Saturday, 17 May 2014

Made in Sussex

Many places have given their names to things, especially foods.  In England alone we have Cornish pasties, Eccles cakes, Yorkshire puddings, Lancashire hot-pot, Chelsea buns - and that's just scratching the surface.  It's not just food, though.  Think of Staffordshire bull terriers and Tamworth pigs.  But when it comes to my county - or, more accurately, the county of my birth - Kent, there is nothing I can think of.  I can think of nothing. (Let's get the grammar correct!)  Zero.  Zilch.

I am proud to call myself a Man of Kent.  (Never a Kentish Man.  I thought I had waffled the difference to death and am amazed to discover that it was as long ago as September 2008 when I explained the difference.  If you really want to know, just follow this link.)  OK now?  You understand the important distinction?  Then I'll carry on.

As I was saying, I can think of nothing that carries the automatic appellation "Kent", like those pasties and puddings of Cornwall and Yorkshire.  But my adopted county - in which I have lived these past 50+ years - is Sussex, although it was chopped in half about 40 years ago and is now two counties - East Sussex and West Sussex.  Given that Sussex actually means "the land of the South Saxons", adding a further geographical denominator seems to me just a trifle excessive.  However, the powers that were didn't see fit to consult me first.  They just went ahead and made the chop.

But as for Sussex nomenclatures, well, there's Sussex cattle for a start.  An adaptable, hardy breed, they have even formed their own society!  It is believed that the Sussex breed of today is descended directly from the red cattle that inhabited the dense forests of the Weald at the time of the Norman Conquest.
albeit now uncommon.

On the food front, we have the Sussex pond pudding. Made of a suet pastry which encases a whole lemon, with butter and sugar, it is boiled or steamed for several hours.  While cooking, the filling ingredients create a thick, caramelized sauce, which upon serving and cutting of the pudding, runs out and pools around the plate,
creating a “pond”. After cooking for so long, the skin of the lemon almost candies like a marmalade in its own juices and that of the butter and sugar.

Dating back to the 1500s is the Sussex trug, a wooden basket mainly used for gardening.  According to Wikipedia, it is made from a handle and rim of coppiced sweet chestnut wood which is hand-cleft then shaved using a drawknife. The body of the trug is made of five or seven thin boards of cricket bat willow, also hand-shaved with a drawknife.  There are, even today, a few firms where the trug is made by hand, such as the Truggery.

But Sussex is, as far as I am aware, the only British county to have it's own song, "Sussex by the Sea".

1 comment:

joeh said...

My favorite Aunt was married to a Kent.

and Kent there is that