This section explores from of the origins and folklore surrounding different types of foods, as well as some interesting facts!
According to legend, the Battenberg cake was created in 1884 to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse, to Prince Louis of Battenberg. The checkerboard of opposing pink and yellow sponges represent the four princes of Battenberg: Louis, Alexander, Henry and Frances Joseph. The cake is covered in a thin layer of marzipan, a confection made from sugar and ground almonds.
Do you know the muffin man?
The British version of a muffin is a soft yeast dough which is cooked on a griddle. In baking lingo, the American version is technically a 'quick bread' (not a cupcake) and derives its lift from a chemical, rather than a biological, source. The chemical source in question, baking powder, wasn't invented until the mid-19th century, making the American muffin a relatively modern creation whereas the 'English muffin' dates back to the 10th century in Wales. In Victorian England, muffin men were so common on the streets that they had a nursery rhyme made after them.
Hard tack, a twice-baked 'bread' made from flour and water, was a staple food of the Royal Navy before Bristol baker Henry Jones came up with an ingenious method of combining ordinary flour with tartaric acid, bicarbonate of soda, a dash of sugar and a pinch of salt. Sailors were then able to make their own bread aboard which rose like a yeast dough but did not require yeast.
There are a number of different brands of brown sauce in the UK but the key ingredients are generally malt vinegar, tomatoes, molasses, dates, tamarind extract and spices. The original recipe was invented and developed in 1899 by Frederick Gibson Garter, who sold it for £150 to settle a debt. Since then, it has become a quintessential British staple.
Cinnamon was one of the first known spices. The spice does come from part of a tree, but it is not the stick! Cinnamon is actually the dried inner bark of evergreen trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. At harvest, the bark is stripped off and placed under the sun, where it curls into 'quills'. Cinnamon is also available in a ground form, which is often used in baked dishes.
Cola gets its name from the kola nut, the original ingredients used to flavour cola drinks. Nowadays, it is rare to find kola nuts in commercial cola drinks, as artificial flavourings are not widely used for taste. Kola nut is a bitter-tasting stimulant. In Africa (where it is native), it is often chewed to restore vitality and suppress hunger, as it contains more caffeine than coffee in addition to other mood-boosting ingredients, including sugar. It is often used to treat asthma and whooping cough.
In 1982, a prestigious organisation was formed - the Pork Pie Appreciation Society. What began as a meeting amongst friends has now become a well-established tradition in search for the perfect pork pie.
Each Saturday, the Pie Club meets at the Old Bridge Inn in Yorkshire to discuss a few world and sporting events before the serious business begins. The 'pie fetcher' brings a selection of pork pies for the members to judge. There is a process to the tasting and judging but the main criteria are colour and structure, freshness, pastry, seasoning, jelly, and of course, the meat. Each member gives the pie a mark out of ten, which is recorded in the meeting's minutes. Each year, the Pie Club holds a Pork Pie Competition, attracting pie connoisseurs from all over the country.