Cumbria Traditional Foods


Quiggins superior Kendal Mint Cake  1970s - flckr - sludgegulper

The administrative county of Cumbria is the youngest in England, following a Governmental reform of the metropolitan, and non-metropolitan counties in 1974. As a result, old Cumberland became reclassified as Cumbria; her boundaries re-evaluated to include partial areas of Lancashire and Westmorlan

With a predominantly mountainous topography, much of Cumbria's cuisine has benefited from the mineral water springs, and lush, fertile soils of her mountainsides. Grazing cattle have long been a familiar site upon the slopes of Lake District mountains, including Scafell Pike, which has borne a reputation for rich dairy produce within the South Lakes districts, and greatly influenced the traditional fayre of the Lake District.


Mutton, Meat and The Infamous Curled Sausage.
Herdwick and North Mule sheep have been the archaic breeds responsible for providing succulent mutton to work-worn Cumbrians for centuries. The Lake District fells provide supreme quality grazing pastures rich in minerals, said to influence both the tenderness and quality of their meat. Shepherd's Pie is a popular derivative of the classic Mutton, Ale and Potato Pie that originated in Cumbria, using domestically grown vegetables such as onions to enhance flavour.

The Cumberland Sausage is by far Cumbria's most famous export - the recipe now having been adopted both nationally and internationally. Cumberland Sausage is characteristically unique from any other variant, in that it's shape is long and curled, rather than short and linked. Traditionally, the Cumberland Sausage was sold by length, and could measure anywhere from 2-4 feet long - rather different to the reproductions of Southern England and Germany, which rarely exceed 6-8 inches in length. The spiciness of Cumbrian-made sausages is thought to have been the influence of the spice trade first reaching Cumbria in the late 1600's.


Kendal Mint Cake
Cumbria's other famous export has to be the Kendal Mint Cake; an accidental invention of sweet-toothed factory owner Joseph Wiper in 1869. It is alleged he was in fact attempting to produce clear glacier mints, by boiling glucose, sugar and water, with mint flavouring. The end result should have been a clear consistency, however Wiper is thought to have stirred the mixture too much, resulting in the cloudy aesthetic we see today. Three companies (Quiggin's, Wilson's and Romney's) situated within the Kendal area, still produce Kendal Mint Cake to this day, however modern variants can be found with chocolate coatings, and other sugary flavourings to enhance the candy bars' appeal.


Sugar and Spice
Grasmere Gingerbread is another famously surviving recipe that many tourists flock to the small town, just to sample. Sarah Nelson first developed the Grasmere recipe in 1865, and it proved to be remarkably popular. The tiny cottage shop within the heart of Grasmere has changed little since Sarah Nelson hung up her apron for the last time, and the secret recipe is now in the hands of a family run company, who are continuing the production of this world-famous gingerbread.

Cumberland Rum Nicky is a rather unusual Cumbrian pastry dish originating from the 17th Century - unusual because of the use of spices within it's recipe. While the rest of England had enjoyed spice imports for a number of Centuries, the North of England was one of the last areas to see it's arrival. The obsession with combining these strong flavours with local recipes led to a great deal of experimentation by daring cooks. One such result was the Cumberland Run Nicky; a pastry dish with a spicy date and rum filling, usually served with clotted cream.



AT 15:36


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