#FolkloreThursday : Traditional Leicestershire Food

For this week’s #FolkloreThursday #food theme we turned to the Leicestershire and Rutland Magazine to see what local traditions there are surrounding mealtimes, cooking and eating.

First we found an account of the hearty fare served to the workers during sheep shearing in the 1870s: large breakfasts of tea, bread and cold boiled bacon, bread and cheese mid-morning, roast beef and Christmas pudding with ale for the midday meal, and a late supper of cold beef, bacon, fruit pies and ale.

Next was an article entitled “Traditional County Cookery”, pondering the way that dishes and food habits vary from county to county. The author notes that locally produced food follows the conditions of the local soil, and that Leicestershire pastures are especially good at rearing beef and of course only the cheesemakers of the Vale of Belvoir know the secret of making Stilton. Differences in food preparation are also mentioned along with a list of traditional Leicestershire recipes:

Leicestershire Curd Tarts

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

Thurnby Savoury

Kibworth Baked Roll

Lutterworth Tice Tarts.

Another article mentions singing games and folk song, which often developed specific local variants and reflect the rituals of everyday life – courtship, weddings, births, funerals – all of which are interwoven with food and eating traditions. Here is an excerpt from “All the boys in our town” (Welland Valley variant):

Sylvia made a pudding, she made it nice and sweet,

She daredn’t stick the knife in till Stan came down the street.

“Stanley will you have a bit, and don’t say nay,

For next Monday morning is our wedding day.”

“Sweet Nancy” from North Leicester includes the lines:

Pork Pie, mutton chop,

Mother take me to the shop,

If I fall pick me up,

Pork pie, mutton chop.

Source: Leicestershire and Rutland Magazine, December 1948 and June 1949

And, just because we like it, here’s Mrs Purry and Patty in the kitchen, from Louis Wain’s Baby’s Picture Book, 1903.


NB- for a reconstruction of Leicestershire Curd Tarts see https://riseofthesourdoughpreacher.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/leicestershire-curd-tarts/


About Katharine Short

When I was 13 every careers questionnaire I did at school suggested I become an archivist. In rebellion I studied History of Art at Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute before giving in to the inevitable and undertaking a qualification in Archives Administration at Aberystwyth University. I worked at King’s College London Archives and the London Metropolitan Archives before becoming the Archivist here at DMU in January 2013. My role is hugely varied: answering enquiries and assisting researchers, sorting, cataloguing, cleaning and packaging archival material, managing our environmentally controlled storage areas, giving seminars, talks and tours, researching aspects of University history, liaising with potential donors and advocating for the importance of archives within the organisation. I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who can say ‘I love my job’ and really mean it.
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