The Unique, Delicious Food and Drink of the UK's West Country
For a small country, the United Kingdom has a considerable amount of variation. It's long history, sometimes turbulent and divided, has resulted in various areas that have distinct differences in their accents, culture, and food.
One area that has a strong local character is the south-west corner of Britain, also known as the West Country. Consisting of the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, the West Country has a bold sense of identity that's reflected well in its food and drink.
If you're planning a trip to the UK, make sure you include a food tour through a place like Food Lovers Tours, Ltd. in your plans, so you can try some of these local specialities.
Apples have long been widely grown throughout the West Country, so it's inevitable that the people living there did what anyone with an abundance of a particular fruit would do: they turned it into alcohol.
Although you can get cider pretty much anywhere these days, scrumpy is the real deal. It's a rustic, often cloudy, high-strength drink made using traditional methods. Remember to pace yourself when you're sampling the local scrumpy; it's often deceptively easy to drink.
Arguably the most famous West Country export, the origin of the Cornish pasty is with the tin miners of old who found an easily-transported, filling meal to be extremely useful when working hard down the pits.
Nowadays, you can get pasties with all sorts of fillings, but to be a proper Cornish pasty, that crimped semi-circle of pastry should contain just beef, onion, potato and swede, plus a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning.
Devon and Cornwall are particularly noted for their dairy production, and nowhere is that better than in rich, delicious clotted cream.
This remarkably thick cream is made by gently heating and cooling full-fat milk, and it's best experienced with locally-produced jam on a fresh scone as part of a traditional cream tea.
You can also find clotted cream used in delicious fudge, ice cream and much more.
It sounds like it was named by pirates, but this distinctive Cornish cheese is actually a relatively recent innovation. First made only around since the 1980s, it has nonetheless become an essential part of West Country cuisine.
Yarg is a soft and creamy cheese, but the unusual thing about it is that it's wrapped in nettle leaves before maturing. This gives it a unique crust that you won't find anywhere else.
Since it has plenty of coastline, the West Country has long been an important place in British naval history. The large navy presence in Plymouth meant it was an ideal location to produce gin for distribution around the world.
Over time, Plymouth gin's recipe changed to become distinct from the more common London dry gin. Since it has a Protected Geographical Indication, Plymouth itself is the only place Plymouth gin can legally be produced.