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My name is Andrew Hussey.
I was born and bought up in Liverpool, but I live now in France.
One of the reasons I live here is the culture.
And a big part of the culture is the food.
Wine, cheese, charcuterie...
the best French food is celebrated because it's got
what the French call terroir.
This is a word which is almost impossible to translate,
but what it means is how land, weather and people come together
to make a food that tastes uniquely of a region.
The French have got a term, "le gout de terroir" -
the taste of the territory.
I'm back in my own territory now,
in the Northwest of England, and I've bought that idea back with me.
Oh, come on! Just try a corner.
I want to apply the idea of terroir to some of the everyday food of the North.
It's food that you might not realise has a strong Northern history.
You rhubarb growers, you're like medieval alchemists.
I'm a cultural historian and not a foodie,
so I'll be relying on locals to help me out.
Go with the crispy one first.
Let's give it a go.
Most importantly, what I really want to do is to find out what terroir
tells us about politics, class and history.
SHIP'S HORN BLOWS
MUSIC: HARMONICA PLAYS "Dirty Old Town"
I'm going to begin my exploration of northern food and local culture
here in my old hometown.
This is Liverpool, a very special and separate place,
which is not quite England and not quite the North.
It's been famously described as a kind of frontier zone,
a collision between the Irish, who were trying to get in,
and the English, who were trying to get out.
Liverpool is famous for lots of things, and rightly so.
Music, football, humour, politics -
all of this is part of the terroir here.
But we're not normally known for our food.
Having said that, what I remember is that the Liverpudlian working class
used to cook and eat very well.
I can still remember my grandma's house in Toxteth.
The smells, the noise...
She was a brilliant cook.
Regularly, she'd make home-made fishcakes, butter bean lentil soup,
pea and ham soup, hock of ham, it was all superb.
One of my grandad's favourites, and he used love this on
a Sunday morning, was to wolf down a plate of salted fish.
The Spanish and the Portuguese called it bacalhau,
and he used to do this reading yesterday's Liverpool Echo.
This brings me back to the notion of terroir,
because if Liverpool has really got a terroir, it's this -
From the 17th century onwards, Liverpool grew to become
the second most important port in the British Empire.
In its heyday, a seventh of world trade went through its docks.
# I heard a siren from the docks
# Saw a train set the night on fire... #
Coffee and tea and spice, meat from the Antipodes and fruit from the Indies.
# Dirty old town
# Dirty old town... #
For hundreds of years, this city has been a portal for trade, people and cultures.
You can get almost any kind of food you want in Liverpool,
but I'm after a dish that came in from the sea about 300 ago.
That's the noble and delicious lobscouse.
Lobscouse is basically a meat and potato stew.
It's made with lots of potatoes, carrots, onions and either beef or lamb.
In our house, my mum was the chief scousista
and she used lamb to make a sloppy, soupy scouse.
This cafe makes theirs with beef, and as the sailors used to say,
it's firm enough for a mouse to trot over it.
Lobscouse is so associated with Liverpudlians, it's given us our nickname, Scousers.
Maggie May's Cafe here in Hope Street is famous for it.
-Do you do scouse?
I'll have a plate of scouse, ta.
OK. Would you like any beetroots or red cabbage?
-I'll have red cabbage, ta.
'Where the word scouse came from and what it means is lost
'in the sea mists of time,
'but I think it's an old Norse word for stew.'
Scouse has been eaten by Scousers and sailors for over 300 years.
That's a food with a long and serious history.
It's all to do with the Baltic shipping trade,
so this would be Scandinavia, Germany and Holland.
All of these countries have got a version of the dish which they call labskaus.
# Das ist Labskaus Das ist Labskaus... #
Lobscouse was originally a sailor's dish.
A sea-cooked hotpot in which they could use up all root vegetables and slightly dodgy meat.
Every country makes it differently.
The Norwegians use salt meat or pork,
and the Germans like it with eggs and herring.
The traditional accompaniment to scouse is either beetroot or red cabbage.
I like red cabbage and I'll tell you for why - it's got a tang,
a kind of Eastern European flavour, and that suggests to me
that the real origins of scouse are definitely Germanic.
John Lee used to be a cook on the cruise ships.
He puts scouse on the menu because he believes in carrying on with traditional foods.
There's your scouse there.
-With the red cabbage and all.
-Do you want a bit of beetroot?
No, I'm OK with that, ta.
-Take a seat?
This looks good, actually.
There's different ways of doing it, isn't there?
Everyone makes it different.
When I went away to sea, one of the best pans of scouse I had
was in a bar called the Scouse House in Belfast.
-The Scouse House in Belfast?
They done a lovely pan of scouse there.
I was on the Belfast boat for 15 years.
So it was a regular call for us, you know?
That's the real thing. That's how I remember it, lovely.
Where did you get the recipe for this?
