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Trad Lanky Nosh

The northwest region of England has a long tradition in speciality dishes and local delicacies. Many are as popular as they ever were and some, rather sadly, have been gradually forgotten. Here are a few of them:

Listed alphabetically:

Barm Cakes

A bread roll, or bap, made from wholemeal flour - also called 'flour cakes'. They are soft and pliable, with a pitted texture. 'Barm' is an old Lancashire word for the froth on liquid that contains yeast.

Blackpool Rock

Blackpool Rock can still be seen being rolled and made on the seafront at Blackpool. Actually, most seaside resorts sell rock that is still made in Blackpool on the Fylde Coast of Lancashire. A hard sugar slightly minted confection rolled into long lengths and cut into 30 cm pieces, distinctive on account of the lettering that traditionally runs throughout the whole length (eg. 'Blackpool Rock', 'Rhyl Rock', etc). Very popular at the seaside, especially with young children.

Made from congealed pig's blood and oatmeal and produced widely throughout the region, with Bury boasting probably the most famous. It is still purchased in a hot boiled form on many local markets, and eaten locally as a takeaway snack (much as fish and chips in paper might be) and dowsed with liberal amounts of malt vinegar. Further south it tends to be thinly sliced and fried as part of a mixed grill.

Bury Simnel Cake

Simnel Cakes are found all over Britain, but a particular variety was once commonly made in Bury

Cheshire Cheese

Said to have acquired its flavour from the abundance of salt marshes throughout the county of Cheshire, Britain's oldest known cheese, having been mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. A crumbly, nutty cheese, originally made in Chester, but now made throughout the county.

Cheshire Pork Pie

The original Cheshire pork 'pye' was made from the mid-18th century from cuts of pork loin, seasoned with nutmeg and pepper and sweetened with sugar. White wine and butter were then added in liberal quantities and the whole mixture cooked in pastry.

Chester Pudding

Similar in many ways to many other steamed suet puddings, but with the addition of blackcurrant jam.

Chorley Cakes

Similar to Eccles Cakes but generally larger and flatter and without the glazed sugary top. Thought to originate, (logically), in Chorley.

Cumberland Sausages

Made in Cumberland, (formerly in Lancashire, now absorbed into the County of Cumbria). A long slightly spiced rough chopped coiled pork sausage, traditionally sold by length rather than weight, and can be over a metre long.

Eccles Cakes

Made with shiny topped flaky pastry and filled with dried fruits, sugar and spice. Proprietary brands are to be avoided as they bear little resemblance to the real thing - available at good local bakers. A round fruit filled pastry with three distinctive slashes on its top which is brushed with egg and dowsed in sugar prior to baking. So scrumptious was it thought to be that it was banned by the Puritans, but locals continued to make and eat them in secret! So called due to originating in Eccles (now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Salford).

Everton Mints

A sweet toffee flavoured with a hint of lemon invented by one Molly Bush in Everton, (Liverpool) in the mid-nineteenth century.

Fisherman's Friends

The company manufacturing "Fisherman's Friends" was established in 1865, and is now claimed to be the largest producer of lozenges in the world. It began when local Fleetwood pharmacist James Lofthouse created an extremely strong liquid linctus of menthol and eucalyptus, which helped relieve problems experienced by fishermen in the frequently freezing conditions encountered in the Irish Sea. To make it easier to transport and to administer he converted this linctus into small lozenges, which were popular with the local fishermen for their evident efficacy. It is reported that they soon began referring to the miracle lozenges as their “friends” and soon the now world-famous "Fisherman's Friend" came into being. Over 4 billion Fisherman's Friend lozenges are consumed around the world every year, manufactured still by the family run business from their factory in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

Goosnargh Cakes

So-called due to originating in the Lancashire village of that name, (near Preston) a cake, more biscuit-like, flavoured with caraway seeds and sold around Easter and Whitsuntide.

Hindle Wakes

Hindle Wakes was a very ancient Lancashire dish of exotically stuffed boiled poultry. The recipe is thought to have been brought by Flemish weavers to Bolton-le-Moor, (Bolton), in 1337. The original recipe used the blood of the fowl for binding the stuffing mix. The night before the fowl was stuffed with a mixture of prunes, nuts, suet, spices and red wine, then simmered slowly until tender. The next day the bird was removed from the stock, coated with a lemon and cream sauce and decorated with prunes and lemon slices and served cold. The name of the dish may derive from 'Hen de la Wake' ... in Lancashire dialect a 'wake' was a fair, at which time the dish may have been eaten.

