Childhood Nostalgia

There was no scolding for being late. There was stewed fruit on the kitchen table and a rice pudding in the oven, of which those who felt hungry partook, and glasses of milk all round. And, even then, they did not have to go to bed…

(Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford)

If we are honest most of us are ‘guilty’ of looking back on our past – or parts of it – through rose-tinted spectacles. Between the ages of 8 and 10 I lived in a huge, Victorian vicarage in rural North Devon. I remember the fun of having attic rooms to play in, the open fires over which we toasted crumpets in the winter, the huge garden boasting three massive horse chestnut trees, the conkers from which all the village children wanted to come and collect for conker fights in the school playground.  Continue reading “Childhood Nostalgia”

Old Country Customs

The chief delicacy at these [harvest] teas was “baker’s cake”, a rich, fruity, spicy dough cake, obtained in the following manner. The housewife provided all the ingredients excepting the dough, putting raisins and currants, lard, sugar and spice in a basin which she gave to the baker, who added the dough, made and baked the cake, and returned it, beautifully browned in his big oven. The charge was the same as that for a loaf of bread the same size, and the result was delicious.                                            (Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford)

One of the things I’ve found most interesting through writing this blog is finding out about food customs from the past. Whether it be the rout cakes made for large gatherings in Jane Austen’s Emma, the cook shops of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield or the superstitions about butter-making in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, literature often provides a fascinating insight into the culinary and food traditions of the time.   Continue reading “Old Country Customs”