It's my mum's recipe.
But as I kid, I didn't like it, to tell you the truth.
Why didn't you like it?
It was just the old cuts of meat and that, the beetroot, the fat.
Yes. Big chunks of it.
If my dad's there, you know, like, you had to eat it, you know.
Your dad made you eat the scouse?
Yes. If you said you didn't like anything, it was a mortal sin.
Funnily enough, we had a neighbour,
Winnie and Arthur Crombie, and they lived next door to us.
When they done scouse, they made it with mince.
I used to wait for theirs. It was really, you could eat it and get
stuck in without these lumps of fat or gristle and that.
-But in this one, we use Welsh black beef.
You don't use lamb?
No. Now and again, we'll have lamb scouse.
-Sometimes we do it with mince and that.
-Mince is nice, yes.
There really are a lot of ways of making lobscouse.
So does it have a claim to be seen as a product of terroir?
I think the answer is yes.
You can trace its roots back to our seafaring history.
And it's our eponymous dish.
Long live scouse!
However you choose to make it.
Time to leave my city and go inland,
to the deep, true North of England.
'Where's north from here?'
I'm heading to a mill and mining town in Lancashire to find out
about another food with a historic link to a particular place and time.
But to get there, we need a bit of history.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries,
the people and terrain of Lancashire were dominated,
as was so much of the North,
by the Industrial Revolution.
Coal, cotton and canals shaped the land
and the lives of those who lived here.
The traces of that era still colour the landscape today.
And all three come together here.
I'm in Wigan, a town that's part of the real, deep North of the English imagination.
This is the land of slag heaps, flat caps and even flatter vowels.
The writer George Orwell came here in the 1930s and he was so profoundly shocked by the poverty
he encountered here, that he wrote a book which has forever defined working-class wretchedness.
The Road To Wigan Pier describes working people sleeping ten to a room,
families living in dirt and stagnation and widespread misery and ill health.
In short, the book exposes the corrupting effect of 200 years of mechanisation.
The Industrial Revolution marked the high point of the British Empire in commercial terms.
But in the words of Morrissey, the greatest poet that these parts
have ever produced, for ordinary folk, them was rotten days.
People were driven off the land and forced to work in mills, mines and factories.
In terms of food and in terms of terroir, it meant that they were separated from the land and
people were unable to cook and farm in the way that they'd been used to.
For people like my companion here, this was a new way of life.
Women working a 14-hour day in a cotton mill had little energy left for cooking.
And few homes had proper cooking facilities anyway.
So cook shops opened up, selling cheap hot food to workers.
And one of the most useful meals was a meat and potato pie.
Hiya, you all right?
-Can I have a butter pie, love, please?
Like scouse, the pie began as a poor man's food -
lots of cheap potato flavoured with a bit of meat,
only this time, wrapped up in pastry.
Pie was economical, filling, and you didn't need to own a plate to eat one.
Meat and potato pies are still made in Wigan, and they're just as popular today.
-What pies have you got here?
We've got new ones. We've got chicken and leek, chicken balti,
we've got meat and potato, meat pies, patty pies and steak and kidney.
Meat and potato, please.
'Working mums were part of the reason pies became linked to
'this town, but there is another chapter in the story,
'about pies and working men.'
The people of Wigan are called the pie-eaters, and that sounds like a daft and cute name,
but the reality behind that name is a lot more serious.
It's all to do with the terroir of Wigan.
The other key industry in Wigan was coal.
There's been mining in the town for over 600 years.
Britain's first college of coal mining and technology was established here.
To be a miner from Wigan was always something to boast about.
Then, in 1926, Wigan miners joined with other collieries in a national strike.
They held out for six months with no pay.
But eventually, they were forced to return under worse conditions than before.
When the Wigan men went back, miners from nearby towns reckoned they'd been forced to eat "humble pie".
I like the story, but whatever the truth of the legend,
the people round here call themselves pie-eaters,
and they're proud of it.
So proud, that for 18 years,
the town has held the World Pie Eating Championships.
'The secret of eating a pie as quick as you can is no secret.'
Just eating a pie...
as quick as you can.
The winner of last year's Championship took the lead today
right from what they call the "pie-off"
at what they call "pie noon".
I've invited Fred, the winner of the 2008 competition,
to come down to Wigan Market to meet me...
and some members of the town's motorbike club, the Pie Eaters MCC.
What is it about Wiganers and pies? What's going on?
It started off in the miners' strike.
Wiganers had to go back to work, so they were known as eating humble pie,
so that's where Wigan Pie Eaters comes from.
We've kind of been known for it over the years, and it's more like
a popular term now instead of a derogatory one.
Yes. You've reclaimed the term and you're proud of it?
Wiganers and pies - what about bikers and pies? How does that work?
That's a perfect mix as well, in't it?!
