Bread and Thread – Trifle

Opening music

Liz

Hello and welcome to bread and thread, a podcast about food and domestic history. I’m Liz.

Hazel

I’m hazel, we’re two friends who studied history together and- no, studied archaeology together and love history.

LIZ

Practical history.

HAZEL

I’ve been drinking today.

LIZ

What are you drinking?

HAZEL

I’m drinking blackberry wine, it’s my inaugural wine from last year, my first time ever. I opened a bottle to see if it had matured well. I did it a couple months ago, and it was ok but I think it’s better now. I think I could do better next time, it’s certainly drinkable which is what I’m doing.

LIZ

You’re going the lea and perrins route of keeping trying until it’s drinkable.

HAZEL

Yes I do it for science. You might be interested in actually what I was going to talk about for this bit – on sunday I went out and collected nettles. They’re now retting in my back garden, which is the process of breaking them down to get the fibres inside, and then I’m going to try and spin those fibres and make a nettle thing.

LIZ

I imagine the retting process is a lot more sophisticated than the process for making nettle string at the young archaeologists club.

HAZEL

What did you do?

LIZ

Hit it with a rock.

HAZEL

That’ll do it.

LIZ

It did work. You bash it with a rock and twist it up a bunch and then it’s string. It works I still hav ea miniature handbag somewhere. When I say mini I mean 2-3 inches.

HAZEL

That is a very you sentence.

LIZ

I do separetely have a flint axe from when I went to a flint knapping workshop, so I’m 2/3 of the way to an actual handaxe.

HAZEL

Three handaxes in a trenchcoat. So yeah nettles are going to happen. I think the retting process breaks it down more so you get the fibres separated more so they’re softer and more garmenty. Very handily I made friends with a professional weaver and she lent me some shawls and jackets which were made in nepal from nepalese nettles which are really long, tall, so they have long fibres and they’re amazing and I want to try and recreate one. I’ll put pictures of those on the twitter.

LIZ

I’m very excited to see this.

HAZEL

What about you?

LIZ

I’ve been doing my thing of cooking a meal from a random country every week or so.

HAZEL

That sounds great.

LIZ

I made char siu – If I’m saying it right, I’m probably not – the pork dumplings you get in dim sum a lot.

HAZEL

I’ve never had those but I’ve seen pictures of them.

LIZ

They’re so good. I’m told the char siu is just the meat, what I made is char siu bao. Bao is the bun.

HAZEL

That’s the fluffy thing isn’t it?

LIZ

And I also made paprikash, a hungarian chicken stew. I did mess up a little bit cause I picked up the jar of red powder and I put a ton in and saw it was chili powder and not paprika.

HAZEL

How much did you put in?

LIZ

A couple tablespoons, about 1/2 a tablespoon per portion.

HAZEL

That’s a lot of spicy red powder

LIZ

Luckily I put in a lot of sour cream, so it ended up definitely spicier than was intended but really nice. And I did put paprika in as well.

HAZEL

Of course, just in case you needed some more red.

LIZ

Based on the name, I imagine paprika’s quite important to paprikash. I don’t know hungarian, but I’d guess.

HAZEL

I think hungarian food involves s lot of paprika. For good reason, it’s delicious.

LIZ

I love paprika we’ve got smoked paprika. The best kind.

HAZEL

Everything’s better smoked.

LIZ

Sweet paprika don’t at me.

HAZEL

What are we looking at this week?

LIZ

I statred looking at trifle just as a kind of this could be a fun local larder thing then I fell in a wikihole

HAZEL

You fell into a neverending hole of trifle.

LIZ

I did, I was engulfed by custard.

HAZEL

You trifled too much. One could say it was not a trifling research hole.

LIZ

But should one?

HAZEL

Maybe not.

LIZ

The main thing I learned is that we’ve been eating sweetened cream for a very long time, with such beautiful names as whim-wham and flummery.

HAZEL

I’ve heard of flummery.

LIZ

Yeah a flummery is a set custard it’;s like trifle just means also it’s a dismissal thing, specifically flummery is insincere flattery.

