Leading article: Long past their sell-by date

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The Independent Online

Here's a recipe for cultural indignation (best served with Sauce Meldrew). Take 2,021 young people, or their metric equivalent. Stir in a list of fairly obscure traditional British culinary delicacies (taking care to choose those you have heard of, but carefully ignoring the ones of which you too are ignorant). Simmer until well-done. Turn out into a well-lathered dish. Serves an unlimited number of foodies or old fogeys.

So, most young people haven't heard of Calf's Foot Jelly, Bath Chaps or Lardy Cake. Lardy, Lardy! Why should that be? Well here's a clue. The Normans served Calf's Foot Jelly with saffron and pepper and the Victorians thought it was a healthy treat for invalids. The fact that William the Conqueror and his chums felt it was necessary to pep the dish up with the strongest flavourings available (and that the Victorians thought the pap was insipid enough for those with no appetite) tells you all you need to know.

Let's pass lightly over Bath Chaps, which may well owe their demise to the fact that they sound more like a rugger-bugger's skin condition than a food, and move on to Lardy Cake. Its prime ingredients are flour, water and one third solid lard, flavoured by all those fashionable 17th-century novelty spices and currants. It's a kind of heart attack on a plate.

The demise of so much "traditionale fayre" is nothing to with the cultural impoverishment of a generation which watches foodie programmes on the telly while eating the latest chiller-cabinet dishes fresh from the microwave. It's more because some of these arcane ancient dishes tasted like glue. Good riddance and pass the pesto!

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