The Last Food of England
05 April 2007
The map of England bears names which used to resonate through kitchens in the land: Colchester, Cheddar, Hereford, Swaledale, Bath, Lincoln, York, Wensleydale – the list goes on. England has more breeds of livestock, fruit cultivars and vegetable seeds to its credit than any other country in the world. Sussex, for example, was known for its cockles, herrings, truffles, seakale, cabbage, alongside its middlehorn beef, Southdown mutton and Tipper beer. We tend to think that our native food has disappeared off the map completely – and in some cases it is undoubtedly endangered. But Marwood Yeatman shines a light on what remains, and highlights what could endure. His quest to find the ‘last food’ in England leads to his discovery of the last domestic faggot oven in use; the undertaker-cum-butcher who roasts his own oxen; the fisherman who regularly takes his life in his hands to catch oysters; green top milk being made deep in the forest; crayfish facing extinction; four types of English butter. This book is a wonderful voyage of discovery – an invitation to cook without recipes, travel without guides, and find history without museums. Take time to read about our fertile food heritage and the map of England will never look the same again.