Traditional Foods of Britain: An Inventory Paperback – 12 Feb 1999
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From the Publisher
A historical and factual directory of British food and drink
This is an inventory of 400-plus British foods and drinks: most of which have been produced for more than 75 years in the same town or region and all of which are still available to the public. It is based on a survey funded by the European Commission. It is a remarkable portrait of a food culture and resource that we barely recognize as still existing. If Britons are seeking an identity, here is one book that supplies an important part of it. The book is arranged in encyclopaedia form, each entry giving a factual description of the foodstuff, an historical account, and some indication of its present production and availability. It should become a classic source book for anyone working in the field.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
BEDFORDSHIRE CLANGER Region of Production: South England, Bedfordshire.
An oblong, baked pasty made with a suet crust, filled with savoury and sweet ingredients at opposite ends. Dimensions: 12-14cm long, 6-8cm wide. Colour: golden brown crust. Flavour: a savoury filling of meat, usually cured pork, at one end; a sweet filling, often apple, at the other.
The Bedfordshire clanger has undergone considerable change in the last century. Today it is a baked pasty (with a suet crust) which has two fillings rather than one. Savoury meat and something sweet sit at opposite ends of a baked pie. At first, this does not seem to have been the case. Clangers were a boiled suet roll, like plum duff or roly-poly. The roll contained a meat filling, but the crust was itself studded with fruit. It became a sort of complete meal in one. Compilations of English country recipes show them to have been plain, substantial food for farm labourers and other manual workers. Suet pastry is always used to enclose a filling which varied with the affluence of the family involved (Ayrton, 1982). The poor used the only meat which was readily available, bacon; richer families used good steak or pork. Similar dishes were made in other parts of central eastern England. Poulson (1977) mentions a bacon clanger filled with bacon, sage and onion from the Thames valley; a similar dish was known in Leicestershire as a Quorn bacon roll.
No-one has offered a derivation of the word clanger. Wright (1896-1905) cites 'clang' as a Northamptonshire dialect word meaning 'to eat voraciously'. The Bedfordshire clanger may have developed in response to local employment patterns (Mabey, 1978). Many women were employed in the straw-hat industry and the clanger, cooking slowly for hours unattended, formed a complete hot meal for those arriving home from work. Clangers are now made because there is a local taste for them. There are even clanger-eating contests at local fairs and festivities. Clangers have now evolved into a baked dish; recipes sometimes called for the boiled rolls to be dried in a low oven before consumption. Baking has now become the main cooking method as the necessity for long, slow cooking is not so great.
Bedfordshire clangers as made for sale at the present time are less elaborate than those produced at home. The foods chosen as fillings are prepared first; meat is cut into small dice, onions chopped, apples peeled and sliced. An English suet crust is made by mixing plain flour with chopped suet in the proportions of 2:1; the mixture is seasoned with a little salt, then bound with water to give a coherent dough. The pastry is rolled out into a flat sheet and cut to oblongs of twice the area of the finished clanger. A small mound of savoury filling is placed in the top left corner; the sweet filling is put in the bottom left corner, and a strip of pastry placed between them to act as a divider; then the right-hand side of the pastry sheet is folded over to enclose the fillings. The edges and the area around the central dividing strip are sealed, and the surface of the pastry glazed with egg. It is baked at 210C for 30 minutes.
Estimated commercial production is 15-18,000 per annum. One commercial producer of clangers has so far been located. He makes 2 versions: one containing gammon and apple, and a modern 'Christmas' type with a filling of turkey and sweet mincemeat.
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Top Customer Reviews
In my food writing I usually go back to original sources, but this book is invaluable in providing a context for that study and it is never far from my desk. I have yet to find anything within this book which I would contest as being inaccurate, which considering the number of food products I have looked at, is quite remarkable.
For anyone interested in food in Britain and its history, this is a must-have book. The most comprehensive, accurate and reliable by far.