The Calder Valley, a small pocket of West Yorkshire, is blessed with an abundance of Polygonum Bistorta, the sweet dock. And for upwards of 200 years local people have been cooking its leaves with stinging nettles to make dock pudding. On Sunday at Mytholmroyd Community Centre, this contribution to springtime cuisine is to be celebrated at the World Dock Pudding Championships. So far, about a dozen contestants have entered. The winner will be decided by a party of judges headed by Sir Bernard Ingham (above), who, as Mrs Thatcher's press secretary, was well-used to serving up unpalatable rations. Aside from the competition, Scouts will serve lunches, there will be craft stalls, and the Calderdale Rangers and badger monitors will also have stands. The Hebden Bridge Junior Band will provide a rousing accompaniment to the steady crump of the pudding-eaters.
To make dock pudding, take 2lb destalked sweet dock leaves (distinguished by pink flowers and small pointed leaves) and chop, with 8oz nettle tops and two onions. Boil in salted water until tender. Add one cup of oatmeal and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain off excess liquid, stir in a knob of butter and season. Store until required, then fry lumps of the mixture in bacon fat. Serve with bacon and fried potatoes.
Only the sweet flowering dock will do. Keen to make the dish, I picked common cow docks (a good salve for the nettle stings). No doubt the resulting mush of evil-tasting shrubbery bore little resemblance to the Calder Valley's delicacy. - 1pm 8 May, Mytholmroyd Community Centre, Elphaborough, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire (information 0422 883023)
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