common cooking apple in England, but before the advent of supermarkets, there was a far larger variety available. One of the most well-known of them was the Grenadier, which was grown in numerous locations throughout the county of its origin, Buckinghamshire.

The Grenadier, which ripens around the middle of August, was first discovered in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it quickly lost popularity economically since it doesn’t keep well and has an unsightly appearance with ribbed surface. The Grenadier, however, is perfect for cooking. It is ideal for apple jam, apple pie, or crumble and has a delicate but delectable apple flavour.

It is also a well-liked variety in English gardens since it is resistant to most apple diseases and is relatively simple to grow in the garden. Because it ripens early, it may be collected gradually while the weather is still favourable, which makes up for the fact that it performs poorly in storage.

Bacon Badgers

Few names in traditional English food are stranger than Buckinghamshire’s very own Bacon Badger, even from a nation that is known for its peculiar names.

This cuisine resembles the Bedfordshire Clanger from the neighbouring county in many aspects, although it is a much more substantial dish. Its unique name comes from the finished product’s oddly domed appearance, which is believed to mimic the profile of a badger’s back.

You’ll be happy to know that the Bacon Badger is badger-free! The dish is constructed with suet dough that is filled with a mixture of potatoes, onions, bacon or gammon, and potatoes. To prepare it, the entire thing is wrapped up and steam-cooked for a number of hours. This recipe is surprisingly adaptable; it can be eaten warm or chilled, making it perfect for a picnic or summer lunch.

Buckinghamshire Dumpling

The Buckinghamshire Dumpling is one of a number of savoury English recipes made with suet. Originally, it was created for farmworkers coming home after a long day in the fields, as it provides a wealth of protein and energy.

To make it, suet pastry is rolled out and topped with a mixture of bacon rashers, onions, and pigs’ liver, as well as seasonings like sage, parsley, and pepper. Following that, the pastry is folded into a package that must be steam-cooked for up to three hours. It tastes best when served hot and provides a comforting warmth, making it a meat eaters’ go-to dish.

Cherry Turnovers

It is no surprise to find that one of the finest cherry desserts in England comes from Buckinghamshire, which is known for its variety and quality of cherry orchards.

The turnovers are constructed with a very thin pastry that is then filled with ripe, tart cherries. Since this dish calls for the freshest fruits, and cherries typically reach their optimum between July and August, it is best savoured during those months. Cherry turnovers are a perennial favourite among visitors and can be enjoyed warm with cream or custard or chilled as part of a picnic.

Stokenchurch Pie

Stokenchurch Pie is an unusual traditional English dish as it uses macaroni, although pasta was known to English cooks from the Plantagenet era. It is another example of the versatile approach of English cooking, as it can effectively be made with any sort of meat.

The dish is made by lining a layer of pastry with cooked macaroni, followed by chopped meat, hard boiled eggs, and another layer of macaroni and meat. The top is then covered and the pie is backed. Taking its name from the old village of Stokenchurch, it is a carb-heavy dish that is almost a meal in itself!

Aylesbury Duck

The county seat of Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury, has a reputation for duck breeding ever since the town’s namesake bird was first produced there in the early 18th century. The duck is actually depicted on the town crest of Aylesbury because it has grown to be so closely identified with the town.

Aylesbury, which is only 40 miles from the renowned Smithfield meat markets, was the perfect location to produce ducks since they could be transported there without losing condition. Due to its appealing look and meaty traits, the duck was one of the most well-liked breeds in Englandm and white feathers from the duck were highly sought-after for use in pillows.

The Aylesbury duck’s meat is less stringy and harsh than some competing varieties, and it is less fatty than the Peking duck, which was first domesticated at the turn of the 20th century. The Aylesbury Duck is fairly versatile in serving. It can be served with a cherry sauce that has the effect of balancing the fattiness of the flesh, served with onion sauce, put to a pie, or stewed with peas. One family in the Vale of Aylesbury continues the tradition of raising ducks in the same manner as their forefathers, allowing them to forage organically among their cherry orchards.

Cuisine from the English Riviera: The Food of Cornwall

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Cornwall is the most isolated English county, and this may explain why it has developed a culture that is so distinctive. Its eastern border, on the Tamar River, is around 200 miles from London, while its most westerly town, Penzance, is about 80 miles away, close to Land’s End, the traditional southwesternmost point of the British Isles.

