National Trust shows how food can be old but not stale

The culinary equivalent of political correctness is about to bring about the disappearance of the baked potato and the micro-waved lasagne from the menus of many National Trust properties.

At Oxburgh Hall, a moated Tudor house in Norfolk, the process has already begun. Sir Walter Raleigh's discoveries in the New World no longer feature in the 200 lunches served on busy days.

Instead of a jacket potato or chips, visitors can have Norfolk dumplings or a trencher of home-baked bread. Sandwiches are off - they did not appear until the late 18th century - but there is at least the concession of a tomato with the meat and cheese platters.

The public reaction has been good, according to Alison Sloan, the catering manager at Oxburgh. "You always get some people who want a burger. But as soon as we explain what we are trying to do - make the menu authentic - they get interested and the meal becomes much more part of the visit.

"When I started at Oxburgh they bought everything in and just did jacket potatoes really," said Ms Sloan. Now the hall's kitchen garden is being restored to grow fruit and vegetables of the period and a quince orchard already provides the ingredients for several barely remembered recipes.

For the Trust as a whole, historic menus are also about tackling an image problem - the complaint that Trust restaurants and shops all have the same stamp - and keeping ahead in the catering game.

Just down the road from the Trust-owned hall or castle is likely to be a pub serving the ubiquitous ploughman's lunch or lasagne. With 145 outlets, from tea rooms to banqueting halls, Britain's largest charity is also a major caterer. Last year the food and teas made a profit of pounds 1.8m on a turnover of pounds 13.2m. This week the catering managers and chefs from eight properties are honing their skills and treating their palates at a seminar on historical menu development being held at Parkfield training centre near Ross-on-Wye.

Drawn from places as diverse as Oxburgh and Lanhydrock in Cornwall, which already offers lunch dishes from a high Victorian table, the participants will then act as apostles of tailor-made menus in their regions.

Food historian Sara Paston-Williams, a driving force behind the initiative, said menus should reflect the atmosphere of the house, both historically and of the family that lived there. "Visitors pass through the dining room and often the kitchen of historic houses. Then they should be able to taste some of the dishes that would have been served there."

So at Lanhydrock, lunch can begin with Carrot Soup a la Crecy (pounds 2.50), a creamy soup made with carrots, celery and fresh herbs, adapted from a recipe in The Cook's Guide of 1862, which was something of a bible in the house. And for pudding, why not English gooseberry and elderflower cream (pounds 2.60)?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'