From Cod to Callaloo




Welcome to an alternative picture of Bristol – through food and drink: instead of lists of kings and queens, battles and historic dates, this is how Bristolians actually lived and what they cooked and ate down the centuries. Award-winning food author Sue Shephard looks at how Bristol’s long connections with the sea have brought in new foods … spices, citrus fruits, sugar, turtle, potatoes, bananas and callaloo, and how the Romans introduced Mediterranean ingredients. She describes the Norman passion for colourful fine dining in the castle – while in town the streets were teeming with cook-shops, pie-makers and takeaways. Religious ‘fysshe’ days meant a huge demand for dried cod from Iceland taking traders to the North Atlantic, where in search of new spice routes, Cabot later sailed from Bristol to accidently discover America. Queen Elizabeth I, on her royal progress to Bristol in 1574, was lavishly entertained with expensive sugar sweetmeats such as marzipan and ‘kissing comfits’. Diarist Samuel Pepys, visiting Bristol in 1668, enjoyed ‘strawberries, a whole venison pasty … above all Bristol Milk.’ Bristol’s long connection with the sea has brought new riches, notably the huge sugar industries on the back of the Atlantic slave trade. By Victorian times, Bristol pioneers were busy developing modern attractions such as Fry’s chocolate bar, Jones’s self-raising flour and Harvey’s Bristol Cream. A chapter covers the war years and includes economy recipes from the 1940s. Soon, the Berni brothers would change the nation’s postwar eating habits by creating Berni Inns serving affordable, ‘no fuss’ steak and chips. Today Bristolians are enthusiastic foodies who can enjoy a diverse range of dishes cooked from locally sourced or authentic ethnic ingredients. A visit to one of Bristol’s many fine restaurants, its famous food fairs and farmers’ markets or a shopping trip to Bishopston’s Gloucester Road or St Mark’s Road in Easton will tell you much about what’s now cooking in Bristol…. ISBN: 978-1-908326-43-0 192pp softback

Sue Shephard