Marjorie Cashmore's book "A Feast of Memories:  Black Country Food and Life at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century" was published in 1986 by Westwood Press.

It is a fascinating book with sections on food interspersed with accounts of such things as schooling, pigeon fancying, children's games and pastimes and other aspects of Black Country life.  

The numerous recipes, collected under such headings as Pork, Beef, Pigeon, Rabbit, Puddings, were gathered by Marjorie from her won Black Country family and from friends and acquaintances in the area.  There is no doubt they are authentic recipes, actually used in the Black Country - which, according to Marjorie includes Wolverhampton.  

We give here the three recipes for "the three dishes most commonly associated with the Black Country, namely, Faggotts and Peas, Groaty Pudding, and Bread Pudding".  To these we have added Grey Peas and Bacon, another essential Black Country dish.  (All the quantities are for serving four people).

Groaty Pudding or Groaty Dick

0.5 lb groats 1 bay leaf (optional)
1.5 lbs shin of beef Hot water to cover
1lb leeks Salt and Pepper
2 medium sized onions

Cut the beef into bite-size pieces, slice the leeks and onions.  Place all the ingredients in a stew jar or casserole dish and bake slowly for at least three hours, longer if possible.  Serve with crusty bread. A thicker version of this, with more groats and less meat, was all some families could afford.  It was spread on bread so that each member could have something warm and filling.

(Marjorie says that groats are oats with the husks removed but before they are ground to produce oatmeal or steamed then rolled to make rolled oats or flakes.  Groats have the highest nutritional value of any cereal.)

Faggots and Peas

1.5 lbs pig's fry 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 medium sized onions salt and pepper
2 tbsps fresh sage or 1 of dried 1 tbsp plain flour

Wisk the fry, leaving the caul (the lacy, fatty membrane surrounding the stomach and gut) and leave it in lukewarm water to make it more pliable.  Mince or chop the fry and onion and mix thoroughly with the breadcrumbs, seasoning and sage.  Form into eight portions and wrap each portion in a piece of caul.  Place in a baking dish and cover with the hot water.  Bake in a moderate oven for about three hours until the faggots are nicely browned.  More hot water cab be added if needed.  Thicken the juice with the flour half an hour before serving.

These faggots are traditionally served with mushy peas:  soak dried peas overnight and then team or boil slowly while the faggots are cooking.  

Bread Pudding or Fill Belly

2 lbs stale bread 3 eggs
0.5 lbs shredded suet 2 oz butter or margarine
1 lb granulated or brown sugar 1 teaspoons mixed spice
1 lb mixed dried fruit

Soak the bread in water, then drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.  Flake with a fork and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well together and spread the mixture into a greased baking tin.  Dot with butter and bake in a moderate oven for about two hours or until nicely browned.  (A variation is to make a pastry base, spread it with jam and then cover with the bread pudding mixture.  bake as before.)

Grey Peas and Bacon

1 lb dried grey peas 1 large sliced onion
3 oz Pearl Barley Salt and Pepper
1 lb bacon

Soak the peas and pearl barley overnight and then place in a saucepan with the onion, previously browned bacon and salt and pepper.  Cook slowly for three hours.  (In our experience the bacon is chopped into small pieces before browning).

Some other of Marjorie's recipes which catch the eye are Parsnip Balls, Boney Pie, Stuffed Pig's Ears, Cowheel and Beef Pudding, Sippet Pudding, Ginger Nobs, Jugged Pigeon.  Get the book if you can find it!

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