As a result of its Celtic heritage, the Duchy of Cornwall shares more in common with Wales, Brittany, Ireland, and Scotland than it does with England, and Cornish, like Welsh, Gaelic, and Breton, is a much older language than English, coming from Celtic roots.

The county’s stunning coastline terrain is now its main draw for visitors, yet increasing tourism pressures have taken their toll, and extensive portions of the coast are either controlled by the National Trust or protected from commercial development in some way.

Prehistoric people were drawn to the area by metal ores, particularly tin, and there is abundant evidence of early human activity in the county, including stone remnants such megalithic dolmens, monoliths, and rings.

As a result of Roman and Saxon colonisation in England, Celtic Christians fled to Cornwall, where they fought the Saxon advance for 500 years, until surrendering to Saxon rule in the 10th century.

The territory was moulded into an earldom during the Norman Conquest, and they have had a distinct category since 1337, regarded to belong to the English sovereign’s eldest son, who is granted the title of Duke of Cornwall.

Rural resources have provided a stable economic foundation for the county throughout its history, notwithstanding the downturn in mining activity. The environment is well-suited to rural pursuits as the valleys are ideal for dairy cattle, while the moorland has plenty of open space for harsh grazing. The mild winters enable the production of delicate and early crops, making market gardening an essential role in the sheltered coastal districts.

Tourism is also a significant source of revenue, particularly along the coast, where many of the little fishing ports, including as St. Ives, Newquay, and Polperro, have developed into popular tourist destinations. Many of the county’s coastal towns are also functioning ports, including Falmouth, Fowey, and Penzance. With it’s long history of seafaring and fishing, Cornwall has contributed some of the most popular and distinctive culinary specialities in English cuisine.

Cornish Pasty

The Cornish pasty, one of the most famous of all English meals, is among just a few to be designated as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) . It is the prototype for a variety of similar pasties that functioned as a handy and filling way for agricultural workers and miners to acquire daily sustenance while working across the country.

The typical pasty is seasoned with pepper and cooked with minced or diced beef, diced onion, potato, and swede. The thick pastry kept the ingredients warm for longer, and hard-working tin miners would devour these delicious pastries during brief breaks in the working day.

Cornish Pilchards

Pilchards were once the lifeblood of the Cornish economy, and even those who aren’t admirers of this little, oily fish will recognise its significance. Those who weren’t working in a mine in Cornwall in the 18th and 19th centuries were likely to be employed in the pilchard industry. Pilchard fishing spawned the famed Cornish fishing communities of Mousehole, Mevagissey, Polperro, and St Ives, which have come to characterise the county over the last two centuries.

The heyday of the pilchard industry is long gone, but the pilchard has evolved into a delicacy, available in luxury stores across the country, and grilled pilchards are a delightful and nutritious snack eaten widely throughout England.

Stargazy Pie

It would be impossible to discuss Cornwall without mentioning this renowned, or infamous, form of a fish pie, depending on your point of view. The abundance of pilchards in the country allowed for the creation of this pie, which is then baked with potatoes and eggs in a pastry shell. This results in a delectable dish, but the most distinguishing feature of this pie is how it is presented. As if they were ‘looking at the stars,’ the heads of the fish are left poking through the crust.

The dish is said to have originated in the 16th century in the village of Mousehole, and was named after a local fisherman who braved the hazardous waters one winter day when the storms were so fierce that no one could catch any fish, leaving the community on the verge of starvation. Tom Bawcock, the fisherman, returned with enough fish to serve the entire community. The pilchard heads protruding out of the crust were supposed to symbolise a celebration of the return of the fish.

Saffron bun

Sometimes described as the Cornish tea treat or the Revel bun, the Saffron bun has some similarities to the tea cakes eaten across England, in that it includes currants, but the addition of saffron is distinctive. This is one of the world’s most expensive spices so would seem to be an unusual addition, and no-one is quite sure how it came to be used in this bun, but one explanation is that it was first acquired in ancient times from the travelling Phoenicians who travelled to England to trade tin. Whatever its origin, the saffron bun has become known as a quirky Cornish treat.

Cornish Meaderies

Cornwall wasn’t famous for creating mead, which is made from fermented honey and water, although the Cornish version does make for a sweet and heady brew. But the Duchy can claim to have created the meadery, which can best be described as a medieval themed restaurant, where food is served to customers on wooden plates and eating with your fingers is compulsory. Naturally, there is plenty of Cornish mead on offer, together with the equally tasty and potent Cornish blackberry wine!

