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Local peasant food gone 'posh'

(77 Posts)
granjura Tue 06-Jan-15 11:11:32

Always makes me laugh when traditional local recipes, which used to be the stapple diet of ordinary 'man' or even the 'poor' - go all posh with ridiculous prices.

Recently talked about 'raclette' a dish served in all posh ski resorts at exhorbitant prices, in another thread. In the old days, actually well into the 20C- farmers from the Alps would be up in the mountains year round- and perhaps only come down to the market in the valley once or twice a year. They would be stuck up there al winter- without availability of fresh food- hence all the pickling of veg, gherkins, onions, etc, grown during the Summer, bottling and also pickling of cabbage (sauerkraut) and salting, smoking or drying of meat- and the storing of cheese and lots of potatoes, and of course local white wine. Meals in winter consisted of an endless combination of the above- with 3 main favourites, raclette, fondue and tartiflette. Really poor man's fare, and must have been so boring after a while. Now all 3 dishes are expensive mainstays of ski resorts menus- and I always find it funny- as few of the tourists are aware of the history and tradition behind them.

'racler' means to scrape- and any noun with 'ette' at the end means 'a little version of' (like maison for house, and maisonette for a hut)- so raclette means a 'little scrape'. Potatoes would be boiled, and the cheese placed on a stone by the fire, and when hot scraped onto the potatoes, and served with any pickled veg.

Tartiflette is a dish made of boiled potates mixed with 'lard' = fat smoked bacon, onions, and a bit of cream (cream was of course not a posh ingredient on a farm). Most of the cattle would be slaughtered in the autumn, as it was impossible to keep them in winter, no space and not enough fodder- and just a few kept to keep them in milk in winter and start again in Spring- one cow was kept with its calf tied up in a corner of the barn- close enough that she could smell it and hear it- but not close enough for it to suckle- so she would continue to produce milk (a cruel necessity)- and the cattle would be kept below the main châlet to insulate from the cold!

Ooops, sorry, it turned out longer than intended.

Your local stories about local 'peasant' food would be interesting, thanks.

Grannyknot Tue 06-Jan-15 11:20:05

This is slightly different but I find it no less amusing GJ - when I lived in South Africa I would have to stretch my budget to buy "English cucumbers" when we were entertaining, because they were twice the price of the stubbier, rough skinned local ones. Then recently I saw the "common" variety as we used to get in SA at a farmer's market as "artisan cucumbers" - at double the price of the others!

HildaW Tue 06-Jan-15 11:35:06

Oh so many examples of things that were considered cheap and cheerful when I was a child now being revamped and served in high end places.
All those nursery milk puddings including Bread a Butter pudding (invented to use up cut bread and butter that had not been eaten at tea time!)
Kale....ghastly tough green stuff is now almost a life elixir (admittedly modern varieties are a bit more edible)
'Designer' sausages....can remember when Mum used to apologied 'Its only sausage and mash today'
Even mash is deemed trendy when loaded with butter and such things as truffle oil.
I suppose as with all things fashion has a part to play - chefs need something to grab a headline (and cut costs)....they look back in the old books and et voila....we have the latest trend. Even seen 'junket' lately ....something my Mum used to make for me during my many bouts of tonsillitis......still loathe it.

rosequartz Tue 06-Jan-15 11:55:29

DM always used to say that kale was food for cows. She would be astonished to know that it is 'trendy' now.

'Deconstructed' puddings - ordinary pudding ingredients scattered artistically around a plate.
It doesn't stay deconstructed when it reaches your stomach!

Anne58 Tue 06-Jan-15 12:05:21

Lamb shanks used to be cheap, not any more!

merlotgran Tue 06-Jan-15 12:27:57

Same with Belly Pork.

And I can't take 'pulled pork' seriously.....or 'jerk chicken' shock

Ariadne Tue 06-Jan-15 12:56:00

granjura I saw a recipe, in a food magazine the other day, for tartiflette, without the bacon but cheese, cream and onions. It is just about the same as West country Homity pie, which is also a peasant food, using what was available on a farm rather than in the mountains. I frequently make it (adding lots of garlic!) but it could easily become "posh" couldn't it?

Wasn't Yorkshire pudding once a filler before the meat dish, in order to eke that out?

Greyduster Tue 06-Jan-15 12:59:55

Beef short ribs. Very fashionable and expensive now in restaurants. My mum used to buy them for a very cheap (for pennies almost) mid week meal and cook them slowly in the oven. I now buy them - when I can find them - for eight pounds a kilo from the local butcher, five pounds a kilo from the local market and braise them in the oven in red wine and stock. My mother would be shocked at the price!

vampirequeen Tue 06-Jan-15 13:01:43

I've never forgiven the chefs for discovering lap of lamb. It used to be sold on the bone. It was the only time we were allowed to eat with our fingers. We picked the meat off the bones with our teeth and the grease ran down our chins. Served with mash and veg it was total comfort food. When I grew up I still bought it. At the time it was 10p a lb. One day the butcher said, "By heck, your dog eats well."

I told him that actually we ate it. After that he made sure I always got the meatiest bits.

Then the chefs discovered it, boned it, stuffed it,rolled it and made it fashionable.

Now you can't buy it on the bone...well at least not around here and even if you could it would be silly money.