Baxenden in the Rossendale Valley of Lancashire is the Home of the famous Holland's Pies and was first sold from their shop in Haslingden in 1851. Still manufactured to traditional recipes, and including steak pies, cheese & onion, steak & kidney pies, meat & potato pies, steak puddings, etc, and nowadays found in virtually every supermarket.

Lancashire Cheese

The softest of the hard English cheeses - its white crumbly texture and full, slightly salty taste makes it an excellent cheese in cooking, and especially favoured for Welsh Rarebit.

Lancashire Hotpot

The meat stew known as Lancashire Hotpot probably originated in the cotton towns of Lancashire as a simple dish quickly prepared and slow cooked, similar to Irish Stew. So named after the straight-sided brown dish in which it was cooked - the 'hotpot'. At one time, even oysters were included in the recipe. Traditionally, mill worker's wives would prepare it in the morning, and leave it in the oven all day so that it would be ready when the family returned home from work at the mill - there are several other possible origins, but this seems most probable. Usually eaten with pickled red cabbage as an accompaniment. Tradition had it that a woman's ability to make a good hotpot was of paramount importance and considerably enhanced her marriage prospects.

Lobscouse

Or simply 'Scouse', a popular Merseyside dish, somewhat like a mixture of Irish Stew and a Scandinavian stew called 'Lobscaus', from where it probably got its name. Hence, 'scousers' became a widespread nickname for anybody from Liverpool.

Manchester Tart (or Manchester Pudding)

Made from breadcrumbs, milk, sugar, eggs, damson Jam and lemon juice. The recipe was first published by Mrs Beeton in her book "Household Management". It comprises a set custard slice in shortcrust pastry and a hidden layer of jam underneath. Served with lashings of hot custard, it was very popular in school dinners of the 1940s and 1950s.

Meat & Potato Pie

A firm local favourite, available from most fish & chip shops. Mostly potato and shortcrust pastry filled with stewed shin beef, onions and a thick beef gravy.

Nodding Pudding

Sometimes spelt 'knodding' or even 'nodden'. An old Lancashire dish made from poatoes and flour. Information is sketchy, but it appears to have consisted of mashed potato mixed with flour and butter, and baked in a pie tin until it developed a crust. It may have been a way of using up leftover potatoes, similar to the way that "bubble and squesk" arose.

Parched Peas

Sometimes called "Black Peas", long soaked overnight and simmered slow to produce a type of mushy pea, popular in Bolton, and traditionally sold a funfairs. 'Parching' was an old term for long slow boiling.

Parkin

A dark sweet cake made from oatmeal instead of flour. A heavy sticky cake due to the liberal addition of black treacle, that sometimes contains candied fruits. Traditionally eaten round the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, the 5th of November. Sometimes served with a thin sliver of Lancashire Cheese.

Potted Shrimps

Netted, peeled, cooked and potted near to the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay where they are caught, and famous for being the best potted shrimps in the UK.

Rossendale Sarsaparilla (Sasparilla or Sarsparilla)

Sarsaparilla, an old and once very popular non-alcoholic root beer-type beverage, is still brewed to a well-kept secret recipe, and sold at Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health Shop in Rawtenstall, Rossendale.

Sad cakes

Similar to the Eccles and Chorley Cakes but larger, and popular in the Rossendale Valley - known by local children sometimes as 'desolate cakes'. Alternative forms often mix the dried fruit into the pastry and present it in an envelope shape.

Tatie 'ash or Tater Hash (Potato Hash)

Boiled potatoes, chopped onions and corned beef stewed long in butter and milk. When cooked, potatoes are mashed (or hashed). Traditionally served as a nourishing main course accompanied by red cabbage or pickled beetroot.

Tripe & Onions

Somewhat out of favour nowadays, tripe is the lining of a cow's stomach, traditionally served with onions. Smooth tripe comes from the first of a cow's stomachs, and so-called honeycomb tripe is from the second stomach and is considered to be the superior version. Cleaned and boiled to a milky white colour, it is usually cut into strips and soaked in milk with onions for several hours prior to eating. Until relatively recent times, Tripe and Cowheels shops were a common sight in the northwest - now, sadly, all but disappeared.
Bi'o trivia...
... In the 2006 short film Shanks, actor Jackoby Flash ate his way through six Cornish Pasties in the space of half of an hour, just to achieve roughly thirty seconds of useable footage.

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