Cornish Hevva Cake

This classic Cornish cake, also known as the Cornish heavy cake, is created with a large mixture of lard, flour, butter, milk, sugar, and raisins. This cake was often made to honour a successful pilchard catch during the peak of the pilchard industry.

As part of the fishing effort, a local man was hired as a ‘huer,’ whose job was to stay on the cliff top and keep an eye out for pilchard shoals. If he saw them, he had to yell “Hevva, hevva!” in Cornish, which means “here they are!” He’d wave his arms to direct the fishing flotilla, and when the pilchards were landed, the hamlet would celebrate with hevva cakes. These cakes are traditionally decorated with a criss-cross pattern that represents fishermen’s nets.

Cornish Cream Tea

The cream tea has become famous as a Cornish product, although there is fierce dispute in the south-west over its precise heritage, with many in neighbouring Devon claiming the honour.

The basis of the cream tea is the fresh scone, which is split in half, then spread with strawberry jam followed by a scoop of clotted cream and is best served with a pot of tea. The Cornish cream tea has become popular with holidaymakers and across England, and while it is similar in most respects to the Devon cream tea, the Cornish cream tea strictly follows a jam-first approach, while the Devon cream tea involves spreading the cream first.

Newlyn crab

Crabs are caught widely around the coasts of Cornwall, but those landed in Newlyn, near Penzance, have the reputation for being the best. Both types of crab meat, the white, which is found in the crab’s claws and the brown, are widely enjoyed. The white meat is used in seafood dishes, while the brown is popular for soups and broths. All types of crab cuisine are popular on the Cornish coast, but there are few more enjoyable eating experiences than a bowl of crab soup or a crab sandwich in Newlyn.

Yarg Cheese

Over 50 different types of cheese are produced in Cornwall, but the Yarg is undoubtedly the most famous. The recipe is thought to have been established in the 13th century, but it was reintroduced in the 1960s by a married couple named the Grays, who allegedly named it after themselves, spelled backwards. This is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is similar to Caerphilly, but one notable difference is that it is wrapped in nettles, which make an edible rind once the stings are removed by freezing the leaves.

Cornish Fairings

The Cornish fairing has the distinction of being the traditional biscuit of Cornwall. It has something in common with the ginger nut, though less crunchy and much more buttery. Originally, fairings were eaten across England and earned their name thanks to being a popular treat at fairs, but the efforts of Cornish baker John Cooper Furniss, ensured the Cornish version become nationally dominant and now the traditional Cornish fairing is one of the most delicious of Cornwall’s culinary treats.

The Royal County: Berkshire’s Rich Cuisine

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Many English counties are famous for a specific industry, dish, or historical event, but Berkshire is most recognised for its royal connections. The presence of Windsor Castle, the Royal residence, within the county lines has traditionally associated Berkshire with the nobility, and that reputation has only grown stronger over the ages.

Despite its reputation as a rural area, the county’s terrain is remarkably diverse. Berkshire is shaped and bounded on the eastern end by the Thames and acres of forested terrain, including the famed Windsor Forest. Beautiful chalk downs may be found in the west, rising to nearly 1000 feet in some areas. Because of its proximity to London, the county is served by several railway and road networks and is home to a large number of city commuters.

The county’s importance dates back to prehistoric times, when the Berkshire Downs were home to a number of prehistoric villages, many of which were connected by ridgeways, including those that led to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The Iron Age Uffington White Horse, a spectacular shape carved into the chalk of the White Horse Hill, is another notable archaeological monument in Berkshire.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Iron Age communities in the river valleys to the east of the county, as well as a notable Belgic site at Silchester, which later formed an important stop on the Roman road network that runs through the county.

The major Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex alternately claimed Berkshire in the years after the Romans left, with the latter also having a link to Berkshire through Alfred the Great, the first king of England, who was born in Wantage in 848.

Following their conquest of England, the Normans recognised the importance of the Thames to the economy and strategic position of the country, prompting the construction of the original Windsor Castle, which later became the major residence of the British royal family outside of London. During the Middle Ages, towns like Wallingford and Abingdon flourished, and the famed private school of Eton was founded in Berkshire in the 15th century.

