It’s not just tastes in food which have changed, the biggest change is that almost everything is available all the time whatever the season; maybe there are a few remnants, in markets and shops, Jersey Royal potatoes for example, British vegetables such as asparagus, fruit such as particular apples, Worcester Pearmains, Egremont Russets, but if you want something it’s nearly always there to be bought. Even banked goods such as hot cross buns and mince pies are there on the shelves whenever you might want them.

I was looking at the Main Cookery Book by Marguerite K. Gompertz, originally published in 1935, it’s really interesting to see her list of what was in season, month by month; much of what she includes for August can now only been bought in speciality shops!

August

Fish and shell-fish:

  • crab
  • eel
  • hake
  • herring
  • salmon
  • trout
  • skate
  • whitebait

Meat, poultry, game:

  • lamb
  • duck
  • goose
  • guinea-fowl
  • blackcock
  • grouse
  • ptarmigan
  • venison
  • wild duck
  • woodcock

Vegetables:

  • artichoke (globe)
  • aubergine
  • bean
  • cauliflower
  • cresses
  • new potatoes
  • vegetable marrow
  • watercress

Fruit:

  • apricot
  • blackberry
  • cherry
  • currant
  • fig
  • gooseberry
  • greengage
  • melon
  • mulberry
  • plum
  • raspberry

These lists show a change in tastes too – who these days would buy eel? Goose is something only ever seen in most butcher’s at Christmas! I’ve eaten many types of game, but never blackcock, ptarmigan or woodcock. We tend to think vegetables such as aubergine only appeared with the books Elizabeth David after the war, bringing exotics to our tables – but no; people cooked them and ate them long before that…. and what a shame mulberries are never seen in the shops…the most delicious of soft fruit!!

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