Our Food is a nw 4-part BBC series celebrating food in Great Britain, and the people responsible for its production. Sadly, while I am wildly interested in this topic, the series is not available in the U.S.
Alex Langlands, one of the presenters of Our Food writes in BBCs blog:
before the Industrial Revolution the overwhelming majority of people in this country worked in a rural setting where their lives were intimately bound up with the production of one thing - food. So as an archaeologist you're never far from studying that which we have eaten and its centrality to our island's history.
|Alex with turnips|
About sheepfarming in Wales, he writes:
Carving out a living in this harsh environment is all about working with the conditions - not against them - and the idea that sheep can be 'hefted' to the hills fascinates me.
A 'hefted' flock is a flock that knows their patch of the hillside and knows where to be and when. So much so that when the farmer comes to round them up all he needs is a dog and a whistle and the ancient knowledge passed down from generation to generation of sheep kicks in.
|Lucy Worsley with fresh oysters|
I learnt that in 16th-century England, only the high in status and deep of pocket ate roast meat. It was vastly expensive: you needed a deer park, a lot of fuel, and lots of servants to turn the spit over the fire. But the pleasure of a soft melting mouthful of roast meat was so powerful that it still survives in our language today: we talk about a “Sunday roast” even when referring to meat that technically has been baked in an oven.Viewers in the UK will be able to catch Our Food on iPlayer until Wednesday, 2 May. Lucky viewers.
Those lower down the Tudor chain ate an awful lot of pottage, the kind of perpetual soup cooked over the fire in an iron pot (hence its name). Pottage could be kept bubbling away for day after day, topped up with whatever vegetables or peas could be scavenged. That’s why the song goes, “Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding in the pot [sometimes literally] nine days old.”
The advantage of cooking food into sludge is that it makes it microbiologically safe, and the low cooking temperature optimises fuel consumption. Like driving your car at 60 miles an hour on the motorway, cooking your peasant’s pottage at “a slow burp” is very efficient.