While Berkshire was mostly unaffected by the Industrial Revolution, its proximity to London has always meant that the county has been influenced by events in the capital, which has included the many waves of new urban expansion over the last two centuries. Reading, the county town, was at the heart of much of this development, while Slough, when WWI ended, became an important industrial location. At the same time, a number of towns in the county grew in importance as commuter hubs and high-tech and software development centres.

Despite these changes, the western half of the county has preserved much of its agricultural character, as well as a tradition of horse racing in the Newbury and Lambourne areas. Cereal crops, in particular, constitute a significant component of the county’s economy, and the food industry is thriving, with numerous high-end restaurants showcasing Berkshire cuisine.

Eton Mess

The most well-known of Berkshire’s culinary accomplishments is a delectable summer dessert named for the prestigious public school where it is said to have been invented. According to legend, strawberries, meringue, and a cream pudding were dropped during an Eton vs. Harrow cricket match in the late 1800s, and when the resulting ‘mess’ was swept up, the outcome was an exceedingly tasty and refreshing treat. Whether or not the anecdote is genuine, the Eton Mess has become one of England’s most popular sweet desserts and a classic summer dish.

Windsor Pudding

Windsor Pudding may not be as well-known as Eton Mess, but it has a large following in the United Kingdom. It’s unclear if it got its name because it was cooked in Windsor or because of the Royal connection, but either way, it’s a delightful comfort dish made with breadcrumbs and suet, with diced apple, currants, raisins, sweet wine, and eggs. It takes around three hours to cook the whole thing, and it was originally boiled in a canvas bag before being served with sugar and white wine sauce.

Wigmore Cheese

This delicious, creamy, crumbly cheese is created in Riseley, a little community on the outskirts of Reading. It’s a semi-soft cheese made from unpasteurized ewe’s milk and made using traditional hand-washed curd cheese procedures, with a vegetarian, natural rind as a result.

The curd is handwashed, which reduces whey and lowers acidity, allowing the cheese to maintain its typical smooth texture and mild flavour. Early on, Wigmore can be crumbly, but as it ages, it softens and matures into a velvety texture comparable to Brie, but without the tendency to become runny. Wigmore has received multiple awards at the British Cheese Awards and is delicious when paired with a glass of Burgundy.

Berkshire Faggots

Faggots are one of those ‘acquired taste’ English foods that have been enjoyed by generations of workers across the country. Although the most renowned faggots recipe comes from the West Midlands, Berkshire has its own reputation when it comes to this distinctive dish. Berkshire faggots are produced from pork offcuts that are seasoned with sage, pepper, salt, and chopped onions, moulded into balls, and baked or stewed to provide a nutritious and substantial meal.

Berkshire Bacon Pudding

Berkshire Bacon Pudding, also known as Berkshire Bacon Rolly Poly, is a delectable dish prepared with bacon and onion that is wrapped in suet pastry and steamed. Some cooks choose to add sage for a more complex flavour, but this stodgy yet satisfying pastry dish is typically prepared simply and served as a lunchtime snack.

Barkham Blue

Berkshire is also home to another popular cheese, created by the Two Hoots cheese firm, in addition to the award-winning Wigmore. They make a variety of high-quality cheeses, but their most famous is certainly the Barkham Blue, which they started as a pastime. This is a rich, salty blue cheese that has a devoted following across the country, not just in Berkshire. It has also received a number of honours, including the Best Blue Cheese in the United Kingdom.

Poor Knights of Windsor

This dish, which is comparable to French Toast, has a lengthy history. Although comparable dishes in other parts of Europe have also been dubbed ‘poor knights,’ the origin of its title is unknown. The basic dish is made with white bread that has been soaked in cream and then cooked with eggs and nutmeg till golden and served with milk and sugar. Although a later variation, from the middle of the nineteenth century, proposes eating it with a wine sauce, the first example of this dish came in a cookbook from 1658, which suggested serving it with rosewater, butter, and sugar.

Reading Sauce

Reading Sauce is one of the oddest delicacies in English regional cooking. It was produced by fishmonger James Cocks, who founded his store in Reading in 1789, and is officially known as Cocks’ Reading Sauce.

It’s made in the same style as Worcestershire sauce, but with a unique combination of uncommon ingredients and a completely new flavour. Shallots, walnut pickle, anchovies, and cayenne pepper, as well as chillies, garlic, mushroom, and soy sauce, make for a distinctive taste.

