influences and history of Welsh cooking
Whilst small, Wales has a diverse terrain which together with
its rivers and long coastline, has always yielded a bounty of fresh foods,
in particular wild animals and seafood.
Archaeological evidence shows that there were people in Wales
at least as far back as 50,000BC however due to a
6,000-year-long ice age in the region, the further development of
society was curtailed until humans re-entered the area by 10,000 BC
at which time the peoples were most certainly hunter gatherers including
Harpoons and spears carrying stone barbs (microliths)
were in common use for hunting and fishing and at this time the area was heavily wooded
and home to wild hogs, deer and cattle. It is believed that these people
were semi-nomadic and spent at least part of the year following herds of animals.
By 4,000 BC organised farming was in full swing including the
keeping of livestock and growing of crops such as oats and barley with large
areas being cleared to facilitate the practice. Around 2000 BC people known as The Beaker People, began to
arrive in the area who introduced bronze tools and cooking pots.
The people we now call Celts began settling in Wales around 600 BC
Ireland where land shortages forced them to travel across the sea.
introduced the iron plough which made it possible to
more easily cultivate the
rich valley and lowland soils. Vegetables such as
cabbage and cereals such as oats and barley were grown on numerous
small holdings with oats being a staple of the time. Pigs were kept by most
farmers and were heavily relied upon
for everyday use, including preserving it as bacon.
Stewing or boiling meat became a widely
practiced method of cooking giving rise to the recipe "Cawl", which
many consider to be Wales' National Dish. See
Wales Speciality Dish.
Another method of cooking which is still used
today was on a bakestone. Originally exactly what the name implies,
this was a flat stone which was heated on the fire and used to griddle items
such as cakes, scones, pancakes and oatcakes. The stone was superseded with
metal, and iron bakestones are still in use in many Welsh kitchens today.
As the majority of people in the early
development of Wales were workers - initially farmers or fishermen
then later labourers with the opening of slate quarries and coal mines - the
cuisine of Wales has always reflected the need for substantial and
filling food, unlike its English neighbours whose upper classes had a
substantial influence on its cooking traditions.
Current Day Welsh Cuisine