Ariadne Tue 06-Jan-15 13:03:41

Do I remember best end of neck of Lamb too?

vampirequeen Tue 06-Jan-15 13:14:29

Ooooh that made the base for a lovely stew.

NfkDumpling Tue 06-Jan-15 13:30:56

I've recently discovered I'm posher than I realised - I've been making frittata for years and never knew it!

And my DD made bubble and squeak for Boxing Day lunch - and looked up a recipe. I thought it was a 'bung it in' dish.

Iam64 Tue 06-Jan-15 13:38:26

My mouth is watering, I'm a real fan of 'peasant food'. Mriam does a mean tartiflette and veg/pulse soups or pasta with a vegetable tomato sauce have always been enjoyed here.

Our butcher also runs a very trendy farm, with llama walking, free range pigs and hens wandering about. The lamb sold in the butchers and at the farm is the lamb we saw wandering the moors earlier in its life. The restaurant at the farm is excellent and of course everything "locally sourced". When he handed me the usual bag of marrow bones for the dogs recently, he was stunned to learn that celebrity chefs and restaurants are selling roasted marrow bones, with artisan bread as starters. Luckily, he continues to provide local dog owners with free marrow bones. His pet food is £1 for lbs and I suspect it's better quality than some mince meat used by fast food outlets grin

NfkDumpling Tue 06-Jan-15 13:44:58

Roasted marrow bones, considered a tasty delicacy in England and parts of Europe, are becoming increasingly available in North American restaurants. But making them at home is a simple and affordable option once the ingredients have been purchased. Beef marrow bones are used most often but veal bones are another option.

Read more :

Really? Well, I'll be blowed!

Anya Tue 06-Jan-15 13:56:11

Homemade red cabbage sauerkraut. Yummy.

crun Tue 06-Jan-15 14:10:07

"Wasn't Yorkshire pudding once a filler before the meat dish"

YP still is a starter in Yorkshire. Seeing bags of jerky at exorbitant prices, makes me wonder how long it will be before the marketing men latch on to pemmican as well.

On an opposite tack, remember how chicken used to be an expensive luxury 50 years ago? Now it's about the cheapest meat you can buy (apart from offal).

soontobe Tue 06-Jan-15 14:44:43

Rabbits being sold always seem odd to me.

vampirequeen Tue 06-Jan-15 15:16:07

My grandma used to give us the marrow bones to suck the marrow out of. We would stick our fingers and tongues into the holes to loosen the marrow then suck it out.

Grannyknot Tue 06-Jan-15 16:17:02

Ariadne I remember being sent to the butcher by my mom and told to ask for that "best end".

We used to have a wonderful high street butcher who shut up shop when Waitrose opened locally. He would sell me beef shin on the bone. There's nothing like it for soup.

vq Waitrose now sell marrow bones but at £1.50 each I'm not so sure it's good value, especially as they slice them lengthways and all the marrow just runs out once you cook it. Marrow on toast was a favourite when I was little.

Waitrose here also advertises "Forgotten Cuts" and I always want to say "Forgotten by whom?!" Beef skirt is one.

granjura Tue 06-Jan-15 16:31:44

Thanks all- keep them going- any special dishes, perhaps like Lancashire Hot Pot, etc?

Grannynot, DH was born in South Africa- and his mum was champion at making fabulous dishes with scrag ends, cheaper cuts, etc. One favourite of hers which we still make regularly was Bobotie (curried mince covered with egg mix and baked in the oven)- and again, we did have it in a posh restaurant in Cape Town a few years back- she would have laughed at the price!

Funny to read about your DD NFKdumpling- a true illustration of what I meant- a recipe for bubble and squeak does seem bizarre- as you say, definitely a 'bung' dish. I am a true 'bung it in' cook. And yes, been making frittata without knowing what it was, lol, for years.

SIL is very fussy about how to make bolognese, and uses the same recipe time after time. But on the Tuscan farms we've visited over the years- the ragù sauce includes anything that happens to be going spare in the garden, a pepper or 2, a courgette, sweetcorn, a few mushrooms found in the back field or the woods, whatever.

Grannyknot Tue 06-Jan-15 16:31:50

We've all forgotten the obvious one: porridge! You have to laugh at all the "posh porridge" outlets, they're every where!

Anne58 Tue 06-Jan-15 16:46:31

I love Bobotie! Haven't made it for yonks!

granjura Tue 06-Jan-15 16:47:41

do you have connections with South Africa phoenix? (always think of our visit to Arizona when I see your name ;) )

MamaCaz Tue 06-Jan-15 17:06:13

Breast of lamb used to be one of our mainstays back in the early days (the others being sausage and pigs liver). We didn't have two pennies to rub together, but even we could afford it. I wish I could say the same now - it's sold boned and rolled and costs nearly as much as beef. Much as I love it, I'm not going to pay all that money for something that is half fat anyway!

Mmm - I've made myself so hungry just by thinking about it. Breast of lamb cut up into strips then roasted in a large tin with slices of potato on top until everything is crispy. Couldn't be more simple or tasty. [drooling emoticon] grin

HildaW Tue 06-Jan-15 17:11:07

Can still remember learning to bone, stuff and roll a breast of lamb at school aged about 14....cannot see that happening today!