Surprisingly, this combination of ingredients became a household staple in England and throughout the world until falling out of favour in the first half of the twentieth century. It was prominently mentioned in Jules Verne’s 1872 novel Around The World In Eighty Days, in which the protagonist, Phileas Fogg, breakfasts at the Reform Club in London on broiled fish with Reading sauce. Although the sauce is no longer popular, it is nevertheless an important component of Berkshire cuisine.

A Guide to English Beer Types

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It is not contentious to state that England is a beer-drinking nation. Our culture has old and profound ties to the fermentation and consumption of fermented hops, with all of the associated rituals, associations, and societal ramifications.

Some of the finer aspects of the differences in varieties of beer have been forgotten over the decades. Beer and ale are often used interchangeably nowadays, but this was not always the case. In fact, ale was initially a malted barley drink with herbs and spices but no hops, whereas beer was a malted barley drink with hops that was drunk all over continental Europe.

Hopped beer was first consumed in England in 1362, when it was brought from Amsterdam and served in Great Yarmouth. By 1412, there was evidence that imported hops were being used to make beer in Colchester. But domestic hops cultivation did not begin until 1520, when the first samples were planted in Kent.

English people continued to love ale brewing and drinking, and both beer and ale were regarded as distinct drinks. Eventually, maybe by the 18th century, hopped beer had taken over, and the distinctions between ale and beer were gradually lost.

From the 17th century onwards, England’s growing international power and enormous commerce network increased demand for beer, bringing it to parts of the world that had never tried it before.

Much of the beer distribution was unintentional and not totally commercial. On extended voyages, ships carried beer as a supply of drinking water and daily rations to keep the crew happy. In truth, in the years before efficient public sanitation, the preference for beer over drinking water made a lot of sense in English society, because the alcohol in beer killed most of the hazardous bacteria found in public drinking water.

Beer drinking, and the associated inn and public house culture, slowly became an essential part of English life. For many decades in the 20th century, the beer business was dominated by a few powerful breweries, but all of this changed in 2002, when the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown made dramatic changes to the taxes on beer duty. 

The result has been an explosion in small, artisanal and craft breweries, and a rainbow of inventive styles and flavours, that has seen England become one of the world’s leading producers of innovative beers, ales, porters and stouts. To help you explore the wonderful world of English beer, here are ten of the most notable styles you are likely to come across:

Bitter

This is a classic English beer style that refers to cask-conditioned ales, popular throughout the English pub landscape. When it comes to style, bitters can be quite versatile and include brews of different colours, strengths, and flavours, but one thing that most bitters have in common is a malty essence, a bite of hop bitterness, light or medium body, and a relatively low alcohol content. Bitter is often graded in ascending order of alcoholic content, from ordinary bitter to best bitter and finally strong or extra special bitter.

Brown ale

This is an old and versatile style of beer whose origins lie in the depths of the English brewing tradition. Back in the Victorian era, the name ‘brown ale’ was used as a generic term that referred to various types of beers made from brown malt. The arrival of pale malt meant that the brown ale style of beer nearly died out completely, although it was revived and began to regain some ground in the 1920s.

Newcastle Brown is perhaps the most famous of the English brown ales, and it formed the foundation of the revival of brown ale, although these days the brown ale name incorporates a variety of different styles and flavours.

Pale ale

Although the name pale ale probably originated in 18th-century England, it was originally mainly used for those brews that were produced with pale barley malt and which were a little lighter than the standard dark and brown beers. It was also used interchangeably with the term bitter, leading to further confusion that continues to this day.

Over the following centuries however, the style developed in new directions that were driven by different brewing practices as well as the choice of hops, leading to a diverse style with a broad range of strength, colour and flavour, though most pale ales are malty, dominated by hops and range in colour from gold to amber. 

India pale ale

India pale ale or IPA is one of the most interesting beer styles with origins that are widely disputed, though it seems that the style developed from the need to transport pale ale brews to distant colonies, particularly India, because the climate there was too hot to brew beer.

IPA was produced by raising alcohol levels and adding more hops, helping to preserve the beer on long journeys. The first reference to India pale ale was noted in the 1830s, though it is likely that the style long predated this period. These days, IPAs are at the heart of the craft beer revolution, particularly in the US.  

Porter 

This is a beer style that was developed in London sometime in the 18th century, although the array of well-balanced and aromatic modern versions has little in common with the original. Porter is a versatile dark ale that is made from dark malted barley along with a hefty helping of hops, leading to roasted, malty flavours and medium bitterness.

