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Food stories from around the UK

Storytelling has long been a traditional way of passing on knowledge and sharing heritage. This year, the Federation of Children’s Book Groups is celebrating its 50th year, and we thought it would be a fantastic time to join in with their annual National Share a Story Month in May. 

This year, the theme includes a look at the traditions of food and, well, if there is one thing we love it’s a tasty recipe. We’ve toured the UK to find some of the best known local delicacies and the stories attached to them

Scottish Haggis

A savoury pudding containing minced offal, oatmeal, onions, suet and spices and cooked in a sheep’s stomach. 

The national dish of Scotland requires no introduction, or does it? Although most people have heard of a haggis, very few outside of Scotland seem sure as to what it actually is. There is even a misconception across the pond that the haggis is a small, four-legged animal that has longer legs on one side of its body, allowing it to run around the mountains of Scotland with ease – presumably in one direction only. 

The history of the haggis is an ancient one. As hunting parties made their kill, they would use up the offal first, cooking it over the campfire and using the animal’s stomach as a convenient cooking pot. 

Despite the description, it’s much like a sausage, with a coarse texture, and traditionally serviced with neeps – mashed turnip. We don’t recommend you take up hunting whilst relaxing on your forest break, but you’ll find haggis on restaurant menus and in the shops around our Scottish forest locations.

Yorkshire Curd Tart

A baked cheesecake, created with curd cheese, mixed with currants, allspice and rosewater, in a shortcrust pastry shell. 

You cannot think of Yorkshire without considering the Yorkshire pudding – accompaniment to many a Sunday roast – or delicious Wensleydale Cheese. But have you heard of the Yorkshire Curd Tart?

Traditionally made at Whitsun, the Yorkshire Curd Tart has featured in recipes from around the 17th century and was baked for the county fairs held at the time. It’s considered a true delicacy of Yorkshire.

Nottinghamshire Bramley Apple Pie

A pie in which the main filling is apple, with a top and bottom of pastry, traditionally served with ice cream, custard or, in some regions, cheddar cheese.7

To Nottinghamshire, and the Bramley Apple pie. The original Bramley apple tree was grown from a pip planted by a girl called Mary Ann Brailsford in 1809. The garden came to be owned by a butcher called Matthew Bramley, who agreed to allow local gardener Henry Merryweather to take cuttings. 

The original tree is still bearing apples, although it’s now believed to be dying. There are now over 300 Bramley growers in the UK, and 83,000 tonnes of apples are grown each year, yet it is only favoured here in the UK, and, curiously, in Japan.

So loved is the Bramley Apple that a festival is held every October to celebrate its flavour and cooking qualities. Food critics will say that the apple itself is sour and most other countries prefer a sweet apple that holds its shape for any dish, main or pud. But here we hold our Bramley apple dear and would not consider any other for our apple pie. 

The Norfolk Plough Pudding

A suet pastry topped steamed pudding filled with pork sausage meat, chopped bacon and onion with sage and sugar.

Farming and agriculture have always played an important part of the British calendar – you’re likely aware of the Harvest Festival. But have you heard of the festival to mark the start of the season, that is still acknowledged in agricultural communities in Norfolk

Plough Monday has been celebrated as far back as the 14th century, beginning on the Monday after Twelfth night to mark the start of the spring ploughing season. The local vicar would bless the plough on Plough Sunday. The following day, Plough Monday, the agricultural community would eat a traditional Norfolk Plough Pudding. Farm labourers would haul a plough through the streets collecting money while shouting “Penny for the ploughboys.” This would, of course, lead to much merrymaking, while the ploughboys performed a traditional dance called the molly dance.  

Cornish Pasty

A baked pastry filled with meat and vegetables. Although the original pasty has been around for centuries, it became associated with Cornwall in the 17th century. Miners found it to be a convenient food, as filling as a full meal, that stayed warm for a long time due to the dense pastry, and could be eaten as a finger food. 

In 2011, the name Cornish Pasty was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the EU. The correct recipe, according to the PGI, does not include carrots, although plenty of recipes will add it in.  You’ll find a variety of fillings in bakeries around our Deerpark location, but make sure you try a true Cornish pasty during your holiday – you won’t be disappointed.

Gloucester Lamprey Pie

A meat pie made from the eel-like lamprey fish, baked in a syrup of wine and spices and covered with a large crust. 

The Lamprey pie has been a delicacy of the English court for centuries. King Henry I was even said to have died from “a surfeit of lampreys”. Traditionally the people from the City of Gloucester present the royal household with a lamprey pie for special occasions. The Queen was sent a lamprey pie most recently to celebrate her diamond jubilee. 

You won’t be able to make a traditional lamprey pie anymore, as the fish is now a protected species in the UK. Even the Queen’s lampreys had to be imported from Canada. 

Welsh cakes

A type of thick cookie, a cross between a scone and a pancake.

Welsh cakes were traditionally made to be served with afternoon tea. Unlike scones, they are usually served without an accompaniment, although some do like to spread them with butter for an extra treat. 

Wales has a long history of coal mining and agriculture. These delicious treats became popular as they were simply made from store cupboard ingredients but were filling and tasty. Welsh cakes are best made by hand and cooked over a bakestone or griddle. 

Hampshire Haslet

A pork meatloaf, typically served cold with salad and pickles.

Hampshire is known for its pigs, which forage for food in the New Forest and produce a particularly delicious bacon and ham. There is, as well, the watercress. Hampshire was one of the main producers due to the plentiful, clear flowing streams. The watercress was taken to London first by stage coach, and then steam train. This became known as The Watercress Line; and the heritage steam train still runs today.

Similar to a pork meatloaf, the Hampshire Haslet is a variant of the Lincolnshire Haslet. Served on a bed of peppery Hampshire watercress, it brings together two of Hampshire’s finest ingredients.

Celebrating local food on your Forest Holiday

Create your own local food story when you stay at any of our forest locations. Our personal in-cabin chefs prepare from a selection of mouth-watering menus, which now include our new Forest Feast Tasting Menu, with every course having an element of food that can be found in the forest.

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