Special Foods

Find out about meals for special occasions, speciality cheeses and speciality markets...

Feast Foods

  • Shrove Tuesday (40 days before Easter): Get out your frying pan and tuck into pancakes sprinkled with caster sugar and lemon
  • Mothering Sunday (4th Sunday in Lent): A day to indulge in simnel cake, a rich fruitcake with a layer of marzipan in the middle. In medieval times they ate a light biscuit-like bread that was boiled and then baked
  • Easter (March/April): Warm, delicately spiced hot cross buns at the breakfast table on Good Friday, and then lamb as the featured meat on Easter Sunday. Chocolate eggs and bunnies are given to children
  • Christmas Day (25 December): Serves up roast goose or turkey accompanied by bread sauce, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, gravy and vegetables (at least one should be Brussels sprouts, although they were recently voted the most hated vegetable in Britain). Finish with Christmas pudding, a steamed rich and fruity mix, decorated with holly, doused in brandy and then set alight at the table to ward off evil spirits and keep your drunk uncle amused. A silver charm or coin is hidden inside the pudding

Five Great British Cheeses

  • Caerphilly: Wales' best-known cheese is a mild, white and crumbly affair first made in 1831 in the town of the same name
  • Stilton: Blue veined with a soft white texture, believed to have been made first in 1710 at Quenby Hall in Leicestershire
  • Stinking Bishop: A soft Gloucestershire cheese, its rind washed in a bitter perry (pear juice), made in the modern age since 1972 but with aged monastic origins. The smell can clear a room
  • West Country Farmhouse Cheddar: The only one of the Cheddar range (it comes in many variations) to earn PDO status is made in Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall
  • Crowdie: A soft, fresh Scottish cheese made since the days of the Viking occupation. Crafted from the whey that separates naturally from souring milk

Market Forces: Four London Legends

  • Billingsgate: A medieval market that began concentrating solely on fish in 1699. It left a grand arcaded riverside Victorian home (now an exhibition space) on Lower Thames Street for the current residence on the Isle of Dogs in 1982
  • Borough: Foodies have been visiting the market south of the River Thames for 250 years. Has a reputation built on fruit and veg, but sells much more
  • Smithfield: The best-known meat market in Britain has been trading in one form or another just north of the City of London for at least 800 years. Its current accommodation, dating to the Victorian era, has undergone recent restoration. A good place to rub shoulders with restaurateurs, caterers, and butchers
  • Covent Garden: For 350 years Covent Garden supported a fruit, veg and flower market (where the Eliza Doolittle character scratched a living in Pygmalion); in 1974 the neo-Classical piazza was turned over to shops, eateries and entertainers, and Britain's largest fresh produce market, New Covent Garden, opened just south of the river in Nine Elms
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