WAR By Louis Borrill
" VACANCIES at -Farm. Country Food Cooking." Does that suggest plates crouching in ashes, huge fireplaces where little pots perch upon
iron lips, and kettles swinging on a tripod? Does it evoke memories and foretastes of Wigs, Huffkins, Bapps, Biffens, Hock and Dough?
Probably not. But that is more reason why it should, for England has a fine native menu and wine list which wartime should call, into its own.
Country wines and beers are widely brewed enough to be available to whoever asks. Elder-berry wine is a very popular wine. It is brewed from the lacey blossoms of the tree into a cool, clear. golden wine, with the savour of champagne. Elder-berry syrup, a by-product of the wine is a
refreshing shfrbert. Gipsies recommend it for the complexion.
Sloe Gin it the sap of the sloes or bushes from the hedgerows. This Gin or Port vies with their best commercial opposites. Damson and plum port are .highly rated wines. With a skill born of many years the country people clean, boil, strain, sweeten and tint with nettle and extracts, the fruits of the heavy trees.
Cowslip, gooseberry, parsley, rhubarb wine and brandy, parsnip. turnip, gorse and nettle beer and wines, have to he tasted to recognise their excellence. In some sequestered spots of Somerset, Raspberry Vinegar. mead and honey mead are still made.
Ways with Food Country folk have excellent ways with food. With their friends the rabbit and hare they are very cunning: Buckinghamshire's " harvest rabbit" is a compost of prunes. onions, herbs and forcemeat balls; Gloucester " lugged hare" nestles amid red currant jelly pie, Gloucester Jelly. be it noted; a rabbit pudding is a pie served with mushroom sauce, Berkshire's is rabbit galantine and the Devonshire rabbit a brawn, dressed with salad.
Through Hereford's quiet lanes you
may come upon many a village crone making a Love in Disguise. She is embroidering a calf's heart with potato sauce and bread, and coating it with white of egg before burying it in a tin under the ashes. So in crofters' cottages and miners' little houses in Northumberland, the cake sings when the fat sizzles in cooking the Singing Hinnic, a famous local delicacy.
Cornishmen make similarly their StarGazing Pie, a fish pasty with the head and eyes looking skyward. London's only cake speciality is the London Bun with currants adding eyes, mouth and nose to its dumpy form.
A November night last year the writer was delayed by tyre trouble near a Cumberland village and. had to spend the night in a small farm house. At supper the wife offered " Clipping Time Pudding " made of rice, milk, raisins and spices. "
Next time you are in Yorkshire ask for Haverbread, with a piece of sausage in it. And down Essex way, in the
villages of the Roding River and by the fringes of Epping Forest, take a fill of Pumpkin Pie, or the excellent Mincemeat Pie as its authors distil it. Here one asks for Essex Oyster Loaf, not country or farm bread. And one eats in Ugley or Willingale Spain, a country roll scooped out and brushed over with egg into which best Colchester Oysters are set. Men and women of Kent are fond of a Kentish soup, Hop Top Soup, drawn from Hop scraps and apples. Sussex folk arc great lovers of gritty, sticky and tasty Green Fig Jam. With their lamb chops, the Oxford villagers still sprinkle a Sauce of Pickled Elder Buds, as in May they eat Lamb Tail Pie.
Gloucester folk improve upon that nice back rasher with "Christening Chine," a piece of the best of bacon from near the backbone, stuffed. With it for breakfast, Hampshire offers Hampshire Friars Omelette: turn an apple into dry sauce, whisk it with butter, egg and sugar and cook it in a dish lined with breadcrumbs.
After Haggis, Scots' fishermen best like Petticoat Tails, a shortbread tinctured with a local wine.