The Humble Yorkshire Pudding.

Now what would a Yorkshire Pudding blog be without a little bit of the history of the Yorkshire Pudding?
The story begins hundreds of years ago and in true fairy tale fashion we begin with Once Upon a Time…Robust and lovely wheat flour began to come into common use for making cakes and puddings. Cooks in the North of England devised a plan to change the course of cookery FOREVER!
They began making use of the fat from the dripping pan to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted in the oven. Scandalously genius!
In 1737, the first recipe for “dripping pudding” was published in The Whole Duty of a Woman. This was a guide for the fairer sex with rules, directions, and observations for a lady’s conduct and behaviour. The topic of a lady’s love life was included with tips for married, single, and even divorced women!
The book was surely a huge success.
The important thing here though is that recipe for “dripping pudding.” It was fairly simple – make a good batter as for pancakes, put in a hot toss-pan over the fire, add a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan instead of a dripping pan and under a shoulder of mutton, shake it frequently and it will be light and savoury. When the mutton is done, turn it in a dish and serve hot.
In 1747, Hannah Glasse shook up the recipe with her own version in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple.
Glasse was the original domestic goddess! Glasse re-invented and re-named the dripping pudding, which had been cooked in England for centuries although the puddings were much flatter than the puffy versions known today.
Then in 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry got involved when it declared that “A Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.” This came about when Ian Layness, an Englishman living in the Rockies experienced a series of Yorkshire pudding “flops” in the high country despite huge successes in the low country.
It is no myth – the rise is just not the same at certain altitudes! Pretty crazy when you can quite obviously cook perfect pudds atop the Pennines.
That aside, Yorkshire Pudding is still a staple of the British Sunday lunch and in some cases is eaten as a separate course prior to the main meat dish. This is the traditional way to eat the pudding and is still common in parts of Yorkshire today. There is a reason for this too.
Because the rich gravy from the roast meat drippings was used up with the first course, the main meat and vegetable course was often served with a parsley or white sauce. This was a cheap way to fill diners, thus stretching the use of more expensive ingredients since the Yorkshire pudding was served first.
Should you wish to tighten those purse strings, this is one way to do it. If you’re anything like us though, you like to load your plate with all the trimmings.
If, after all of that, you are ready for dessert, do like we do in some areas of Yorkshire and fill the pudding with jam, or as a “pudding” in the true sense, try jam and ice cream.
Source: The History of the Yorkshire Pudding

Baked Bean Museum of Excellence, Port Talbot.

The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is a museum dedicated to baked beans, owned and operated by a bean-obsessed superhero called Captain Beany. And yes, it is as eccentric as it sounds.
In order to understand the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence, you first have to understand Captain Beany. The man formerly known as Barry Kirk once worked in the computer department of the British Petroleum chemical plant in the village of Baglan in Neath Port Talbot.
Then, in September 1986, one sublime event changed his life: Kirk sat naked in a bathtub full of baked beans for 100 hours, setting a new world record.
At the same time, his one true destiny was revealed: Captain Beany was born, an honest-to-goodness real-life superhero rising like a phoenix from the rich tomato sauce of a thousand baked beans. It was a beautiful moment.
In truth, it actually took a few years for Kirk to complete his baked bean-obsessed transformation. But in 1991, he legally changed his name by deed poll to Captain Beany.

Not stopping there, he started painting his face and (now completely bald) head orange, and began wearing a golden cape, pants, gloves and boots.
Ever since, Captain Beany has been involved in a whole range of strange events, raising money for various charities.
In doing so, he’s raised more than £100,000 for charity.
In 2009, Captain Beany transformed his third-floor, two-bedroom council flat into the world’s only museum dedicated to baked beans: The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence. The tiny museum is packed with baked bean-related artifacts.
It’s bursting with baked bean tins from various brands around the world.
It’s a surreal experience, but one that most visitors thoroughly enjoy. Well done, Captain Beany.
Because the museum is located in a council flat, Captain Beany can’t charge an entrance fee. Donations are happily received, however, and are given to charity.
Source: Baked Bean Museum of Excellence – Port Talbot, Wales – Gastro Obscura

Time for Tiffin: India’s ‘Lunch in a Box.’