We meet up in our local pub, the Crooke Hall, we'll have a pint,
-pie and a pint.
-What's the difference between them all?
Is there a standard pie?
-This lady used to make 'em, didn't she?
-Donna used to make pies.
You've got the shops who make them by hand and you've got the shops who make them by machines.
They're probably the difference.
They've all got the same content, they've all got potato and meat in.
I've gathered Fred and the bikers here today to hold our own pie competition.
And may the best pie-eater win.
These pies are all from local bakeries.
They are all the same weight and size,
and they've been allowed to cool.
I want a good, clean fight, no grappling, 3, 2, 1...go!
The speed-eating record for a Wigan pie is just under 36 seconds.
I don't think these guys are going to beat that.
Having said that, Fred seems on form.
Fred, you are the Zinedine Zidane of pie-eating!
Well done, Fred.
Actually, it's not over yet.
That was only Round One.
The real winner is going to be the person who
comes up with the best story of what pies mean to them.
It's the big, Existential Pie Eating Champion that we are looking for.
A good old bit of tasty Wigan heritage.
I've been eating pies since before I can remember and I'll be eating them till I die.
Just reminds me of going to watch Everton Football Club when I was a kid.
A fabulous figure!
Pies to me, really, mean school dinners.
They remind me of sitting at me grandma's, eating her home-made meat
and potato pies, and her going sick at me cos I got it all over the table!
Pies to me mean the cracking fun we have in the Wigan Pie Eaters motorbike rallies.
The best part, though, is Sunday afternoon tea, home-made plate meat and potato pie - fantastic.
Sat'day night in bar with a nice cold pint of Tetley bitter,
then eating them gorgeous pies and winning the World Championship.
OK, I'm pleased to say that what we've found out is
pie-eating in Wigan is not just a tradition, it's also a palimpsest,
which means it's the past, and the present, and the future.
But I'm pleased to say that the all-round World Champion Existential Pie Eater of Wigan...
..is the future generation, and that's Elliott!
Do Wigan pies have terroir?
I think they must have.
The root of the word terroir
is from the Latin word terra, meaning land or earth,
and it's back to the land I'm going now - to Ormskirk.
This part of Lancashire is potato territory.
The conditions are perfect for growing the pommes de terre.
But it's also got to do with the Industrial Revolution,
which happened all around here.
Because if the fuel of the Industrial Revolution was coal,
the fuel of the people who made the revolution was this -
the noble spud.
Potatoes first arrived in England in the 16th century, an immigrant from South America.
Like all aliens, they were regarded at first with suspicion.
Protestants refused to grow them because they weren't mentioned in the Bible.
In fact for many years, potatoes were grown mainly
as a botanical curiosity.
It was the Irish peasantry who first embraced them as a food crop.
And history suggests it was in Lancashire's rich and sandy loam
that they were first grown for food in England,
around the end of the 17th century.
The Cropper family have been farming this land for about 300 years.
That means they've been here from around the time that the first potatoes were grown.
Lovely tractor you've got there, very impressive.
And the soil round here, the black gold of Ormskirk, can you show me?
Yeah, I'd be happy to.
You can see that, it's really a good quality loam.
There is some moisture left, although we haven't had any rain for a long time.
And we rely on natural irrigation, the big irrigator in the sky, we get very high rainfall here.
And combined with the soil type, and the natural fertility of the soil,
it does produce very good potatoes.
-Is it cos you're near the sea, as well?
-Yeah, a lot of the land here was reclaimed.
-Your family's been here a long time?
-I believe the family's found in the area for 300 years.
So that takes us back to the time of the Industrial Revolution.
And before that, yeah. Not far from here,
one of the farms we have, there was coal mines under that.
I'm told that the farm-workers could hear the miners.
So there's a close link in this area between the Industrial Revolution and production of food.
So Lancashire in some ways is very Catholic territory.
There was the Irish migrations of the 19th century.
What's the role of the spud in feeding that population?
The reason there was a big migration from Ireland was because of the potato itself, they had between
1 and 1.5 million people dying through famine and disease through the Irish potato famine.
That caused a huge influx of people into Liverpool, which affected the culture.
Didn't the people of Liverpool fertilise this in the most literal sense?
It's actually true, the night soil was brought from Liverpool,
which was the emptying of the latrines,
and it was brought into farmland and spread on the land, yeah.
And what was the evidence of that?
Sometimes when you walk through fields, you find broken pottery,
belt buckles, that was often brought out with the actual manure.
So Scouser sewage makes good spuds.
Well, that's a long time ago!
These spuds are Maris Pipers - a great all-round variety, but not a local one.
In fact, they were bred in the 1960s at a Cambridge research station
to resist eelworm.
Otherwise, I think these potatoes have terroir.
And I'll tell you why - terroir involves a strict set of criteria
that include weather conditions, geography and farming know-how.
