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Pork Pies, Pasties, Ploughmen and Pints

Updated on July 31, 2013
A Slice Of Pork Pie, With Pickle - Do Not Disturb!
A Slice Of Pork Pie, With Pickle - Do Not Disturb! | Source

Marketing People Turn Away Now!

Anyone who has taken a marketing course or read books on the subject will know that the 4 P's are Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

Not when it comes to great British food they're not!

The 4 P's in my universe are:

  • Pork Pies, (in fact, pies in general)
  • Pasties, Cornish and otherwise
  • Ploughmen, as in lunches - not the blokes themselves
  • And Pints, referring, of course, to the stuff you drink with the above.

Lets take a tour of Britain's fantastic traditional food and drink and discover why the 4 P's deserve to be redefined as I propose.

Pork Pies

Not All Port Pies Are Made In Melton Mowbray But They Can Still Taste Good!

Pork pies are my favourite food. All my friends and colleagues know that. I regularly have them for lunch, sometimes for dinner but hardly ever for breakfast - although I wouldn't rule it out.

The only reason for excluding the prince of pies from breakfast is that breakfast is a time for sausages - but that's a whole new topic for a whole new article, coming soon.

Pork pies are traditionally made in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray. They are, of course, also made in lots of other places with many traditional butchers still making pies to age-old, and often closely guarded, recipes. If a pork pie is to be described as a Melton Mowbray pork pie then it must have been made there.

One such producer, located in the heart of Melton Mowbray, is Dickinson & Morris who have been baking pork pies there since 1851. Dickinson & Morris are the oldest remaining bakers of the authentic Melton Mowbray Pork Pie in the town centre.

All major supermarkets offer a range of pork pies but they are often not worth eating except in an emergency. There are exceptions of course and I have listed a few below but on the whole I find it better to stick to the low-volume artisan producers who put much more effort into the most important aspect of any food item - making sure it tastes nice.

When exploring the British pork pie universe you will discover a few alien life forms there, pies which contain ingredients other than the traditional pork and a few seasonings and spices. These pies may contain other "complementary" ingredients such as pickle, egg, cheese, chicken and ham.

These hybrid pies often look great, especially when seductively sliced and displayed on the deli counter to tempt us to try them but in my experience some of the added ingredients tend to dominate the flavour. This is especially the case with pickles.

The only ingredients in a traditionally made pork pie are chopped pork, (quite coarsely chopped is best), and jelly made from bonestock. Each maker usually adds a few seasonings, many of which are kept secret but which often include salt, pepper,mace and nutmeg.

In Praise Of Pasties

The UK is famous for Cornish Pasties

Cornish pasties are traditional parcels of meat and vegetables encased in a pastry shell with a characteristic crimped crust. There is a reason for this, apparently they were made for miners working in the Cornish tin mines. The men's wives provided the pastry crust so that the miners did not have to touch the contents of the pasty with their dirty hands. The crust was not originally intended to be eaten.

Nowadays, however, pasties are prized as much for their delicious pastry case as they are for the contents. They do not have to be made in Cornwall, which is just as well because bakeries all over the country churn them out in their thousands.

Ploughmen, As In Lunches

A ploughmans lunch is a traditional midday meal as eaten by weary ploughmen having taken a break from their labours and needing sustenance.

Walk into almost any British pub and there's a good chance that you will see one on the menu.

Some people may tell you otherwise but a ploughmans lunch comprises of a selection taken from the following list:

At least one type of British cheese, not French, Not any other infiltrator, British cheese such as Stilton, Chedday or Wensleydale.

  • A Pork Pie, this part is non-negotiable
  • Some pickled onions and or a pile of Branston pickle, (or similar - very similar!)
  • A bit of salad, not too much
  • Some slices of ham.
  • A chunk of crusty bread
  • Butter

That, my friends is a ploughmans lunch worthy of the name.


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