Quaint old inns and cattle roamed fields define Gloucestershire in the way it has largely remained for centuries - a predominantly agricultural county. Unlike it's northerly counterparts whose cuisine is characterised by dairy, Gloucestershire is rather more renowned for the meat derivatives of it's cattle - namely the grouchy Gloucestershire 'Old Spot' pig found in Berkeley. Old Spot pork is regarded a pedigree meat since there are fewer than 2,000 of the species in existence. Old Gloucester cows once favored for the fattiness of their milk (the integral factor in the fine texture of Double Gloucester cheese) are becoming an increasingly rare kept breed on the furrowed lush meadows of the county. Gloucester Food Vision (GFV) are now working with breeders and farmers to ensure the longevity of these species, in the hope of reviving vintage Gloucester favourites. For fantastic holiday cottages in Gloucestershire.
Considered a seasonal delicacy among locals, Gloucester elvers have been farmed from the River Severn for hundreds of years and are all the more remarkable, since they are not a native species. The term 'elvers' refers to the young spawn of fully grown eels (in this case a species of the Sargasso Sea) whom commence a journey of 2,000 miles (spanning around 3 years) to get to the marginally cooler climes of Europe. Little is known why the Severn became their location of choice, however their existence prompted a fishing craze that has continued for over 200 years. In Gloucestershire, the elver is favoured for it's delicacy, and became the final seasoning for an omelette-like dish. Fast fried alongside several rashers of bacon, the elvers become white and crispy - the perfect topping for a beaten egg and bacon base, also fried to perfection.
Gloucestershire Squab Pie
Like many an agricultural county, humble pie variations tend to have been embedded within traditional cuisine due to their inexpensiveness and simplicity - and it's no less true of the 18th Century Gloucestershire Squab. Comprising an equal base of lamb, apples and onion, the filling would be enhanced with Allspice and nutmeg in generous quantity (a motion usually adopted for meat past it's best, owing to the non-existence of refrigerators in the 19th Century.) The filling would be layered within a casserole dish of sorts, prior to being submerged in lamb or chicken stock. A simple lid of shortcrust pastry sealed the squab prior to oven cooking - sometimes for up to two hours, if the meat had been rotten in places.
Double Gloucester Cheese
It may not be a dish per se, however Double Gloucester Cheese has played a basal role in many of the traditional meals of old, including Gloucester Cheese and Ale. Double Gloucester is actually a secondary discovery, since traditional Gloucester cheese has been around for Centuries. It wasn't until the mid-Victorian period that the Old Gloucester breed of cows were found to bear a distinctively thicker consistency of milk, owing to fat globules formed from rich grazing. This in turn yielded a curd of a far finer texture than single Gloucester, yet doubly as pungent and tangy.
A staple in the culinary history of every British county, pancakes were often the foodstuffs of households who earned a mere pittance of a wage and required something a little filling to start the day. Gloucester Pancakes are somewhat unique to the majority, since they are considerably smaller (more akin to Welsh cakes) with a basal fat ingredient of suet. Originally the cake dough would have been set upon a bakestone to slowly fry using the fat within, until cooking methods evolved and lard was used to line the frying pan. Gloucester Pancakes are best served hot with a generous helping of a sweet preserve - such as jam, yet are equally as tasty as a cold snack.
What Gloucestershire delicacies tickle your fancy?