Saturday, June 14, 2014

Traditional Food in Yorkshire - Peter Brears

This has not been a great week work wise - due to some oversights far above the shop floor my own particular challenge is to find a home for 5 tonnes of wine before more turns up. More is always turning up, a lot more is turning up over the next few days. I have 7 cardboard inflicted cuts on my hands all in places guaranteed not to heal well and to sting like mad every time I wash my hands. Boxes of wine are dirty, I wash my hands a lot. There are also the cuts from where various bits of metal have attempted(with a  fair degree of success) to take their pound of flesh. Everything hurts, it's been hot, and frankly I'm grumpy.

Limping towards my flat tonight my eye was caught by what looked like a parcel in the doorway (hard to tell from a distance as the automatic light is currently promoting a mysterious atmosphere by only turning on after I've fumbled in the gloom with my keys and actually got into my flat) it was a parcel. A totally unexpected parcel from Prospect books and it contained a copy of Peter Brears 'Traditional Food in Yorkshire' it made my day. The aches and pains remain but the grumpiness has largely gone because a) I have a new book which always cheers me up, and b) I fell in love with Brears' 'Cooking and Dining in Medieval England' - which was a little bit unexpected.

'Traditional Food In Yorkshire' is about far more than just food, it's the life and food of the working people of Yorkshire between roughly 1800 and 1920 - a time of significant change in working patterns and life style. The chapters break down into farmworkers from different areas, the fisherfolk of the Northwest coast, West Riding coal miners, spinners and weavers, and workers in towns. There are chapters on the normal foody things arranged by ingredients and also for traditional feasts, celebrations, and general high days and holidays. The whole is illustrated by Brears; it looks like every aspect of working class life is covered in beautifully constructed cross sections of buildings and then there are the details of kitchen equipment - they're wonderful.

I've only browsed through this book so far (I've not been home that long) but it's something I'm so excited by that I couldn't wait to share it. Also the recipe for Surprise Potatoes sounds brilliant.


  1. Now I must know what is in Surprise Potatoes!
    This book sounds fantastic! This era of history fascinates me and this era plus food is even better.

  2. Surprise potatoes are baked than hollowed out and stuffed with mince, lids sealed back on with egg, cooked a bit longer so everything is piping hot and looks just like an ordinary baked potato... not suitable for vegetarians unless you don't like them much. Quite taken with the idea.

  3. I was just about to make the same comment -- longing to know what surprise potatoes were -- but as a non-meat eater I think I'll give them a miss. Sounds like a fascinating book, though!

  4. Think a veggie surprise would work too, even in Yorkshire!