Stout

Stout is a top-fermented beer that is usually dark, with a deep, roasted flavour. It is believed that the stout was developed as an adaptation of porter, at some point during the 18th century, when brewers were aiming to produce a stronger and fuller porter.  

This drink is best known for its aromas of roasted barley and roasted malt that can even be reminiscent of coffee, chocolate, or cocoa. Traditional dry stouts can be black or deep brown in colour and are in the medium-light to medium-full range when it comes to body, while being smooth, creamy, and silky with a long dry finish.

Imperial Stout

This stout variant is a strong and opaque dark beer that was first produced in London, but which is also associated with Russia, Baltic countries, and in recent years, with the US. Modern imperial stouts range from deep red to dark brown and are full-bodied, rich, complex, and intense drinks, with flavours that can include roasted malt, dark and dried fruit, chocolate, and coffee. Most varieties will be high in alcohol and bitter hops.  

Sweet stout

This is another variant of stout that is usually brewed with the addition of milk sugar. It is also sometimes known as cream or milk stout, and it emerged in England sometime in the early 1900s. Sweet stouts are usually dark and full-bodied beers that offer grainy malt flavours and aromas, which often hint at coffee and chocolate.

Sweet stouts provide medium hop bitterness, and their malty character is well-balanced with medium to high sweetness. They can make an ideal pairing with chocolate desserts, but they can also work well alongside creamy cheese, spicy dishes, game, and rich sauces. 

Oatmeal stout

This is yet another take on stout, this time with the addition of oatmeal. The style first became popular in England, sometime in the late 19th century. Oatmeal stouts are usually dark and smooth, with a distinct roasted malt character and coffee aromas.

By adding oatmeal, the stout will take on subtle sweetness and sometimes earthy, grainy, and nutty flavour, while the bitterness can vary, but it is usually low to moderate. Oatmeal stouts goes well with roasted meat, rich and spicy sauces, chocolate and caramel.

Barley wine

Despite the name, English barley wine is actually a style of beer that is often considered the ancestor of all beers. It is a strong, rich, and usually moderately hoppy style with pronounced malt flavours, along with aromas of bread, toast, toffee, dried fruit, and molasses.

If aged for longer periods, barley win can take on similar characteristics to port and sherry wines, and though these beers usually have high alcohol content, the alcohol is not usually overpowering as the drink mellows with age. In terms of colour, there is a variety of tones from deep gold and brown to lighter shades. Barley win is typically smooth and velvety in body, with a distinctive taste.  

The Taste of Bedfordshire Food

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Bedfordshire is one of England’s smallest counties, although it has had a significant impact on the country’s history and cuisine. It borders the counties of Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire, and offers a diversified scenery, ranging from the picturesque rural north to the city of Luton in the south of the county.

Bedfordshire’s history of human settlement goes all the way back to the Bronze Age. Indeed, there is evidence that the Beaker people, who were thought to be immigrants from the eastern Mediterranean region with a highly developed society, settled in what is now Bedfordshire in approximately 1800 BC.

When the Romans arrived in England, they saw the south of Bedfordshire as particularly important, concentrating their construction efforts in the area of Dunstable, which they called Durocobrivae and which went on to become a vital trading hub on the Roman road network.

The area we now know as Bedfordshire was overrun by Saxon and then Danish tribes after the Romans left England, and it was the Danes who eventually created the county town of Bedford, though Bedfordshire didn’t have its own distinct character until the later Saxon period, when it was officially recognised as one of the English shires.

Since then, the county has been characterised by two fundamental aspects: its rural traditions and its proximity to London, making it a suitable location for many of England’s landed aristocracy to call home over the years. This means that although the county is steeped in history and offers a variety of beautiful places to visit, it is only 35 minutes by rail from London. Not surprisingly, the county is considered an ideal destination for day-tripping tourists from the capital.

The county has a museum dedicated to John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the most important early writers in the English language. It is also known for a 20th century monument. In December 1944, bandleader Glenn Miller took off from RAF Twinwood Farm for his final flight, which ended in tragedy. The location, which is no longer used as an airstrip, now houses the Glenn Miller Museum in the old control tower.

Woburn Abbey, one of England’s most famous stately homes, and Woburn Safari Park are both within driving distance of Bedford. Wrest Park, another noble home, has an annual St George’s Day festival, which takes place in the Park’s exquisite grounds.

