I recently started looking into our national and international food and drink days – there are many.
It came about in January when friends from South Africa were visiting.
On the Sunday of their stay they wanted to eat roast beef and Yorkshire puddings in an English pub. Now, having our own cattle we were adamant we would cook our roast beef, but as it happened they wanted to treat us to a meal out.
Not being one for going out for a roast dinner – simply because it’s never as good as your own – we didn’t know where to go.
But, thanks to the power of the internet we quickly made a phone call to a pub in north Norfolk and booked a table for four.
Regardless of the occasion, whenever I’m out I very rarely choose beef off a menu as our own is just so wonderful.
But, go to the pub we did, and can I just say it was the best roast beef I’ve ever eaten out. It wasn’t just the beef – which was cooked to perfection, tender and succulent – the roast potatoes were cooked in goose fat, the gravy was sublime, the horseradish sauce must have been homemade (correct me if I’m wrong) and was gently fiery and the Yorkshire pudding was spot on – crispy and soft and wonderfully risen.
For the remainder of our friends’ visit, we all talked about the beauty of the roast – for me that’s a rarity, to have found a dish that went far and beyond expectation. Thanks must be made to The Wiveton Bell.
Anyway, I digress.
In the evening that followed the roast dinner, our friends asked us why the Yorkshire pudding was called a Yorkshire pudding and why it was synonomous with roast beef.
I didn’t know and I felt guilty about that, honestly I did.
I eat Yorkshire puddings with gusto with all roast meats – don’t we all?
Now, I know we don’t. Many people will only have them with beef, but I love them with any roast including the Christmas turkey.
Needless to say, later that night we were all googling the humble Yorkshire pudding to try and find out how it came to be such an institution.
We quickly learnt that:
- Its history is quite variable.
- They are made of flour, eggs and milk.
- When wheat flour began to be used commonly for making cakes and puddings, cooks in the north of England started making use of the fat that dropped into the dripping pan to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted.
- In 1737, a recipe for a dripping pudding was published in the book The Whole Duty of a Woman.
- A similar recipe was published in 1747 in Hannah Glasse’s book The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, it was called Yorkshire pudding.
- Originally the Yorkshire pudding was served as a first course with thick gravy to apparently dull the appetite with the low-cost ingredients so that the diners would not eat so much of the more expensive meat in the next course.
- In some households the Yorkshire pudding was often served as the only course, traditionally eaten with a gravy to moisten the pudding.
- Yorkshire Puddings need the hottest oven to cook and rise.
- But, most importantly, we learnt there was a national day dedicated to it – the first Sunday in February is British Yorkshire Pudding Day.
So it was this fact that made me start looking at our national and international food and drink days and I decided to come up with, what turned out to be, an extensive list.
From that point I vowed that on each food or drink day in 2019 I would mark it by cooking or making that dish and delving into its history to find out a little bit more about what qualifies it for its own dedicated day.
We marked the day with roast beef (own our Highland Rump joint) accompanied by roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, roast parsnips, carrots and onions, gravy made from beef bones, red wine and madeira and the good old Yorkshire pudding.
Next up it’s Chinese New Year on February 5.