tiffinwallahs-of-bombay-011Lunch in a box. Photograph: Chris Caldicott
The word tiffin is also used as a name for a lunchbox. Tiffins (or dhabbas) come in all shapes and sizes, but traditionally they are round, with three or four stacking stainless steel compartments firmly sealed with a tight-fitting lid and a side clip to avoid any nasty spillages and a handle for carrying on top.
In India food cooked at home with care and love is considered to deliver not only healthy (and relatively cheap) food but also divine contentment.
Lunch is usually eaten thali-style, with a tantalising selection of regional delicacies that may include any combination of spicy vegetables, dhal, rice, yoghurt, pickles, bread and pudding served on a big steel plate or a banana leaf. The separate compartments in the tiffin lunchbox accommodate thali lunches perfectly.
Tiffin culture is now to be found all over India. Everyone – from women in brightly coloured saris working in the fields to giggling families on long train journeys – carries a tiffin to provide a compact, portable, homemade lunch.
Every weekday without fail something rather extraordinary is to be seen around midday on the chaotic streets of Bombay (or Mumbai). This is the sight of hundreds of stainless steel tiered tiffin boxes or dhabbas piled high on handcarts and bicycles being pushed through the streets by dhoti-wearing, white-capped tiffin wallahs.
Expertly run by the Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers’ Association, armies of these tiffin wallahs provide the invaluable daily service of speedily delivering piping hot home-cooked lunches to more than 200,000 busy office workers.
Many workers live 50 kilometres or more from their workplace, a long commute on a packed train. There is certainly not time for the cook of the house to prepare a full meal before they leave home.
So the lunch-filled tiffin boxes are picked up later in the morning, colour-coded and transported to the station, where they are collected by the tiffin wallahs, whose mission is to deliver each box to its corresponding workplace still hot from the pan – and to return the empty tiffin to the home before the end of the working day.
With the essential core values of punctuality, teamwork, honesty and sincerity providing the backbone to the business, they have a staggering 99.99% success rate.
The tiffin wallahs have become so revered that they are now called on to lecture to big businesses, and have been honoured guests at British royal weddings.
They are considered so trustworthy that workers often place their wages inside the clean tiffin box on its return journey rather than risk carrying money on the commuter train.
Read further via Time for tiffin: the history of India’s lunch in a box | Lifeandstyle | The Guardian.

The Ancient Art of Brewing with Stale Bread.

The Ancient Art of Brewing with Stale Bread
Brewers are once again making beer from things that typically end up in one’s household trash, a 7,000-year-old custom.
Launched by two beer enthusiasts, Brussels Beer Project is known for producing unique artisanal crafts, but one of their signature concoctions is truly special. Named Babylone, it is made from things that typically end up in one’s household trash—like stale bread.
Inspired by Brussels Beer Project, New York brewery Toast Ale also started making artisanal concoctions from baked goods that didn’t sell on time from local bakeries or stores. Team Toast, as the brewers call themselves, would tell you that bread is one of the most wasted household food items.
Instead of letting this baked bounty go to waste, both teams collect the leftovers and convert them into unique libations.
While this idea may sound radical to some, the concept of brewing with old bread is several thousand years old.
In fact, the Brussels’ specialty is called Babylone because it’s based on an over 7,000-year-old custom of fermenting bread into a “divine drink.”
In the ancient Near East, beer and bread were so intimately connected that some modern scholars wondered what skill our ancestors mastered first—brewing or baking. Breweries from Egypt to Mesopotamia made beer by baking dough made from ground germinated cereals—and then placed the loaves and yeast into jars of water, where the maltose sugars would be converted into alcohol.
That ancient tradition persevered, through centuries and through countries. One of the favourite Russian drinks is kvass—a dark, bubbly beverage made with bread, water, yeast and sugar. Kvass, the name of which comes from the Russian word kvasit, meaning ferment, is usually derived from black rye bread, although other recipes exist.
Vodka may be perceived as the national drink of Russia, but kvass, which is easy to make and doesn’t need distilling, has long been a traditional beverage. An everyday table item, it often appeared in Russian literature and theatre.
And while many classically Russian recipes and dishes all but disappeared during the Soviet era, kvass persisted through the tough times, and never fell out of favour.
Source: The Ancient Art of Brewing with Stale Bread | JSTOR Daily

Night Market in Yangon, Myanmar.

Night Market
A view from above of a small night market tucked away in a hidden street of Yangon in Myanmar.
The people are busy buying and selling all types of produce at a number of very colourful stalls.
Image Credit: Photograph by Zay Yar Lin, All Rights Reserved, Yangon, Myanmar, Member since 2014.
Source: Night Market | Smithsonian Photo Contest | Smithsonian

The Quebec City I Love.

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Rue St. Louis – Photograph by Susan Seubert
Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Travel
When I was growing up, Quebec City was something of an also-ran compared to Montreal, its brasher, more idiosyncratic sibling and my hometown. My family would often drive the 150 miles up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, and as a kid I recall coming away a little underwhelmed. I
t seemed so dutiful and reserved next to the “sin city,” as Montreal was known. Sure, Quebec City could lay claim to a marginally more storied history—symbolized by the star-shaped Citadelle and the once bloody Plains of Abraham, where the British and French clashed over control of what would become Canada. But next to Montreal it lacked panache.
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Notre-Dame de Quebec – Photograph by Susan Seubert
No more. These days the cities have reached a comfortable détente over which has the most to offer. They are simply different. Quebec City’s warren of cobblestone streets, hulking Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, and Upper and Lower Towns are backdrop to its francophone fashion shops, chansons echoing off centuries-old cut-stone buildings, and air heavy with thick Québécois accents—a combination that’s unique in all North America. The food has gone from pedestrian to a superbly traditional force of gustatory nature (many dishes draw on local ingredients).
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Raclette – Photograph by Susan Seubert
When it turned 400 years old in 2008, Quebec City also seemed to turn a corner. Now it is a truly modern city with old bones. My advice: Learn a little French, try it out on the residents, and you’ll enter a world where the locals will help you unlock the keys to street-level Old France.
See more via I Heart Quebec City — National Geographic.