The Croppers' potatoes tick all of these boxes.
They're planted by tenth-generation farmers.
They're watered and nurtured by the mild maritime climate of the Irish Sea.
They grow in the sandy loam of the Lancastrian coastal plains,
flavoured perhaps with a hint of coal and a soupcon of 19th century Liverpool night soil.
Surely these potatoes would taste different to those grown in Cornwall. Or your allotment.
What's more, nearly all these sacks of Maris Pipers are destined for purely local use.
All of these potatoes are going to be consumed within a 30-mile radius of this farm.
It could be scouse in Liverpool over there, it could be pies in Wigan over there,
or if they're really lucky, to be called to the supreme destiny that every Lancashire potato dreams of -
to become a Blackpool chip.
For most of the 20th century, when Lancashire people dreamt of heaven, this is what they saw.
In the words of the great Les Dawson, the lovely vulgar mistress
that is Blackpool, always beckoning with a saucy finger
to the thrills that only she can offer.
Beckoning with a greasy, salty finger, probably.
Because Blackpool lives on chips in the same way that New York lives on hot dogs and Tokyo lives on sushi.
But to find the ones that the locals eat,
you have to leave the tourist hotspots and go inland.
# Chippy tea, chippy tea I want a chippy tea
# But you keep givin' me posh nosh It don't agree wi' me
# I don't want lobster thermidor with a raspberry coulis
# I'm a working man from Lancashire and I want a chippy tea
# Pack us one of them 2p forks as well, will you love? #
The chip shop was invented in the 19th century.
In many ways, it's one of the supreme culinary achievements of that era.
Historians think Lancashire was probably the birthplace of the chip shop.
And this county still has more chippies per capita than anywhere else in the UK.
But there are now thousands of chippies in Britain, selling millions of bags of chips.
And that begs the question - can anything as common as a chip
lay claim to anything as specific as terroir?
I don't know. But I do know a man who does.
# And in the Lancashire Kitchen, Bernard's brought back
# Two mini fish and chips, a sausage in batter, a Mars bar in batter
# And a pie in batter, wey-hey! #
'John Walton is a Lancastrian and a fellow cultural historian,
'and he's studied in depth the history of the fish-and-chip trade.'
So what makes a Blackpool chip different to a Yorkshire chip or a Cornish chip?
It would be terroir in the very literal sense of being usually from South Lancashire.
Most of South Lancashire's potato crop went to feed Lancashire chippies.
And above all, it's really strongly associated with the old cotton towns.
The first fish and chips in Lancashire was probably fried in cottonseed oil anyway.
But there is a Lancashire variant, if you like, on a dish that became
very prevalent in industrial and metropolitan Britain, but with different forms in different places.
Is there a link between terroir and chippy technology?
I'm thinking of deep-fat friers and ranges and that kind of thing.
The crucial thing is the ranges,
because ranges were a spin-off from
the Lancashire and West Riding textile engineering industry.
And every cotton town in particular had its own range-making firm.
These, of course, were really quite spectacular things
with tiles and pictures.
In the '20s and '30s,
you'd get streamlined ones and Art-Deco versions.
Fascinating. The people who were opening these chippies,
they were people retiring from the mills.
The people who opened the chippies, to a large extent,
were probably in their 40s and 50s.
And they'd be men who'd been doing engineering jobs,
so fettling up a fish-and-chip range would come naturally to them.
Or they might have been working as spinners in the cotton mills.
You almost had to take early retirement in
the '40s and '50s from that kind of job, as your eyesight began to fail and you got less quick.
And so they'd save to set themselves up in businesses.
One of the things you might do would be to set yourself up with a
chip shop in Blackpool.
The working man particularly would very much enjoy,
I think, trying to get the best out of his fish-and-chip range.
The big problem, actually, is what you fry it all in.
People who came to Blackpool would come from a variety of fish-and-chip traditions.
If they were coming from the West Riding of Yorkshire, they want Leeds-type fish and chips
fried in beef dripping, and preferably jumbo haddock.
If they're coming from not quite so far in, from Lancashire, it's more likely to be vegetable oil
that they're accustomed to, and it might well be cod rather haddock that they expect.
There's a trade paper, of course - there's the Fish Friers Review and
that's full of helpful DIY hints
on how to be the most effective and profitable kind of fish frier.
So this is really terroir, isn't it?
People, land, technology, coming together.
I think that's absolutely right.
I think it applies to a wider area of, particularly Lancashire, but of Northern England.
It all gets distilled into Blackpool, because Blackpool is the pleasure capital of that region.
'30 miles inland from Blackpool,
'as the gull flies, lies the town of Bolton.
'That's the next stop on my Northern food trail.'
'Bolton was built on cotton money
'and through the 19th century it was one of the most productive
'and innovative textile towns in the world.
'Most of this stuff comes from Asia now.'
