Traditional Lancashire Foods

St John Restaurant, Smithfield, London - flckr - Ewan-M

It's borders may have become realigned during the county reshuffle of 1974, however the grass roots of Lancashire cuisine are still present among the traditional dishes of the newly formed Cheshire and Greater Manchester counties. Hotpots tend to be regarded as a generalised Northern specialty, since the mining counties of both Yorkshire and Lancashire were primarily working and lower class. Parkin is still a popular commodity, although is now regarded a staple for the middle class 'high tea'. For a county that has undergone extensive changes to both it's character and physiology, it still pips even Cumbria to the post, for the greatest number of surviving traditional foods. Here are just a few to tempt your palate! For somewhere to stay in Lancashire.

Lancashire Foot
Not aesthetically dissimilar to the timeless Cornish pasty, the Lancashire Foot was slightly more humble when it came to the filling. Northerners are renowned for their resourcefulness, particularly during the Industrial periods when pay was a pittance and fresh meat extortionately priced. Working class families were reduced to mere offal cuts from cows and pigs ranging from tripe to chitterlings (pig intestine), and such derivatives formed the basal ingredients for the Lancashire Foot miner's pie. The minced filling would usually be enhanced with fried onion and potato, accompanied by generous seasoning to detract from the dryness and toughness of the meat.

Hindle Wakes
One of the few ancient Lancashire specialties that have pretty much become extinct are Hindle Wakes - a 13th Century exotic feast of stuffed poultry, bathed in a lemon and cream sauce and served cold. The dish  is thought to have been born from the Flemish culture, since there was an influx of weavers to the Bolton-le-Moor district of Lancashire in 1337. The implementation of prunes, spices and red wine to the stuffing mix certainly seems to add credence to the theory, since the Flemish are renowned for using alcohol and exotic flavors to enhance offal dishes - such as choesels (offal casserole in Lambic beer.)

Lancashire Cheese
North of the River Ribble in Lancashire, dairy farming continues to be a thriving industry - much as it has done since the 17th Century. It is here that the true crumbly Lancashire Cheese was born, and is more specifically known as Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire Cheese. Subtly salty and slightly creamy to the palate, the recipe and 'Gornall' processing method have been patented for this cheese since the late 1800's, although both remain top secret. Lancashire Cheese makes a tasty accompaniment to Eccles and Chorley cakes.

Temptingly dark, moist and oozing calories, Parkin is one of the great survivors of traditional Lancashire cuisine, simply because it is so devilishly sweet. History suggests the sponge-like cake was traditionally eaten around Bonfire Night, and was a popular staple during colder months due to the levels of sugar it contained. Parkin achieves it's colour through the integral addition of black treacle to the oatmeal and molasses, allowing the cake to bind well and creating that uniform stickiness.

Rag Pie
Commonly sold as a pastry clad pasty, the delicious modern variant of Rag Pie is a far cry from it's humble roots in the 19th Century. Back then, industrial Northern England was undeniably poverty stricken, therefore the main cuts of meat on offer were tantamount to modern day scraps. Offal, sinew and even fat were sold by the pound, and formed the basal filling for many a poor man's pie - hence the name 'Rag Pie'. Traditionally, Rag Pie was formed from a suet dough, filled with scrap meat, fat and occasionally potato in more rural areas. Today, it enjoys the same repute as Cornish Pasties - often filled with choice minced beef or lamb cuts.



AT 17:15


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