HAZEL

That is great, fantastic, every time someone uses an insincere compliment, I’ll say I don’t need your flummery.

LIZ

Yeah flummery, whim-wham, syllabub, probably more well known than flummery. Sounds like a children’s show.

HAZEL

It does, whim-wham and flummery.

LIZ

But the earliest reference to a thing called a trifle is 1598.

HAZEL

That’s quite old.

LIZ

Or possibly 1585, it depends on how exactly you’re defining trifle, cause one calls it a kind of clouted cream called a fool or a trifle in english, which fool is sort of a yoghurty creamy fruit thing.

HAZEL

I understand a fool being fruit puree mixed with cream.

LIZ

That’s a fairly good definition I think, where the earlier trifle is cream flavoured with sugar and rose water. I think that’s a bit more in the custardy realm.

HAZEL

So it’s a custard without all the biscuity things.

LIZ

It’s basically an eggless custard, just a sweetened cream, we don’t add jelly until hannah glass in the 18th century, which seems to be sort of you’ve got the rise of ice houses, so it’s a lot easier to have a jelly dessert. You need to refrigerate that.

HAZEL

Gotta keep your jelly cool.

LIZ

There’s some absolutely gorgeous illustrations of trifle in mrs beaton, one which is stacked with fresh fruit on top which looks absolutely gorgeous.

HAZEL

Can we have a trifle picture on our page?

LIZ

We definitely can. What I’m struggling to find out is when we started putting cake in. There’s a scottish version called a tipsy laird.

HAZEL

I like it already.

LIZ

A south american version called a tipsy cake and an italian version called zuppa inglese, or english soup.

HAZEL

That’s fair.

LIZ

You can have the cake soaked in alcohol, generally a rum or in the scottish version a whisky, but there’s definitely a trend of soaking the actual cake in jelly which there’s some speculation that it’s victorians using up leftover sponge cake.

HAZEL

That sunds like something they’d od.

LIZ

It’s not really something you think of when you think of victorian food you think of this, or even trifle generally, it’s this big elaborate thing with ltos of cream in it.

HAZEL

Yeah you see it in a big crystal dish where you can see all the layers, and lots of fruit on top.

l

you also get sherry in the cake a lot in the victorian era. it seems to be the accepted way of doing it now.

h

sherry trifle is the standard way of doing it now.

liz

so trifle came back sa a lot of questionable food choices did, when refrigerators became a thing, we’re talking 50s-70s, to the point where in the 70s it was cliche to serve your guests trifle.

HAZEL

a trifle explosion..

LIZ

I just find this specific date of trifle overload in the 70s interesting – angel delight was released in 1967.

HAZEL

Really?

LIZ

yeah. Anyone who doesn’t know which is anyone who isn’t british, angel delight is sort of a powdered blancmange.

HAZEL

Yeah it’s like a flavoured custard, instant one.

LIZ

Yeah I realise blancmange isn’t a helpful descriptor, kind of like an american pudding.

HAZEL

Yeah, which is a custard right?

LIZ

Like a custard or a mousse, that’s angel delight.

HAZEL

I’ve always hated it.

LIZ

I love angel delight. In just a few years of its release it doubled the value of the instant dessert market. It was advertised by wallace and gromit in 1999, there was an advertising campaign, because people were losing interest in it it was almost 2000, we didn’t want instant blancmange anymore.

HAZEL

It’s so 20th century.

LIZ

It’s coming back – it’s sold in five flavours, two low sugar ones.

HAZEL

I’m not surprised, like a nostalgia thing.

LIZ

It definitely is a nostalgia thing.

HAZEL

It reminds me of school dinner dessert, is the thing.

LIZ

One of the schools I went to had food so bad it put me off the idea of most foods, but what they did have was chocolate angel delight with 100s and 1000s on.

HAZEL

Hard to get that wrong.

LIZ

You eat the mushy vegetables the weird potatoes.

HAZEL

The watery gravy.

LIZ

Then you get a bowl of chocolate, with sugar on top is basically what that is.

HAZEL

Nutritious fuel for your learning.