'You can often tell a lot about a town by its market, and Bolton's is a gem.
'It's a confident place with an impressive array of produce.
'I could almost be back in France.'
Lovely lamb chops here at a fiver a tray.
You can have eight chunky pork chops for a fiver today.
-Ten lamb chops, three quid.
Lamb, three quid. It's a steal, it's a deal.
The sale of the century.
'The food on offer here reflects the relative wealth of working people today,
'but if you look harder you can see echoes of old Bolton.'
Food in the North of England isn't just about heavy industry and class divide.
It's also about religion.
There's always been a massive Catholic presence in Lancashire,
and along with that, a very Catholic lack of squeamishness about eating a whole animal.
'The theological rationale for this is obscure,
'but I suspect it has a lot to do with poverty and peasant society.
'Whatever the reasons, Catholics influenced the eating habits of Lancashire
'through such delights as...
'Poached pig's head and trotters.'
'Pressed cow's udder.
'Sheep's head broth.
'Cow heel stew.
'Black pudding was another popular Lancastrian dish,
'a classic peasant way of using up pig's blood and intestines.
'The word offal shares its roots with the Germanic word Abfall,
'which means rubbish - something useless to throw away.
'But these by-products from the trough of luxury were all the meat most families were able to afford.'
'I'm in Bolton to find out about a kind of offal
'that's still hugely respected in the cuisines of Catholic countries like Poland, France and Mexico,
'but that's generally considered to be rubbish in modern Lancashire.
I eat tripe at least twice a week and this is the way I eat it here.
This is my favourite. I call it black tripe.
It's called, in fact, leaf tripe.
-It's quite beautiful.
-What is tripe, Stuart?
It's the inside of a cow's stomach. Quite simple.
-Does it all come from inside the stomach?
-Yes, it all does.
'A cow's stomach has four chambers, and different tripes are made from all of them.
'This is thick-seam tripe, also known as blanket tripe,
'from the first part of the cow's stomach, the rumen.
'And this is honeycomb tripe from the reticulum,
'the second part of the stomach.
'These little pockets hold a sauce well.'
'Butcher's tripe like this has already been cooked and was often eaten cold.'
'Tripe is rendered edible only by hours of work by skilled tripe-dressers.
'First, they wash the stomachs, and then they boil them for hours.
'The smell of boiling tripe has been described as a cross between
'hot cow-pat, petrol and earwax.'
'Once they're cooked, the stomachs have to be scraped and scrubbed.
'And finally, to get rid of the browny-green staining
'from the cow's diet of grass, the tripe is bleached.
'I hope I haven't put you off.'
And lo and behold, out of that,
for the expenditure of a miserly few pence,
you get an exotic dish like that.
Now, what is wrong with that?
Does that, Sue, tempt your sophisticated palate?
Well, it looks nice but I'm glad it's about 200 or 300 miles away from me, Stuart.
-Are you going to taste it?
-'You'd never know she was from the Black Country, would you?
'To find out more about this once-popular food,
'I've arranged a rendezvous with Marjory Houlihan, who has researched the Lancashire tripe trade.'
Can you tell us something about the scale of the tripe trade round here?
How many tripe dressers there were, how much was sold, and all that kind of thing.
Around 100 years ago, for example,
the directory of 1911 for Bolton,
there were well over 70 tripe shops
and quite a few actual tripe-dressers
-who supplied all those shops.
-Who was buying it?
Probably mostly the working population, especially the mill workers.
It was easy, they didn't have to cook it,
they just bought it on the way home.
It was there, ready to eat,
and it was cool, slipped down the throat easily.
-It was a way of getting the taste of the mills out of your throat?
And giving some moisture to your throat as well.
-They really appreciated it, you know.
-Do you like tripe yourself?
Well, I've eaten it, but I wouldn't say that I particularly like it, no!
-But my mother used to love it.
-My mother loved it.
'Tripe was so popular that a local abattoir emporium called United Cattle Products, UCP,
'ran a string of elegant restaurants and tripe was their signature dish.'
There was a really good tripe restaurant, and it was really posh.
It was quite posh.
They were beautifully set out tables,
pure white tablecloths, silver cutlery.
So, I love the idea of the posh restaurant, the big pots of tea,
and this is a tripe restaurant and it's a hot date, you know?
-But it was! It was the thing.
You felt as though you were really dining in some style when you went there,
especially because Bolton Wanderers was just down the road at Burnden Park.
After the match, that was another thing.
They would come walking up from Burnden Park,
all along to the UCP restaurant.
I love the idea of Bolton Wanderers in the 1950s - they were a big team at that time -
and all the Wanderers fans wandering out of Burnden Park after the match to get a load of tripe.
The Cockneys must have been deeply shocked at these images of the North, you know?
It must have confirmed every image they dreamt about the North.
