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Food in England: A Complete Guide to the Food That Makes Us Who We are

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Make a custard mixture of eggs beaten in milk, season strongly with pepper, salt and thyme, a very little chopped sage, and a lot of marigold petals (the common yellow marigold). The joint of meat needed to be dredged and basted, Hartley explains, and flavoured "with the flavour of the food the animal ate", so marsh mutton was sauced with laver weed, whereas mountain mutton was smothered in thyme. In a year of filming Hartley's places and people she knew, Worsley discovered that "my frustration with her technique as historian was misplaced. As well as visiting the rambly old house with its garden full of fruit where the adolescent Dorothy first began writing and drawing, we visited a restaurant run by an old schoolmate of mine who restricts himself to ingredients from within a twenty mile radius, just as the Tudors did. Finally ‘Food in England’ came to fruition in the home she inherited from her mother in the Welsh village of Fron, outside Llangollen.

It's an odd, fascinating, informative, inspiring, amazing book (although it's useless as an academic source because it doesn't have any references or even a bibliography). For baking, where exact instructions are needed, these are given in Imperial units, but the oven temperature and timing are again left mainly to the cook's experience. The amount of information about how things were cooked in the past that is applicable to how we cook things today is astounding. Some of these such as stargazey pie are old-fashioned, but all are practical recipes that can be cooked. Thus you dredge with powders or spices to give flavour, or with acid juices, or chopped herbs, which the pouring fat washes down into the crevices of the roasting meat.

A serviceable English ‘tea’ may be made with blackthorn for bulk, and sage, lemon balm, woodruff (the plant), and black-currant leaves for flavour. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. The middle-class Victorian household 1800-1900 section includes mention of brisk exercise before breakfast, which brought to mind the old ladies I met when I was alumni officer at the boarding-school where Enid Blyton's daughters were educated.

Second Impression of this definitive history of English cuisine, a "treasury of information on the gathering, storing, and cooking of food from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries. Where roasting meant cooking with a heat source coming from a fire and the roast was twisting on some twine with the drippings falling into a pan below. Hartley's devotion to archaic recipes such as stargazey pie and posset sometimes comes across as mildly crazed. This is a fantastic book - I've read it three or four times, it's completely fascinating if you have any interest in the history of English cooking. A new volume from Prospect Books, Lost World: England 1933-36, gathers together many of the articles she wrote on food for the Daily Sketch, 20 years before Food in England.I don’t think a sparrow could make a meal off a Welsh trotter, but in the larger breeds of sheep, the trotters are almost as meaty as a pig’s). Dorothy Hartley's mother was from Froncysylltau, near Llangollen in North Wales, where the family owned quarries and property. She describes some delicious puddings, cakes and breads, including an exotic violet flower ice cream, an eighteenth century coconut bread and Yorkshire teacakes.

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