LIZ

But with it being so custardy as well I’ve heard about using it as an ice cream base. Which I’m doing it next week, I’ve got butterscotch angel delight I’m going to turn it into ice cream, I’ll let oyu kinow how that goes.

HAZEL

That is true experimentation.

LIZ

We’ve come back around to trifle through angel delight becaues one of the serving suggestions of angel delight is layers of different flavours.

HAZEL

Aah, so you buy more angel delight.

LIZ

Probably but it coems back to the idea of a layered sweet cream dessert. And I mean the whole angel delight concept really brings it all the way back to flummery and syllabub, here’s a bowl of sweet cream with flavour in it.

HAZEL

Are you saying angel delight is hipster trifle?

LIZ

I wasn’t but now I am. I want some angel delight now.

HAZEL

I feel I could maybe handle it in a trifle, it’s the texture I don’t

like the soupy sweetness so if there were layers of cake and stuff in between I could probably handle it.

LIZ

Or possibly as an ice cream we’ll see how the experiment goes.

HAZEL

Good luck.

LIZ

It’s the 28th july now, the angel delight is coming with my asda order on the 1st of august so we’ll see.

HAZEL

I look forward to reading the reports.

LIZ

There shall be no flummery in them.

HAZEL

I hope there’s no whim-wham either.

LIZ

Oh heavedn forfend.

HAZEL

Hwim-wham in this podcast?>

LIZ

So yeah that is the results of my trifle wiki hole?

HAZEL

I enjoyed that dive into trifle.

LIZ

That sounds unpleasant.

HAZEL

No it doesn’t I’d love to dive into a trifle.

LIZ

All I can think of though is that gif of filling a croc with shaving foam and stepping in it so it comes out of the holes.

HAZEL

Why would you say that? It’s the most uncomfortable image I’ve ever seen. We’ve now got to post this to the twitter for context.

LIZ

Don’t worry I have it saved to my computer for the express purpose of making my game group uncomfortable.

HAZEL

It works.

Plug for probably bad rpg ideas

HAZEL

Can I change the subject?

LIZ

I think you probably should.

HAZEL

I’m going to talk about perry, is that okay?

LIZ

I promise not to talk about shaving foam.

HAZEL

Good. For local larder this week I’m going to talk about perry, which isn’t a member of little mix, it is a form of alcohol made from pears or as it’s often known these days pear cider, which is a controversial term.

LIZ

It’s bringing us back to an early episode where we talk about fruit wines.

HAZEL

Yes, and I can clear up from there – I remember you asking about the difference between fruit wine and cider – cider is made with the yeast from the fruit, while wine has yeast added.

LIZ

So if you added yeast to a cider to make it go faster you’ve made wine, technically.

HAZEL

I guess, yeah, and it’s debatable whether or not perry is a fruit wine or a cider but cider is kind of a fruit wine anyway so it doesn’t really matter it’s all delicious.

LIZ

It’s all alcoholic fruit juice.

HAZEL

Essentially. So alcohol has been made from pears since roman times at least it’s mentioned in pliny’s writings, um… Pliny or pliny I guess. I apologise to any ancient romans who listen to the podcast. There is a saying in the 3 counties of worcestersh- gloucester, herefordshire and worcestershire, which is plant pears for your heirs, it means if you plant pear trees you’d best prepare for your kids to take care of it. Pear trees can take 30 years. A lot longer than apple trees. Which might account for the decline in popularity in perry. Also they can’t be machine harvested because they’re easily bruised, so that obviously drives up the labour cost and you can’t really get day labour anymore at least in most of europe so it’s more expensive to harvest takes longer to mature, and perry pears are not really edible, the pear that makes the best perry is not the pear you want to eat, so you need a big orchard for just perry pears and that’s the income from that orchard.

LIZ

Do you know if the black pear, the symobl of worcestershire, is a perry pear?

HAZEL

I don’t but that makes sense there’s a lot of varieties of perry pears in worcestershire, and those 3 counties and it’ sa drink that was often made there.

LIZ

I’m going to have to find out.

HAZEL

Those are the reasons perry isn’t popular today, though it is coming back with real ale and real cider.

LIZ

Yeah it’s a culinary pear, it does not truly ripen.