'The UCP restaurants closed in the 1970s... #
'...and today it's only a handful of older folk who seek out tripe and eat it.
'And now I've got a confession to make.
'I've never eaten tripe,
'and to be honest, I was quite happy to leave it that way.'
-We're going to go for a bit of a trial by tripe.
-Marjory, what would you recommend?
I'd say honeycomb, myself.
I think that's easiest.
-You can eat it like that.
-Just a little tiny bit.
-A little taster, yeah.
'To me this looks like something from an early Salvador Dali painting.'
It's a bit big, that. Could you not cut it a bit smaller?
-Would you like a bit of vinegar?
-Have you got some?
-I won't put too much on.
Right, here goes.
You seem to know what you're doing, anyway.
I can eat it, but I wouldn't say I like it particularly,
but I can imagine how it would feel to somebody coming straight out of the mills.
Cleaning their mouth, and all that kind of stuff.
I can understand that, yeah.
Do you know what? I'm resisting this with every fibre of my being.
I feel like I'm betraying my Northern class roots,
but tripe's defeated me, I'm sorry.
-You come from a tougher generation than mine.
-Could be the Irish in me.
-Could be the Irish in you.
'I can't let tripe defeat me. I've got to find my inner Northern soul.
'The answer is to go somewhere that can make tripe tempting to my 21st-century palate.
'How about Salford, just outside Manchester?'
'You wouldn't know it now, but this used to be the land of tripe.
'There were tripe shops and tripe dressers all around here.
'And a UCP tripe restaurant,
'now gone the way of all flesh.'
'But this area has a talent for reinvention.
'They've turned their old mills into trendy apartments and cleaned up the canal.
'Now it's a leisure destination.'
'And on the banks of the canal is a gastro-pub
'whose chef is re-inventing tripe for modern tastes.'
Can you plate that tripe, please?
'Rob Owen Brown wants to reconnect young Northerners with the traditional food of their past.
'He's fighting the cause of cuisine de terroir.
'He is in fact a terroir-iste.'
So what happened? Why did tripe become so unpopular with the working classes in the 1970s?
My feeling is that it's got everything to do with the wretched paraphernalia of Northern poverty,
along with flat caps, flat vowels, slag heaps and outside toilets.
The cartoonist Bill Tidy took the mickey out of tripe every day in his comic strip in the Daily Mirror,
whose main character Fosdyke was a tripe baron.
'Tripe was all part of the Northern stereotype.
'Not surprisingly, Northerners decided to move on.'
'Rob reckons he can get me to eat tripe today.
'I'm not really looking forward to this - perhaps some things are best forgotten.
'I mean, he hasn't installed outside toilets, has he?'
-How are you doing?
-This is a scary moment for me.
-Trust me, you'll be fine.
-Having said that, it does look almost like food.
-It's a bit better than food.
-So what's going on here?
You've got crispy tripe, fiery English mustard.
You've got tripe with Madeira on toast and caramelised onions in there as well.
And then my favourite, the pickled tripe with capers, gherkins, parsley.
Are you a fella who's on a mission about English food?
Without a shadow of a doubt. If we were in France or Italy now you wouldn't be asking me about that.
I believe passionately in local produce and using the best that we can from around us,
and taking a bit of our food history as well
and trying to bring it up to date and get people eating the stuff.
What do you think I should have a crack at first? I'm deeply anguished about this.
Start with the crispy one, that's almost like fast food tripe.
It's beginner's tripe, fast food tripe. I'll have a crack at this.
I feel as if I'm taking my life in my hands anyway. Let's give it ago.
-It's all right!
-Like octopus, or something like that.
It's a really similar texture, especially when you get on to the pickled one.
That would pass as octopus any day of the week.
I'll give that a go in a second. What's this? This is calamari,
I've eaten this in Seville and Barcelona.
Yeah, it's very nice. And it's good for you.
Let's have a crack at the pickled one. This looks like the kind of thing the French would do.
-It's traditional Northern, isn't it?
Malt vinegar on your tripe, get it inside you.
Do you know what? I'm a convert.
-You only had one plate.
-Not that much of a convert.
I think it's working. Can I ask you, how does this go down with your customers?
-I know you said before you're on a mission.
-It's going all right.
It's not selling as well as the things like the bull's testicles
and the bone marrow and everything else, but it is going.
It's about getting people to taste it and getting people to give it a fair crack of the whip.
Why do you think it's not doing as well as the other stuff?
People have this image of tripe, don't they, you know?
It's taken a long time for people to start looking at the older dishes and the offals and everything else.
Everyone had got that wrapped up in having prime cut meat all the time.
-Give this one at try, before it goes cold.
-How does this one work?
You've got Madeira, beef stock, tripe, onions, salt and pepper, that's it.
I don't know why I'm so cautious - it works.
