Travel around the South East of England through the pages of this book and discover a selection of the delicious traditional food of the area, as well as stories and fascinating facts behind the recipes. Your journey is given added flavour by the delightful historical images from The Francis Frith Collection, showing the people and places of the South East of England in the past.
A Taste of the South-East includes 37 recipes, some traditional, some reflecting local products that the South East of England is famous for, some linked to characters or historical personages or events, some versions adapted to suit modern tastes.
Rediscover 37 traditional locally-inspired dishes. Some recipes are modern interpretations using some of the fine local produce that the South East of England is famous for - we hope that this unique book provides you with a true taste of the South-East!
A Taste of the South-East is peppered with topic boxes of additional snippets and information about regional dialect, words and phrases, traditional customs and local trivia, to convey a true flavour of the South East of England. Read on for a just a few of the fascinating facts from the book.
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- There were once four annual fairs in the Berkshire town of Newbury: on the Day of Annunciation in March, St John the Baptist's Day in June, St Bartholomew's Day in August, and St Jude's Day in October, which survives as the Michaelmas Fair. This recipe is reminiscent of the custom in Newbury of electing the Mayor of Bartlemas (the feast of St Bartholomew) which was still observed in the town in the early 19th century on Mace Monday (the first Monday after 25th or 26th July). After the election at a town inn, a dinner of bacon and beans was served.
- Whitstable on the Kent coast is famous for its oysters, and holds an oyster festival in July. A dish enjoyed locally is the Whitstable Dredgerman's Breakfast, consisting of fried streaky bacon cooked with shelled oysters, accompanied with thick bread and butter and a mug of strong tea.
- Dover Sole - Although this delicious fish is famously named after the town of Dover on the Kent coast, it is not exclusively found here. The fish was probably so named because this is where it was landed in quantity and from where it was transported to the London markets.
- There is an old rhyme about Sussex food, called "Seven Good Things of Sussex":
Of a score of good things found outside heaven
The land of Sussex was granted seven
The choicest of those I often feel
Is the oily, glutinous Pulborough eel
Though the Selsea cockle would be the best
The Chichester lobster's the lordliest dish
The herring of Rye is the tastiest dish
The mullet of Arundel would have my vote
If I could but forget the Amberley trout
The wheatear of Bourne whenever it's about.
- The wheatear is a small bird. The rest of the selection in the rhyme is a good reflection of the importance of the rivers as well as the long coastline in providing delicious food for the people of Sussex throughout history. The haul from the sea was of great importance, and included cod, herrings, mackerel, sprats, plaice, sole, turbot, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, oysters, mussels, cockles, whelks and periwinkles. Selsey has long been famous for its cockles, which are sold on stalls along with winkles and crabs, to be eaten fresh with vinegar.
- People born in Arundel are known locally as Mullets, after the grey mullet which are caught in the River Arun that flows through the town.
- The Royal Pavilion at Brighton was famously described by William Cobbett (1763-1835) as a combination of "a square box, a large Norfolk turnip and four onions". George IV's Italian chef, the great Carême, devised the recipe for the extravagant dish of Tournedos Rossini especially for the composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), who stayed at the Royal Pavilion over Christmas in 1823.
- The supermodel Kate Moss was born in Croydon in Surrey. An old folk rhyme shows that Surrey has long been famous for the quality of its meat, as well as beauty of its women:
Sutton for good mutton,
Cheam for juicy beef,
Croydon for a pretty girl,
And Mitcham for a thief.
- The Dorking Fowl - Dorking was a major market town in former centuries. Cattle were brought into the town to be sold there, and would then be driven on to London to the slaughterhouses, or over the Downs to Chatham through Sevenoaks. At one time the numbers of sheep being sold at Dorking market was so great that pens stretched all along the north side of High Street. Apart from beef cattle, calves, sheep, lambs, goats and pigs there were many other varieties of livestock that passed through the Market Place. For sale on general market days there would have been venison, pheasant, partridge, guinea fowl, geese, duck, chicken, woodcock and wood pigeon. The breeds of chicken sold would have included the Dorking Fowl, a breed of chicken that takes its name from the town and was once extensively bred here. There are three main colour variations: the Red, the Silver Grey and the Dark Dorking, and the cock has silver and green plumage. It is compact, plump in build and bred for the breast; it carries more meat in proportion to its size than any other fowl, and in quantity and flavour its flesh is excellent. As a layer, the hen compares favourably with any other birds of its size and weight. It was said to be a favourite with Queen Victoria, who would only eat eggs from the Dorking hen. A peculiar characteristic of the Dorking Fowl breed is that it possesses a fifth claw.
- A prize of five guineas was offered at the Bromley Fair in Kent in 1726 to the winner of an eating match, a "Tryall of Skill", in which the challenge was to consume "four pounds of bacon, a bushel of French beans, with two pounds of butter, a quartern loaf, and to drink a gallon of small beer". Another feat of eating took place in Bromley on 10 March 1863, when Peter Nesbit – primed by gins and bitters – ate an enormous pie in the recess fronting the White Hart. This consisted of 5 lbs of rump steak, 4 lbs of flour, 1 lb of lard, and four of the largest potatoes possible, all washed down with half a gallon of ale.