HAZEL

Interesting I guess that’s a cider pear or a perry pear.

LIZ

Could be used in pear pies, but I’ve never come across pear pies so I’m assuming it’s mainly for perry.

HAZEL

I’ve had the odd pear crumble, that was pretty good.

LIZ

I’ve just seen there’s a reference in winters tale to pies made out of worcestershire pears.

HAZEL

Really?

LIZ

Warden pies.

HAZEL

That sounds pretty go0od.

LIZ

Sorry for itnerrupting, but it was interesting.

HAZEL

Shakespeare’s always a good interruption. Usually. Yeah perry pears not great to eat and dessert pears don’t make good perry. There’s one variety of perry pear that will burn the roof of your mouth. You can imagine being the kid scrumping that pear.

LIZ

You wouldn’t do it twice.

HAZEL

There was a revival of pear based alcohol in the 90s with babycham.

LIZ

Babycham is perry?

HAZEL

Yeah, I checked with my mum and babycham is a pear drink; not really perry but it’s a pear based sugary drink. It was marketed as a glamorous 60s drink that was in a champagne glass and had blue foil in the tops of the bottles and my grandparents would drink it at christmas. My mum also told me that my mum and my uncle would buy a flagon of cider for my great grandfather at christmas, which was a great present. So babycham is kind of a pear cider, less popular today, it’s kind of a 60s thing, but what is quite popular today is flavoured ciders, like rekorderlig, and I can’t remember any other brand.

LIZ

I think bulmers does some?

HAZEL

They do. Those are debatable, this is where the controversy comes in.

LIZ

Ooh tell me.

HAZEL

I’ll give you all the gossip; the perry gossip. It’s mostly an argument between CAMRA and cider manufacturers; CAMRA is the campaign for real ale, which was quite big int he 90s early 2000s it’s happened now real ale is bag.

LIZ

We did it!

HAZEL

We did do it. I love CAMRA controverysy because I’t; always so petty it’s amazing so CAMRA dispute the term pear cider to mean drinks made from concentrate; so rekorderlig, bulmers, they’re made from concentrate not from actual fruit juice, they’ll get concentrate add water, apple juice, ferment it.

LIZ

This seems overly pedantic to me – concentrate is how they make it last longer in transit. So I’m against CAMRA on this.

HAZEL

I’m on the fence cause on the one hand I think perry does refer to it probably does refere to the traditional method, but that doesn’t mean fruit ciders or pear cfiders aren’t good, I guess it just refers to the way that they’re made, although I guess I do tend to use pear cider interchangeably with perry, but if you want a real ale sort of thing go for perry I guess, but sometimes it’s anice summer day and you just want fruit cider.

LIZ

I do enjoy the alcohol free strawberry and lime cider, which I guess it’s just juice. I think kopparberg?

HAZEL

Taht’s the other one. Given the popularity is coming back, maybe that’s the good point in the favour of fruity ciders they’re bringing back the desire for that kind of thing, maybe it’ sgetting people back into0 perry as well. So people are trying to revive the old varitiest of perry pear, apparently there’s 100 varieties of perry pear extant and they have fantawstic names. For example, late treacle, merrylegs, mumblehead, lumberskull, huffcap, longford, stinking bishop.

LIZ

Sounds like ways to describe someone who’s had too much perry.

HAZEL

They do you lumberskull. You huffcap. Apparently that’s how stinking bishop cheese is made as well, they wash it in that variety of juice.

LIZ

I wonder if they go together.

HAZEL

That would be interesting, a nice cheeseboard and a glass of perry. There you go that is a wild and wonderful dip into perry.

LIZ

I was not expecting so much controversy.

HAZEL

It is a bitter dispute.

LIZ

Bread and thread bringing you all the controversy from the world of fermented fruit drinks.

HAZEL

The stories you really need to know.

LIZ

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you want to suggest an episode or a local larder you can email us at breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com

HAZEL

You can also find us on twitter at breadandthread and we have a patreon of the same name where you can find instructional videos, recipes, chat servers, all sorts of good stuff.

LIZ

So we will see you next time.

Closing music.

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