Traditional Foods of Kent


Meat Pie at The Salisbury - flckr - jamingray

Endearingly dubbed the 'Garden of England' by natives, Kent's claim to fame can be summarised in two words: organic produce. This verdant South East county provides an estimated forty per cent of the UK's 'homegrown' organic fruit and veg, coupled with a significant contribution of hops to microbreweries throughout England. With a temperate climate and very little precipitation during key 'growing' months, Kent  was the ideal location for the introduction of Mediterranean and South American fruits during the 1600's. Both the Morello Cherry and Kentish Red made rich pairings with white meats such as duck and turkey, subsequently fueling a surge in fruity jams supplied exclusively to the court of King Henry VIII. Cider making continues to thrive in the region and many of our homegrown apples and pears continue to be sourced by major supermarket chains. Lesser discussed are Kentish desserts, which, given the diversity of its fruit and grain industries, have survived over eons to become firm staples in modern family homes. From flat griddled cakes and fruity pies, to the old delicacy of Lamb's Tail Pie, Kentish cuisine is as variegated and homely as that of any of its Northerly counterparts. For scrumptious cottages in Kent.

Best described as a cross between a classic English teacake and donut-shaped modern bagels, Huffkins are a Kentish staple rumoured to date back to the 16th Century. Huffkins are predominantly flat, oval shaped cakes with a hole at the centre for hot, sweet fillings, such as stewed cherries or pear. Although eaten year round, Huffkins are particularly popular during the harvest months of September and October, traditionally flavoured with hops and eaten hot, with a serving of steaming cherry preserve to sweeten.

Lamb's Tail Pie
Thought to originate from the Romney Marsh area of Kent, Lamb's Tail Pie dates back to the 1700's when breeding cattle were first introduced onto the Romney Marshes. Such was the ratio of salt in the grasses, farmers discovered their lamb meat to be far more tender than of cattle grazing elsewhere, promptly starting a demand for this finer texture and the evolution of everyday lamb stew into Lamb's Tail Pie. Traditionally, lamb's tails were docked at birth, therefore the pie was an annual delicacy, only made during lambing season. After boiling, the tails would be skinned and slow-cooked with root vegetables, such as onion, potato and carrots for up to three hours. Encased within a shortcrust pastry, the mixture was topped with peas and sliced hard-boiled eggs, with a pinch of parsley or mint to season, then baked until a delicious golden brown. Lamb's Tail Pie is fairly uncommon on the menus of Kent today, however, may still be found on occasion at old Kentish pubs, paired with local ales.

Whitstable Dredgerman's Breakfast
A classic English seaside town with sweeping promenades and a rickety old peer, it's difficult to believe Whitstable was once an industrious fishing port. In the 19th Century, oysters were netted in droves to satisfy London markets and later, the archaic Wheelers Oyster Market also set up shop here. In need of a hearty warm up prior to embarking out on the high seas, fishermen would congregate within seafront cafes for their daily fill: Whitstable Dredgerman's Breakfast. It's essentially a toasted sandwich laden with freshly caught oysters and streaked bacon, dripping through with fat to soak the bread. A simple, yet filling starter prior to braving the winds off the South East Coast, it was washed down with strong black tea to aid digestion.

Kent Lent Pie
Lent, a time of acknowledged abstinence for many was also a grueling hardship for churchgoing natives with a sweet tooth. According to foodies, Kent Lent Pie was borne from the desire of two Folkestone cooks, to create a dish that would not breach the church's rules on foods that could not be eaten. Made from shortcrust pastry, double cream, milk and eggs, Kent Pudding Pie is essentially a cheesecake, seasoned with nutmeg and occasionally filled with raisins or currants. Its simplicity was key to its acceptance among churchgoers and many still consume it today during the abstinence period.


AT 16:08


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