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About A Week: Yorkshire Pudding

Peter Hinchliffe pays tribute to the Yorkshire pudding, the mainstay of Sunday dinners when he was a lad.

Sometimes my mother served up her Yorkshire pudding sweet and sour. She soused it in vinegar and sprinkled it with sugar.

I am sure there is something in the rule book of The Venerable Society For the Preservation of the Traditions of the Yorkshire Pudding that forbids splashing vinegar on the county’s most famous dish.

But let me assure you sweet and sour Yorkshire pud is absolutely delicious. Just the thing to set before hungry lads and lasses.

In these days of plenty it’s easy to forget that Yorkshire pudding was a supplement, and sometimes a substitute, for meat.

Go into any Yorkshire supermarket today and you will seen an abundance of bacon and ham, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey… Enough meat to supply and satisfy a hearty appetite through a score of hungry lifetimes.

Things were not always so. When I was a boy meat was a special treat. During World War Two meat was rationed. What little there was of it was often stringy and unappetising.

That’s when Yorkshire Pud came into its own!

My mam’s Yorkshire puddings were so delicious that I thought they were the main part of the meal. The fragments of meat were there merely to fill up the bit of space still left on the plate.

Mam’s Yorkshires were served up in so many appealing ways. Smothered in thick onion gravy. Spread with homemade raspberry or strawberry jam. Basted with sugar and vinegar…

Adrian Parkin recently e-mailed me a poem about a very special Yorkshire pudding. Adrian, who was educated at King James’s Grammar School and worked in a number of mills in the Huddersfield area before emigrating to New Zealand for many years.

He became well-known in the textile industry there, presiding over national conferences of textile designers. The poem he sent gives an account of how Yorkshire pudding came into being.

“A young angel on leave from Heaven
Came flying above Ilkley Moor
And this angel, poor thing, got cramp in her wing
And coom down at t’owd woman’s door.

The owd woman smiled and said ‘Ee it’s an angel
Well I am surprised to see thee,
I’ve not seen an angel before but thou’rt welcome,
I’ll make thee a nice cup of tea.’’

The angel gratefully sups her tea while munching on Sally Luns and a couple of buns.

“T’owd woman, looking at clock says ‘By gum!
He’s due home from t’mill is my Dan
You get on wi’ yer tea, but you must excuse me
I must make pudden now for t’owd man.’

Then the angel jumped and said ‘Gimme your bowl
Flour and t’water and eggs, salt and all,
And I’ll show thee how we make puddens in Heaven
For Peter, Thomas and Paul.’’

So the angel made the first Yorkshire pudding. And the authors of the poem muse in conclusion:

“It’s real Yorkshire pudden that gives me my dreams
Of a real Paradise above
Where at the last trump I’ll queue up for a lump
Of the real Yorkshire pudden I love.’’

This was written in the 1930s by R P Weston and Bert Lee. Stanley Holloway recorded it in 1940, with a piano accompaniment by Leo Conriche.

Messrs Weston and Lee could have been writing about my mam’s Yorkshire pud.

By the way Adrian Parkin and his wife Meg, while on holiday in Huddersfield a few years ago, went for a meal in the pub on top of Castle Hill.

Adrian ordered the Castle Hill Tower - a Yorkshire pudding filled with meat and gravy on top of another Yorkshire pudding filled with meat and gravy on top of a third Yorkshire pudding filled with meat and gravy.

Adrian was not able to finish the third pudding.

Enter the landlady. “What! Not eaten all your Castle Hill Tower? Come with me.’’

He was led into the tap room. “Na then,’’ said the landlady “this chap hasn’t eaten up his Castle Hill Tower.’’

The regulars in the tap room leapt to their feet, chanting “Shame on ’im. Shame on ’im.’’

And that led on to a very jolly night for Adrian and Meg.

Delicious stuff, Yorkshire pud. If you don’t believe me just ask all those mothers with the knack of making it taste better than meat.

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