Tue, Jul 25, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Chips are down for Britain's old culinary classics


Classic dishes which stiffened the backbone and upper lip of Britain in days gone by are set to vanish from the nation's larder, according to a survey of changing food tastes. Jugged hare, brawn and junket are unknown to the overwhelming majority of under-25s, who also shudder when confronted with many of the recipes' down-to-earth ingredients.

Increasing prosperity is tending to drive offal from young people's kitchens, the poll suggests, along with ingredients such as haddocks' heads and scrag end of neck. The runaway success of international cuisine, from pizza to Thai curries, has also eroded the appeal of pigs' cheeks in brine and boiled calf's foot, which date from periods of austerity.

The survey finds a distinct generation gap, with the over-60s well aware of all the dishes -- although not much bothered about the prospect of them dying out. People brought up on rationing, which only ended for some imported ingredients in the early 1950s, have embraced "new foods" as eagerly as everyone else.

At the top of the endangered list is Bath chaps, details of which appeared in the first English recipe book in 1769, written by Elizabeth Raffald, a housekeeper at a stately home in Salford. Back then, cooled pigs' cheeks, plus half the jawbone and tongue, in breadcrumbs were key to the national diet. Not today. Only 1 percent of under-25s knew about the dish.

Similarly, jugged hare -- boiled and served with hare blood and port -- was once part of the staple diet. It was immortalized in Hannah Glasse's 18th-century masterpiece The Art of Cookery, which starts its jugging recipe in early editions with the sage advice: "First catch your hare." But only 1.6 percent of young people had heard of it and 70 percent of young people said they would refuse to eat either the hare or the chaps.

At the other end of the age scale, 30 percent of over-65s knew and had eaten jugged hare, a figure rising to 40 percent for Bath chaps.

Some venerable puddings also face extinction, with the time-honored standby of junket -- sweetened milk set with rennet and sprinkled with chocolate flakes -- sadly on the way out. Lardy cakes and even spotted dick, the stuff of school meal jokes for much of the early and mid-20th century, are also in the top 10 list of sweets too bothersome to make and no longer familiar to the young.

"A huge generation gap in culinary knowledge seems to be opening, that could soon result in some dishes being lost forever," said Paul Moreton, the head of the television channel UKTV Food, which questioned 2,000 people for the survey. "Pig's cheeks and squirrel casserole are clearly not to everyone's tastes, but they are a powerful link to a bygone culinary era."

The regional factor was emphasized by survey results in Scotland and Wales. Scots are close to forgetting crappit heids (boiled haddock heads stuffed with suet) and whim wham, a fruit and bread trifle which meant nothing to 94 percent of under-25s.

The Welsh have gone off rook pie and are even showing signs of rejecting the former national dish of laver bread -- seaweed pureed with fine oatmeal.

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