It's nice, it's got a real richness to it. I'm glad you're enjoying that.
-The Madeira's coming through now.
I'm going to have another bit.
-In a way we're going back to pre-industrial revolution food
by doing this true North of England food?
If you're going to kill something to eat, then have the decency to use every single bit of it,
and not just the 24 fillets you're going to get out of a cow, or the 30 sirloins.
You've got to get the very, very best use out of it.
-This is the anti Chicken McNuggets culture, isn't it?
-Without a shadow of a doubt.
Maybe with the exception of that one, maybe I'm doing tripe McNuggets, I'm not sure.
Tripe, can we talk about this with the rules of terroir?
OK, go on.
Terroir comes from land, it comes from people,
and it comes from agricultural produce, but tripe, is it local?
Is it stuff that belongs here and nowhere else?
No. Tripe is a universal product. The Spanish use it. Every nation.
The Chinese are superb exponents of using every single bit of an animal.
Tripe was heavily used in Lancashire in the North of England,
because it was cheap and there was plenty of it knocking around.
You can get an awful lot of tripe out of one big cow.
And there was a health thing as well.
It was good at getting all that cotton dust out of your throat.
So it was a local thing in a way?
I mean, the people of Madrid love their tripe,
the working class people of Madrid love their tripe.
In Lancashire it's a class thing as well.
-It cleans your throat, nutritious, cheap, easily available.
-So it does really belong here.
I think it belongs here as it does in any working-class area anywhere in the world but...
..it's a difficult call. I don't think we can say it's ours.
-Well it's everybody's but you've made it your own.
-Well, we try.
It seems strange that it's taken so long for me to eat a food that I should have grown up with.
But then again, I grew up in the 70s,
a very strange decade when localness became obsolete.
In fact, I remember when my nan stopped cooking the old way
and began a love affair with convenience food.
It wasn't that me nan and women like her became lazy,
but with the rise of the supermarket there were suddenly all kinds of new ready-made foods available.
Instead of making their husbands ham hock and salted fish,
women gave them fish fingers and Fray Bentos pies.
And our local food.
The food that tasted of where it was from and meant something
to the people who ate it, it just disappeared.
But no-one missed it because supermarkets were bringing us sexy exotica,
I was 18 the first time I saw pizza.
I didn't know whether to boil it or fry it.
That's handy, Harry.
Stick it in the oven.
One pizza, senor, especially for you!
Light dough piled with tomato, cheese,
-ham and mushroom, sweetcorn and courgette.
You should try our tomato, cheese and onion pizza, or our special.
And pizza wasn't the only foreign food to get a foothold.
From the Norwegian sailors in Liverpool
to the Asian textile workers in Lancashire and Yorkshire,
the North of England has always been a place where other people and cultures came to trade.
Each wave of immigrants brings a new food with them.
In this market in Bradford alongside oranges and baked beans are an intriguing array of ingredients.
Asafoetida, moong dal, fenugreek...
And a whole lot of things, that I don't know what they are.
The Kashmir restaurant was one of the first to open in Bradford.
It catered for homesick Kashmiris, who strangely enough didn't care for baked beans or Yorkshire pudding.
And few native Yorkshire men would have come in through these doors
in the 1950s to sample anything as foreign as rogan josh or korma.
Today, however, they have a huge local following.
For my generation there is no more typically Northern night out than an evening in a curry house.
And believe me, curries in the North are world class and far superior to anything you can get in the South.
I'm out for a curry with Prett, a local woman who teaches Indian cookery.
When you're teaching do you get a mix of races?
No. Predominantly English.
In a way it's a cultural education for the English, isn't it?
Yes, that's right. We put across how it's done at home.
How we would cook it compared to restaurants, yeah.
-Because it's at home as well.
-That's what it is. Showing them it's not as hard as they think.
This is the big million-dollar question.
You might want to phone a friend.
Where it is the best place in Bradford to eat a curry?
It's got to be, it's got to be my mum's.
Your love of curry is really about your love of home.
It is. Yeah. It's just sharing that with other people.
Although we do share a love of curry, it's still a relatively recent arrival.
It still feels like it belongs to a different culture.
My next food was another immigrant from abroad,
but has been here for so long and rooted so firmly into Yorkshire soil
that most people think it's a local.
From the 1830's rhubarb has been grown
in the mysteriously-named
West Yorkshire farmers found the plant thrived in local conditions.
And over the next century, subsequent growers perfected the dark art of forcing.
In the winter, the farmers take the rhubarb roots out of the fields
and they put them into warm, windowless sheds.
The heat tricks the plant into thinking it is summer.
So it begins to grow.
Without sunlight, the rhubarb sprouts very fast,
producing stalks that are pink and sweet and tender.
This is an extraordinary sight.
At first it looks like a subterranean army ready to march.
There is also a strange atmosphere here.
