The Food of Northern England

Find out about the foods traditionally associated with the north of England...

Food in the north of England is warming stuff, a solid mix of bakes and stews. Oatcakes, parkin (a gingery Yorkshire cake), stotty cake (a flat round loaf from the North East) and curd tarts are all baking staples. Lancashire is home to treacle toffee but more famous for its hotpot a layered casserole of lamb, potatoes and onions cooked in a glazed terracotta pot. Pickled red cabbage is the traditional hotpot accompaniment. Lancashire, and the town of Bury in particular, also claims black pudding, the fat sausage blend of ox blood, oatmeal, onions and spices, as its own. Yorkshire pudding, a muffin-shaped piece of light batter, has become a nationwide staple, to be served up with roast beef and gravy.

Elsewhere, Northumberland still cures its Craster kippers (smoked) the way it did a century ago; coiled Cumberland sausages, flavoured with black and white pepper, remain best married with a buttery mash and rich onion gravy; and the potted shrimps of Morecambe Bay (small brown characters) are about as unpretentious as gourmet grub gets, unless you're into mushy peas (soaked and then simmered with sugar and salt).

Three great Northern foods:

  • Cumberland rum butter: Made in the Lake District since the 19th century, the alcoholic properties also find it referred to as hard sauce
  • Eccles cake: A small pocket of pastry filled with currants, named after its Lancashire hometown
  • Pease pudding: The dried pea purée was a nationwide staple of old but is now limited predominantly to the North East; usually served with boiled bacon
Extract from Speak the Culture Britain, a Thorogood publication, supported by the British Council Speak the Culture series website / Buy online Copyright ® 2009 Thorogood Publishing