Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ploughman's Lunch

Often simply called a "ploughman's", it consists of (at a minium)...

Some cheese (a thick piece, often cheddar or some local cheese)
Relish (usually called "pickle" in the UK, but what Americans would know as relish)
Maybe a sliced onion instead of the relish, though
Bread (especially thick, crusty bread. A slab of bread with butter)

And that's it.

But more is usually added: a salad; perhaps half an apple and some potato chips (crisps) and maybe even a diced up boiled egg.


To an American, this is more like an appetizer (starter) tray. And SURELY it is not hearty enough for any hard-working ploughman!

It's not really an ancient dish, though - dating perhaps back only to the 1960s when the Milk Marketing Board was trying to promote the sales of cheese. They succeeded on a grand scale.

Some think there was a similar meal called a ploughman's lunch, dating from about 1957, and still others think it may be an offshoot of the "ploughboy's lunch" which was popular after the war.

Be that as it may, it is now an English culture icon and staple of pub food.

I might try it. I might, that is, if I couldn't smell fish and chips cooking in the kitchen.

Speaking of fish and chips, the best are no longer found in Upton Village, the late Mrs. Longden having apparently had her coal-fired fryer buried with her and the local pork police confiscated all her pig fat. And so the best fish and chips in the UK are not in England at all, but in Scotland, Wales, and NI, in that order. I will tell you where in another post. But the best fish and chips in England? I still favor Grimsby, but the Times says Coleman's of South Shields, and I suppose they would know.

Here is another ploughman's thing

And another...

And a strangely demonic child about to dig into bread and cheese with obvious relish...

And, finally a Relax Max version of a Ploughman's


  1. Good God, man!
    A ploughman's lunch with a f.... ing AVOCADO!!!!!

    A ploughman's requires a loaf of crunchy, crusty, fresh-baked bread, a wodge of strong cheese, onion, pickle, full fat dairy butter, salted, too, dammit, a ploughman is not afeared for his arteries, nor his cholesterol, all these assembled with a clasp knife, and washed down with good ale, ale which has never seen a bottle, and was brewed not over ten mile away.
    Oh, those platefuls made me shudder.
    Your ploughman, boots clogged with mud, sits under a tree, at the headland of his field, nearby, his horses, loosed from the plough, pull at coarse grass, steaming in the cold air.
    All this bounty is unrolled from within a cloth, in a knapsack, he uncorks the leather bottle, fast-buckled by his side.
    There's no fancy porcelain. No avocado. No pate, no quiche. No capsicum, or cucumber...
    Man's food, not Caspar Milquetoaste's.

  2. I am of course, impressed that the Times has somehow tried every one of the hundreds of thousands of fish and chip shop in the British Isles, I'm amazed that their taster can still stomach either.
    After all those thousands of meals, one after another, it must be difficult to remain objective.
    Still, I suspect they've missed one or two out. The one at Lane End in Pudsey, for instance.

    Still, the Times, the old "Thunderer", have to respect their opinion.
    What about The Wetherby Whaler? Or the Magpie?
    Or the Oakwood Fish-Bar?, oh dearie me, I sense a miscarriage of justice here. And down south, they leave the skin on, yeuch!

  3. You make it sound like effing Thoreau when his mama brings him cookies. "Clasp knife"? Writing that one down. (It's a jack-knife, right?-a pocket knife?

    I do like your romantic mental picture, but if the meal name is truly only as old as the 60s, then he would hardly have horses still. I admit I think of a ploughman as actually ploughing a field, though. :)

    I don't want to be starting up another north-south war. And I'm sure the Times just checks who advertises with them. Still, they all sound good. Yours do too. You must start carrying your camera and doing REAL pub reviews for us here. Please.

  4. Thoreau never did an honest day's work in his life, the shyster.
    Clasp-knife. My grandfather was a farmer, he did all that ploughing stuff, with horses.Now, Grandad's brother-in-law, Herbert, he wasn't a farmer. He pursued some occupation where you wear a suit.
    And he had a pen-knife. a nice thing, with a mother-of pearl handle and a couple of shiny blades, and a thing he used for cleaning the stinky tarry ash out of the bowl of his pipe.
    Grandad, on the other hand, was a farmer. Did all that manly stuff, and he taught me that a real man doesn't use a penknife, or a jack-knife, because they're too flimsy and trivial to do manly stuff, and besides, they'd fold up in your fingers if you applied force.
    His knife was a clasp-knife. it was clad in antler, to give it grip in a wet, bloody, or muddy hand. The blade would hold a razor's edge, but the back of it was broad, allowing you to strike it with a lump of wood, using it like a chisel, or axe. And most importantly, on a clasp knife, the blade is clasped, firmly, in the open position. It can't fold up on your fingers.
    If you want to open envelopes, or cut your apple, by all means use a jack-knife.
    But if you're carving a walking stick, cutting hemp rope, whittling a sneck (ha! advanced british-speak), then you're better off with a man's knife, not a boy's.

  5. Interesting.. when I had ploughmans lunches, it normally contained, a huge hunk or two of cheese, a thick chunck of bread, a scotch egg, some branson's pickle, a humongous pickled onion and some form of meat, most likely a big slab of ham. It was some tasty eating let me tell ya.

  6. I always wondered what the do with the other half of the apple that's left over. Maybe it goes to make the cider. You can't get drunk on cider, right? Heh.

  7. I'm just pulling your chain. Although I don't think they have cider that far north. Beyond the tree line.

  8. It goes on the ploughwoman's plate.

  9. Of course they have cider up there (silly), it's what I used to drink before I turned 18. Scrumpy Jack was my favourite.

  10. Scummy Jack was your favorite? How about Cider?


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