In addition, two popular transportation museums are also located in the county. The Shuttleworth Collection houses almost 50 aircraft that depict the evolution of aviation in England and around the world, while the Stondon Transport Museum near Henlow houses a full-scale replica of Captain Cook’s ship, Endeavour.

Although the town of Luton in the county’s south is best known for its history of light industry and connections to London, the county’s north retains much of its old rural character, including the Barton Hills National Nature Reserve, through which runs the Icknield Way, which extends to Norfolk in the north east and Wiltshire in the south west. This agricultural past has resulted in several intriguing Bedfordshire meals as well as a culinary culture that continues to add to England’s unique food collection to this day:

Willow Tree Gin

The artisanal gin boom of the last 15 years has led to some remarkable English takes on the traditional drink and Bedfordshire is home to one of the most distinctive. Willow Tree Gin is produced in the small hamlet of Thorncote Green, created in small batches from a unique selection of botanicals, which includes herbs freshly picked from a family farm. The ingredients are selectively smoked and this handcrafted gin has a delightfully clean finish.

Apple Florentine Pie

This is among the more unusual desserts in English culinary history. It is essentially a dish of apple slices that is combined with lemon and sugar which is then baked under a paste crust. It sounds similar to an apple pie, but there is an interesting twist. Once the pie is cooked, the crust is removed and cut into portions, and hot ale, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, is then poured over the apple filling. The pastry is then replaced and the dish is served.

It seems likely that the Apple Florentine Pie was a traditional Christmas dish, and there is some evidence that it was enjoyed in the town of Potton in Bedfordshire as early as the late 18th century. Modern versions go without the ritual of the pastry and feature the spiced ale in the original filling mixture, but the end result is still a hearty and warming dessert.

Catterning or Catherine Cakes

Another famous Bedfordshire dish, Catterning Cakes were made in order to celebrate St. Catherine’s Day on the 25th of November, though they are sometimes also known as Catherine Cakes after Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, who lived in the county.

St Catherine’s day gave rise to the traditions of Catterning, which have some similarity to those of All Souls Day on November 2nd. They were first mentioned in 1730, and involved beggars or children going from door to door singing and asking for cakes and bread, though sometimes the gifts given were beer and apples. The cakes themselves are similar to scones, but are traditionally made in a swirl pattern and contain dried fruit, spices and carraway seeds. Best eaten warm, they are especially delicious on a winter’s afternoon or eaten with a glass of mulled wine.

Humbers Home Made Preserves

Bedfordshire is the base for a number of successful modern food makers, including Humbers Home Made Preserves, which is based in Flitwick. This small family firm was set up in 2007 by Vickie Humber, a jam-making enthusiast. The business has gone from strength to strength and Humbers now supply their range of jams, curds, chutneys and jellies to a range of local delis, hotels and farm shops, as well as visiting dozens of farmers markets to sell their wares. Humbers have won numerous awards and are a modern day English culinary success story.

Bedfordshire Clanger

We could hardly write about the foods of Bedfordshire without mentioning the most famous export from this part of the world, the Bedfordshire Clanger. Bearing some similarities to the Cornish Pasty, the Bedfordshire Clanger is a traditional dish that dates back to the 19th century and began life as a as a boiled suet pudding with a savoury meat filling at one end and a sweet fruit filling at the other.

It was a popular food with agricultural workers of that era, who could take a Clanger out to the fields and eat it cold during the day. The word Clanger has two possible origins. It may refer to the unusual nature of the dish that combines sweet and savoury foods, which may have been considered a culinary ‘clanger’ by some. It could also come from the local dialect, in which the word ‘clang’ means to eat with a voracious appetite.

As for the Clanger filling, the savoury part is usually made of gammon and potatoes, while the sweet part is filled with fruit jam or stewed apples. These days, short crust pastry is employed rather than suet, and there is a pastry partition separating the two halves. Clangers remain popular in Bedfordshire and can be a filling snack that is almost a complete dinner in one dish.

Bevistan Cheeses

Bedfordshire’s cheese industry is well known and packed with local diversity, but one of the most popular local cheesemakers is the Bevistan Dairy, famous for its sheep cheese. They have a range of cheeses, such as the Bevistan Tomme, which is a versatile cheese well suited to eating with biscuits or for use in many dishes. Bevistan Dairy Smoked Cheese is another popular Beviston product, as well as Carlton Sheep Cheese; an artisan semi-soft cheese that is delicious when baked whole.