A weird atmosphere of a psychedelic nightmare.
Sigmund Freud or the French Surrealists
would have had a field day with these tender pink erect stalks.
Straining to reach the light.
This is forced rhubarb. It is not grown in soil,
but from energy supplies stored up in its own massive roots.
A clever trick played by man upon nature.
There's also a pathos and the poignancy here.
Everything in this shed is dying and you can smell it in the air.
It gives the place the feeling of a medieval chapel in southern Spain or southern Italy.
The French mystic Georges Bataille
would have loved it here.
Sex, religion and death.
This final growth of pink stems is this lucrative crop's swansong.
By the end of spring, the last stalks are picked,
the roots are exhausted and the plants die.
In 2010, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb was awarded a Protected Designation of Origin.
That means the terroir and farming practices of the Yorkshire Triangle
have been legally-recognised by the EU as unique.
Janet Oldroyd-Hulme's family have been growing rhubarb here since the 1930s.
-Hello, Janet, I've managed to find you in a sea of rhubarb.
Did you like the forcing sheds?
It was well surreal, very psychedelic.
But the story of rhubarb is fantastic.
This is a very Northern British food, isn't it?
It is. But rhubarb originally was a native of Siberia.
It likes cold and it was found on the banks of the River Volga
so it likes moisture.
Our soils are water-retaining soils.
We're in a frost pocket so everything comes together
to make a perfect root with perfect conditions to release energy.
That's here in the Rhubarb Triangle.
I think that's a great story.
It starts on the River Volga and ends up farming on the urban fringes of Leeds.
There's more to rhubarb than meets the eye.
There is certainly,
but I'm biased, I grow it!
So far, so terroir.
What fascinates me is how much this modern success story owes to West Yorkshire's industrial past.
Janet, what's this stuff and what's it got to do with rhubarb?
This is shoddy.
Shoddy comes from the woollen industry,
that once dominated this area.
We still use it today as you can see.
But it mostly came as the fleeces went into the factories
-and all the debris was taken out.
Shoddy goods rubbish. But it's not rubbish to a rhubarb grower.
Because it's packed with nitrogen and as the wool breaks down it releases that nitrogen.
That plant takes it up hungrily.
It loves nitrogen.
We have to get a lot of energy into the roots so it can tap into it when it goes into the forcing sheds.
As you saw, it's not planted, its growing from its own energy reserves.
So rhubarb is the perfect marriage between Yorkshire and the Industrial Revolution?
Yes. The coal was very important
because we have to heat the sheds in the depth of winter
to get to warm summer temperatures.
There you can see the remains of one of Yorkshire's pits,
which has now been grassed over.
So this was a mining pit?
That's how close the pits were.
So, the growers utilised that
and took out low-grade coal and coke to heat the sheds.
It's complicated stuff, rhubarb, isn't it, it's like medieval alchemy.
I used to love rhubarb as a kid but people used to laugh at it.
But now it's gone mega bling, hasn't it?
During the war it was part of the staple diet and it was extremely popular.
After the war when refrigerated transport came in
everybody moved on to something else.
So growers went bankrupt or they got out of their industry.
Today we're down to the last 12 producers.
Luckily, in time, just in time, this resurgence has come
so rhubarb is becoming very popular again.
Not just because it tastes nice but because of the health benefits.
You've got rhubarb Bellinis, you've got the French eating it,
the Portuguese are making liqueurs out of it.
-Rhubarb and custard.
-Rhubarb and custard, yes indeed.
I don't like it at all. I hate custard.
Do you, I hate rhubarb.
I've got 350 grams of rhubarb which is about six or seven stalks.
We all know what rhubarb crumble should taste like
and therefore the little nuances of what you do with your rhubarb crumble are so important.
They're just going to be tipped.
Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is only the 41st British food to get a protected name.
France has got 175.
We are only just beginning to celebrate and protect
our traditional foods in the way the French have always done.
And how fitting that we should end on pudding.
That lovely smell, butter and cooked flour.
A slightly sour smell of the rhubarb.
It's the stuff of Sunday lunches, really.
Look at that, mmm.
I came here from Paris to the North of England to test out this notion of terroir.
I've met the rhubarb lady, I've met the professor of fish and chips,
I've had encounters with Scousers and I've been terrorised by tripe.
And what I have found is that even if the food of the North isn't always good food,
it's always food of the people made by the people.
But one thing did surprise me, that's the emotions.
Food here is all about emotions.
It's about identity,
it's about feeling, it's about family,
above all it's about belonging.
What we eat and why we eat it is rooted in our particular corner of history.
No-one else shares our tastes and memories, because no-one else has our exact terroir.
That's what I'm taking away with me when I go back to Paris.
A sense the food of the North is really about belonging.
It's about coming from a place.
You cannot have at all a better definition of terroir.
The true taste of the territory is the true taste of home.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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