East Midlands Food

East Midlands Food Blog

Some things I’d like to know…

Welcome to East Midlands Food, part of the Renaissance East Midlands Museum Buddies (MuBu) project. Over the next nine months I will be researching different aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats. This blog will be one of them – but where to start?

Food is such a vast subject that I need to narrow it down to some specific topics. For instance, we could explore the history of some of the region’s specialities like Melton pork pies, Stilton cheese, Bakewell pudding, and Lincolnshire sausages. Childhood food, including school dinners, might spark a lot of memories and suggest how things have changed over time. Other topics that spring to mind are markets and shops, wartime and rationing, eating out, food for special occasions, growing and preserving your own food, recipes, cooking and kitchen equipment. The regional folklore of food might also be worth a look, along with some examples of the numerous riots provoked in the past by shortages of food or high prices, and how these were dealt with by those in power.

So – I’d like to know:

1. What would YOU like to know about food in the East Midlands? Give me an idea of some of the topics that would interest you – be as creative as you like…

2. If you work in a museum or historic house in the region, what displays, objects or other material (like photographs) do you have that relate – directly or indirectly – to food, and what sort of research could be useful to you in making the most of them?

For a little light relief while you think about this, an almanac published in 1864 advises that ‘neither mind not body should be actively exercised immediately after a full meal’, and ’although a spare or low diet is not often either necessary or harmless, yet, we should never eat until we feel an uneasy fulness’. The 200 ‘gentlemen’ attending the ‘grand entertainment’ given at The Guildhall in Leicester in November 1764 by the newly-elected Mayor, Alderman Chambers might have welcomed similar advice, given that the ‘extremely elegant’ dinner was served up in two courses of ninety dishes each. There was ‘great plenty of venison, pheasants, woodcock, and game of all kinds, with every other variety the season and country could produce’ (James Thompson, The History of Leicester in the Eighteenth Century (Crossley & Clarke, 1871), p126).

The same almanac also advises that ‘if you want a good crop of onions, dig your ground deep and manure it highly with the droppings of the hen-house. Roll the surface of the ground smooth, and scratch it with a fine rake before marking off the rows’; and having grown your onions, a roasted one held against the ear is one of several recommended remedies for earache ‘that seldom fail’.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

 

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A research project that looked at various aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats.

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